What does HBCU stand for?

Historically black colleges and universities

When you're discussing education, HBCU stands for "historically black colleges and universities." This designation describes a set of universities that were established prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and focused primarily on providing African-Americans with a higher education. Congress formalized the HBCU category as part of a 1986 amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Most HBCUs were founded in the American South in the years after the Civil War. Until the Civil Rights Act forced their hand, most pre-existing Southern colleges and universities did not admit African-Americans. To ensure African-Americans could achieve a higher education, many private and public actors founded new colleges and universities that were open to African-Americans.

At the moment, roughly 100 HBCUs remain open and active in the United States, including popular schools such as Howard University, Tuskegee University, and Florida A&M University. Each fall, the U.S. Department of Education designates one week National HBCU Week, which is when you're most likely to see the HBCU acronym used on social media platforms.


U.S. News always gives short shrift to HBCUs
VP Kamala Harris celebrating HBCU Week
VP Kamala Harris celebrating HBCU Week

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Updated September 9, 2021

HBCU definition by Slang.net

This page explains what the acronym "HBCU" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the Slang.net team.

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