Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are nationwide. Many of the over 100 schools that fit this category are in the Southeast United States. Alabama is home to more HBCUs than any other state in the Union.
HBCUs consist of both private and public establishments founded before 1964. They offer both four-year and two-year degrees. The HBCUs in Alabama have STEM programs and departments recognized as top performers.
The institutions below are the historically black colleges and universities located in Alabama.
Alabama A&M University
Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) sits in north Huntsville. It is a public university that offers degrees up through doctoral in various fields. These fields include:
- Urban planning
The environment is student-oriented and aims to equip critical thinkers and leaders. In addition, the university embraces diversity and inclusivity.
Its campus covers 2,300 acres and is often called the “Hill.” Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., designed the campus. He was also the designer of Central Park in New York.
The school offers many student activities, with over 40 registered student organizations. Including the expected Greek societies, students can also join many clubs and groups. Some group themes include choir, art, criminal justice, urban planning, and business.
Each student organization must complete 250 hours of service in the community yearly. They must also sponsor five programs. Two of the programs must encourage positive personal growth. These programs include leadership and conflict resolution.
Alabama State University
Alabama State University is situated in Montgomery. It is an accredited institution. Students can earn degrees, including master’s and doctorates, in over 30 fields. Some of these fields are:
- Health sciences
- Liberal arts
The university is over 150 years old. Nine men started the school in 1867 following the Civil War. Their goal was to offer the newly-free Black community access to education. The university grew from there and is now known as a “Teacher’s College.”
The acceptance rate at Alabama State University is about 99%, making it one of the more accessible schools to get into.
One of ASU’s claims to fame is its marching band. The Marching Hornets led the Rose Parade and were the first HBCU squad to do so.
Bishop State Community College
Bishop State Community College is a public, state-supported community college in Mobile. The two-year college was founded in 1927. Bishop offers transfer programs for students who choose to pursue a four-year degree.
Originally a branch of Alabama State College, the name changed in 1989. The new name honored Dr. Bishop. He was the first president of the school after it became an independent junior college.
The college comprises four separate campuses in the Mobile area. These include Carver State Technical College and Southwest State Technical College. The other two are extensions to the campus.
The programs offered by Bishop State fast-track students into career opportunities, and students leave equipped with abilities and education to thrive in the workforce.
Bishop State endeavors to be a comprehensive institution of education. It provides a quality, affordable education to students who seek training to promote success.
Bishop State’s programs include:
- Academic transfer
- Adult education (GED)
- Advanced manufacturing technology
- Career technical education
- Health sciences
- Workforce development
Gadsden State Community College
Gadsden State Community College is a public college that has five campuses. It began in 1960 as a vocational training school. Eugene N. Prater founded the school to train Black students after the Alabama School of Trades denied admission.
Students at Gadsden State study in various professional and technical programs. These programs include:
- Construction technology
- Certified nursing assistant
- Diagnostic medical sonography
- Therapeutic massage
Gadsden State prepares students for success in technical and professional fields. They offer general knowledge to form a firm foundation for skills in the workforce. They are diverse and inclusive.
The college offers students an education that helps them to find jobs. It gears the classes to the market, assisting students in learning skills that the economy needs. Students can attend traditional classes or opt for distance learning.
Gadsden also offers continuing education classes and skill training. As a result, students can increase competency and achieve personal goals with the aid of the college.
J.F. Drake State Technical College
Situated in the north of Huntsville, J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College is a place of hands-on learning. Increased lab studies prepare students for immediate success in the workplace.
Drake State keeps pace with technological updates. Classes teach a range of technical, industrial, and vocational skills. Supplies include state-of-the-art electronics and equipment.
Tennessee Valley’s only program for culinary arts is taught at Drake State. However, they also offer courses in auto mechanics, electronics, information technology, and more. What’s more, many specialized courses are available to train students to be highly employable.
Other programs offered by Drake State include:
- Automotive Service Technology
- Electrical Technology
- Engineering Design
- Heating and Air Conditioning
- Machine Tool Technology
Many graduates now own businesses, from beauty salons to mechanical services. Drake State turns out graduates who contribute to the growth of local businesses.
Lawson State Community College
Southwest Birmingham is home to Lawson State Community College. It has two parts: the academic and the technical.
The vocational side began in 1949, with Dr. Theodore A. Lawson presiding. The academic side was a junior college founded in 1965. In 1973, the two merged to create Lawson State Community College.
In 2005 Bessemer State Technical College joined Lawson State Community College. Lawson State has been in the top fifty community colleges nationwide since 2011.
A few of the over 50 programs offered by Lawson State are:
- Child Development
Miles College is a private liberal arts college in Fairfield. Its Christian Methodist Episcopal roots add a spiritual side to the academics offered. Students learn to obtain knowledge to empower them intellectually and civically.
Students of Miles College are diverse and culturally aware. They are diverse and taught with academic excellence. Miles College’s guiding principle is that the Black community needs educated leaders.
Miles is an accredited institution that confers four-year degrees. It is the only one in Birmingham authorized to do so that is also an HBCU. It is also one of the 39 HBCUs in the US that has a United Negro College Fund (UNCF) designation.
Miles College was an integral part of making Birmingham the world’s Civil Rights Capital. The students already engaged in activism in the form of protests and boycotts.
The baccalaureate programs offered include Accounting, Chemistry, Communications, English, Political Science, and more.
Located in Huntsville, Oakwood University emphasizes respect, compassion, integrity, excellence, and service. The students learn collaboration, and innovation is encouraged.
The motto “God First!” is the core on which the school bases everything: curricula, ethics, identity, relationships, and values. The university is Seventh-Day Adventist, and this guides the spiritually-centered curriculum.
Oakwood offers over 50 different majors, training students to become industry leaders. The university formed partnerships with businesses that provide internships and support learning. Many students who desire to learn medicine choose Oakwood for its top pre-med program.
The campus sits on 1,185 acres of land in the Tennessee Valley. It includes historic landmarks as well as modern buildings. In addition, it has nature trails, gyms, study areas, and dormitories.
Students may supplement their academics with extracurricular activities. These include honor societies, ministries, athletics, and more.
Shelton State Community College
Shelton State Community College, based in Tuscaloosa, is a two-year college. With about 7,000 students, Shelton State is one of the largest of its type in Alabama. Over 42% of those students attend full-time.
Shelton State is part of a state-wide system that includes many public colleges. Founded in 1979, Shelton combined two facilities. They were Shelton State Technical College and Brewer State Junior College at Tuscaloosa.
Another campus was added in 1994 when Shelton and C.A. Fredd State Technical College combined.
Shelton State offers a comprehensive course catalog to a diverse student body. The school also uses workforce training and academic excellence to equip students with skills to advance.
Shelton State offers accredited programs like nursing, health information technology, and respiratory therapy.
Stillman College in Tuscaloosa is an accredited college with Presbyterian roots. Classes began in 1876, but the school was not chartered until 1895. It is named after the man who initiated it, Reverend Dr. Charles Allen Stillman.
Stillman College only accepts about 56% of the people who apply to attend. Students learn to research and use creativity to meet their goals. Because of the college’s Presbyterian affiliation, it requires 12 hours of religious education.
The liberal arts institution sits on over 100 acres. It offers opportunities to diverse students that prepare them for service and leadership. It encourages learning by experience and engaging with the community.
Stillman College’s goal is to prepare its graduates
- To be critical thinkers
- To clearly express things in written or verbal language
- To be competent
- To be compassionate
- To have excellent character
Talladega College was the first private liberal arts HBCU in Alabama. For over 150 years, Talladega College has been providing excellence in academics. It was also the first to include people of all ethnicities in its admissions.
The main campus of Talladega College covers 50 acres, on which there are 44 buildings. The campus is beautiful, with several historical buildings and landmarks throughout. Though it is near a city, it is in a valley away from the city’s distractions.
Talladega College offers forums, lectures, and workshops to expose the students to world culture.
The following five words and phrases sum up the college’s core values:
- Students first
Students are the primary stakeholders of the college. Faculty and staff promote personal accountability and responsibility. Fair and honest behavior fosters trust. Diversity is an integral part of the world. Top-quality education and research are imperative.
Trenholm State Community College
Based in Montgomery, Trenholm State Community College has led students to success for over fifty years. Since the 1960s, the college has offered learning, adding diversity and campuses. The college dedicates itself to the success of its students.
As a community college, Trenholm confers associate degrees, certificates, and workforce training. Students enjoy smaller classes with hands-on education. They can choose day, night, or online classes. Tuition is affordable and financial aid is available.
Student life encompasses a diverse community and various activities.
Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee University in 1881 in Tuskegee. Since then, Tuskegee University has distinguished itself in many areas. Some of these include:
- More Black aerospace engineers come from Tuskegee University than from any other school in the U.S.
- Many African-American chemical engineers, electrical engineers, and mechanical engineers graduated from Tuskegee Institute.
- More U.S. Black people have earned PhDs from Tuskegee in Materials Science and Engineering.
- Tuskegee is the only HBCU that is fully accredited to confer Veterinary doctorate degrees. It produces more than 75% of the world’s Black veterinarians.
- More African-American generals have graduated from Tuskegee than any other college or university. One of these was Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. He was the first Black four-star general in the U.S.
- Tuskegee’s nursing baccalaureate program was the first in Alabama. It was one of the earliest in the U.S.
- The whole campus is a historical site, declared so by Congress.
George Washington Carver was a faculty member. Two other men who attended Tuskegee are Lionel Ritchie and Ralph Ellison.
Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Alabama, Final Thoughts
Students choosing a historically black college or university in Alabama have many options. Each of these institutions provides education and support to help students achieve success. Workforce training encourages a good work ethic and teaches critical skills.
More than 20% of Black college graduates earn degrees from HBCUs. Additionally, the four-year HBCUs graduation rate is higher than the national average for Black students attending non-HBCUs.