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.


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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.


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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 positive 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.”

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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.


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Through the program, Jarod Barksdale, a 2020 Claflin graduate, mentored young boys in the Orangeburg, S.C., 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 2020-21, 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.


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The cost of HBCUs is a challenge, acknowledged Adriel Hilton, the vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at Southern University in 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 has reported an increase in the number of applications over the past three years, the proportion of male applicants has fallen. (Application 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 Coca-Cola. 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.

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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 students at HBCU are Black? ›

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).

Why are HBCU only for Black students? ›

HBCUs were created to support higher education for Black students nationwide. HBCUs account for 3% of colleges and universities across the country. Some HBCUs enroll up to 40% white students. Black culture and traditions continue to play an important role at HBCUs.

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 female to male ratio 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.

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 #1 HBCU in the country? ›

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 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.

Why do HBCUs still exist? ›

While HBCUs are no longer the only path to higher education for people of African descent, due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Black students still attend them in increasing numbers. HBCUs remain a refuge for students to delve further into their cultural heritage and excel academically without fear of discrimination.

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.

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 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.

What are the black Ivy League schools? ›

Are There Any Black Ivy League Colleges? There are, in fact, Black Ivy League colleges. They are Spelman College and Morehouse College.

Is Harvard an all male school? ›

In 1970, the first joint Harvard and Radcliffe commencement was held in Harvard Yard, and the following year, all Harvard and Radcliffe houses became coed.

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 race ethnicity is most likely to drop out of high school? ›

The proportion of students who do not graduate from high school is dramatically higher among the two largest minority groups, Hispanics and African-Americans, compared to non- Hispanic whites.

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

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.

How many partners does the average college girl have? ›

Some students say the answer to “What's your number?” is not a deal-breaker. A 20-year study of over 5,000 college students cited in The Huffington Post from July 2014 found that the average number of sexual partners for students age 18-24 is 3 to 4 partners. The study was conducted from 1990-2010.

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.

What percentage of Black men have a master's degree? ›

Master Statistics By Race

The most common ethnicity among masters is White, which makes up 61.7% of all masters. Comparatively, there are 18.9% of the Hispanic or Latino ethnicity and 9.5% of the Black or African American ethnicity.

Was Howard University founded by a white man? ›

HOWARD UNIVERSITY WAS founded in 1866 by O.O. Howard, a white United States Army general.

Why do white students attend HBCU? ›

Research has found that HBCUs can help enhance White students' critical consciousness by providing courses, workshops, and group experiences that explore White race, privilege, and oppression.

Can a white person go to Jackson State? ›

Students at Jackson State University are almost exclusively Black with a small White population. The school has extremely low racial diversity. 96% percent of students are minorities or people of color (BIPOC).
Racial Diversity.
RacePercent of Students
Race Unknown0%
8 more rows

Can Latinos go to Howard University? ›

531/7,857 (6.76%) of students attending Howard University are Hispanic.

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.

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 is the richest HBCU in America? ›

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's the most prestigious HBCU? ›

Howard University

What is the oldest black University? ›

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

What is the Harvard of HBCU? ›

District of Columbia

Often called "The Harvard of HBCUs," Howard boasts the largest endowment of black colleges and continues to lead in research and innovation among historically black institutions.

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 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.

Why do people go to HBCU? ›

A Supportive Atmosphere and Community

With HBCUs' special focus, your college experience will be one surrounded by many people with similar backgrounds and cultural experiences. You'll experience a unique community of support and understanding among faculty and your fellow students.

What is the advantage of attending an HBCU? ›

Lower cost and less debt. According to the UNCF Fact Sheet, the average cost of attending an HBCU is 27% less5 than a comparable predominantly white institution (PWI). Studies show that Black HBCU graduates are generally better prepared for life3 beyond college and more engaged at work than non-HBCU graduates.

Can international students go to HBCU? ›

Nowadays, HBCUs welcome students from a range of ethnicities and backgrounds while continuing to champion African American culture and scholarship. The unique learning experience and sense of community that HBCUs provide is well worth considering for international students interested in studying in the US.

Can non-Black students attend HBCUs? ›

Although HBCUs were originally founded to educate Black students, they enroll students of other races as well. The composition of HBCUs has changed over time. In 2021, non-Black students made up 25 percent of enrollment at HBCUs, compared with 15 percent in 1976 (source).

How many HBCUs are left? ›

There are currently 107 HBCUs serving more than 228,000 students throughout the country. HBCUs can be either public or private colleges. While HBCUs historically only served Black students, nearly a quarter of students enrolled in HBCUs were non-Black as of 2019.

Why are HBCUs in danger? ›

Despite the important role they continue to play, many HBCUs struggle with lack of investment, dwindling enrollment and — most recently — fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 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.

How many all female HBCUs are there? ›

Bennett College is one of only two all-women's Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States.

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.

Is Howard an 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.

Can girls go to Howard University? ›

The school offers a range of male, female and coed housing, both on and off campus. Howard University has many graduate programs as well, including those in the School of Business, School of Law, College of Medicine and College of Engineering.

Which HBCU was 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. An HBCU in Denmark, SC, that proudly holds its title of being the only school standing, founded by a direct protege of Booker T.

What is the male to female ratio at Harvard? ›

Harvard Demographics Gender

At Harvard, there are approximately 15,882 female students, making up approximately 50.5% of the student body, and 14,509 male students, making up approximately 49.5%.

Which country has the lowest male to female ratio? ›

Hong Kong has the lowest gender ratio of 84.48, followed by Martinique (85.01). Curaçao, Nepal, and Guadeloupe are in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th positions, respectively.

What is the male to female ratio in Japan? ›

95.38 males per 100 females

Which HBCU has the most white students? ›

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.

Which HBCU has the best looking females? ›

Hampton University

Hampton, Virginia's “Home by the Sea” is known for three things: its gorgeous campus, Black Harvard pedigree and the most beautiful women in all of HBCU Land.


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