While much has been made of the struggles of HBCUs in the 21st century, they remain places where black students can thrive – especially in STEM and health sciences, where African-American students often feel left out at predominantly white institutions. For many African-American students today, choosing an HBCU nursing school encourages black nurses and gives them the support they need to progress in their career. The nursing field is one that is growing in diversity, which includes the number of African-American nurses, and the correct environment is needed in order to thrive academically. These students find a connection at these institutions that give them the encouragement they need.
There are more than 100 HBCUs today, but HBCUs with nursing programs are somewhat rare. That’s why HBCU nursing colleges are so important. HBCU nursing gives black nurses a home – whether they are young people just starting out, or experienced nurses working to enhance their career with a BSN, and MSN, or even a DNP or PhD. With research and outreach focused on the needs of minorities, black students can find their career and their calling in nursing as an HBCU nursing school.
How We Ranked the Best HBCU Nursing Colleges
To rank the best nursing schools at HBCUs, Nursing School Hub editors first had to research what HBCUs offered nursing programs. From there, we ranked programs according to factors that have a real, practical impact on career opportunity and return on investment: Reputation, Student Satisfaction, Cost, and Salary Potential. With data from IPEDS, College Scorecard, Niche, and U.S. News & World Report, students can be sure the NSH ranking of the best HBCU nursing colleges is leading them in the right direction.
1. Alcorn State University – Balmat School of Nursing
Alcorn State University’s Balmat School of Nursing offers well-regarded Associate of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degrees. All degrees are accredited by ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing). The nursing program at Alcorn State is distinguished by its state of the art educational facilities, which is an area where some HBCUs fall short. Alcorn State is a leader among HBCUs with nursing programs and HBCU nursing colleges for its cutting-edge facilities.
Alcorn State is one of the oldest and most prestigious HBCUs in the United States. In fact, it is the first black land grant college in the country. Many students are drawn to the school not just for its prestige, but also for its beautiful rural Mississippi campus. Alcorn State’s School of Nursing was founded in 1977, making it one of the oldest schools of nursing at an HBCU in the southern United States.
2. Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science – Dymally School of Nursing
The Dymally School of Nursing at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) offers Bachelor’s in Nursing and Master’s in Nursing degrees that are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. These programs are known for emphasizing the role of nurses in communities historically underserved by medical professionals. While several other HBCUs have a similar focus, this is rare among nursing schools as a whole. Students who are looking at HBCU nursing programs that will prepare them to serve disadvantaged communities may want to pick CDU out of their list of HBCU nursing colleges.
CDU was founded in the 1960s to address the limited medical service that the majority black population of South Los Angeles had to deal with. CDU has been elevated throughout the years through its partnerships with other universities. UCLA partnered with the university in the 1970s to create an undergraduate medical program. In 2018, CDU partnered with Ross University School of Medicine in the country of Barbados to educate physicians specifically for the South L.A. area. CDU is known for its on-campus HIV clinics, where nursing students can gain valuable experience.
3. Florida A&M University – School of Nursing
Florida A&M University offers bachelor’s and master’s nursing degrees through its School of Nursing. FAMU’s nursing degrees are accredited by ACEN. As a university with high research activity, FAMU’s nursing programs incorporate the latest advances in medical research into their clinical practice-based curriculum, which ensures that graduates are well-rounded and ready to take on a variety of careers in the nursing field.
FAMU stands apart from many HBCU nursing colleges and even many HBCUs with nursing programs by incorporating the latest medical research and passing this knowledge onto their student nurses. FAMU is a public university, which results in relatively low tuition for nursing students.
4. Howard University – College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences
The College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences at Howard University offers CCNE-accredited nursing degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. The nursing programs at Howard are known for their unique focus on caring for the elderly and caring for homeless people. Prospective students who are planning on applying to HBCU nursing colleges to go into these areas should consider choosing Howard from the list of HBCUs with nursing programs.
Howard University is well-known to be the most prestigious HBCU in the country. It frequently ranks high in various rankings of all the colleges and universities in the United States. Howard is especially known for its graduate education, as it graduates the highest number of black doctoral recipients of any university. Howard’s College of Nursing has partnerships with institutions in Haiti, South Africa and Cuba.
5. North Carolina A&T State University – School of Nursing
North Carolina A&T State University offers ACEN-accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs through its School of Nursing. NCAT’s nursing programs are unique in that they offer flexible class schedules and an option for students who have already received a degree in another field. This makes NCAT one of the best HBCU nursing colleges for people who are already in the workforce, who may not find this sort of flexibility at other HBCUs with nursing programs.
NCAT is another prestigious and storied HBCU. It was the first HBCU in North Carolina, as it was established in 1891. NCAT is classified as a high research university, which is an important indicator of a university’s educational quality. NCAT has a partnership with the NC Registry for Brain Health, which allows nursing students to learn more about Alzheimer’s.
6. Prairie View A&M University – College of Nursing
Prairie View A&M University offers CCNE-accredited bachelor’s and master’s degrees through their College of Nursing. PVAMU also offers a highly selective doctoral program. PVAMU’s nursing programs are unique because of the Texas Medical Center, a cutting-edge institution that offers students the opportunity to get valuable hands-on experience during their educations. PVAMU is considered to have one of the finest HBCU nursing colleges of all HBCUs with nursing programs in part due to this high level of practical experience.
PVAMU is known as one of the leading STEM HBCU colleges in the United States. It is one of the leading producers of STEM graduates (including nurses) in the large and prestigious Texas A&M University system. While PVAMU is a HBCU, it is open to STEM students from all demographics. PVAMU is home to the Undergraduate Medical Academy, which prepares students to go into post-graduate medical education.
7. Kentucky State University – School of Nursing and Health Sciences
Kentucky State University has a School of Nursing and Health Sciences that awards ACEN-accredited associate’s, bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in nursing. KSU is known for offering many classes at night and online, which allows students to work while completing their nursing degrees. This makes KSU another one of the HBCU nursing colleges that may be a good fit for working professionals who want to get into nursing but cannot attend HBCUs with nursing programs during the day due to their schedules.
KSU is one of the smallest HBCUs on this list. This ensures small class sizes, which allow students to work one on one with the highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals who comprise the faculty. Many of the larger HBCUs cannot offer this benefit. The RN-BSN and BSN-DNP programs are offered completely online.
8. Bowie State University – College of Professional Studies Department of Nursing
The Department of Nursing – College of Professional Studies at Bowie State University has several ACEN-accredited nursing programs, including a Bachelor’s in Nursing degree and a Master’s in Nursing degree. Bowie State’s nursing programs are known for offering students practical experience through an advanced nursing simulation lab, which few HBCU nursing programs offer. Students looking for HBCU nursing colleges that will get them as much hands-on experience as possible may want to put Bowie State on their list of HBCU’s with nursing programs.
Bowie State is a public university, which allows it to offer affordable tuition to its students. It has been doing this since its founding in 1865, which makes it one of the 10 oldest HBCUs in the country. In recent years, Bowie State has focused on STEM programs like nursing. Bowie State offers tutoring services for nursing students through their Nursing Student Success Center.
9. Winston-Salem State University – School of Health Sciences
Winston-Salem State University has a prestigious School of Health Sciences that offers a CCNE-accredited bachelor’s degree in nursing. In addition to a comprehensive set of programs, including MSN and DNP, the program at WSSU offers a unique paramedic to BSN path. WSSU also offers many nursing classes online and a fully online RN to BSN program. WSSU may be the best choice among HBCUs with nursing programs for paramedics who are looking for an accelerated path at HBCU nursing colleges.
WSSU is part of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, an organization that provides financial aid and networking opportunities to students at HBCUs. As it is already a public university with relatively low tuition, the financial aid makes WSSU very affordable for students in all of its programs. With a state of the art Virtual Hospital and the Rams Know H.O.W. Mobile Health Unit (the only one of its kind in an HBCU), WSSU is a major force in addressing healthcare disparities in the community. WSSU also partners with Duke University for a Nursing PhD program.
10. North Carolina Central University – Department of Nursing
The Department of Nursing at North Carolina Central University has multiple ACEN-accredited degree programs. All of their programs culminate in a Bachelors in Nursing. NCCU is known for its unique program that caters to veterans who want to get into nursing. Veterans who want to go into this field should consider NCCU.
NCCU is considered to be one of the most affordable and rigorous HBCUs in the country. This is highlighted by the nursing program ranking in the top five in North Carolina for value. The online nursing program has also been ranked in the top 20 in the country for overall academic excellence. NCCU nursing students can get practical experience at Eagle General Hospital, which is affiliated with the university.
11. Delaware State University – College of Health and Behavioral Sciences
Delaware State University’s College of Health and Behavioral Sciences offers ACEN-accredited nursing degrees. The nursing programs at DSU are unique in the sheer variety of practical experience that they offer students. DSU has agreements with hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and more to ensure that nursing students have a diverse set of clinical experiences before they ever enter the workforce. Students with a wide variety of interests in the nursing field should consider putting DSU on their lists of HBCUs with nursing programs and HBCU nursing colleges that they plan to apply for.
DSU has partnerships with institutions in many countries, including France, Cuba, Nigeria and more. These partnerships allow students in all programs to broaden their educational experiences. With regard to nursing students specifically, these partnerships can introduce them to the unique public health problems faced by countries in differing economic situations. DSU’s nursing graduate job placement rate in 2018 was 100%.
12. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff – Department of Nursing
The Department of Nursing at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) has multiple CCNE-accredited programs. One unique characteristic of these programs is their incorporation of a significant liberal arts courseload. This ensures that students get a well-rounded education that they may not receive at another nursing school. Prospective nursing students who still desire some liberal arts study may want to put UAPB on their list of HBCUs with nursing programs and HBCU nursing colleges.
UAPB is both a public institution and a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. This makes tuition at UAPB very affordable, especially for students from the state of Arkansas. Prospective nursing students on a tight budget, especially those who would qualify as in-state students, may want to consider getting their nursing degree at UAPB. UAPB offers an RN-BSN track that can be completed totally online or through a mixture of online and in-person classes.
13. Norfolk State University
Norfolk State University offers Bachelor’s in Nursing degrees through its Department of Nursing and Allied Health that are fully accredited by ACEN. There are currently two active degree tracks in nursing at NSU. One is a traditional Bachelor’s in Nursing. The other offers RN nurses the opportunity to complete their BSN fully online. NSU is known for having one of the most advanced medical simulation labs in the state of Virginia, ensuring that students can get risk-free practical experience throughout their nursing education.
NSU is known for being one of the leading STEM institutions in the state of Virginia, not just among HBCUs, but among all colleges and universities in the state. This focus shows in the cutting-edge equipment and practical experience that students in STEM fields, including nursing, have access to. NSU grads may even have an advantage over grads from less STEM-focused universities. NSU nursing grads had a 100% pass rate on the NCLEX in 2018.
14. Bluefield State College – School of Nursing and Allied Health
When you are looking for HBCUs with nursing programs, Bluefield State College offers a program to assist with your goals. The degree program focuses on nursing and radiologic technology to help nurses prepare for the challenges of working with patients in a medical setting. It recognizes the value of imaging science as it relates to medicine and provides the training nurses need to obtain images for proper diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Bluefield State College is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN, and offers training for nurses at the School of Nursing and Allied Health. The degree program ensures that students are prepared for the challenges of working as a nurse and it provides training in imaging science that helps medical professionals identify potential concerns when evaluating a patient. Nursing students at Bluefield State College go through drug screening every semester to ensure they follow the standards set by the college when caring for patients.
15. Coppin State University – Fuld School of Nursing
When you are looking for HBCU nursing colleges, the Fuld School of Nursing at Coppin State University offers the training and education you need for your career. The CCNE-accredited degree program offers a robust curriculum that prepares students for the rigors of working in a medical environment. It also ensures that students have the support they need to advance in their studies and pursue specialized areas of nursing.
Coppin State University differs from other programs by focusing on strong relationships within communities. It ensures that students are able to pursue scholarship and education while also working within their community to foster good health and well-being. The program recognizes that students will face a variety of challenges throughout their degree and offers the support they need to advance into a nursing career.
16. Albany State University – Darton College of Health Professions
The decision to pursue nursing at Albany State University offers the opportunity to accomplish your career goals. The degree program focuses on providing students with the flexibility to work around their schedule with traditional, hybrid, and night classes. By offering students a flexible schedule, it helps a student keep up with obligations in their lives. Students can obtain specialized certifications or training to prepare for specific areas of nursing in their career.
Albany State University differs from other programs by giving students hands-on training for their work. The degree program recognizes the value of working directly with patients and learning from hands-on experience, so it offers the opportunity to start gaining experience while you are working on your degree. It is an ACEN accredited program for students who want to work in nursing.
17. Hampton University
When you are looking into HBCUs with nursing programs, you will want to consider Hampton University. The school offers the training students need to start a career in nursing and focus on their long-term goals. It also recognizes that you may have limitations on your time and provides options for students who need an alternative to traditional college classes. Hampton University differs from other programs by offering an accelerated program to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Hampton University offers students the opportunity to gain the training they need to start working as a nurse. The degree program recognizes that you need the right training to work as a nurse and it offers the hands-on experience you need when you want to work as a nurse.
18. Dillard University – College of Nursing
When you’re looking for HBCU nursing colleges, Dillard University offers the training you need for your career. The Dillard University College of Nursing has a long history of providing students with the training they need to start working as a nurse. It focuses on giving students the training they need to provide compassionate care to their patients.
Dillard University stands out from other programs by providing students with an interesting combination of scholarship, training, and experiences. Students are encouraged to enjoy the campus experience to gain an appreciation of their surroundings and the culture of the local area. That focus on culture gives the school an interesting aspect that sets it apart. Dillard University was the first historically black college to start a College of Nursing and focus on nursing education. It has more than seven decades of history in nursing education.
19. Chicago State University – Department of Nursing
When you want to work in nursing, Chicago State University offers an ACEN accredited degree program to assist with your goals. The Department of Nursing focuses on preparing students for the rigors of working in a medical environment and ensures that students understand the challenges they will face as they advance in their career. A key way the Chicago State University differs from other programs is the simulated and real-life experiences nursing students gain when working on their degree.
Chicago State University stands out from other programs by focusing on a rigorous curriculum. The school recognizes that nurses take on a critical role in the medical field and it provides the training to advance in a nursing career. The school strives to nurture and support students with the goal of helping them become leaders in the nursing industry.
20. Southern University and A&M College – School of Nursing
Southern University and A&M College offer students a degree in nursing that prepares them for their long-term career goals. The degree program is taught by experienced nursing professionals and scholars who recognize the challenges of working as a nurse and the fast-paced environment students can expect when they start working in a medical setting. It strives to prepare students to handle the stress and difficulties of a challenging career.
The way the Southern University differs from other programs is the focus on wellness and health within the school’s community and the local area. The school hosts community health events to help the local community learn about healthy solutions to their concerns and to prevent health conditions from developing. Southern is one of nine colleges participating in the All of Us Research Program, which offers opportunities for students to participate in a research program during their time in school.
21. Lincoln University
Lincoln University offers a nursing program with a focus on developing a strong foundation in nursing practices. The curriculum at the university focuses on a progressive style that starts with the basics of nursing and builds into more advanced areas of study to ensure that students are knowledgeable about the foundation of nursing before they move into more challenging areas of study.
A key way Lincoln University differs from other programs is their holistic approach to nursing education. The school recognizes that nursing skills are only one part of working as a nurse, and it gives students the skills they need to handle patients in a compassionate and caring way. It also encourages life-long learning to ensure that students stay up-to-date with new technology and skills. Lincoln University offers small class sizes to give students the individual attention they may need as they advance in their degree.
22. Bethune-Cookman University – School of Nursing
Bethune-Cookman University offers an ACEN nursing degree program that prepares students for their career. The degree recognizes that students may need to focus on providing their patients with better solutions for improved quality of life and encourages innovation in nursing to accomplish the goal of improved patient care. That focus on innovation and quality of life allows students to find creative solutions when working with patients or medical doctors.
A key way Bethune-Cookman University stands out from other programs is the faith-based approach they take to the nursing program. The school focuses on the value of compassionate care and it uses a faith-based process to teach students how to engage with patients in a compassionate and caring way, regardless of the challenges they may face with different patient’s and their personalities. Bethune-Cookman University differs from other programs by teaching students leadership skills that highlight cultural sensitivity in medical practice.
23. Grambling State University
Grambling State University offers a nursing program that focuses on the goals of students. The supportive environment allows students to focus on their studies and reach out to professors when they have questions. The university also gives students the opportunity to advance in their studies when they want to move forward with their career. Grambling State University offers an ACEN accredited nursing program that focuses on leadership in nursing.
A key way Grambling State University stands apart from other programs is the kind and professional staff. Students are encouraged to ask questions and engage with their professors to gain the knowledge they need to care for their patients. The staff and faculty are approachable and understand that students may need assistance at different stages of their education.
24. University of the District of Columbia
When you are looking into HBCU nursing colleges, you will notice that the University of the District of Columbia offers a nursing program to assist working nurses with their plans. The RN to BSN nursing program at the school recognizes that nurses with an Associate’s degree may benefit from a higher level of education. The degree program focuses on helping nurses by offering a flexible program that works around their schedule.
A key way the University of the District of Columbia stands apart from other programs is the rigorous and experiential process used to train students in nursing. It recognizes that students in the program already have experience working as a nurse and it builds on the experience to ensure that students are able to provide their patients with the level of care they need for their long-term health. It also focuses on teaching students the leadership skills they need to advance in their nursing career. The University of the District of Columbia gives students the tools to provide culturally relevant care in a diverse work environment.
25. Tuskegee University
Tuskegee University offers a nursing degree program that takes a servant leader approach to the education process. It recognizes that nursing students are scholars who plan to work in an environment where they may take a leadership position, but still need to maintain the humble attitude and mindset of someone who wants to serve their patients to the best of their ability. That unique mindset helps students offer compassionate care to their patients in a medical facility.
The way Tuskegee University stands out from other programs is the focus on competent and compassionate nursing care. It recognizes that nurses place a critical role in the medical industry and provides students with the training and skills they need to navigate the challenges of their career. The program also recognizes that nurses take a unique servant leader role when working with patients and it strives to impart the skills they need to guide their patients through the process of healing. Tuskegee University was the first school in Alabama to offer a bachelors degree in nursing. The program was started in 1948 and it continues to focus on excellence in nursing.
Why Should I Choose an HBCU Nursing School?
The missions of these institutions is to further the success of their students, and those aspiring to be black nurses or even a black nurse practitioner. Their initial founders, staff members, and faculty members are often successful African-Americans that students have the ability to look up to and gain inspiration. Students also have the ability to build relationships with these individuals, as most of these institutions are smaller and have that community atmosphere that larger institutions are too big to enjoy. With this smaller setting, students are able to be held more accountable for their academics and develop friendships that will last well beyond their college years.
Furthermore, HBCU nursing schools are essential to helping black nurses reach higher positions, offering graduate degrees in some of the best specializations and careers for nurses. While minority students often face discrimination in predominantly white graduate schools, HBCU nursing colleges help them make the best of their abilities.
Do HBCU Nursing Schools Only Accept Black Students?
While HBCU nursing schools were founded for students that were African-American, these institutions are more inclusive in their recent years. The mission to help the African-American minority succeed has been extended to other minorities within these communities. These minorities include Hispanic students and Native American students who are looking for an environment that provides that support and encouragement found in a smaller institution. International students are also welcome to HBCU nursing institutions. Since their beginnings, HBCUs have offered minority students an equal opportunity to quality education in an atmosphere designed to promote their success.
This is no different from the nursing schools and programs offered at these HBCU institutions. The first black nursing school is located in Atlanta through Spelman College, where black nurses were encouraged and began being introduced into the healthcare industry. For over a century they have led in the black nursing schools, and since its beginning, other HBCUs have decided to offer their own nursing programs, with many being the first black nursing school of their state. Like traditional nursing schools, these programs provide the same curriculum and require the same testing by the Board of Nursing, meeting all the state requirements.
Can I Get an Accelerated Nursing Degree from an HBCU?
Yes. HBCUs across the nation that offers nursing degrees have begun moving to an accelerated nursing program like traditional institutions. An accelerated program refers to students having the ability to complete a program at a faster pace than traditional curriculums of the same program. These students often have one degree that will count for the core of the accelerated program, giving the student an advantage into the program. They can be offered on campus at an accelerated rate or online, depending on the level of the degree and the preference of the student.
These HBCU accelerated nursing programs offer their students the same ability to continue working full-time while earning their degree at their own pace. In most of these accelerated programs, the students admitted to the program has shown academic excellence as they often have a completed Associate or Bachelor degree, with state nursing licensure. Students can take advantage of online courses, taking multiple courses at once in order to meet their accelerated goals. Many of these programs refer to the RN-BSN options available, allowing working nurses to obtain their degree and move forward in graduate school if they choose.