HBCU Strengths

HBCUs are strong in many areas. Your team will be challenged with connecting at least one HBCU strength with an American Priority. Below are a few to consider, but also comes up with your own list.


They have educated students from countries around the world for years — specifically from Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and the Caribbean Basin, which are now the focus of U.S. economic and trade engagement. Alumni from these countries are political leaders and captains of industries in their homelands. And many serve as faculty in HBCUs, where their expertise — particularly in their native languages — facilitates global partnership opportunities for the schools and students. This unique strength of HBCUs rarely has been communicated beyond university walls, but in today's global economy, it should be shouted from the rooftops.

HBCUs have accumulated years of experience in educating ethnically diverse groups, giving their graduates a leg up in the globalized market. They have a reservoir of cultural knowledge, linguistic capacity and faculty expertise to effectively and respectfully communicate with leaders of developing countries. HBCUs often resemble mini United Nations, with their globally and culturally diverse faculty and student body providing African American students unique opportunities to experience cross-cultural environments firsthand in class. HBCU students are thus prepared and capable not only to operate around the world, but to lead.


Another under-appreciated strength of HBCUs is their skill in educating and training professionals despite extremely limited resources. Delivering maximum outcomes in the face of scarce resources is a valuable management trait to emerging nations; HBCU leaders and graduates can use their experience and skill sets to train the leaders of knowledge entities elsewhere.


The transforming U.S. economy has also led to a change in the type of knowledge and skills in demand. Businesses now more than ever value the ability to blend practical and soft skills. This requires an exposure to technical and liberal arts education; the latter of which provides the "communication and interpersonal skills that are valuable and genuinely rewarding in the labor force," according to New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof. Here again HBCUs have the potential to meet this need. They have maintained strong liberal arts curricula with cultural anthropology, social work, sociology, humanities and developmental studies. And in many cases they also have nationally accredited engineering, science, business and law schools.


Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are known for their high-energy, show-stopping marching bands. And for good reason - the marching bands play a wide variety of music, include dance moves many colleges don’t even try to duplicate and afford an opportunity for the members to travel the country and, in some cases, the world.  But HBCU music is about more than the band. For more than 150 years, the musicians produced at HBCUs have been known across the globe. Numerous jazz musicians, opera and gospel singers, composers and performers have matriculated through HBCUs.


HBCUs consistently outperform their white counterparts in retaining and graduating students and providing education to those who need it the most. Low-income or first-generation students have a better chance of completing their education and earning a college degree at an HBCU than at a comparable non-HBCU. In any historic or present context, HBCUs stand alone as the institutions best equipped to take students from any economic, racial or cultural circumstance and create within them industry-ready professionals driven to success.


While standard graduation and retention rates may be a complex and sometimes controversial measure of impact, it is clear that HBCUs have a significant impact on black professional and educational success, particularly in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. HBCUs are responsible for producing:

  • 18% of ALL engineering degrees earned by African American students;
  • 31% of ALL biological science degrees earned by African American students;
  • 31% of ALL mathematics degrees earned by African American students;
  • 21% of ALL business and management degrees earned by African American students;
  • 42% of ALL agricultural science degrees earned by African American students; and,
  • 17% of ALL health profession degrees earned by African American students.


Few universities around the country require African American history and culture as part of the main curriculum, but at HBCUs, it’s never been a question. For many students, African American history is not taught in high school; knowing where you and your culture come from, and what your ancestors have had to endure, is part of finding your identity. The courses open up new issues for debate and students tend to learn more about America as a whole, good and bad, when they see the country through the prism of their own ancestors.

Also, social justice movements have flourished in recent years at HBCUs, similar to the crucial role they played in the Civil Rights Era.


You won't find any school in the world with alumni that take as much pride in their school as HBCU alumni.