At many HBCUs, just 1 in 3 students are men. Here’s why that matters. (2023)


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There’s a dearth of men at many of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities.

Whether it’s sociology at Claflin University or media law at North Carolina Central University, sometimes there are few to no men in the classes. The faces of the marching bands at places like Howard University are overwhelmingly female. And at Xavier University of Louisiana, all of the male freshmen fit into just one dorm. The university has two, larger dorms for women.

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Those are symptoms of a broader problem: At many of the nation’s HBCUs, just 1 in 3 undergraduate students are men. It’s true at some of the largest public institutions, including Texas Southern University, and some of the most-selective private ones, such as Howard University.

And, it is happening even as overall enrollment numbers at some HBCUs are rising. Howard, for example, has gained more than 3,000 students since 2016. But of those additional students just 1 in 6 have been male.


To be sure, the problem affects more than just HBCUs. Overall, Black student enrollment across higher education has been declining. But it’s particularly evident at historically Black institutions, which are specifically committed to educating Black people.

HBCUs educate most of the nation’s Black engineers, lawyers and judges. Fewer men in these programs means that the diversity of the professions will suffer and that the racial wealth gap will grow.

And for fields such as teaching and medicine, which already are experiencing shortages, shrinking numbers of men at HBCUs could hurt efforts to enlarge the ranks of those professions. HBCUs educate half of the nation’s Black teachers and funnel more Black applicants to medical schools than non-HBCUs do.

Calvin Hall, who leads N.C. Central’s mass communications department, wants to find a way to attract more male students into the mostly female program — and he has heard a similar desire from other faculty members.


Men “seem to be falling through the cracks,” he said. Meanwhile, Hall sees women in the communications program winning awards and taking leadership roles in student organizations. Narrowing the gender gap matters — and not just because Black men should be seen as successful “beyond the usual tropes like athletics or music.”

“It adds a different voice, a different perspective, and it helps us value everybody,” he said. “If one group is not seen, it makes it easier for people to discount and to disregard and set aside.”

A pipeline problem

Experts agree about one source of the downturn. By the time they are set to graduate from high school, Black male students often do not feel they are college material. The enrollment decline shows that.

Meredith Anderson, the K-12 research director at the United Negro College Fund, calls it a “belief gap” between what Black male students can achieve and what others, such as teachers or college counselors, think they can.


The data bears this out. Non-Black teachers have lower expectations for Black students than Black teachers have, studies show. Black boys are more than three times as likely as White boys to be suspended from school. Black students also are underrepresented in programs for gifted and talented students and in Advanced Placement courses.

Winston Coffee, a college liaison at the Detroit-based Midnight Golf Program, sees this firsthand. Black students make up most of the program, which offers mentoring and guidance on the college process. Many of the young Black men with whom he works say college is not for them.

If being in school is not something you feel positively about, “there’s no reason why you would want to continue down a track like that,” he said.

And college sometimes amounts to delayed gratification: The appeal of earning a paycheck without waiting for a degree — or earning a credential and then getting promoted as a result — lures many Black men away, he said.


When talking to Black men who are not interested in college, Coffee tries to understand their motivation and asks how college might become a part of how they want to better themselves.

He also invites former program members who have gone to college to visit and speak to high-schoolers. Their influence matters — Black men with college degrees generally earn more than those without degrees.

A few HBCUs are bucking the trend: Male enrollment at Fisk University and Morehouse College increased between 2016 and 2021.

Morehouse College admissions recruiter Jacory Bernard said that when he speaks at college fairs, on in-school visits, on social media or during campus tours, the pitch he makes to Black men interested in Morehouse goes beyond an educational benefit.

“For these young Black boys growing up in our world, it is a challenge just existing. They had these preconceived ideas and notions of their identity in context to the world. It is harder,” Bernard said. “You have the entirety of your life to spend as a minority in America; there is something profound about choosing for four years to be the majority.”

Morehouse College to launch online program aimed at helping Black men with some credits finish degree

And others are working on specific fixes to improve the pipeline into higher education. In South Carolina, for example, a collaboration between Claflin and Clemson Universities aims to recruit and train more Black male teachers and other men of color to work in the state’s public schools.


Through the program, Jarod Barksdale, a 2020 Claflin graduate, mentored young boys in Orangeburg’s public schools while he was in college. He now teaches in middle school. It is important to him that young boys have teachers and potential role models who look like them — often a rarity. The vast majority of public school teachers nationwide and in South Carolina are White — and relatively few are men.

If fewer Black men go on to get degrees, young boys will view that undertaking as less important, Barksdale said.

‘Shopping’ for the best opportunity

The cost of attending an HBCU also can deter potential students.

Valdez Wilson was the first man in his family to go to college. And, he always knew he wanted to attend an HBCU, he said. He started out at Claflin — but paying out of pocket became too expensive for him.


Claflin’s net price — the cost of attendance after aid is factored in — in 2020-2021 was about $19,300, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That year, the net price at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, to which Wilson transferred, was just over $11,000. And even though he pays out-of-state tuition, he receives the North Carolina Promise scholarship.

“Claflin wasn’t a bad school. I loved being at an HBCU and all of the connections that I had. The issue was funding,” Wilson said.

And the cost of Claflin isn’t unique among private HBCUs, according to national data. In 2020-2021, the net price at private HBCUs for students living on campus was more than $30,000. For on-campus students at public HBCUs, the cost was nearly $23,000.

The cost matters, because Black borrowers hold disproportionately large amounts of student loans. Black college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than White college graduates, according to the Education Data Initiative.


The cost of HBCUs is a challenge, acknowledged Adriel Hilton, the vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at Southern University at New Orleans. Although HBCUs do provide scholarships, many predominantly White institutions — which have a history of more government funding and larger endowments — can offer more aid.

Although Southern reports an increase in the number of applications over the past three years, the proportion of male applicants has fallen. (Applications numbers for fall 2023 are still coming in.)

“Students are shopping for the best opportunity for them in terms of cost. They’re going to go where it is the cheapest they can attend,” Hilton said.

Southern is doing what it can to increase male enrollment, he said. The university brought back men’s basketball this year after suspending it at the end of the 2020 season as part of broader cost cutting. And the university offers room-and-board scholarships to members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

Despite growing up in New Orleans, Ashton Broden never thought he would wind up at Xavier, where he is a freshman. The university is known for its STEM programs, and the cost did not seem worth it to him as a mass communication major.


That changed last year when he found out he would receive the Walsh Scholarship, a full-ride benefit that Xavier gives each year to one male resident of New Orleans. He said he hopes that by graduating, he will show other men in his community that this is attainable.

The gender gap on campus stands out to him. Male enrollment at Xavier declined by 7 percent from 2016 to 2021. Only 24 percent of students in 2021 were men.

“If other men see that I did it, it will make other males want to come to Xavier and help grow the number,” Broden said.

Xavier is “deeply concerned” about the shortage of male students on campus, said Curtis Wright, the vice president for student affairs.

The university has taken several steps to address that issue. In the past four years, it gave 75 Black men scholarships through a partnership with the Coca-Cola Co. Xavier recently hired a Black male engagement coordinator. And, as part of its recruitment efforts, it hosts 50 Black high school students on campus each summer.

Shjan Carter, a junior at Howard, especially notices the gender gap on campus in social scenarios — she has more connections with women. She mostly only sees women hanging out on the manicured main yard. Something is missing, she says.

“The mission of an HBCU can’t be fulfilled,” she said, “if we aren’t making a point to educate all Black people.”

Naomi Harris is the race and equity reporter at Open Campus, a nonprofit newsroom focused on higher education. Skylar Stephens is an inaugural fellow in the HBCU Student Journalism Network, a project of Open Campus.


At many HBCUs, just 1 in 3 students are men. Here’s why that matters.? ›

HBCUs educate

Teacher education or teacher training refers to programs, policies, procedures, and provision designed to equip (prospective) teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, approaches, methodologies and skills they require to perform their tasks effectively in the classroom, school, and wider community. › wiki › Teacher_education
the majority of the nation's Black engineers, lawyers, and judges. Fewer men in these programs means the diversity of the professions will suffer, and the racial wealth gap will grow.

What is the male to female ratio at HBCU? ›

In 2020, there were 179,546 females and 99,611 males enrolled at historically Black colleges and universities.

What is the ratio of black men in college? ›

Men of color represented 17.5% of all postsecondary enrollment and 43.9% of all male student enrollment in 2019. Black men represent 4.6% of all postsecondary enrollment, Latino men 7.9%, Asian/Pacific Islander men 3.2%, and American Indian/Alaska Native men 0.3%.

What percentage of Black students attend HBCUs? ›

As a result, the percentage of Black students enrolled at HBCUs fell from 18 percent in 1976 to 8 percent in 2014 and then increased to 9 percent in 2021. (source, source, and source).

What is the only HBCU founded by a woman? ›

Voorhees College Heritage: HBCU Founded by a Black Woman with $5,000 and 280 Acres. Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, born on August 18, 1872 near Talbotton, GA, is the founder of Voorhees College.

What college has the highest guy to girl ratio? ›

10 colleges with the highest ratio of men to women
  • The Citadel: 91.3%
  • United States Military Academy: 84.4%
  • New York University Tandon School of Engineering: 80.5%
  • United States Air Force Academy: 79.0%
  • Colorado School of Mines: 75.0%
  • Berklee College of Music: 70.5%
  • California Institute of Technology: 60.5%
Oct 7, 2021

Which HBCU is all boys? ›

Morehouse College is the only four-year liberal arts institution that's historically Black and all male. It has a reputation for providing an academic foundation for Black men.

Why do black men drop out of high school? ›

As compared to Whites, school discipline and the criminal justice system (incarceration) factor prominently in the reasons for American Indian, Black, and Multiracial students dropping out.

What is the average male to female ratio in college? ›

The number of women attending college increased in the 1960s and accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1994, the sex ratio was balanced at 50-50. In the almost 30 years since, the gap has widened in the opposite direction. Today there are about 40 men for every 60 women on many college campuses.

What percent of black men finish college? ›

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 36% of Black male students completed a bachelor's degree within six years, and 52% of Latino male students completed theirs within the same time.

What is the poorest HBCU? ›

Key findings. Coahoma Community College is the most affordable HBCU. The average annual net cost to attend the two-year public school in Clarksdale, Miss., is $1,004.

Can a white person apply to a HBCU? ›

Students of any race and ethnicity can apply for an HBCU, provided that they meet the grade requirements. Usually when applying for university in the US, you're required to fill out one application per school.

Can you go to Howard if you're not black? ›

Tracing its history to 1867, from its outset Howard has been nonsectarian and open to people of all sexes and races. It offers undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in more than 120 programs, more than any other historically black college or university (HBCU) in the nation.

What is the oldest all black college? ›

1837 — The nation's first & oldest HBCU (Cheyney) was established in Pennsylvania.

What is the oldest black college in the United States? ›

The First of Its Kind

On February 25, 1837, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania became the nation's first Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

What is the best historically black college? ›

Best historically black colleges and universities in the United States 2022
HBCU Rank 2022US College Rank 2022University
1109Howard University
2126Spelman College
3383Xavier University of Louisiana
=4401-500Morehouse College
7 more rows

Which college has the best dating scene? ›

Page URL
College (Money Rank)% men
Stanford University (1)51
Babson College (2)55
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (3, tie)55
Princeton University (3, tie)51
21 more rows
Oct 15, 2015

What is the gender ratio in Harvard? ›

The full-time Harvard undergraduate population is made up of 51% women, and 49% men. For the gender breakdown for all students, go here.

Which gender is less likely to go to college? ›

When the fall college enrollment numbers came in, we learned that, for every man, there are now almost two women attending college. These numbers indicate the highest recorded gender imbalance favoring women seen in U.S. college enrollment.

What is the safest HBCU? ›

Based on our analysis, here are some of the safest HBCU colleges: 1. Spelman College – Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Spelman College is a private, liberal arts institution for women. The college reported zero incidents of violent crimes on campus in both 2018 and 2019.

What is the youngest HBCU college? ›

Here are the youngest HBCUs according to @nichesocial 1956: Southern University at NOLA 1958: Interdenominational Theological Center 1961: JF Drake Technical College 1962: University of the Virgin Islands 1963: H.

What HBCU in Atlanta is for men? ›

Morehouse College

The world's only HBCU for men, Morehouse is ranked the leading producer of Black men who receive doctorates in education, the spectrum of sciences, the humanities and the arts.

What race is most likely to drop out? ›

Dropout Rate by Race

In particular, American Indian/Alaska Native high school students have the highest high school dropout rate at 9.6% (NCES, 2021). This is much higher compared to the overall average dropout rate of 5.1% (NCES, 2021).

Why is black male enrollment in decline? ›

Black men face discrimination and obstacles that can inhibit their ability to enroll and then remain in college. The reasons for the enrollment decline and low numbers are often historically systemic rooted in a continued dehumanization and exclusion of Black men in America.

Which gender is more likely to drop out of high school? ›

Some studies cite gender differences, suggesting that males are more likely than females to both drop out of high school before receiving a diploma, as well as report completing eight or fewer years of schooling (Sum & Harrington, 2003).

What state has the most men? ›

Population Statistics by State
#StateMale to Female Ratio
2North Dakota103.37
47 more rows

Which city has the most females? ›

The statistic shows the top 50 metropolitan areas of the United States with the highest share of the female population in 2019. In 2019, Jackson in Missouri ranked first with 52.3 percent of residents being women.

What college has the most guys? ›

Recommended Schools
RankSchool Name% Men
1University of Phoenix-Arizona31.3%
2Ivy Tech Community College43.66%
3American Public University System62.35%
4Liberty University40.84%
20 more rows

What is the most educated race in the United States? ›

Asian Americans had the highest educational attainment of any race, followed by whites who had a higher percentage of high school graduates but a lower percentage of college graduates. Persons identifying as Hispanic or Latino, without regard to race, had the lowest educational attainment.

Which gender is more educated? ›

This shift in the college-educated labor force – as women now comprise a majority – comes around four decades after women surpassed men in the number of Americans earning a bachelor's degree each year.

How many Black men have a master's degree? ›

In 2021 there were 841,000 Black men who had earned a master's degree but no higher degree.

What is the whitest HBCU? ›

The Whitest Historically Black College In America : Code Switch Bluefield State College in Bluefield, W.Va., is 90 percent white. Its alumni association is all black, and it still gets federal money as a historically black institution.

What is the richest black College? ›

HBCUs with the largest endowments
  • Howard University: $806.4 million.
  • Spelman College: $570.8 million.
  • Hampton University: $379.9 million.
  • Morehouse College: $278 million.
  • Meharry Medical College: $199.4 million.
  • Xavier University of Louisiana: $191 million.
  • North Carolina A&T State University: $174.6 million.
Dec 22, 2022

What is the easiest HBCU? ›

The easiest HBCU to get into are:
  • Albany State University with 91% rate of acceptance.
  • Clark Atlanta University with 71% rate of acceptance.
  • Fort Valley State University with 61% rate of acceptance, and.
  • Morehouse College with 58% rate of acceptance.

What is the hardest HBCU to get into? ›

Howard University is typically ranked among the top one or two HBCUs, and it certainly has the most selective admissions standards, one of the highest graduation rates, and the largest endowment.

Do HBCU accept Hispanic students? ›

High ethnic identity development. Hispanic students who attend HBCUs tend to have high ethnic identity developments. Individuals who have high ethnic identity developments feel comfortable with their ethnic backgrounds, their histories, and the unique traditions that contribute to these ethnicities.

What GPA do you need for HBCU? ›

What GPA do you need to get into an HBCU? The typical GPAs for students accepted into many HBCUs schools range from 2.5-3.0. Other HBCUs may require higher GPAs. For example, students accepted at Hampton University and Florida A&M had average GPAs above 3.25.

Why do HBCUs exist? ›

Why were HBCUs created? In the wake of emancipation, many Black Americans founded HBCUs to educate Black students. During the segregation era, HBCUs offered one of the only paths to a college degree for Black students.

Is Howard a black Ivy League? ›

Yes, Howard University is a Black Ivy League school. It is also the second most prestigious Black Ivy League school in the U.S.

How many black only colleges are there in the US? ›

HBCU Listing

There are 107 colleges in the United States that are identified by the US Department of Education as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

What state has the most HBCUs? ›

one state with the most Hbcus, and that is Alabama. with 16 Hbcus located in the state, with the exception of Miles School of law. located in Fairfield, which is not recognized by the U. S. Department of education as in HBCU, and Concordia University.

What is the biggest HBCU? ›

What are the 10 Largest HBCUs by Enrollment?
  • Howard University. ...
  • Prairie View A & M University. ...
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. ...
  • North Carolina Central University. ...
  • Southern University and A & M College. ...
  • Fayetteville State University. ...
  • Virginia State University. State: VA. ...
  • Tennessee State University. State: TN.
Oct 12, 2022

What is the oldest HBCU still open? ›

The history of African Americans and higher education is a long one, with roots reaching as far back as the Civil War. The oldest HBCU still in operation is Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1837.

What school produces the most Black engineers? ›

Howard University

Location: Washington, D.C. Howard proves their STEM program's strength by being ranked as the top producer of African American undergraduates who later earn science and engineering doctoral degrees by the NSF.

What HBCU was founded by Black? ›

During the 1850s, three more HBCUs were founded: Miner Normal School (1851) in Washington, D.C.; Lincoln University (1854) in Pennsylvania; and Wilberforce (1856) in Ohio. The African Methodist Episcopal Church established Wilberforce University, the first HBCU operated by African Americans.

What is the oldest private HBCU? ›

The oldest private HBCU in the U.S. was founded in 1856, when the Methodist Episcopal Church opened Wilberforce University in Tawawa Springs (present-day Wilberforce), Ohio, as a coeducational institution for blacks who had escaped slavery in the South through the Underground Railroad.

What are the top HBCU dorms? ›

What HBCUs Have the Best Dorms?
  • Howard University – Washington, D.C. ...
  • Morehouse College – Atlanta, Georgia. ...
  • Spelman College – Atlanta, Georgia. ...
  • Tuskegee University – Tuskegee, Alabama. ...
  • Winston-Salem State University – Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
5 days ago

What is the only 1 HBCU ranked? ›

Spelman College is listed as the No. 1 HBCU for the 16th year in a row on the HBCU-specific list. Howard University, Tuskegee University, Morehouse College and Xavier University of Louisiana round out the rest of the top five.

Which HBCU has the best medical program? ›

Top Three Accredited HBCU Medical Schools
  1. Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee. ...
  2. Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia. ...
  3. Howard University, Washington, D.C.

What is Howard University male to female ratio? ›

Howard Female/Male Ratio

How many female HBCUs are there? ›

In fact, there are only 34 active women's colleges in total, which is not a large number compared to the general amount of colleges and universities in the United States. However, HBCU's are beloved for more than just traditional education.

What are the male female college ratios? ›

The number of women attending college increased in the 1960s and accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1994, the sex ratio was balanced at 50-50. In the almost 30 years since, the gap has widened in the opposite direction. Today there are about 40 men for every 60 women on many college campuses.

What is the gender percentage at Howard University? ›

Gender Distribution At Howard University
Feb 6, 2023

What percentage of Howard students are male? ›

Howard University has a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,964 (fall 2021), with a gender distribution of 28% male students and 72% female students.

What is the student body size of Howard University? ›

It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,964 (fall 2021), its setting is urban, and the campus size is 257 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar.

Is Spelman all female? ›

With an acceptance rate of 51 percent, Spelman is among the most selective women's college in the nation. Spelman educates two Gates Millennium Scholars, and the College is annually recognized as one of the leading producers of Fulbright Fellowship winners.

What is the #1 public HBCU? ›

Best historically black colleges and universities in the United States 2022
HBCU Rank 2022US College Rank 2022University
1109Howard University
2126Spelman College
3383Xavier University of Louisiana
=4401-500Morehouse College
7 more rows

What college has the most men? ›

Colleges With Highest % of Men
  • Southern New Hampshire University. One of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation and a network of support. ...
  • Strayer University. We currently offer 5 degree programs in Accounting, Management, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, and Information Technology.

Which country has highest male to female ratio? ›

Sex ratios vary widely

The countries with the biggest male-to-female ratios today are Qatar (266 males per 100 females), the United Arab Emirates (228) and Bahrain (164). In several Persian Gulf countries, these wide sex imbalances are primarily due to large immigrant populations of largely male temporary workers.

What GPA is required for Howard? ›

With a GPA of 3.55, Howard University requires you to be around average in your high school class. You'll need a mix of A's and B's, and very few C's. If you took some AP or IB classes, this will help boost your weighted GPA and show your ability to take college classes.

Is Howard University an Ivy League school? ›

Yes, Howard University is a Black Ivy League school. It is also the second most prestigious Black Ivy League school in the U.S.


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