The Appeal of Black Colleges Online

Posted February 7, 2013

 

For more than a century, students have attended historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) for numerous reasons. Some prefer the smaller campuses and closer interaction with faculty, others the on-campus social experience, while some just want the opportunity to attend a school with people similar to themselves.

HBCUs offer numerous options for those who desire to attend: public and private institutions, two-year and four-year institutions. In recent years, many HBCUs have begun to offer more online courses and degrees, keeping up with the changing characteristics of college students — many who are older, working adults and prefer the flexibility of earning their degree online.

For Justin Green, it was about tradition.

"I chose an HBCU because of the legacy and heritage behind each university," said Green, who earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Florida A&M University. "I also chose FAMU because my mother, sisters, and a host of cousins all attended FAMU. Its reputation made me want to be a part of the FAMU family."

After his undergraduate studies, Green chose to pursue his MBA at FAMU, through the school’s online MBA program. He said the convenience of attending classes and obtaining a degree without having to physically sit in a classroom while working more than 40 hours a week made the program manageable.

"Many students would like to be a part of the rich history that is associated with an HBCU, but are not in close proximity to attend on-campus classes," he said. "There are also individuals like myself who attended an HBCU but moved away to pursue careers but would have wanted to obtain a master’s degree from the same university that they obtained their bachelor’s degree."

LaTanya White completed her MBA from FAMU in 2007. At that time, the school had not begun offering its MBA online.

"I think in the case of online students, the appeal for them would boil down to them being able to tap into a strong alumni base to build relationships and identify networking opportunities that might come from that," she said. "FAMU has a very strong and very loyal alumni base, such that online students should be able to connect with an alumni group in almost any part of the country. Also, most online programs do call for an on-campus visit at some point during their virtual matriculation and that visit would hopefully incorporate some of the attractions of the on-campus experience creating that same sense of pride and loyalty for that school."

FAMU, which markets itself as being more than just a school, but actually a family, offers two other master’s degree programs online.

"I think having that personal interaction is just as much a part of the collegiate experience as anything else," said Dr. Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Dean of the School of Business and Industry at FAMU. "I tell students the entire college experience is a combination of both academic and social experiences."

FAMU’s online MBA, Friday-Stroud said, was designed to include parts of that social experience.

"The program requires that students complete an intense four-day on-campus residency at the beginning of the semester. We have them busy doing stuff until eight or nine every night they are there. They also get to meet the faculty members they will be working with over the course of the program," Friday-Stroud said. "The online MBA includes synchronous as well asynchronous programs, and a week-long international residency at the end of the program."

Friday-Stroud said this semester’s graduates will be attending Sao Paulo, Brazil where they will visit an HBCU in Brazil and various corporations.

"We’ve tried to capture much of the reasons that HBCUs are attractive in the online program. We didn’t want to give up who we were in the program," she said.

Friday-Stroud said the school markets its online programs at conferences, on the radio, through various online platforms, and even during sporting events.

"During games, announcers will mention FAMU’s online programs," she said. "At this point we?re going after people who already have an affinity with the university."

Fayetteville State University, another HBCU growing its online education offerings, became involved with distance education in 1999, in which there were eight faculty members teaching online courses. In spring 2012, the number of faculty jumped to 192.

"Our online degree completion students are typically nontraditional students who need flexible options to further their education," said Bonnie Grohe, FSU’s director of online education. "FSU strives to deliver the same quality resources and services on-campus students receive to students at a distance from our brick and mortar campus."

Here is a list of all the accredited HBCUs that offer online degree programs:

  • Albany State University

    This public university based in Georgia offers online students bachelor’s degrees in fire service administration and business information systems and master’s degrees in criminal justice and early childhood education. The school is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Bethune-Cookman University

    Students can pursue their Master of Science in Transformative Leadership online from this private university based in Daytona Beach, Fla. Bethune-Cookman is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Fayetteville State University

    FSU’s online undergraduate degrees are offered as part of a degree completion program. The university currently offers six undergraduate and two master’s programs online, and plans to add programs in nursing and education soon. FSU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

    Based in Tallahassee, FAMU is ranked 10th overall among the best HBCUs in 2012’s U.S. News and World Report and offers students three master’s degree programs online. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Fort Valley State University

    FVSU is affiliated with the University System of Georgia and offers online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, political science, psychology, and technical and professional writing and an online master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and case management. FVSU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Hampton University

    This private institution not only has notable alumni such as Booker T. Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mother Alberta Williams King, but also ranks fourth among the best HBCUs in 2012’s U.S. News and World Report. Hampton offers 12 undergraduate, four graduate and three certificate programs online and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Howard University

    Based in Washington, D.C., this private university is ranked second among best HBCUs in 2012’s U.S. News and World Report. Howard offers online degrees in pharmacy, clinical laboratory science, nursing, business, law, and education. Howard University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  • Jackson State University

    Mississippi-based Jackson State offers an online bachelor’s in child care and family education as part of its degree completion program as well as an online MBA. Jackson State is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Kentucky State University

    This public university currently offers online students a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in special education and will soon add online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, information technology, and public administration. Kentucky State is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Langston University

    The only HBCU in Oklahoma, Langston University provides its students with an online MBA. Langston University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Morgan State University

    Morgan State University, based in Baltimore, Md., offers an online doctoral degree in community college leadership. The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  • Norfolk State University

    Students attending this public university in Virginia can earn a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies entirely online. Norfolk State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • North Carolina A&T State University

    Based in Greensboro, North Carolina A&T State University graduates the largest number of black engineers at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. Online students can choose from five undergraduate and four graduate degrees as well as one certificate program. North Carolina AT&T is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • North Carolina Central University

    A part of the University of North Carolina System since 1972, North Carolina Central University offers online bachelor’s, master’s, and certification programs — some of the programs are degree completion and some are in hybrid format. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Prairie View A&M University

    Prairie View, the second-oldest public institution of higher education in Texas, offers students an online MBA. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Southern University A&M College

    Southern University is based in Baton Rouge, La. and offers a RN to BSN program fully online. The school is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • St. Philip’s College

    St. Philip’s College, located in San Antonio, Texas, is the only two-year HBCU offering degrees online. Students can earn associate’s degrees or certificates online in various fields. St. Philip’s is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Tennessee State University

    Located in Nashville, this school offers online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level. The bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, and the information technology and organizational leadership concentrations with the bachelor’s degree in professional studies are degree completion programs. Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Texas Southern University

    This Houston-based university offers an online eMBA, eMPA, master’s in education, and three certificate programs. Texas Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Tougaloo College

    Tougaloo College is a private college based in Mississippi offering an online master’s degree in economics with an emphasis in business. Tougaloo is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Virginia University of Lynchburg

    This private institution offers online degrees in the undergraduate and master’s levels in liberal arts and sciences, religious studies, business administration, organizational management, sociology, and divinity. VUL is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission.

  • Winston-Salem State University

    Winston-Salem’s online students can pursue certificates, bachelor’s degrees — some are through degree completion — as well as master’s degrees in fields such as education and nursing. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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