Most Influential HBCUs 2000-2020

The very best HBCUs serve as a place for belonging, empowerment, and pride in Black culture and identity while pressing forward on equal opportunity for all Americans. Our Influence Rankings cast a spotlight on the iconic institutions and noteworthy influencers that embody Black excellence in education.

Most Influential HBCUs 2000-2020

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are schools of higher learning that were largely established between the end of slavery in 1865 and the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 in order to create opportunities in higher education for Black students. At a time when Southern colleges refused their admission and many Northern colleges had rigid quotas on how many Black students could be admitted, HBCUs emerged to advance educational, professional, and economic interests for Black Americans.

Today, HBCUs remain a critical source of education, community, and opportunity for Black students as well as a diverse cross-section that includes Latino, Asian, and White students. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) categorizes 101 institutions of higher learning as HBCUs across 19 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Because racial segregation played a direct role in the need for such institutions, the majority of HBCUs are concentrated in the South.

According to the NCES, as of 2018, there were 51 public HBCUs and 50 private, non-profit HBCUs providing degrees at every level of higher education. At the time of writing, 38 HBCUs offered associate degree programs, 83 offered bachelor’s degrees, 52 conferred master’s degrees, and 27 granted doctoral degrees.

Among the luminaries who were inspired to greatness during their time as students in America’s top HBCUs are Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. (Morehouse College), media magnate Oprah Winfrey (Tennessee State University), Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison (Howard University), and current Vice President Kamala Harris (Howard University).

How do we determine the Most Influential HBCUs?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence gets at the heart of what is truly best in education. At the undergraduate level, the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers is the best indicator of academic excellence. Overall influence, and not influence controlled by other variables, thus becomes the best gauge of academic excellence.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our methodology here.

Are you interested in pursuing an online degree? Check out our ranking of the Best HBCU Online Programs.


The Most Influential Historically Black Colleges and Universities

We’ve identified the most influential HBCUs in the United States. The list below focuses on those schools that offer four-year undergraduate degrees and are fully accredited.

What is North Carolina A&T State University known for?

North Carolina A&T State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Mathematics
  • Nursing
  • Economics
  • Sociology
  • Computer Science

Most Influential Alumni

#12

University of the Virgin Islands

Charlotte Amalie , VI
What is University of the Virgin Islands known for?

University of the Virgin Islands’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Political Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Mathematics
  • Literature
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Computer Science
  • Education

Most Influential Alumni

#13

Norfolk State University

Norfolk , VA
What is Norfolk State University known for?

Norfolk State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Social Work
  • Criminal Justice
  • Communications
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Physics
  • Nursing
  • Political Science
  • Psychology

Most Influential Alumni

#14

Lincoln University

Lincoln University , PA
What is Lincoln University known for?

Lincoln University ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Literature
  • Sociology
  • Education
  • Political Science
  • Communications
  • Psychology
  • Medical
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Anthropology

Most Influential Alumni

#15

Texas Southern University

Houston , TX
What is Texas Southern University known for?

Texas Southern University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Law
  • Education
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Medical
  • Computer Science
  • Sociology
  • Engineering
  • Chemistry

Most Influential Alumni

#16

Wilberforce University

Wilberforce , OH
What is Wilberforce University known for?

Wilberforce University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Sociology
  • Computer Science
  • Political Science
  • Literature
  • Social Work
  • Medical
  • Psychology
  • Engineering
  • Communications
  • Business

Most Influential Alumni

Other Rankings
What is University of the District of Columbia known for?

University of the District of Columbia’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Literature
  • Computer Science
  • Political Science
  • Engineering
  • History
  • Biology
  • Nursing

Most Influential Alumni

#25

Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City , NC
What is Elizabeth City State University known for?

Elizabeth City State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Mathematics
  • History
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • Business
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Communications
  • Literature
  • Social Work

Most Influential Alumni

#27

Virginia Union University

Richmond , VA
Other Rankings
What is Virginia Union University known for?

Virginia Union University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Religious Studies
  • Social Work
  • History
  • Education
  • Sociology
  • Chemistry
  • Communications
  • Literature
  • Psychology
  • Computer Science

Most Influential Alumni

#29

Bethune–Cookman University

Daytona Beach , FL
What is Bethune–Cookman University known for?

Bethune–Cookman University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Nursing
  • History
  • Chemistry
  • Business
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • Engineering
  • Medical
  • Education

Most Influential Alumni

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