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Historically Black Colleges and Universities

What data do you have on historically Black colleges and universities in the United States?


Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions that were established prior to 1964 with the principal mission of educating Black Americans (source). These institutions were founded and developed in an environment of legal segregation and, by providing access to higher education, they contributed substantially to the progress Black Americans made in improving their status (source).

In 2019, there were 100 HBCUs located in 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of the 100 HBCUs, 51 were public institutions and 49 were private nonprofit institutions (forthcoming). The number of HBCU students increased by 47 percent (from 223,000 to 327,000 students) between 1976 and 2010, then decreased by 12 percent (to 288,000 students) between 2010 and 2019 (forthcoming). In comparison, the number of students in all degree-granting institutions increased 91 percent (from 11 million to 21 million students) between 1976 and 2010, then decreased 7 percent (to 20 million students) between 2010 and 2019 (source).

Although HBCUs were originally founded to educate Black students, they enroll students of other races as well. This diversity has increased over time (source). In 2019, non-Black students made up 24 percent of enrollment at HBCUs, compared with 15 percent in 1976 (forthcoming).

While Black enrollment at HBCUs increased by 15 percent between 1976 and 2019, the total number of Black students enrolled in all degree-granting postsecondary institutions more than doubled during this period. As a result, among Black students, the percentage enrolled at HBCUs fell from 18 percent in 1976 to 9 percent in 2010, then showed no measurable change between 2010 and 2019 (forthcoming and forthcoming).

Female enrollment at HBCUs has been higher than male enrollment in every year since 1976. The percentage of female enrollment at HBCUs increased from 53 percent in 1976 to 63 percent in 2019. Also in 2019, some 87 percent of HBCU students attended 4-year institutions, while the remaining 13 percent attended 2-year institutions. About 76 percent of HBCU students attended public institutions, while the remaining 24 percent attended private nonprofit institutions (forthcoming).

In academic year 2018–19, some 48,400 degrees were conferred by HBCUs: 11 percent were associate’s degrees, more than two-thirds were bachelor’s degrees (68 percent), 15 percent were master’s degrees, and 5 percent were doctor’s degrees. Of the degrees conferred by HBCUs, the majority (73 percent) were conferred to Black students. Black students earned 43 percent of the 5,500 associate’s degrees, 79 percent of the 33,100 bachelor’s degrees, 72 percent of the 7,400 master’s degrees, and 62 percent of the 2,500 doctor’s degrees conferred by HBCUs in 2018–19. At all levels, the majority of degrees conferred to Black students were conferred to Black female students (forthcoming).

Over time, the percentages of bachelor’s and master’s degrees conferred to Black students by HBCUs have decreased. For example, HBCUs conferred 35 percent of the bachelor’s degrees and 21 percent of the master’s degrees Black students earned in 1976–77, compared with 13 and 6 percent, respectively, in 2018–19 (source, forthcoming, source, source, source, and source). Additionally, the percentage of Black doctor’s degree recipients who received their degrees from HBCUs was lower in 2018–19 (10 percent) than in 1976–77 (14 percent) (source, forthcoming, and source).

The total revenue for HBCUs in 2018–19 was $8.5 billion, with $1.9 billion from student tuition and fees. Total expenditures were $8.2 billion, of which $2.3 billion was spent on instruction (forthcoming).

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