What are the Largest HBCUs?

The 10 largest historically black colleges account for 33% of HBCU students and are located in seven states throughout the Southeast.

Taylor Nichols Written By: Taylor Nichols
Published: March 8, 2022
Group of three women smiling and walking

Historically Black colleges and universities have played a critical role in higher education and driven economic mobility for Black Americans for the last 150 years. Most were established in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the Southeast to educate African Americans after the Civil War. Some started as teaching schools, while others trained future ministers or seamstresses.

Today, 20% of Black college graduates earn their degree at an HBCU, and 10% of the Black student population attends an HBCU. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that 279,000 students were enrolled at HBCUs in fall 2020.

Most of the largest HBCUs are public institutions in southern and southeast states like Texas and North Carolina. Our list below highlights the 10 largest HBCUs based on the most recent enrollment data available. Fall 2020 enrollment numbers include undergraduate, graduate, and first professional students and are sourced from the U.S. Department of Education through the IPEDS system. Annual net price and median alumni salary come from the Postsecondary Value Commission using federal data. Median alumni earnings are for 10 years after initial enrollment.

What are the 10 Largest HBCUs by Enrollment?

School Total Enrollment (Fall 2020) Annual Net Price Median Alumni Salary
North Carolina A&T State University

North Carolina

12,753 $11,374 $36,638
St Philip's College


12,696 $13,313 $31,570
Howard University

Washington DC

10,859 $22,469 $51,948
Prairie View A&M University


9,248 $15,485 $37,694
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University


9,184 $15,902 $39,700
North Carolina Central University

North Carolina

8,078 $15,629 $34,738
Morgan State University


7,634 $18,204 $42,762
Tennessee State University


7,615 $16,085 $37,272
Texas Southern University


7,015 $18,632 $33,048
Jackson State University


6,921 $15,143 $31,676

Source: IPEDS and the Postsecondary Value Commission

HBCUs see enrollment growth during COVID-19

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, HBCUs have seen an 11% increase in Black enrollment since 1976. That trend has continued during the pandemic despite overall college enrollment declines since 2020. HBCUs continued to see a significant increase in applications and enrollment numbers in many cases. Previous articles have highlighted a number of causes that have driven interest in HBCUs. The Black Lives Matter movement, racial tensions, safety concerns for Black students, high profile alumni in the spotlight, and significant donations in recent years have all played a part, according to reporting from Inside Higher Ed and Forbes.

HBCUs are uniquely equipped to support Black college students in navigating the barriers they often face in higher education, which predominantly white schools have historically struggled to address. Financial considerations also likely are coming into play for students considering HBCUs, which are often more affordable and accessible for low income students than other colleges.


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