Whether they are successful entrepreneurs or accomplished poets, HBCUs allow black students to reach their goals and dreams through the procurement of quality education.
Between 2019 and 2020 alone, 48,200 graduates received degrees from HBCUs. Georgia is neck and neck with Texas for the third-highest number of HBCUs in the nation, behind North Carolina and Alabama.
Read on to learn all about the nine best historically black colleges and universities in Georgia and their proud histories of higher learning.
Spelman College is one of the most well-known HBCUs and is a time-tested leader in the education of black women from around the globe. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges provides Spelman with accreditation. It is also a member of the Atlanta University Center Consortium.
The student body consists of over two-thousand students from ten countries and forty-three different states. The college seeks to empower women, inspire them to strive for social change through service, and provide a level of unmatched academic excellence in liberal arts and sciences.
The school has one of the best graduation rates in the country at seventy-six percent on average over six years. In 2016 BestColleges.com ranked Spelman as one of the twenty best female colleges in the US.
The school was founded way back in 1881 by Sophia Packard and Harriet Giles. Back then, it was called the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary.
In 1882 the founders met John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller visited their new school two years later. Rockefeller was so impressed that he paid the remaining debt on the school property. That same year the school was renamed the Spelman Seminary to honor Rockefeller’s abolitionist wife and her parents.
Situated on a beautiful sixty-six-acre campus just southwest of downtown Atlanta, Morehouse College is home to over two thousand two hundred students.
The school has seventeen thousand alumni and a fourteen to one student-to-faculty ratio. It is accredited to award baccalaureate degrees by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Morehouse students learn to uphold a set of characteristics called the Morehouse Mystique. The Mystique was created by Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays when he was President of Morehouse from 1940 5o 1967. The five tenants include:
- Academic Excellence
- The Elocutionary Arts
- High Moral Values
- Social Commitment
- Belief in a Higher Power.
The college has around three thousand students enrolled today and offers twenty-six different majors spanning three academic divisions. Famous alumni include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, and Maynard Jackson.
Morehouse opened its doors in 1867 near Augusta, Georgia. Originally it was called the Augusta Institute. The school relocated to Atlanta in 1879 before its name changed to the Atlanta Baptist Seminary. It moved to the present location in the 1880s.
It was renamed Morehouse College in 1913 after Dr. Henry Lyman Morehouse. Dr. Morehouse was a white minister who donated funds to the school.
Morehouse School of Medicine
Morehouse School of Medicine got its start in 1975. It began as the Medical Education Program at Morehouse. Six years later and it became its own independently chartered institution.
It is one of our leading producers of primary care physicians and ranks as one of the top institutions among American medical schools.
The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, and the Council on Education for Public Health.
Morehouse School of Medicine awards the following degrees to graduating students:
- Doctor of Medicine
- Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences
- Master of Public Health
- Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
- Master of Science in Medical Sciences
- Master of Science in Biomedical Research
- Master of Science in Clinical Research
- Master of Science in Biomedical Technology
- Master of Science in Neuroscience
Most of the patient care experience students are exposed to occurs at Grady Memorial Hospital. Grady is one of the largest public hospitals in the southeastern United States. The school employs over two hundred and fifty faculty members, many of whom are internationally recognized in their field of study.
Fort Valley State University
With a campus located on more than a thousand-aces in Fort Valley, Georgia, Fort Valley State University has a tradition of excellence that stretches back one hundred and twenty-seven years.
Fort Valley aims to educate a diverse mix of students from every cultural background, race, gender, and walk of life you can imagine. In 2018 FVSU was named one of Georgia’s top producers of black graduates with bachelor’s degrees in family and consumer sciences, mathematics, engineering technology, history, and psychology.
The University also offers exciting undergraduate research opportunities in the fields of agricultural productivity, brain science, education, artificial intelligence, food safety, automation, socio-economic disparities, and environmental sustainability. Fort Valley’s bachelor’s program in veterinary science is also Georgia’s only four-year veterinary technology program.
FVSU was founded in 1895 by an interracial coalition of men that petitioned the Superior Court in Houston County to allow the creation of a new institution called the Fort Valley High and Industrial School.
The leader of this group was the child of a slave, John Wesley Davison. Davison would eventually be named as the school’s first Principal in 1896. Many of the school’s original buildings were built with the help of early Fort Valley students.
One of the school’s first graduates was Austin Thomas Walden. Walden would go on to become the first black judge in Georgia after the reconstruction.
Albany State University
Located in the southwestern city of Albany, Albany State University is a historically black university in Georgia. ASU is a leader in business, nursing, criminal justice, education, the sciences, and public administration.
Albany State’s core institutional value is to put students first, and ASU is dedicated to providing education on a deeply personal level. Albany State University is a progressive school that offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, Education Specialist degrees, and plenty of non-degree programs.
ASU was founded in 1903 by Joseph Winthrop Holley as the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute. Holley’s new school provided students with both religious and secular education and teacher training for the local black population.
By 1917 the state of Georgia started giving the Institute financial support, which was used to add training in agriculture to the curriculum. It was renamed Georgia Normal and Agricultural College.
Then in 1943, the school joined the University System of Georgia and went through yet another name change to Albany State College.
In 1981 Albany State started offering its students a graduate degree program, and in 1996 the university underwent one final name change, and Albany State University was born. This diverse and celebrated school has over a century of excellence in higher education under its belt, and ASU’s future looks just as bright as its storied past.
Clark Atlanta University
Clark Atlanta University has almost four thousand students, making it one of the largest schools in the Atlanta University Center Consortium. Other schools in the consortium include Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College.
CAU is a private, urban-based, co-ed institute of higher learning with a proud black heritage. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. It also has different certificate programs outside of available degrees.
This research-intensive school has a rich history of social justice and upholds a standard of cultural diversity that lives up to its heritage. The University is located right in the heart of Atlanta and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, master’s, doctorate, and specialist degrees.
Clark Atlanta got its start when the former Atlanta University and Clark College were consolidated in the late 1980s. Atlanta University was established in 1865, and Clark College was established in 1869.
By the 1930s, Clark College joined the Atlanta University Complex to save money and educate the student body more efficiently. Finally, in the 1980s, the two colleges were consolidated to form Clark Atlanta University in July of 1988.
Savannah State University
Savannah State University currently provides around three thousand seven hundred students studying thirty baccalaureate majors and five graduate majors. It has a faculty of one-hundred and forty-five and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
More than ninety percent of SSU students receive some kind of financial aid or scholarship funding. There are more than seventy-five different organizations, clubs, student publications, sororities, fraternities, and intramural sports teams available for students who call the two-hundred-acre campus home.
Savannah State University was the first public HBCU in Georgia and the first institute of higher learning in Savannah. It was founded in 1890 thanks to the Second Morrill Land Grant Act. This act mandated southern and border states to build colleges specifically for black Americans.
That same year the Georgia General Assembly created the Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youths in Athens, Georgia. The school was relocated to Savannah in October of 1891, and the school gave out its first degree in 1898 to Richard Wright Jr. Wright was the son of Georgia State Industrial College’s founding president.
When the school joined Georgia’s University System in 1932, its name was changed to Georgia State College. The name then changed again in 1950 to Savanna State College. The name would shift one last time to Savannah State University in 1996 after it achieved university status.
Morris Brown College
Chartered by the state of Georgia as a private, co-ed, liberal arts school, Morris Brown College teaches public service in research in the arts, social and natural sciences, humanities, and professional programs.
Morris Brown specializes in cutting-edge technology, leadership, management, and entrepreneurship. The college seeks to provide educational opportunities that help students grow into citizens of the world. It provides students ample opportunities to enhance their personal, interpersonal, and intellectual development as they receive a world-class education.
MBC is a member of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and has a proud tradition of producing some of the nation’s best and brightest young scholars. Some notable alumni from Morris Brown include:
- Isaac Blythers (Former President of Atlanta Gas Light Company)
- James A. McPherson (Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author)
- Thomas J. Byrd (Actor)
- Eula L. Adams (Executive Vice President for First Data Corporation)
- Reverend Dr. Hosea Willaims (Late Civil Rights Leader)
- Albert J. Edmonds (Retired Lieutenant General of the United States Air Force)
The college was founded in 1881 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, but construction did not finish until 1885.
It started with only one hundred and seven students and nine teachers inside a crude wooden building. It was named Morris Brown College after the second consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Paine College is a private liberal arts school founded on the tenets of Methodism that offers an enviable education to all its students. Paine upholds ethics and spiritual values alongside those of academic excellence, personal development, and social responsibility.
Paine College graduates enter the world ready to live a life of leadership and service. The school is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
It was founded with great help from leadership within the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The school was first dreamt up by Bishop Lucius Henry Holsey in 1869 as a place to train black teachers to address the growing educational needs of Georgia’s newly freed slaves.
In 1882 Paine’s Board of Trustees met for the first time. Bishop Holsey’s brainchild was named after the late Bishop Robert Paine of Methodist Episcopal Church South. That December, Dr. Morgan Callaway was named the first President of the College.
Though over a century has passed, Paine College is still not finished evolving. In 2017 the school got a million-dollar makeover with an extensive set of campus renovations that included a revamped bookstore and Alumni Relations Office.
Honorable Mention: Interdenominational Theological Center
The Interdenominational Theological Center specializes in educating leaders in the church along with both local and global communities. They offer a Master of Divinity program, a Master of Arts in Liturgical Arts and Culture, a Master of Arts in Religion and Education, and a Doctor of Ministry program.
ITC is the only member institution of the United Negro College Fund that provides graduate theological education. The Center was founded in 1958 as a joint venture between four different seminaries: Gammon Theological Seminary, Morehouse School of Religion, Phillips School of Theology, and Turner Theological Seminary.
Doors opened in September of 1959 with ninety-seven students and twenty-one faculty members. Today, the ITC has two hundred and eighty-five enrolled students, and almost thirty-seven percent of them are enrolled full time.
A Brief History of HBCUs in America
It can help to look back at the overarching trajectory of historically black colleges and universities in the United States.
Most HBCUs sprang up between 1865 and 1900. Most American HBCUs got their start in 1867, just three years after the Emancipation Proclamation and two years after the end of the Civil War.
According to the United Negro College Fund, you can find 101 recognized HBCUs in America today. We have narrowed down that list below to include only the nine best historically black colleges and universities in Georgia.
Best Historically Black Colleges & Universities in Georgia, Final Thoughts
HBCUs offer prospective students quality education at a great value. Moreover, their history of progressivism and championing social justice provides black students with a sense of pride in their shared cultural history.
Historically black colleges and universities in Georgia have time and again produced alumni who were wildly successful in their chosen career paths and who have paved the way for other black Americans to succeed and thrive.
For over a century these venerable institutions provided education for minority communities that enabled unforeseen economic and social opportunities which would go on to benefit millions of black Americans over the years.
We hope you have enjoyed discovering the 9 best HBCUs in Georgia with us and that you feel as proud and inspired by the history of black education as we are!