Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

This list of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) lists institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the black community.[1][2]

Alabama leads the nation with the number of HBCUS, followed by North Carolina then Georgia.

The list of closed colleges includes many that, because of state laws, were “racially” segregated. In other words, those colleges are not just “historically” Black, they were entirely Black for as long as they existed.

Allen University

Allen University is a private historically black university in Columbia, South Carolina. It has more than 600 students and still serves a predominantly Black constituency.[2] The campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Allen University Historic District.

Allen University was founded in Cokesbury in 1870 as Payne Institute by ministers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, including John M. Brown.[3] Its initial mission was to provide education to freedmen, former African American slaves and their children.

In 1880, it was moved to Columbia and renamed Allen University in honor of Bishop Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The university remains connected to the denomination, which is related to other Methodist churches. As one of two black colleges located in Columbia, Allen has a very strong presence in the African-American community. Allen University initially focused on training ministers and teachers, who were considered critical to the progress of African Americans. Over the years, it has enlarged its scope to produce graduates in other academic areas.

In 1885, Joseph W. Morris became president of the University.[4] By 1898, the university reported having a total of 9 faculty, 304 students, and 208 graduates.[5]

Bowie State University

Bowie State University is a public historically black university in Prince George’s County, Maryland, north of Bowie. It is part of the University System of Maryland. Founded in 1865, Bowie State is Maryland’s oldest historically black university[1] and one of the ten oldest in the country.[2] Bowie State is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Bowie State University is the oldest Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in Maryland [3] It was founded in 1865 by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Improvement of Colored People as a teaching school.[4][5] The school first used space at the African Baptist Church at Calvert Street and Sarasota Street, in Baltimore, Maryland.[5] In 1867, a dedicated facility was purchased nearby at Sarasota Street and Courtland Street, and the school was formally named the Baltimore Normal School for Colored Teachers.[4][6] After being reorganized in 1883 as the Baltimore Normal School, it educated African Americans to be teachers for African American students until 1908.[5] At that time, the school became a state institution of teaching under the Maryland State Department of Education and was redesignated as a Normal School No. 3.[4][5]

Shortly thereafter, in 1910, the school moved to the Jericho Farm, a 187-acre campus in Prince George’s County.[4][5] About 60 students lived in the old farmhouse.[3] The school was renamed in 1914 as the Maryland Normal and Industrial School at Bowie.[4][5] A two-year professional degree was added in 1925, a three-year program in 1931, a four-year program for elementary school teachers in 1935, a four-year program for junior high school teachers in 1951, and a four-year program for secondary school teachers in 1961.[4] In recognition of its principal role, the school was renamed in 1935 as Maryland Teachers College at Bowie.[4]

In 1963, Bowie State College was officially named a liberal arts school – with additional majors in English, history, and social science – although emphasis remained on teacher education.[4] A Master’s degree in education was added in 1969.[4]

The school was renamed Bowie State University in 1988, as a member of the University System of Maryland.[4] In the subsequent decades, Bowie continued to expand, especially in professional and Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.[4][5] In 1992, it became the first HBCU to expand overseas, with graduate programs for military personnel stationed abroad.[1] By 2017, the school offered 20+ undergraduate majors and 30+ advanced degrees or certificate programs.[4]

In the October 29, 2015 of The Economist magazine’s first ever rating of Colleges in America, which was based on an statistical estimate for each college based exclusively on factors such as average SAT scores, sex ratio, race breakdown, college size, whether a university was public or private, and the mix of subjects students chose to study versus how much money its former students would make. Bowie State University ranked #61 on the list and was # 1 in the State of Maryland.[7]

In 2020, MacKenzie Scott donated US$25 million to Bowie State. Her donation is the largest single gift in Bowie State’s history.[8]

Claflin University

Claflin University is a private historically black university in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Founded in 1869 after the American Civil War by northern missionaries for the education of freedmen and their children, it offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees.[2]

Claflin University was founded in 1869 by Methodist missionaries who freed slaves to take their rightful places as full American citizens.

Claflin is the oldest historically black college or university in South Carolina and touts itself as the first college in the state to welcome all students regardless of race or gender.

The university was named after two Methodist churchmen: Massachusetts Governor William Claflin and his father, Boston philanthropist Lee Claflin, who provided a large part of the funds to purchase the 43-acre campus. Claflin’s first president was Dr. Alonzo Webster, a minister and educator from Vermont who had previously spent time as a member of Claflin’s Board of Trustees.

Webster came to South Carolina to teach at the Baker Biblical Institute in Charleston, an institution established by the S.C. Mission Conference of 1866 of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the education of African American ministers. In 1870 the Baker Biblical Institute merged with Claflin University.

Since the administration of Dr. Webster, Claflin has been served by seven presidents: Dr. Edward Cooke (1872-1884); Dr. Lewis M. Dunton (1884-1922); Dr. Joseph B. Randolph (1922 1944); Dr. John J. Seabrook (1945-1955); Dr. Hubert V. Manning (1956-1984); Dr. Oscar A. Rogers, Jr. (1984-1994), Dr. Henry N. Tisdale (1994-2019) and Dr. Dwaun Warmack (2019–Present).

An act by the South Carolina General Assembly on March 12, 1872, designated the South Carolina State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute as a part of Claflin University. In 1896 the S.C. General Assembly passed an act of separation which severed the State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute from Claflin University and established a separate institution which eventually became South Carolina State University.[3]

In 2020, MacKenzie Scott donated $20 million to Claflin. Her donation is the largest single gift in Claflin’s history.[4]


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