7 Top HBCUs in Louisiana, The Finest Black Colleges & Universities
There are 101 accredited Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) operating throughout 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Louisiana has the privilege of hosting seven of these highly impactful higher education institutions.
Each HBCU in Louisiana in this list has been included because they excel in offering the highest financial payoff, access rate, success rate, or mobility rate. Keep reading to find out why.
1. Dillard University
Dillard University is a private four-year liberal arts faith-based university in New Orleans. What is now Dillard emerged from the union of several universities in 1930. It incorporated earlier institutions that had been founded as early as 1869, making Dillard the oldest HBCU in Louisiana.
The university is named after James Hardy Dillard, a distinguished educational reformer, advocate for black education, and promoter of racial harmony. Dillard wanted to close racial barriers in education and was not satisfied with how former slaves were being treated after emancipation.
The school motto is “ex fide fortis,” translated from Latin by Dillard to mean “from confidence, courage.” Today, Dillard offers 22 bachelor’s degrees in business, STEM, and social sciences. It has plans to expand even further to meet demands.
Dillard plays a significant role in its graduates’ economic success by enhancing their education, training, and leadership skills. Graduates can expect to earn $472 million over their lifetimes which is 77% more than non-graduates can expect to earn. Dillard also has the seventh-best success rate of HBCUs and is above the national average of all universities.
2. Grambling State University
Grambling State University is a public four-year university located in Grambling, Louisiana. You can find it west of Monroe and east of Shreveport in the center north of the state. It was founded in 1901 by a group of African-American farmers who wanted a school for agriculture and industry in their region.
The school got its name in 1946 after a sawmill owner, P. G. Grambling, donated land for the construction of new school buildings. With this space, they were able to expand their curricula into teaching, sciences, liberal arts, and business. It transformed them from a single-purpose institution into a multipurpose one.
The motto of the school is “Where everybody is somebody.” Grambling offers 28 bachelor’s degrees, 14 master’s degrees, and one doctorate in many different domains. In 2020, it became the first university institution in Louisiana to offer bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity and cloud computing.
Graduates from Grambling can happily expect to earn $2.5 billion over their lifetimes which is 53% more than the expected earnings of non-graduates. As far as HBCUs go, Grambling has the third-best mobility rate and seventh-best access rate for its graduates.
GSU has had many notable graduates, including Willis Reed, Ronnie Coleman, and Erykah Badu. Their marching band is also one of the best in the nation. Indeed it is the only HBCU marching band to have performed at two consecutive U.S. presidential inaugurations.
3. Southern University and A&M College
Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College is a public four-year land grant university in Baton Rouge. What started with 12 students and five faculty members has grown into the largest HBCU in Louisiana and the flagship institution of the Southern University System.
It was first established in New Orleans in 1880 thanks to the efforts of African-American political leaders P.B.S. Pinchback, Théophile Allain, and Henry Demas. Other black institutions at that time had chosen to focus on vocational education but these men wanted to expand into math, language, and natural science.
The university was relocated to Baton Rouge in 1914 after 33 years in New Orleans due to not being close enough to the school’s training farm and being too close to Tulane University and the “good” side of town (read as white).
The school’s Baton Rouge campus is now a destination on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. These days they proudly host closer to 6,500 students and 1,600 faculty members.
Southern also has the tenth-highest mobility rate for HBCUs and a graduate can expect to make $2.8 billion over their lifetime which is 53% more than non-graduates can expect to earn.
4. Southern University at New Orleans
S.U. at New Orleans (SUNO) is a public four-year university and part of the Southern University System. It was founded as a branch of Southern University in 1956 in New Orleans in a subdivision of primarily African-American single-family residents.
Some 15 extremely motivated faculty members started by offering ten courses with 158 students inside of one building. Today, they host closer to 2,700 students and employ 381 staff in 11 buildings. They offer bachelor’s degrees across five colleges and master’s degrees in three. It’s the only institution in Louisiana to offer an advanced degree in museum studies.
One of its missions is to promote the upward mobility of diverse populations. Indeed, they have already taken great strides towards accomplishing this as they have the fifth-highest HBCU mobility rate in the country. They also have the tenth-highest access rate nationwide and the fourth-highest access rate out of all of the HBCUs.
Part of their vision is to advance the educational standing of their students. To do so, they strive to prepare students to participate in and contribute to a global society and workforce. Statistics appear to suggest that this goal is being achieved. SUNO graduates can earn $1.3 billion over their lifetimes (which is 46% more than if they didn’t attend college at all).
5. Southern University at Shreveport
S.U. Shreveport is a public two-year commuter college in Shreveport and a branch of the Southern University System. It was established in 1942 thanks to the session of the Louisiana Legislature that passed Act 42.
Its original purpose was to serve the Bossier City/Shreveport area by providing the first two years of college or university work at a low cost. In 1974, the Board of Regents granted S.U. approval to offer six associate degree programs in business, office administration, natural sciences, medical office assistant, social sciences, and humanities.
The college has since expanded what it offers prospective students. That is part of a long-term plan to become a more comprehensive community college. In turn, the HBCU wants to further contribute to the region’s future economic development.
The institution currently occupies 11 buildings across 103 acres of land in northwest Shreveport and hosts around 3000 students. They proudly carry the motto “Opportunity Starts Here.” S.U. graduates can expect to earn $684 million over their lifetimes which is 27% more than non-graduates can expect to earn.
6. Southern University Law Center
S.U. Law Center is a public four-year university in Baton Rouge. It opened in 1947 after an African-American resident, Charles J. Hatfield III, filed a lawsuit with the state to attend law school at the only state school to offer a law degree, Louisiana State University Law School.
Unfortunately, Hatfield lost the lawsuit because of segregation and racism, but the Louisiana State Board of Education decided to open a law school for African Americans anyway.
The Law Center emphasizes a high-quality legal education for students of diverse backgrounds. It is one of the most racially diverse law schools in the nation, and many of its graduates have spearheaded the procurement of equal rights for others.
The university aims to challenge and inspire its students by creating an environment that stimulates their intellectual processes and promotes their professional development.
Their students learn two different systems of law: Louisiana’s and that of every other state. Louisiana has a civil law jurisdiction, comparable to that of France and continental Europe, whereas other states are based on British common law.
7. Xavier University of Louisiana
Xavier University of Louisiana is a private four-year institution in New Orleans and the only black and Catholic university. Xavier can trace its roots back to 1915 and the site previously occupied by Southern University before it relocated to Baton Rouge.
Then Mother (now Saint) Katharine Drexel, a wealthy woman from Philadelphia who devoted her life to the education of African Americans and First Nations people, opened a high school. That later transformed into a university in 1925 with the establishment of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Today, Xavier has a reputation for being one of the most effective teaching institutions anywhere. Students are challenged to think critically and innovatively about the world throughout their time here.
Every aspect of the curriculum is influenced by Xavier’s mission to develop lifelong learners and global leaders who contribute to a more just and humane society for everyone.
Despite its small size, Xavier is a nationally recognized leader in STEM and health sciences fields. It produces more African American medical school graduates than any other university in the United States and is among the top producers of African American pharmacists as well.
Xavier graduates will be glad to know that Xavier has the highest financial payoff out of all HBCUs. When you compare the median salary of Xavier graduates to the median salary of other black graduates, Xavier grads make $15,619 more on average per year. They can expect to earn $1.7 billion in their lifetimes which is 66% more than non-graduates.
Xavier’s success rate is also the highest of all HBCUs, surpassing the national average and three Ivy League schools. What’s more, it comes top for economic mobility and is a relatively accessible institution.
What Is an HBCU?
An HBCU is a historically black college or university. They were founded before the Civil Rights Movement on the belief that every individual should have access to a college or other forms of higher education.
According to the Higher Education Act of 1965, the term technically applies to any black college or university established before 1964 whose purpose was, and is, the education of African Americans. Despite their origins, HBCUs have accepted and helped many students of diverse backgrounds graduate and go on to become leaders in their communities and around the world.
They have played and continue to play an important role in the education system of the United States.
Why Do They Matter?
There are many ways to measure success in life, like financial gain, community impact, satisfaction, or level of learning. However you want to look at it, Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Louisiana are successful. They serve the state and local communities alike.
HBCUs make up 3% of all institutions in the United States but educate 10% of all black college students. They are indispensable to the black experience in America and are particularly impactful on the economic outcomes of the community at large. That is facilitated by these institutions playing a crucial role in the development of black professionals.
Among professionals who graduated from an HBCU:
- 50% of African American public school teachers
- 50% of African American lawyers
- 80% of African American judges
- 38% of African American health care professionals
- 41% of all African American degrees in STEM
Their influence is also evident at a local level. In Louisiana, HBCUs have played a role in job creation, strong growth, and vibrant communities. The workforce is steadily being boosted by well-trained graduates who want to be successful and make a difference.
The total economic impact of HBCUs on Louisiana is $923 million and the lifetime earnings for graduates are $9.4 billion. Most of these universities were built in regions where the economic growth has been stagnant, if not declining, making these numbers even more impressive.
Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Louisiana, Final Thoughts
So out of all of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation, Louisiana has some of the best HBCUs despite having fewer schools of relatively small size. Every HBCU in Louisiana has built an enduring reputation for consistent excellence.
Even when you move outside of only HBCUs, Xavier University is one of the best in the country for the highest financial payoff, access rate, success rate, and mobility rate. The other listed universities are not far behind that either.