Howard University: An Iconic American HBCU

Located in Washington, D.C., Howard University is one of the most well-known historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs.)

Starting in the mid-nineteenth century, colleges and universities focusing on educating former slaves and their children began popping up around the United States. These colleges and universities were often founded by private organizations or were endowed by a group of wealthy individuals. Today, these institutions are known as America’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and are regarded among the country’s top institutions of higher learning.

Howard University At A Glance

Often regarded as the flagship HBCU, Howard University was founded in 1867 in the heart of Washington, D.C. In November of the previous year, members of the First Congregational Society of Washington wanted to start a seminary for former slaves that began to move north towards the end of the Civil War. As plans began to develop, the idea for a seminary expanded into a plan for a full-fledged university, and within two years of its opening, also boasted a college of liberal arts and a medical school.

Today, the U.S. News and World Report‘s profile of Howard University reports undergraduate enrollment at ~7,500 students on a 258-acre campus in the heart of Washington. The university was also ranked 80th among national universities in the 2020 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges.

Howard University is only one of forty-eight doctoral/research-extensive private colleges and universities throughout the United States, with a large number of notable faculty and alumni.

Academics at Howard University

Howard University is made of twelve schools and colleges offering over 100 concentrations at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. These divisions include colleges of law, medicine, communications, theology, social work, and traditional schools offering degrees in business, the arts and sciences, and education.

Howard University also offers some uncommon undergraduate majors, such as Afro-American Studies, music therapy, jazz studies, and Greek language and literature. Among the university’s most popular majors, however, are biology, journalism, psychology, radio and television, and political science.

Given the size of the university and the notion that large universities mean lecture halls filled with hundreds of students, Howard University reports that 60.9% of its courses have fewer than twenty students enrolled, while 34.5% of courses average 20-49 students per section.

Campus Life at Howard University

Students at Howard University have the opportunity to participate in a wide array of student organizations, ranging from performing arts groups to professional organizations to religious groups to NCAA Division I varsity athletics.

Howard University is also a notable institution in the world of fraternities and sororities, being home to the first chapters of both Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and Delta Sigma Theta sorority, two of five historically Black Greek letter organizations (BGLOs.) Howard University was also the site of the founding of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, or the consortium representing America’s “Divine 9” historically Black fraternities and sororities.

Howard University, located in the heart of America’s capital, is one of many of America’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs.) Today, the university is not only known for its committment to diversity, but also for its top tier academics and research.


Editorial Staff

Noah is a PhD student in modern European history who loves to find time for travel, learning new languages, and exploring the food in her New York City neighborhood.

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