Bookmark and Share

Printer-friendly versionPDF version
Average: 3.2 (38 votes)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina

North Carolina has eleven historically black colleges and universities, including the oldest in the South, Raleigh's Shaw University, founded in 1865, and North Carolina's newest HBCU, Durham's North Carolina Central University, founded in 1910 and today one of the sixteen senior institutions in the University of North Carolina system.

Barber-Scotia College, Concord, North Carolina

Barber-Scotia College is a coed liberal arts school founded by the Presbyterian church in 1867. Today Barber-Scotia offers both bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees with the majority of students specializing in either the social sciences or business administration.

Dr. Alma Adams and students, Bennett CollegeDr. Alma Adams and students, Bennett College

Bennett College, Greensboro, North Carolina

Founded as a coeducational school in 1873 in Greensboro and affiliated with the United Methodist church, Bennett College since 1926 has been a college devoted to the education of black women. To that end Bennett's past president, Dr. Gloria Randall Scott, established the Women's Leadership Institute and Center for African Women and Women of the African Diaspora.

Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina

With more than 2,000 students, Elizabeth City State University is a vibrant part of the University of North Carolina system. Established in 1891 for African Americans, today Elizabeth City State's students are increasingly multicultural and earn bachelor degrees in the arts and sciences as well as several professional and pre-professional areas. The University has a master's degree program in elementary education. Elizabeth City students may also earn master's degrees through cooperative programs with other institutions.

Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina

A coed liberal arts college founded in 1867 as The Howard School, Fayetteville State University is also a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina. Fayetteville State enjoys an administration for whom student development is a high priority. The Chancellor, Dr. T. J. Bryan, is the first African-American woman appointed to head a University of North Carolina institution.  

Historic photo of Johnson C. Smith University's George E. Davis Science HallHistoric photo of Johnson C. Smith University's George E. Davis Science HallJohnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, North Carolina

Originally organized by two Presbyterian ministers in 1867, the name of today's Johnson C. Smith University reflects the generosity of Mrs. Jane Berry Smith, who over her lifetime donated enough money to build eight of the college's buildings, in addition to funding a substantial endowment in memory of her late husband, Johnson C. Smith. The first mission of the school was to prepare men for the Presbyterian ministry, but the school became coeducational in 1942 and now grants bachelor's degrees primarily in liberal arts and business subjects.

Livingstone College, Salisbury, North Carolina

Livingstone College is a coed private college affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church. Livingstone has been located in Salisbury, North Carolina since 1879 and offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science and bachelor of social work degrees as well as degrees from the graduate school of theology known as Hood Theological Seminary. Livingstone combines a heritage rooted in the Christian faith, an emphasis on the contributions of African American culture, community service and modern technological expertise.

North Carolina A & T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina

With around 400 faculty members and over 6,000 students North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University is one of the nation's largest historically black universities. Originally North Carolina A & T was established in Raleigh in 1891, but moved to Greensboro two years later where it has remained for over 100 years. A & T students can certainly choose to specialize in agricultural or technical subjects, but the school also offers degree programs in everything from business management and home economics to landscape architecture, fine and applied arts and foreign languages.

North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina

One of the sixteen senior institutions in the University of North Carolina system and the state's youngest historically black college, (founded in 1910), North Carolina Central University grants bachelor's degrees in multiple disciplines, and has 38 graduate and professional degrees, including the Juris Doctor degree from the School of Law. Central requires fifteen hours of community service from each student each semester, has a university honors program, an undergraduate research program, and has reorganized its undergraduate programs so that students develop proficiencies in the five areas of communications, mathematics and science, cultural foundations, arts and humanities, and personal and social development, in addition to pursuing course work in their chosen fields.  

St. Augustine's University, Raleigh, North Carolina

St. Augustine's University, affectionately known as "St. Aug's," has been shaping the lives of young African Americans since 1867, when it opened its doors in Raleigh. A private college, St. Aug's is supported by the Episcopal church and the United Negro College Fund as well as being a member of the Association of Episcopal Colleges. The student body numbers about 1,900 full and part-time students, of which about fifty percent come to St. Aug's from out-of-state.  

Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina

Known for its excellence in business education, Shaw University grants bachelor's and associate degrees to a student body of over 2,300. A private university, Shaw was founded in North Carolina's capital in 1865 at the end of the Civil War and is affiliated with the Baptist church. Whatever their major field of concentration, all Shaw students receive a solid grounding in both the humanities and the arts and sciences.

Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem State University has lived by its motto, "Enter to Learn ... Depart to Serve," for over 100 years since the school was founded in 1892. Today's student body can choose from courses in health sciences, business and economics, education, and the arts and sciences. Winston-Salem State also reaches out to the community with extension courses and lifelong learning services.


Image Credits:

Contemporary photographs taken from university websites. Historic photo of Johnson C. Smith University from Digital Smith, in the Archives of the James B. Duke Library.




These colleges are well but i'm not looking to go to any of these colleges.


I am looking for myself and my nephew he is an upcoming senior and I have a Bachelors looking to pursue my Masters.


Out of this list of colleges, I would find out your nephew's strong points academicly because certain schools cater best to certain schools needs and interest of the student!!


I would love to go to this college


I really love this article! I learned a lot and I also enjoyed this as well. Thank you so much for posting this. <3


Hey that wasn't the question. The question was what was the first black college in NC, which is Shaw University. It didn't say in the US.


I will be doing a special on Colleges today on the internet. good and Bad colleges.


Excellent article however the primary question was not addressed. The major question to be settled is; what was the first HBCU (historically black college or university) in the US. That answer is Lincoln University (PA). Cheyney University is a fine institution but did not originate as a college. Your article did not correctly state that Cheyney was an elementary school at its inception (Institution for Colored Youth 1837 – 1913), then a High School (Cheyney State Normal School 1913 – 1921)and later became a teachers college in 1921(Cheyney State Teachers College 1921 – 1959). Lincoln University of PA (Founded as Ashmun Institute) was and is the first HBCU. Lincoln University chartered by the State of PA in April of 1854 (then Ashmun Institute), with its original purpose for the higher education of youth of African descent. Lincoln was established under the protection of the Presbytery of New Castle in 1853, as an institution to be called Ashmun Institute, for the scientific, classical and theological education of young Black males. On April 29, 1854, Ashmun Institute received its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Lincoln’s graduates went on to start other colleges with a focus on educating the nation’s poor and minority population such as South Carolina State University, Livingstone College, Albany State University and several others. Lincoln University is also credited for graduates founding colleges and universities internationally. Lincoln University is also credited with educating the first presidents of Nigeria and Ghana. Lincoln also covets historically significant graduates such as Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, Hildrus A. Poindexter and many others.


Thank you for posting the correction and additional information!


Michelle Underhill, Government & Heritage Library at the State Library of North Carolina.


Cheyney University was, is, and always will be THE FIRST and OLDEST HBCU in the US. The only people that try to dispute that are Lincoln University students. Everyone is else in the world sites Cheyney as the first. I get that you're proud of your school, but to try and re-write history is definitely beyond me, and should be beyond you also, especially as an African American individual like yourself


Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. Complete guidelines are available at

Grey Squirrel - Click me to return to the top of the page