Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been the bedrock of Black communities since the founding of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, which is credited as the nation’s first HBCU.

Since then, hundreds more HBCUs have been founded with the intent of serving Black students during times of deep segregation and racism. Although the world has become more progressive since then, the need for these institutions has proven to be vital community pillars — not just for Black students but for the world.

With notable alums like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Kamala Harris, Toni Morrison, Stacey Abrams, and Thurgood Marshall from various HBCUs, these institutions produce noteworthy people who impact the world across different industries.

Every year, the U.S. News & World Report releases a list of the nation’s top colleges and universities. The publication also ranks HBCUs according to a specific methodology that uses “quantitative and qualitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality.”

The more extensive list includes 77 schools, quantified based on the above rubric. However, this list does not invalidate the value of any HBCU and its rich history of scholarship and academia. Each HBCU, regardless of its ranking, is a respected and integral part of the HBCU community.

Spelman College (1)

Located in Atlanta, GA, Spelman College — originally founded in 1881 as Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary — is a women’s liberal arts college and became known as Spelman in 1924. Tuition and fees are $30,058, but the school offers scholarship programs that help cover costs. Notable alumnae include Dr. Bernice King, Keisha Knight Pulliam, and Alice Walker.

Howard University (2)

Founded in 1867, Howard University is located in Washington, D.C. It offers 143 programs, including STEM programs, for students seeking undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Current tuition and fees are $33,344. Some of its notable alums include Taraji P. Henson, Zora Neal Hurston, and Chadwick Boseman.

Florida A&M University (3)

Known as FAMU, Florida A&M University was founded in 1887 and is located in Tallahassee, FL. The coastal university has in-state tuition rates of $5,785 and out-of-state tuition rates of $17,725. The school was named a Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leader, per its website, and has notable alums, including Will Packer, Anika Noni Rose, and Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Tuskegee University (4)

Tuskegee was founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881. The Alabama institution’s tuition and fees are $22,679. It offers over 50 degree programs and trains America’s first Black pilots, known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Notable alums include Tom Joyner and Congressman Al Green.

Morehouse College (5)

Documented as the only school dedicated to educating Black men, Morehouse was founded in 1867 and was initially named Atlanta Baptist College. Tuition and fees are $25,368, per its website. In 2022, the liberal arts college was named the No. 1 producer of Rhodes Scholars among HBCUs. Notable alumni include Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, and Atlanta’s first Black mayor Maynard Jackson.

Xavier University of Louisiana (6)

Located in New Orleans and founded in 1925, Xavier University of Louisiana is also the nation’s only Catholic HBCU, per its website, with tuition and fees at $27,870. The University has a nationally ranked science program, producing top STEM graduates. Notable alumni include Regina Benjamin and Marino Casem.

Hampton University (7)

Founded in 1868, Hampton offers 133 programs, with the top majors being business, liberal arts, and science. Current tuition and fees are $29,312. Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee University, is listed as one of the school’s most noted alumni. Other notable alumni include Wanda Sykes and Alberta Williams King, mother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University (7)

Noted as the nation’s largest HBCU, North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University was founded in 1891 in Greensboro, NC. With tuition and fees at $20,243 for out-of-state students and $6,733 for in-state students, the school is ranked as one of the most affordable doctoral research universities. Notable alumni include Jesse Jackson and Terrence J.

Claflin University (9)

Founded in 1869, Claflin is located in Orangeburg, SC. The school’s student-to-faculty ratio is 14 to 1, per its website. Current tuition and fees are $17,046. Notable alumni of Claflin include Leo Twiggs and Robert Bates.

Delaware State University (9)

Nestled in Dover, DE, Delaware State University was founded in 1891 as one of the country’s first land grant institutions. The school is home to the William C. Jason Library, which houses more than 490,333 publications. Tuition and fees are $8,358 for in-state students. Notable alumni include former U.S. ambassador Clyde Bishop.