Fostering Diversity: A Necessary Step for HBCU Survival

Tim Goral's picture

Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, have provided a top-notch education for African Americans since pre-Civil War days. These schools, founded prior to 1964 with the goal of serving black students, once provided windows to educational pursuits when other doors were slammed shut to African Americans. With diversity at all American colleges and universities on the rise, and the emergence of flexible online programs, where do HBCUs fit in the contemporary higher education picture?

A Powerful Educational Presence
According to, 70 percent of the nation's African American physicians and dentists earned their degrees at HBCUs. Over 50 percent of public school teachers of African American descent earned their degrees at HBCUs. African Americans with communication technology degrees from HBCUs make up 44 percent of the nation's total and 43 percent of mathematics degrees awarded to African Americans come from HBCUs. The range of industries addressed in the offerings of HBCUs is vast, contributing to a larger and more integral African American presence in the workforce.

Women gain an especially strong advantage when they earn a degree from an HBCU. The United Negro College Fund has reported that females who graduate from Bennett and Spelman Colleges make up more than half of the African American women who eventually earn science doctorates. To put that in perspective, that number is higher than the amount produced by all seven Ivy League sister schools put together. In a workplace when minorities often still struggle to reach the highest ranks, African American women hold a strong advantage with a degree from a HBCU.

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