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The 8 HBCUs in Alabama: Which is Right For You?

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Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) play an essential role in the social, economic, and educational improvement of many in the Black community. Today there are 101 HBCUs spread across the nation, primarily clustered in the Southeast, but reaching as far north as Pennsylvania and as far west as California. 


HBCUs include public and private and schools that offer both two- and four-year degrees. Alabama is home to more HBCUs than any other state in the country—a total of 11 HBCUs call the Cotton State Home, eight four-year schools, and three two-year schools (Gadsden State Community College, Bishop State Community College, and Shelton State Community College). Keep reading to learn about the eight four-year HBCUs in Alabama.


The 8 Undergraduate HBCUs in Alabama 


1.  Miles College


Location: Fairfield, AL

Acceptance Rate: N/A

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,500


Located in the suburbs of Birmingham, Miles College is a four-year private university affiliated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME Church). It is one of just 39 HBCUs to have the designation as a United Negro College Fund (UNCF) institution. The school offers majors in five divisions:


  • Business and Accounting
  • Communications, Education
  • Humanities
  • Social and Behavioral Science
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics


Miles College was founded on the principle that the paramount need in the Black community was educated leaders, and the school’s students have been at the forefront of civic engagement and activism. Alabama is the Civil Rights capital of the world thanks in part to the efforts of Miles College students and their opposition to segregation.


2.  Oakwood University 


Location: Huntsville, AL

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,500


Oakwood University is a Seventh-Day Adventist institution with a focus on Christ-centered learning through service, along with exposing students to groundbreaking research and cutting-edge technology to facilitate innovation and collaboration. The college offers 58 programs through five different schools:


  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Business and Information Systems
  • School of Education and Social Sciences 
  • School of Nursing and Health Professionals 
  • School of Theology 


Oakwood University is a popular choice for students with an interest in becoming medical doctors—it’s one of the top feeder schools for Black students going to medical school. In the 2017 academic year, more than 30 Oakwood students applied to medical school. 


3.  Alabama State University


Location: Montgomery, AL

Acceptance Rate: 97%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,900


Alabama State University is a public four-year university that was founded in 1867 by nine former slaves and has grown exponentially over the years, first establishing itself as a leader in producing African-American teachers and now offering 31 bachelor’s degree programs through seven colleges:


  • College of Business Administration
  • College of Education
  • College of Health Sciences
  • College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
  • College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
  • College of Visual & Performing Arts
  • University College


Alabama State University is perhaps best known for its marching band, the Marching Hornets. The Marching Hornets were the first squad from an HBCU to lead the Rose Parade and are known for their originality—they’ve never repeated a half-time show at home. 


4. Alabama A&M University


Location: Normal, AL

Acceptance Rate: 92%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,100


There’s a lot to love about Alabama A&M University—its robust campus life with over 50 student-run organizations, its athletics, and its focus on community service all spring to mind. Another standout feature is the University’s 2,300-acre campus (fondly called the “Hill”), which is located just outside Huntsville and was laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., the designer of New York’s Central Park.


Alabama A&M University is divided into four colleges:


  • College of Agricultural, Life, and Natural Sciences  
  • College of Engineering, Technology, and Physical Sciences  
  • College of Education, Humanities, and Behavioral Sciences  
  • College of Business and Public Affairs  


The university offers 37 degrees through its four schools, ranging from Accounting to Urban Planning. 

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5. Selma University  


Location: Selma, AL

Acceptance Rate: N/A

Undergraduate Enrollment: 500


Selma University, a four-year private institution affiliated with the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention dates back to 1878, but is facing an uncertain future—slow growth and declining enrollment are part of the problem, as is a debt of $785,000 to the U.S. Department of Education. In fact, the college website is defunct and it is unclear whether the school is still open.


In 2019, the University shut down athletic programs as a cost-saving measure and in 2020 the university’s president stepped aside after less than a year on the job. In 2018, the small Lutheran HBCU, Concordia College, which was also located in Selma, shut its doors. 


6. Talladega University 


Location: Talladega, AL

Acceptance Rate: 64%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,200


Talladega University is a private four-year university focused on liberal arts education. The school has the distinction of being Alabama’s oldest HBCU and the first institution in the state to admit qualified persons of any race or ethnic origin. Talladega University was founded in 1867, the same year the school acquired Swayne Hall—the university’s signature building and a  National Historic Landmark. 


The school offers 17 majors through four divisions:


  • Division of Business Administration 
  • Division of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics 
  • The Eunice Walker Division of Social Sciences and Education 


No matter what course of study a Talladega student pursues, their education is built on a solid foundation of liberal arts coursework.  


7. Stillman College


Location: Tuscaloosa, AL

Acceptance Rate: 33%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 861


Stillman is a four-year private institution in Tuscaloosa that’s affiliated with the Presbyterian Church—Stillman students are required to take 12 hours of religious education to fulfill their general education requirement. The college dates back to 1876 and is known for its liberal arts education and strong community engagement.  


Stillman offers three academic programs:


  • School of Business
  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Education


Through the college’s three programs, it offers 17 majors and 13 minors, ranging from art to theology. The college is noted for its small class size (it has a 17:1 student-to-teacher ratio) and for its modern, well-equipped facilities. 


8. Tuskegee University


Location: Tuskegee, AL

Acceptance Rate: 57%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,500


This is one of the most hallowed institutions in the nation and one of the most recognizable HBCUs—its campus is the only university campus in the country to be named a National Historic Site. Booker T. Washington was the university’s first professor and scientist George Washington Carver served on the faculty. Other famous alumni include author Ralph Ellison and singer Lionel Ritchie. 


Tuskegee is divided into eight schools:


  • Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science 
  • College of Agriculture, Environment, and Nutrition Sciences  
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Veterinary Medicine 
  • Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science
  • School of Education
  • School of Nursing and Allied Health 


Tuskegee University has a number of noteworthy accomplishments. The university has produced more African-American generals than any other institution—more than even the service academies—including Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., the nation’s first Black four-star general. The school is also home to Alabama’s first, and one of the nation’s oldest, nursing baccalaureate programs, and over 75% of the Black veterinarians in the world graduate from its College of Veterinary Medicine.


What are Your Chances of Acceptance?


Your odds of acceptance at an HBCU in Alabama will depend in large part on which school you apply to—some, such as Stillman, have low acceptance rates when compared to others, like Alabama State University. Your chances will also depend on the strength of your profile, as your personal chances of acceptance may be higher or lower than the listed admissions rates. 


CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator can estimate your odds of acceptance using a host of factors like GPA, test scores, and extracurricular activities. It can also highlight areas in need of improvement. In addition to letting you know your chances of being accepted into a certain institution, our free chancing engine can also provide a list of schools that “fit” your needs and match your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today!


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.