HBCUs have been recognized in recent years for the role they play in social and economic mobility for Black students. HBCUs tend to serve more students from lower-income families, and HBCU grads are more likely to move to a higher income bracket than non-HBCU graduates.
As we see at other colleges and in the current labor market, STEM graduates from HBCUs do tend to earn higher median salaries overall than their peers. However, systemic inequalities mean HBCUs are typically serving their students on a much smaller budget than other universities.
While other schools benefit from serving wealthier students, larger endowments, and more philanthropic support, HBCUs are chronically underfunded. HBCUs are also largely located in the southern states, which tend to correlate with lower salaries and earnings than other states with a higher cost of living and more affluent populations.
All of these factors, coupled with a long history of wage inequality for Black college graduates, can often lead to worse student outcomes for HBCUs. It's difficult to account for all these socioeconomic factors when comparing institutions, and while HBCUs shine in many ways which are often more difficult to quantify or measure, they tend to fare worse in head-to-head comparisons of salary outcomes.
However, salary data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that, in these seven majors, HBCU graduates can earn more than average for their field of study compared to all graduates.