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How to Choose an HBCU Nursing Program

a group of students in scrubs study nursing at an HBCU

Nursing is a rewarding profession with several benefits, including opportunities for growth and advancement, stability, and excellent compensation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual wage for registered nurses (RNs) with a bachelor’s degree in 2023 was $86,070

Several historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) offer undergraduate nursing programs. These programs can give you the necessary knowledge and skills to become one of the most sought-after professionals in the healthcare field. 

If you want to become a nurse, you’ll want to choose the right HBCU that delivers high-quality education and training to help you become a well-rounded healthcare professional. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the most important factors in choosing a nursing program and share the HBCUs you should consider applying to.

Why choose an HBCU for nursing?

Some prospective students may wonder why they should pursue a nursing degree at an HBCU. As a former writer for a company that targets HBCU students and alumni, I can tell you that an HBCU can provide unique opportunities and a cultural experience for students of color. Black students are surrounded by peers, faculty, and staff who look like them and receive a tremendous amount of support as they navigate college. 

In addition, HBCUs can be more affordable than predominantly white institutions (PWIs), accommodate first-generation students, and provide students with the tools and resources they need to land employment opportunities after graduation. 

Please note that HBCUs are not restricted to Black students. These institutions welcome students from all races, ethnicities, genders, and cultural backgrounds. 

What to look for when applying to HBCUs for nursing

Here are a few things you want to consider before applying to an HBCU nursing program. 

Tuition Costs

As you search for HBCUs with nursing programs, you want to know the tuition costs. Some nursing programs are much more expensive due to classes, lab fees, room and board, health insurance, meal plans, and other expenses. 

Applying for financial aid through your chosen school can lower tuition costs. Many HBCUs offer scholarships and grants to help you pay for nursing school. So, speak with each school’s financial aid office for more information on tuition costs and financial aid opportunities. 

You also want to complete the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA). FAFSA offers federal grants, work-study programs, and loans to support your college education.  

Program Delivery 

Nursing programs can be delivered in person, online, or in combination. If you live on or near campus, in-person live classes may better suit your needs and learning style. 

Yet, many students are turning to online courses, as they can have lower tuition costs and don’t require campus housing or commuting. 

Remember that if you choose distance learning, your nursing program will likely require you to complete in-person clinicals to meet graduation requirements. For obvious reasons, these activities typically cannot be done online.

Program Length

Nursing programs vary in length depending on which degree you pursue. For example, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), geared toward students who want to become registered nurses (RNs), can take two to four years to complete. 

There’s also an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a two-year program that meets the minimum requirements to become licensed as an RN. 

Knowing what type of nursing program you want to pursue can help you decide which HBCU is right for you.


You’ll want to ensure that any HBCU nursing program you’re interested in holds accreditation. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) are national accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. 

HBCUs with nursing programs holding accreditation from the CCNE or ACEN have met the guidelines for delivering nursing education and training that prepare students for an ever-evolving healthcare career. 

You can view a school’s website to find out more about its nursing program accreditation.

Nursing Licensure

Each state has its own specific rules and regulations for nursing licensure. Research your state's licensure requirements before starting an undergraduate nursing program. 

You can also look at an HBCU nursing program’s NCLEX-RN pass rate. The NCLEX-RN is a required exam that nurses must pass before starting their careers. If the program has a high pass rate, you can assume it offers quality training to prepare students for a nursing career. 

HBCUs with a Nursing Program

Below is a list of HBCUs with nursing programs at the undergraduate level.

  • Bishop State Community College
  • Gadsden State Community College
  • Lawson State Community College
  • Oakwood University
  • Trenholm State Technical College
  • Tuskegee University
  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  • Delaware State University
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • Florida A&M University
  • Albany State University
  • Kentucky State University
  • Dillard University
  • Grambling State University
  • Southern University and A&M College
  • Bowie State University
  • Coppin State University
  • Morgan State University
  • Alcorn State University
  • Coahoma Community College
  • Hinds Community College
  • Lincoln University of Missouri
  • Fayetteville State University
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Winston-Salem State University
  • Lincoln University
  • Claflin University
  • Tennessee State University
  • Prairie View A&M University
  • Hampton University
  • Norfolk State University
  • Virginia State University
  • Howard University 
  • University of the District of Columbia
  • Bluefield State College
  • University of the Virgin Islands

A great HBCU nursing program can be a stepping stone to a fulfilling nursing career. Understanding your expectations and goals is crucial to helping you narrow down your choices and choose the best school.

Make smarter application decisions with Appily

We understand the anxieties associated with the college application process, so we’re here for you every step of the way. With a free Appily account, you can search our expansive database of colleges and discover schools you might not otherwise consider. 

You can refine your search to home in on HBCUs or schools with specialized programs that fit our needs. Then, you can compare them on points like tuition costs, average scholarship awards, application deadlines, and even acceptance rates.

Simply click the button below to access all the tools you need to plan, decide, and apply for college.

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