The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Nalea KoNurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated November 30, 2023
Reviewed by
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The best HBCU nursing programs offer an environment where students from any racial background can excel. Learn more about HBCU online nursing programs, including how to apply and pay your tuition.
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Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have the power to diversify nursing and fill the nursing gap. HBCU grads can benefit from the supportive learning environment —mentoring services, clubs, and hands-on professors — to become leaders in nursing. Under the mission of educating Black people, HBCUs began during segregation and now educate people of all racial backgrounds. This guide details more about the top HBCU nursing programs.

Discover how to apply and find out what careers await graduates of HBCU online nursing programs.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best HBCU nursing programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

At a Glance: The Top HBCU Nursing Programs

  1. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
  2. Oakwood University
  3. Delaware State University
  4. Howard University
  5. Winston-Salem State University
  1. Dillard University
  2. Claflin University
  3. Hampton University
  4. Coahoma Community College
  5. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
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Using Our Rankings: What to Look For in an HBCU Nursing Program

If you want to attend an HBCU nursing program, how do you decide on the best? What school you attend is a personal decision. That said, key factors make programs more accessible, affordable, flexible, and can ensure your success as a nurse.

Admission Requirements

Even if you find a nursing program that appeals to you, schools have eligibility requirements you must meet. You do not know if you can apply for a nursing program unless you read the admission requirements.

Specializations and Program Tracks

The various specializations and program tracks offered can give you the freedom in your postcollege career to work in specific areas of nursing. Check if a nursing program has specializations in line with your passion and skill set.

Graduates, among other specialities, can become critical care nurses, family nurse practitioners, midwife nurses, and registered nurses (RNs).

Clinical Experience

As a nursing student, you must get hands-on clinical training with patients. Some nursing schools make it easier to complete your clinical experience. For instance, you may have the option of evening or weekend clinical rotations. The length of an internship or a clinical experience varies.


Institutional accreditation is earned after an independent body has visited a school, reviewed its outcomes, and found that it meets quality standards. This means your education offers more value, but it also ensures certain protections on your investment.

Going to an accredited school allows you to transfer credits to other accredited colleges and toward a graduate degree. Also, going to an accredited college provides credibility in the eyes of employers.

School NCLEX Pass Rate

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rate gives a clue about how well an HBCU nursing program prepares its graduates to take and pass the RN nursing exam. This metric — even for graduate students who have already passed the NCLEX exam — gives insights into a college’s ability to challenge students and provide resources like tutoring, mentoring, and academic guidance.

School Graduation Rate

It means something if a college has a low graduation rate. If you choose to become a student, what are your chances of graduating on time? This metric gives you an idea about the resources available to students and support services.

Online Learning Format and Requirements

Colleges have different online learning structures, often influenced by the major. A student taking an asynchronous course finishes assignments on deadline without any live course requirements. Synchronous courses require live coursework but also provide interaction with classmates and instructors.

Most HBCU online nursing programs offer a hybrid of virtual lessons and in-person labs and clinical rotations.

Why Is HBCU Nursing Program Accreditation Important?

Colleges do not need accreditation, but they voluntarily undergo peer evaluations to show that they provide a quality education. Separate accrediting associations review a college to verify that it meets quality standards. This process protects your financial investment and makes sure that employers and other colleges recognize your degree and credits.

Every HBCU nursing program included in this guide is accredited. You want an accredited degree because:

  • You may not qualify for RN licensure if you attend an unapproved nursing program.
  • Accreditation offers continued quality evaluation of your education.
  • Employers may not recognize degrees from unaccredited schools.
  • Credits from an unaccredited degree program may not transfer.
  • Unaccredited institutions may not qualify for federal financial aid.

Find out more about why nursing school accreditation is important.

Learn More About the Best HBCU Nursing Programs and Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.
#1 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

  • Location-markerTallahassee, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,152
  • Out-of-state$14,524
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate33%
  • Students Enrolled9,184
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment98%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Oakwood University

  • Location-markerHuntsville, AL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$18,974
  • Out-of-state$18,974
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate89%
  • Students Enrolled1,374
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment81%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Delaware State University

  • Location-markerDover, DE
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,038
  • Out-of-state$16,960
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate39%
  • Students Enrolled4,739
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment65%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Howard University

  • Location-markerWashington, DC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$26,464
  • Out-of-state$26,464
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate39%
  • Students Enrolled10,859
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment33%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Winston-Salem State University

  • Location-markerWinston-Salem, NC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,401
  • Out-of-state$13,648
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate73%
  • Students Enrolled5,169
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment95%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Dillard University

  • Location-markerNew Orleans, LA
  • 4 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$17,410
  • Out-of-state$17,410
  • Retention Rate70%
  • Acceptance Rate65%
  • Students Enrolled1,215
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment97%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Claflin University

  • Location-markerOrangeburg, SC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$16,476
  • Out-of-state$16,476
  • Retention Rate70%
  • Acceptance Rate65%
  • Students Enrolled2,048
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment10%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Hampton University

  • Location-markerHampton, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$26,198
  • Out-of-state$26,198
  • Retention Rate72%
  • Acceptance Rate36%
  • Students Enrolled3,516
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment11%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

Coahoma Community College

  • Location-markerClarksdale, MS
  • 2 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$2,850
  • Out-of-state$2,850
  • Retention Rate61%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,612
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 The Best HBCU Nursing Programs

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

  • Location-markerPine Bluff, AR
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,130
  • Out-of-state$11,640
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate60%
  • Students Enrolled2,668
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment87%
  • AccreditationYes

Applying to an HBCU Nursing Program

There are more than 106 HBCUs and about 40 of those institutions have nursing programs. HBCUs began to promote the education of Black students, but today, HBCU nursing programs admit students from all racial backgrounds. Students who were not Black comprised 24% of enrollment at HBCUs as of 2020, according to the National Center of Education Statistics.

Students choose HBCU nursing programs for the lower tuition and a learning environment that confronts issues that matter to people of color (POC), especially first-generation college students.

Admission requirements vary by HBCU nursing program.

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    Admission Requirements

    HBCU nursing programs commonly require undergraduates to have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Undergraduate programs may require completion of prerequisite courses, such as chemistry, statistics, psychology, and human development with a minimum C grade (if not a B).

    Graduate nursing programs typically require a bachelor’s in nursing degree and an active RN license.

  • chevron-right

    Admission Materials

    You often submit an application that includes a career goal statement and high school or college transcripts. Before starting clinical rotations, you need a background check. For graduate programs, you may need to have prior clinical nursing experience and hold an RN license.

  • chevron-right

    GPA Requirement

    HBCU nursing programs —including undergraduate or graduate —commonly want at least a 3.0 GPA. More rigorous programs may prefer at least a 3.2 GPA.

Paying for HBCU Nursing Programs

College students want a financial return to their education. No college can guarantee your career success. However, HBCU nursing programs offer an affordable education, about 30% lower than non-HBCUs. This can make it easier for parents or guardians and students.

Even so, you may have difficulty paying for your nursing degree if you cannot establish residency and must pay for out-of-state tuition. Not being able to work while you study also makes the financial burden heavier.

Thanks to generous financial aid for nurses, including institutional, state, and federal aid, HBCU students graduate with less debt than students at non-HBCUs. Nursing students also have access to federal and state loans and grants, as well as nursing scholarships and grants.

What Can You Do With a Degree From an HBCU Nursing Program?

Nursing lacks diversity, but graduates of HBCU nursing programs can change that, as well as help fix the national nursing shortage. According to a 2020 study from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, minority nurses make up only 19.4% of RNs.

Students at HBCU nursing programs study a curriculum that includes minority voices, equipping them to tackle healthcare obstacles. It also helps them to develop a patient-centered practice that considers the unique challenges that POC face.

HBCU nursing programs prepare undergraduates to earn an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. Graduates can sit for the NCLEX exam to become an RN, a position that makes a mean annual salary of $82,750 as of May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Master of nursing degrees and doctorates prepare graduates to become licensed advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) specializing in specific areas of nursing. They work in acute care, neonatal units, pediatrics, psychiatric mental health, and women’s health. Nurse practitioners, one type of APRN, have a mean annual wage of $118,040, as the BLS reports.

Frequently Asked Questions About HBCU Nursing Programs

What are the advantages of attending an HBCU nursing program?

HBCU nursing programs offer many advantages to Black students, POC, and non-minority students. Firstly, your education at an HBCU often costs less than at a non-HBCU college. Students also discover that HBCU nursing programs foster a sense of community with diverse campusesand lessons that include minority perspectives.

Earning a degree through an online HBCU nursing program offers the opportunity to serve diverse patient populations.

What financial aid opportunities are available for students attending HBCU nursing programs?

Students attending HBCU nursing programs have the opportunity to access federal financial aid and also scholarships reserved for Black students and POC. The United Negro College Fund offers 60,000 scholarships each year to help students attend HBCUs.

Can you attend an HBCU nursing program online?

Yes, online HBCU nursing programs provide virtual classroom experiences that offer flexibility and convenience, especially for people balancing work and family lives. Online HBCU nursing programs function virtually, but students still need to complete clinical rotations in person.

In which states are HBCUs located?

HBCUs have campuses across the United States, but mostly in the South. Students can pick from HBCUs in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, the Virgin Islands, and Virginia.

Page last reviewed December 1, 2022. Note: The ranking list and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by our Rankings Team.

Related HBCU Nursing Resources

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