HBCUs, which stands for historically black colleges and universities, are an integral part of the U.S. education system.
To be considered an HBCU, an accredited college or university has to have been established prior to 1964 and have a primary focus on supporting the education of black Americans specifically. However, non-black Americans can attend HBCUs as well.
Here are the top North Carolina HBCUs.
1. Shaw University
Shaw University is a four-year, private, not-for-profit university located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Shaw has an undergraduate enrollment of about 1,100 students and an acceptance rate of about 71%.
It is the oldest HBCU in the Southern United States, the second oldest HBCU in the U.S., and the first HBCU to confer degrees in the fields of library science and business administration. It was also the first HBCU to admit women in North Carolina.
There are a variety of liberal arts programs and majors, including social work, health and human sciences, and religious studies. Business administration is also a significant area of study at Shaw.
There are many sports and extracurricular activities at Shaw as well, including but not limited to concerts, band, choral groups, radio states, sororities and fraternities, and the student newspaper.
2. North Carolina Central University
North Carolina Central University, a.k.a. NCCU, is a four-year public university located in Durham, North Carolina. NCCU has an undergraduate enrollment of 5,546 students and an acceptance rate of 87%.
It is part of the University of North Carolina system, and in 1925, it became the first state-supported liberal arts college for African and African Americans in the South.
NCCU offers over 80 undergraduate and graduate programs, including law, library science, social science, business administration, engineering, criminal justice, education, etc. Because of the vast amount of educational opportunities, majors are split into separate colleges:
- College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities
- Hip hop concentration, art studies, media studies, psychology, etc.
- College of Health and Sciences
- Biology, biomedical sciences, sport management, family and consumer sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, mathematics, physics, etc.
- School of Business
- Accounting, financial analytics, information technology, hospitality, etc.
- School of Education
- Concentrations in ESL, early childhood, language arts, mathematics, etc.
- School of Library and Information Sciences
- Library science, school media, digital library, etc.
Another interesting fact about NCCU is that in 1910 it was originally named the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua for the Colored Race.
After that, it went through a series of name changes, including the National Training School, the Durham State Normal School, the North Carolina College for Negroes, and the North Carolina College at Durham. It was finally given the name North Carolina Central State in 1969.
Extracurricular activities at NCCU include marching band, concert band, Greek life, student newspaper, dance, choral groups, radio station, and much more.
3. Elizabeth City State University
Elizabeth City State University is a four-year university located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. ECSU has an undergraduate enrollment of 1,623 students and an acceptance rate of 75%.
This public black HBCU was founded in 1891 as a two-year teachers’ college, and it is part of the University of North Carolina system. In 1967, ECSU became a four-year degree-granting institution.
ECSU prioritizes a student-centered environment that prepares students for future leadership roles and lifelong learning. And there are over 40 undergraduate and graduate programs offered at ECSU, including business administration, education, liberal arts, and biological sciences.
Digital Media, Accounting, Elementary Education, Sport Management, and Computer Science are a few of the specific majors offered.
Extracurricular activities at the university include but are not limited to Greek life, intramural sports, student government, marching band, and more.
4. Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University, or WSSU, is a four-year public university located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. WSSU has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,530 students and an acceptance rate of 73%.
It is part of the University of North Carolina system, and it is one of the oldest HBCU in North Carolina. For the last nine years, U.S. News and World Report have ranked WSSU in the Top Comprehensive Colleges in the South – Bachelor’s category.
WSSU offers over 50 undergraduate majors and programs as well as a variety of graduate programs.
Areas of study include business, education, health sciences, and liberal arts. More specifically, students can choose to study finance, teaching, chemistry, behavioral science, and more.
Extracurricular activities include Greek life, intramural sports, jazz band, student newspaper, television station, and more.
5. Johnson C Smith University
Johnson C Smith University, or JCSU, is a four-year, private, not-for-profit university in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. JCSU has an undergraduate enrollment of 1,429 students and an acceptance rate of 49%.
JCSU was founded in 1867, is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, and is the oldest HBCU in North Carolina. The university offers many undergraduate majors and programs across Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Social Work, as well as a few graduate programs
Areas of study include business, education, liberal arts, and sciences. Students at JCSU might decide to major in computer engineering, communications, dance, mathematics, economics, public health, political science, etc.
JCSU also offers a number of extracurricular activities and organizations, including but not limited to Greek life, student government, marching band, and more.
6. North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina A&T State University, a.k.a. A&T or NCAT, is a four-year public university located in Greensboro, North Carolina.
With an undergraduate enrollment of around 10,6000, NCAT is the largest Historically Black College or Univerity in the entire country. This university places a significant emphasis on preparing graduates for a complex, global society through interdisciplinary studies.
A&T was founded in 1891 as an agricultural and technical school, and it is now part of the University of North Carolina’s higher education system.
The university offers over 100 undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of fields, including business, education, engineering, and liberal arts. Given the extensive program options, majors are separated into different colleges, such as:
- College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
- Political science, journalism, music, criminal justice
- College of Engineering
- Bioengineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering
- College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences
- Agricultural education, animal science, biological engineering, food & nutritional science, landscape engineering
- College of Business and Economics
- Accounting, finance, management, economics
- College of Education
- Elementary education, special education
- College of Science and Technology
- Biology, chemistry, physics, design technology
- College of health and human sciences
- Social work, nursing, speech, sociology
Extracurricular activities at NCAT include but are not limited to sports, Greek life, marching band, student government, and more.
7. Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville State University, a.k.a. UNC-FSU or just FSUis a four-year public university in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Fayetteville State University has an undergraduate enrollment of 5,061 students and an acceptance rate of 79%.
UNC-FSU was founded in 1867 as the Howard School, and it is part of the University of North Carolina system. It is the second oldest public higher education institution in the state.
FSU prioritizes individual attention, given its relatively small faculty-to-student ratio of 1:19. The university offers around 60 undergraduate majors and programs as well as a few graduate programs.
The most prominent of study include business, education, liberal arts, and sciences. Some of the newer undergraduate programs include management information systems, biotechnology, forensic science, communications, and generic nursing.
Extracurricular activities include intramural sports, marching band, and choral groups.
8. Bennett College
Bennett College is a four-year, private, not-for-profit college in Greensboro, North Carolina. Bennett College is small, with an undergraduate enrollment of 309 students and an acceptance rate of 73%.
The student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 100% of classes have fewer than 20 students. Bennett College is the only historically black college for women in the state of North Carolina. It was initially coed but became a women’s college in 1926.
The primary goal of Bennett College is to prepare women for leadership roles in their future workplaces and in society as a whole. This institution emphasizes intellectual honesty, meaningful public service, civic action, and high morals.
The community-building college offers bachelor’s degrees in business and liberal arts. Specifically, students can choose to take courses in biology, chemistry, computer science, psychology, theater, music, English, and much more.
Dual degrees are also offered at Bennett if you want to take a more interdisciplinary route.
Extracurricular activities at Bennett College include but are not limited to the choir, concert band, jazz band, and dance.
9. Livingstone College
Livingstone College is a four-year, private, not-for-profit college located in Salisbury, North Carolina. Livingstone has an undergraduate enrollment of 845 students and an acceptance rate of 69%
Livingstone is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The school’s campus houses 50 buildings on 107 acres of land.
Livingstone College was founded in 1879 by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The college’s name is taken from Bishop Henry McNeal Livingstone, one of the first African-American missionaries of the AME Zion Church.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredited Livingstone College to award baccalaureate degrees. The college offers many different undergraduate majors and programs, including music, early childhood education, psychology, sociology, math, and more.
Extracurricular activities at Livingstone College include but are not limited to pep band, choral group, jazz band, student government, and more.
10. Saint Augustine’s University
Saint Augustine’s University is a four-year, private, not-for-profit university in Raleigh, North Carolina. Saint Augustine’s has an undergraduate enrollment of 1,100 and an acceptance rate of about 67%.
Saint Augustine’s was founded in 1867 by significant Episcopal Clergy with the initial purpose of educating formerly enslaved people.
The university offers bachelor’s degrees in various areas of study and is known for its strong business, education, religious studies, and nursing programs. They also offer several humanities, psychology, and science degree opportunities.
Finally, creative types can find a variety of studies that may suit their interest here, including visual arts, film, music, and theater.
Choral groups and student newspapers are two major extracurricular opportunities at Saint Augustine’s.
11. Barber-Scotia College – Honorable Mention
Many people see Barber-Scotia College as an HBCU, but it is technically not an accredited college.
However, this college is still able to grant degrees to students, so it is worth mentioning in a list of HBCUs in North Carolina.
This college prioritizes uplifting the six elements of a human – intellectual, emotional, social, physical, ethical, and spiritual – through Christian-inspired ideals.
Religious studies are popular here, from pastoral care to Christian education. Additionally, business majors, particularly revolving around entrepreneurship, are a popular choice at Barber-Scotia.
Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities in North Carolina, Final Thoughts
If you are looking for a college with a strong academic program and extracurricular activities, then one of these schools may be the right fit for you.
Choosing the right college is an important decision, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. With a bit of research, you can find the perfect historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina for you.