Getting Accepted To An HBCU: A Guide

Historically Black Colleges and Universities have increased in popularity. But how does your child get into one? Here's a guide...

While many parents want their kids to go to an HBCU, they don't know how to guide them there. Here’s a few steps to help with the process!

Introduce as soon as possible

The first step to getting your child into an HBCU is getting your child to want to attend one! Like many environments, it’s important to introduce your child to the HBCU culture if you want them to consider it academically.

In some cases, students come from a family of  HBCU graduates, and may want to follow in their footsteps. However, there are other ways to introduce your child if they don’t have that luxury.

Open houses and college tours are two methods used widely by most universities to give students and parents an opportunity to get a feel for their university by being able to see the campus on a regular school day. You should also take your child to events such as football games, probate shows from Black Greek Letter organizations, Battle of the Bands competitions, etc. Exposing your child to an HBCU atmosphere early will let you know if they have an interest or not.

Lastly, don’t limit your  research to the best known  HBCUs. There are 107 HBCUs, and one will be the perfect fit for your child!

RELATED: Another Type Of Homecoming: What's Behind The Jump in HBCU Enrollment?

Explain the history

It is imperative for your child to know the rich history and importance of HBCUs. Historically Black Colleges & Universities were introduced in the 19th Century to give Black students an opportunity to receive an undergraduate and graduate education. The first  HBCU, Cheyney University, was  founded in suburban Philadelphia in 1837 and Lincoln University, founded in 1854 and also located in the Philadelphia suburbs, was the first degree-granting HBCU. After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 a number of HBCUs were formed and 89% of the schools are located in .  Southern states. HBCUs can be found in Ohio, Virginia and the Virgin Islands. The states with the most HBCUs are Alabama (14), North Carolina (10), and Georgia (9).

Achieve good grades/ Know requirements

Every school has different requirements for a student to get admitted into their institution.  The average GPA you need to get into an HBCU ranges from a 2.5 to a 3.0. However, for schools like Hampton University and Florida A&M University, their average GPAs of admission are 3.24.  Joining different organizations and clubs will also impress schools. The best thing your child can do to help themselves is by achieving the best grades and being an active student.


Testing can be a vital breaking point onto whether a student will get into a university. The two test most universities look at are SATs and ACTs. The school determines which one they will use but it’s best to take both. The reason it’s best to take both is it’s better to have a score for each just in case you decide to apply for a school who doesn’t review the test you’re taking. Usually, schools make it clear what score they are typically looking for from students. All you have to do is research schools you are interested in and find out what their average SAT/ACT score is for admission. The best ways to score high on these tests are to practice, form a strategy, and get rest before the exam!

Apply/ Know deadlines

The last step to getting into an HBCU is to apply! You can’t get admitted into a school that you don’t apply to. Deadlines are very important. Most schools provide an early decision deadline which allows you to apply before the regular deadline, but if you’re accepted via early decision, you’re required to attend the college. While an early action deadline is essentially the same thing except you don’t have to decide until the normal deadline which is typically May 1st. Applying via regular admission isn’t a bad thing either. Regular decision allows you to take more time on what schools you want to apply to. But, it also shortens the time you have to make a decision about a university.

Some schools accept the Common Application which is an application that you fill out once and can be used for multiple schools. Others have a specific application that you must fill out that’s geared towards their university. 

There is a Common HBCU Application that allows you to apply to a number of HBCUs at one time, but not all schools — the most notable being Hampton University, North Carolina Central University, Morehouse College,and  Howard University — accept this application.  Ultimately, the school for you will choose you!

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