2016 Facts & Figures

A fact sheet of relevant information for parents and students 

  • Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions that were established prior to 1964 with the principal mission of educating Black Americans.
  • These institutions were founded and developed in an environment of legal segregation and, by providing access to higher education, contributed substantially to the education of the underprivileged. 
  • In 2015, there were 102 HBCUs located in 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of the 102 HBCUs, 51 were public institutions and 51 were private nonprofit institutions to the progress Blacks have made in improving their status.
  • The number of students enrolled at HBCUs rose by 32 percent between 1976 and 2015, from 223,000 to 293,000 (source). In comparison, total enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased by 81 percent, from 11 million to 20 million, during that period.
  • Although HBCUs were originally founded to educate Black students, they have historically enrolled students of other races as well. This diversity has increased over time.
  • In 2015, non-Black students made up 22 percent of enrollment at HBCUs, compared with 15 percent in 1976 (source). Enrollment at HBCUs in 2015 was 61 percent female, up from 53 percent in 1976 (source). Also in 2015, some 87 percent of HBCU students attended a 4-year institution, while 13 percent attended a 2-year institution (source). About 75 percent of HBCU students attended public institutions, while the remaining 25 percent attended private nonprofit institutions. Among Black students, the percentage enrolled at HBCUs fell over time, from 18 percent in 1976 to 9 percent in 2015.
  • In 2014–15, most of the 48,000 degrees conferred by HBCUs were bachelor's degrees (70 percent) and master's degrees (15 percent). Black students earned 82 percent of the 33,400 bachelor's degrees conferred by HBCUs, and 73 percent of the 7,400 master's degrees conferred at these institutions. At both levels, a majority of these degrees were awarded to Black females.
  • Over time, the percentages of bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded to Black students by HBCUs decreased in proportion to a decrease in enrollment over the span of time. For example, HBCUs awarded 35 percent of the bachelor’s degrees and 21 percent of the master's degrees Blacks earned in 1976–77, compared with 14 and 6 percent, respectively, of bachelor's and master's degrees Blacks earned in 2014–15 (source, source, source, and source). Additionally, the percentage of Black doctor’s degree recipients who received their degrees from HBCUs was lower in 2014–15 (12 percent) than in 1976–77 (14 percent) .
  • The total revenue for HBCUs in 2014–15 was $7.7 billion, with $1.8 billion from student tuition and fees. Total expenditures were $7.6 billion, of which $1.9 billion was spent on instruction.

(credit: NCES)

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