The Top 10 HBCUs With The Best STEM Programs

Find talented STEM graduates from these colleges and universities.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are a great resource for finding talented college graduates. Today, these schools are responsible for 22% of bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black graduates overall, and 18% of STEM degrees awarded to Black graduates. For companies recruiting for entry-level STEM roles, HBCUs offer thousands of bright and qualified candidates, especially HBCUs with strong and highly-ranked STEM programs. To help you recruit top technical candidates and ensure you have a diverse pipeline, we’ve rounded up 10 HBCUs with the best STEM programs to focus your campus recruiting efforts on. Here are the schools that made our list:

10. Alabama State University 

Location: Montgomery, AL

Size of undergraduate student body: 3,750

School type: Public

ASU not only has great programs for STEM students but also specific initiatives to help students from underrepresented backgrounds succeed. They have a Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program which focuses on giving undergrad STEM students a chance at hands-on research, professional development workshops, and scholarship funds. They also have a program called S-STEM which is designed for keeping retention rates up among students in the STEM program from underrepresented groups. S-STEM provides financial support for tuition as well as special advising and mentoring to assist with the rigorous coursework before students fall behind. 

9. Jackson State University 

Location: Jackson, MS

Size of undergraduate student body: 5,331

School type: Public

JSU features a special summer program called “Bridge to the Future” for incoming freshmen in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology in order to help students prepare for a successful college career. In this program students have access to benefits such as housing, books, meals, field trips, and mentoring. They also have an initiative, “Integrated STEM Experience for All,” which aims to improve STEM graduation rates. They’re achieving this through more research opportunities for students and support throughout their studies if they’re struggling. In 2018 JSU was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in order to help retain students in the STEM programs as well as a goal of attracting 35% more students to enroll in a STEM major. 

8. Prairie View A&M University

Location: Prairie View, TX

Size of undergraduate student body: 8,109

School type: Public 

Prairie View acknowledges the lack of students from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM and works to improve that from early on. They have a Traveling PVAMU STEM Mobile Road Show with plenty of technology on board to perform hands-on demonstrations to every location they take it. High schools can contact PVAMU and have the STEM Mobile Road Show vehicle come to their school which helps attract students into STEM while they’re trying to decide what to program to pursue in college. Similarly, they have a shadowing program where younger students can sign up to follow around a College of Engineering student for a day to get a feel for what the STEM programs are really like. 

7. Spelman College

Location: Atlanta, GA

Size of undergraduate student body: 2,120

School type: Private, Women’s College

Because Spelman is a women’s college they’re not only helping increase the amount of Black students entering STEM fields but also working to increase the low amount of women in STEM. They offer a variety of STEM-specific scholarships to promote the accessibility of a STEM degree for anyone regardless of their socioeconomic status. They also offer a completely free program called Women in STEM Summer Bridge Accelerator (WiSTEM) to give incoming students extra preparation and support for their upcoming college career. The six week program includes for-credit classes as well as research opportunities and college prep activities. 

6. Alabama A&M University

Location: Huntsville, AL

Size of undergraduate student body: 5,273

School type: Public

Around 27% of graduates from Alabama A&M university receive a degree in a science or engineering and AAMU STEM grads can be found at companies like Google, NOAA, Boeing, NASA, and SpaceX. AAMU provides an excellent STEM Knowledge Center where students can access tutoring, computers equipped with the programs they use in class, advising, and career help to prepare for life after graduation. AAMU also holds a STEM Day every year to highlight the standout research students have completed. Students are able to set up a display explaining their research and present to attendees about their work. 

5. North Carolina A&T State University

Location: Greensboro, NC 

Size of undergraduate student body: 11,039

School type: Public

North Carolina A&T proves their program’s strength by placing in first the past two years in a row at the Black Enterprise Hackathon where 15-16 HBCUs compete every year. To help their students prepare for life after college NCAT offers a learning community living arrangement specifically for students in STEM. In this community they focus on supporting higher retention rates in the STEM programs, and students are able to participate in activities for their personal and academic development. This year NCAT also partnered with the Association for Women in Science to promote equality and work toward increasing the amount of women in STEM. Their notable alumni in STEM includes Dr. Ronald E. McNair, a NASA astronaut who was part of the 1986 Challenger mission.  

4. Morgan State University

Location: Baltimore, MD

Size of undergraduate student body: 6,461

School type: Public 

MSU focuses on attracting underrepresented youth to STEM fields through multiple programs. One program they have is a partnership with NASA that extends from K-12 education to foster interest and retention in STEM learning. They also have a summer program for rising high school seniors as well as incoming freshmen interested in Actuarial and Mathematical Sciences. This program is offered free of cost and lasts for six weeks. During the program students can actually take a pre-calculus course and participate in case studies, field trips, and professional development seminars. MSU also awards the second highest amount of bachelor’s degrees to Black students in the country. 

3. Hampton University

Location: Hampton, VA

Size of undergraduate student body: 3,714

School type: Private 

In 2018 Hampton was awarded with a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense specifically to enhance their research facilities and STEM programs. Because math classes are typically some of the most challenging courses in a STEM program, Hampton created their incoming freshman summer program around mathematics preparedness. During the program they also participate in daily study sessions, field trips, and workshops. When students participate in this program they are able to take a lighter course load during their first real semester which helps improve retention rates in the majors and ultimately graduation rates.

2. Howard University

Location: Washington, D.C. 

Size of undergraduate student body: 6,526

School type: Private 

Howard proves their STEM program’s strength by being ranked as the top producer of African American undergraduates who later earn science and engineering doctoral degrees by the NSF. Part of this success comes from their ample resources to attract students interested in the STEM fields, like their Bison STEM Scholars program. This is designed as a path for high school students who want to pursue a PhD or MD/PhD in a STEM field. Once accepted into the program students receive a scholarship, special advising, study groups, and research opportunities among other benefits. Howard also piloted a partnership with Google that focused on increasing the number of underrepresented students in tech. During this program 26 students participated in a summer residency at Google’s Silicon Valley HQ where they completed college courses while also practicing real-world engineering challenges. The program was so successful that it’s expanded to include students from Hispanic-Serving Institutions and other HBCUs – including some mentioned on our list like Florida A&M University, Morgan State University, Prairie View A&M University, North Carolina A&T State University, and Spelman College.

1. Florida A&M University

Location: Tallahassee, FL

Size of undergraduate student body: 7,818

School type: Public 

Florida A&M University tops our list because of their impressive number of students earning a bachelor’s degree in STEM every year, their rigorous program, and their strong commitment to supporting students in STEM. At FAMU more than 50% of students major in science, tech, engineering or math, making their STEM program a focus for the school. In 2017 they were awarded a $2 million grant from the NSF to help with initiatives such as improving retention rates in STEM programs and improving professional development opportunities. They also hold an annual STEM day for 6th-12th grade students to get them interested in pursuing a career in one of the STEM fields. For this event they bring in academic speakers, hold hands-on activities, and perform exciting science demonstrations. FAMU is also the only HBCU in the State University System of Florida. 

All of these HBCUs put a focus on excellence and success in the STEM field. By including these schools in your recruiting strategy, you’ll find bright and qualified candidates while building a diverse talent pipeline. 

Download our guide “Beyond The Ivy League” for more information on expanding your recruitment reach and finding students at the top public schools, HBCUs, and HSIs. If you are looking to improve your diversity recruitment efforts and need to find where to start, download our guide for Recruiting at HBCUs.


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