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. (), 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.


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.

Howard University
#1

Howard University

#132 institution's overall influence
#220 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$27K

Acceptance

39%

Graduation

63%

Student body

8K

Median SAT/ACT

1205/24

Washington, DC

View profile

What is Howard University known for?

Howard University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Law
  • Education
  • Political Science
  • Medical
  • Literature
  • History
  • Business
  • Biology
  • Communications
  • Mathematics

Most Influential Alumni

Fisk University
#4

Fisk University

#535 institution's overall influence
#843 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$22K

Acceptance

66%

Graduation

49%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

1040/21

Nashville, TN

View profile

What is Fisk University known for?

Fisk University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Literature
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Business
  • Sociology
  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Psychology

Most Influential Alumni

Tennessee State University
#5

Tennessee State University

#993 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$9K

Graduation

29%

Student body

7K

Nashville, TN

View profile

What is Tennessee State University known for?

Tennessee State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Medical
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Political Science
  • Literature
  • History
  • Biology
  • Communications
  • Computer Science

Most Influential Alumni

Tuskegee University
#6

Tuskegee University

#439 institution's overall influence
#338 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$23K

Acceptance

61%

Graduation

52%

Student body

3K

Median SAT/ACT

989/20

Tuskegee, AL

View profile

What is Tuskegee University known for?

Tuskegee University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Literature
  • Business
  • Political Science
  • Engineering
  • Medical
  • Biology
  • History
  • Nursing
  • Chemistry

Most Influential Alumni

Florida A&M University
#7

Florida A&M University

#1131 institution's overall influence
#122 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$6K

Acceptance

33%

Graduation

48%

Student body

9K

Median SAT/ACT

1095/21

Tallahassee, FL

View profile

What is Florida A&M University known for?

Florida A&M University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Law
  • Engineering
  • Biology
  • Political Science
  • History
  • Medical
  • Communications
  • Chemistry
  • Nursing

Most Influential Alumni

North Carolina A&T State University
#8

North Carolina A&T State University

#1684 institution's overall influence
#1173 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$7K

Acceptance

57%

Graduation

43%

Student body

11K

Median SAT/ACT

1060/19

Greensboro, NC

View profile

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

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

  • Business
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Political Science
  • Medical
  • Biology
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Chemistry

Most Influential Alumni

Hampton University
#8

Hampton University

#635 institution's overall influence
#666 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$28K

Acceptance

36%

Graduation

50%

Student body

4K

Hampton, VA

View profile

What is Hampton University known for?

Hampton University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Political Science
  • Literature
  • History
  • Medical
  • Communications
  • Engineering
  • Biology
  • Mathematics

Most Influential Alumni

North Carolina Central University
#9

North Carolina Central University

#1053 institution's overall influence
#789 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$7K

Acceptance

87%

Graduation

44%

Student body

7K

Median SAT/ACT

970/18

Durham, NC

View profile

What is North Carolina Central University known for?

North Carolina Central University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Political Science
  • Biology
  • History
  • Medical
  • Psychology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Computer Science

Most Influential Alumni

Clark Atlanta University
#10

Clark Atlanta University

#694 institution's overall influence
#443 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$23K

Acceptance

59%

Graduation

40%

Student body

4K

Median SAT/ACT

1010/18

Atlanta, GA

View profile

What is Clark Atlanta University known for?

Clark Atlanta University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Political Science
  • Business
  • History
  • Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Social Work
  • Religious Studies
  • Sociology
  • Biology

Most Influential Alumni

Xavier University of Louisiana
#11

Xavier University of Louisiana

#1778 institution's overall influence
#528 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$25K

Acceptance

81%

Graduation

44%

Student body

3K

Median SAT/ACT

1075/23

New Orleans, LA

View profile

What is Xavier University of Louisiana known for?

Xavier University of Louisiana's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Political Science
  • Medical
  • History
  • Computer Science
  • Communications
  • Mathematics
  • Literature
  • Biology
  • Philosophy

Most Influential Alumni

University of the Virgin Islands
#12

University of the Virgin Islands

#1896 institution's overall influence
#560 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$5K

Acceptance

100%

Graduation

24%

Student body

2K

Median SAT/ACT

909/17

Charlotte Amalie, VI

View profile

What is University of the Virgin Islands known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Norfolk State University
#13

Norfolk State University

#1894 institution's overall influence
#497 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$10K

Acceptance

91%

Graduation

39%

Student body

5K

Median SAT/ACT

950/18

Norfolk, VA

View profile

What is Norfolk State University known for?

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

  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Business
  • Communications
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Medical
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology

Most Influential Alumni

Lincoln University
#14

Lincoln University

#625 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

90%

Graduation

46%

Student body

2K

Median SAT/ACT

940/17

Lincoln University, PA

View profile

What is Lincoln University known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Texas Southern University
#15

Texas Southern University

#876 institution's overall influence
#550 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

66%

Graduation

23%

Student body

8K

Median SAT/ACT

920/16

Houston, TX

View profile

What is Texas Southern University known for?

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

  • Law
  • Education
  • Medical
  • Political Science
  • History
  • Criminal Justice
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Communications
  • Literature

Most Influential Alumni

Wilberforce University
#16

Wilberforce University

#995 institution's overall influence
#532 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$13K

Acceptance

62%

Graduation

26%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

788/17

Wilberforce, OH

View profile

What is Wilberforce University known for?

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

  • Computer Science
  • Political Science
  • Literature
  • Business
  • Medical
  • Engineering
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Communications
  • Biology

Most Influential Alumni

Dillard University
#17

Dillard University

#1242 institution's overall influence
#477 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$19K

Acceptance

65%

Graduation

40%

Student body

1K

Median SAT/ACT

1050/21

New Orleans, LA

View profile

What is Dillard University known for?

Dillard University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Medical
  • Communications
  • Political Science
  • Business
  • Literature
  • Nursing
  • Physics
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Mathematics

Most Influential Alumni

Morgan State University
#18

Morgan State University

#1028 institution's overall influence
#1063 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$8K

Acceptance

74%

Graduation

38%

Student body

7K

Median SAT/ACT

705/18

Baltimore, MD

View profile

What is Morgan State University known for?

Morgan State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Medical
  • Physics
  • Communications
  • Mathematics
  • Literature

Most Influential Alumni

Virginia State University
#19

Virginia State University

#1331 institution's overall influence
#801 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

96%

Graduation

42%

Student body

4K

Median SAT/ACT

920/17

Petersburg, VA

View profile

What is Virginia State University known for?

Virginia State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Literature
  • Biology
  • Medical
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science

Most Influential Alumni

Alabama State University
#20

Alabama State University

#837 institution's overall influence
#420 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

99%

Graduation

28%

Student body

4K

Median SAT/ACT

950/17

Montgomery, AL

View profile

What is Alabama State University known for?

Alabama State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Political Science
  • Education
  • Medical
  • Engineering
  • History
  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Social Work
  • Literature

Most Influential Alumni

#21

Alcorn State University

#1172 institution's overall influence
#425 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$7K

Acceptance

38%

Graduation

32%

Student body

4K

Median SAT/ACT

885/20

Alcorn State, MS

View profile

What is Alcorn State University known for?

Alcorn State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • History
  • Medical
  • Literature
  • Education
  • Political Science
  • Nursing
  • Biology
  • Communications
  • Mathematics
  • Criminal Justice

Most Influential Alumni

Jackson State University
#22

Jackson State University

#1232 institution's overall influence
#257 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$8K

Acceptance

90%

Graduation

34%

Student body

7K

Median SAT/ACT

981/19

Jackson, MS

View profile

What is Jackson State University known for?

Jackson State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Medical
  • History
  • Business
  • Political Science
  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Communications
  • Literature
  • Mathematics

Most Influential Alumni

University of the District of Columbia
#23

University of the District of Columbia

#986 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$6K

Graduation

44%

Student body

3K

Washington, DC

View profile

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
  • History
  • Literature
  • Law
  • Business
  • Political Science
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Communications
  • Mathematics
South Carolina State University
#24

South Carolina State University

#1654 institution's overall influence
#544 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

94%

Graduation

36%

Student body

3K

Median SAT/ACT

915/16

Orangeburg, SC

View profile

What is South Carolina State University known for?

South Carolina State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Biology
  • History
  • Engineering
  • Political Science
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Medical
  • Mathematics
  • Social Work

Most Influential Alumni

Elizabeth City State University
#25

Elizabeth City State University

#1563 institution's overall influence
#1017 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$3K

Acceptance

75%

Graduation

38%

Student body

2K

Median SAT/ACT

962/18

Elizabeth City, NC

View profile

What is Elizabeth City State University known for?

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

  • Computer Science
  • Literature
  • History
  • Education
  • Mathematics
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Biology
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
Savannah State University
#26

Savannah State University

#1952 institution's overall influence
#226 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$6K

Acceptance

46%

Graduation

28%

Student body

4K

Median SAT/ACT

965/17

Savannah, GA

View profile

What is Savannah State University known for?

Savannah State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Political Science
  • History
  • Social Work
  • Earth Sciences
  • Literature
  • Sociology
  • Chemistry

Most Influential Alumni

Virginia Union University
#27

Virginia Union University

#1358 institution's overall influence
#433 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$18K

Acceptance

75%

Graduation

27%

Student body

1K

Median SAT/ACT

849/15

Richmond, VA

View profile

What is Virginia Union University known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Tougaloo College
#28

Tougaloo College

#1601 institution's overall influence
#538 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

71%

Graduation

50%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

865/18

Tougaloo, MS

View profile

What is Tougaloo College known for?

Tougaloo College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Education
  • Literature
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Biology
  • Mathematics
  • Psychology
  • Computer Science
  • Sociology
  • Communications
Bethune–Cookman University
#29

Bethune–Cookman University

#4911 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$15K

Acceptance

98%

Graduation

37%

Student body

4K

Median SAT/ACT

925/16

Daytona Beach, FL

View profile

What is Bethune–Cookman University known for?

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

  • Education
  • Business
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Medical
  • Criminal Justice
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Literature

Most Influential Alumni

West Virginia State University
#30

West Virginia State University

#1378 institution's overall influence
#996 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$8K

Acceptance

89%

Graduation

26%

Student body

2K

Median SAT/ACT

965/19

Institute, WV

View profile

What is West Virginia State University known for?

West Virginia State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  • Political Science
  • Education
  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Medical
  • History
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Literature
  • Economics

Most Influential Alumni

Resources for College-Bound Students

Stay informed! Get the latest Academic Influence news, information, and rankings with our upcoming newsletter.