The HBCU 104 List: Best Schools to Attend in the East

Top historically Black colleges and universities to attend on the East Coast

Choosing an HBCU to attend is a big deal. Huge, actually. But before you start the process of filling out applications and writing essays, you've got to get down to the nitty-gritty, like picking a major and what school colors you'll look great in.

So, what can help you narrow down your selections?


Do you want to spend semesters near a beach or close to a bustling city? Would you rather stay in-state or get your education much farther from home?

From St. Louis to ATL to Philly, The HBCU 104 List highlights the best Historically Black Colleges and Universities to attend in the North, Southeast, Southwest, East, and Midwest. This list will help you identify HBCUs near and far.

Let's dive into where you might want to enroll on the East Coast. 

  • Howard University

    Howard University

    Location (City, State): Washington, District of Columbia

    Student Enrollment: 24,130

    Howard University is a renowned HBCU with a significant historical and cultural impact. Notable alumni include Thurgood Marshall and Toni Morrison. It excels in medical, law, and research programs, and its campus is known for its diversity and social activism. The Howard Bison competes in NCAA Division I sports, and its iconic Rankin Memorial Chapel is a central symbol. The university's School of Communications is highly regarded, and it has a rich tradition of contributing to civil rights and social justice movements.

  • Coppin State University

    Coppin State University

    Location (City, State): Baltimore, Maryland

    Student Enrollment: 4,202

    Coppin State University Coppin State University, founded in 1900 as a teacher training school and located in Baltimore, Maryland, holds a distinguished place as a historically Black institution within the University System of Maryland. It is celebrated for its strong academic programs, particularly in education, nursing, and criminal justice, and its deep commitment to community engagement and outreach. As a proud member of the HBCU community, Coppin State contributes to the legacy of advancing education and social justice. Its urban location in Baltimore provides students with unique cultural and historical opportunities, while the university excels in fields such as nursing and STEM education. With notable alumni and a focus on civic leadership, Coppin State University plays a significant role in higher education and community development.

  • Bowie State University

    Bowie State University

    Location (City, State): Bowie, Maryland

    Student Enrollment: 12,616

    Bowie State University, founded in 1865, stands as Maryland's oldest historically Black university and a cornerstone of African-American higher education history. It boasts a rich legacy of academic excellence, offering a diverse array of programs while earning acclaim for its STEM-focused education. Notable alumni have risen to prominence in journalism, education, politics, and business. The university prioritizes leadership development and community engagement, plays a pivotal role in innovative initiatives like cybersecurity research, and enjoys a vibrant campus life enriched by cultural events. With ongoing campus expansion and a strong athletics tradition, Bowie State continues to exemplify the spirit of education, opportunity, and cultural enrichment.

  • Bluefield State College

    Bluefield State University

    Location (City, State): Bluefield, West Virginia

    Student Enrollment: 2,716 (Fall 2021)

    Bluefield State College (BSC) stands out for its strong focus on STEM education, offering quality learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Notably, BSC makes higher education accessible by providing this quality education at an affordable cost. The college's unique Aviation Program allows students to delve into aviation technology and piloting. On the sports front, BSC's "Big Blues" athletic teams compete in various sports under the NCAA Division II. The campus buzzes with cultural vitality through events, art exhibitions, and performances, enriching the cultural tapestry for students and the community alike.

  • West Virginia State University

    West Virginia State University

    Location (City, State): Institute, West Virginia

    Student Enrollment: 6,830 (Fall 2020)

    West Virginia State University (WVSU) actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement, with both students and faculty contributing to the advancement of civil rights in West Virginia and beyond. WVSU is one of the 19 land-grant universities established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890, focusing on fields like agriculture and engineering while providing outreach services for West Virginia residents. This designation as a land-grant university signifies its commitment to receiving the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890, which promote practical education. Notably, WVSU has produced influential alumni, including NASA engineer Katherine Johnson, whose work in "Hidden Figures" was pivotal to the early U.S. space program. The university is renowned for its research in sustainable agriculture and small-scale farming, benefiting the state's farming communities through its Extension Service. Beyond academics, WVSU is deeply committed to community engagement, collaborating with local organizations and government agencies to improve the region's quality of life. Additionally, WVSU hosts an annual homecoming celebration, strengthening the sense of community among current students and graduates.

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