if you've been considering a degree or certificate from an Historically Black College or University (HBCU), you're not alone. During the pandemic, applications to these schools increased as much 60% even as most other schools found applications dropping. The reasons vary, but for many, the ongoing discussion of issues of diversity and equity likely play a role.
Maybe you've dreamed of graduating from a HBCU, but you can't find a way to go full-time right now. Or maybe your preferred school is too far away, and it would be too expensive to relocate or commute.
You can still earn your degree and participate in the HBCU experience by earning your degree online. With an online degree, you may not have the same on-campus experience, but you'll still enjoy many of the benefits of attending an HBCU, including specialized courses of study, the name recognition of your alma mater, and access to strong alumni networks.
1. Howard University
Howard University, based in Washington DC, is one of the best-known HBCUs. As a research university, Howard is a leader in STEM fields and has several nationally ranked science programs. The school also has noted programs in social work, cinematography, business, and communication sciences and disorders.
The university offers a wide range of degrees, with a small but significant handful that can be completed online. Those include:
RN to BSN — This program is for registered nurses (RNs) who have completed their associate degree and want to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The program can be completed in 12 months for students who are able to take a full-time class load. There are also part-time programs available. Learn more here.
Online MBA — This program is for early- and mid-career professionals who want to grow as business leaders while completing the MBA program in a flexible way. Applicants should have at least two years of professional experience and already hold a BA or BS. Learn more about Howard's Online MBA here.
Executive MBA — Howard's Executive Master of Business Administration can be completed 100% online in only 18 months. This program is geared toward working professionals with at least seven years of professional experience who want to expand their career prospects to the executive level. Bonus: No GMATs required for admission. Get more details on the EMBA program here.
2. Albany State University
Albany State University, in Albany, GA, is the largest HBCU in Georgia. It was founded by Joseph Winthrop Holley, the son of formerly enslaved people. The school became part of the university system of Georgia in 1932.
ASU has an extremely wide selection of online programs including computer science, health sciences and criminal justice. Depending on your goals, you can choose from professional certificate, undergraduate, or graduate courses of study.
For a complete list of all the online programs the school has to offer, click here.
3. Hampton University
Hampton University in Hampton, VA, was founded after the Civil War to provide educational opportunities for freedmen and women. Booker T. Washington attended the school in 1872, when it was known as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute.
Today, the school offers an extensive list of online programs at all levels, including doctoral, master's, bachelor's and associate degrees. Hampton also offers certificate programs in disciplines such as human resource management and paralegal studies.
Click here for a complete list of degree programs that can be completed online, through the Hampton Online U portal.
4. Spelman College
Founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, the school now known as Spelman College is an internationally known leader in the education of women of African descent. The school is just launching its first online certificate programs. Starting in the Spring 2022 semester, Spelman introduced three programs: Business Essentials; Project Management; and Leading Self, Leading Others.
The college said it will continue to launch new programs in upcoming semesters, in the following study areas: diverse leadership, teacher certification prep, conversational Spanish, cosmetic science, urban education, and more.
Online degree programs range from post-bac certificates to doctoral degrees in the following areas of study:
community college L\leadership
sustainable urban communities
MSU also has noncredit online programs focusing on business and technology. Learn more about all of MSUs online programs here.
6. Lincoln University
Lincoln University is located in Jefferson City, MO. According to its website, the school was founded in 1866 by the men of the 62ndand 65thUnited States Colored Infantries and their white officers, for the special benefit of freed African Americans.
Throughout its history, the school has been known for offering innovative programs that serve a diverse student body.
It currently has two online MBA programs — one with an emphasis in management; the other with an emphasis in public administration/policy. Learn more here.
7. Xavier University of Louisiana
Xavier University of Louisiana, in New Orleans, is the only historically Black and Catholic university in the United States. Though small, it's particularly noted for its STEM programs, especially its School of Pharmacy.
XULA has a flexible approach to online education, with classes available in its schools of biological and applied sciences, public health sciences, speech pathology, business, education & consulting, and fine arts & humanities. The school even offers a fully online Ed.D in educational leadership. You can learn more about the options or a specific program here.
8. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC, has one of the largest offerings in terms of online degrees and certificates. It also happens to have one of the largest enrollments among HBCUs.
Students can earn online bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees, as well as professional certificates. The school has been particularly noted for its STEM offerings, including electronics technology, information technology, and business information technology. Explore their many program options here.
9. Tuskegee University
Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL, was cofounded by distinguished author, orator, and presidential advisor, Booker T. Washington.
The school has two online-only options for grad degrees. Working professionals can earn a master's in environmental science or environmental management. Note that these programs are specifically designed to be completed by people who are already working full-time. Learn more here.
10. Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical A&M University
Alabama A&M University, located near Huntsville, AL, was originally called the Huntsville State Normal School for Negroes when it was founded in 1875. Along with six other universities, AAMU participates in a joint venture with NASA to promote collaboration between academia, research, and industry.
AAMU currently has one undergrad degree option in management as well as graduate programs in computer science, early childhood education, and educational leadership.
Delaware State University is located in Dover, DE. The school's origins date back to 1891, when it was founded as the State College for Colored Students. The current student body consists of about 63% black students. The school reports increasing enrollment among white, Hispanic, Asian, and international students as well. DSU offers a variety of online programs, both undergraduate and graduate, including: accounting, business administration, public health, social work, sports administration, and a certificate in drug & alcohol counseling.
12. University of the Virgin Islands
The University of the Virgin Islands is located on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Founded in 1962, the school is designated an as HBCU. Its slogan is "Historically American. Uniquely Caribbean. Globally Interactive."
With an impressive array of online programs, UVI is living up to its goal of appealing to a global population. The University offers 100% online associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in the following programs in several fields, including accounting, criminal justice, computer sciences, financial planning, and more.
Other options to consider
There are two other schools, both located in West Virginia, with online programs that may be of interest. While designated as HBCUs and serving to provide racially diverse educational opportunities for local students, both schools currently have a majority white student body.
13. Bluefield State College
Bluefield State College in Bluefield, WV, is West Virginia's only nonresidential four-year college. It was founded as the Bluefield Colored Institute. Bluefield offers fully online degree programs in several disciplines, including engineering technology and business administration, and more.
14. West Virginia State University
West Virginia State University, located near Charleston, WV, prides itself on being one of the most-affordable institutions in the region and its heritage as an HBCU.
WVSU has an impressive selection of online degree programs. Undergrad offerings include:
Regents (bachelor of arts) degree — designed for adult learners, this program allows students to receive academic credit for work and other life experience.
It also has online grad programs including a Master of Education in instructional leadership. Learn more about WVSU's online degree programs here.
What's your next step?
If you're considering investing in your future with an online degree, learn more about how to pay for college.
Carol Katarsky is a contributing writer for Nitro. She is an award-winning journalist with extensive experience writing about both finance and education. Her corporate and non-profit clients include AIG, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Project Management Institute. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and one cat more than she should. Read more by Carol Katarsky