The term "Black Ivy League" refers to a group of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with high academic standards and selective admissions. These schools are not affiliated with the sports conference known as the Ivy League.

What Are the Black Ivy League Schools?

Black Ivy League schools are a distinguished group of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), characterized by high academic standards, selective admissions, and attracting high-performing students. 

HBCUs were founded to provide Black students a quality higher education. Before the 1960s, all majority-white colleges and universities in the South did not accept people of color. During that time, a handful of elite Black schools — the Black Ivy League — attracted the best African-American students and faculty. 

While these institutions originally admitted only Black students, they now welcome individuals of all races.

There are more than 100 HBCUs in the United States. Among these, a distinguished group is often referred to as the Black Ivy League. The term “Black Ivy League” is not an official one, nor is it affiliated with the sports conference known as the Ivy League. In her 1984 book Blacks in College, Jacqueline Fleming designates the following 8 universities as the Black Ivy League. 

  • Spelman College
  • Howard University
  • Tuskegee University
  • Morehouse College
  • Hampton University
  • Fisk University
  • Dillard University
  • Clark Atlanta University

Others have suggested including additional high-caliber HBCUs on the list, such as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Morgan State University, and Lincoln University. This article focuses on the above 8 institutions from Jacqueline Fleming’s list.

Black Ivy League Schools: Acceptance Rates and Key Features

Black Ivy League Schools
SchoolLocationHBCU RankOther Notable RankingsAcceptance Rate
Spelman CollegeAtlanta, Georgia#1#39 in National Liberal Arts Colleges28%
Howard UniversityWashington, D.C.#2#115 in National Universities53%
Tuskegee UniversityTuskegee, Alabama#4#8 Regional Universities South30%
Morehouse UniversityAtlanta, Georgia#5#100 in National Liberal Arts Colleges59%
Hampton UniversityHampton, Virginia#7 #280 in National Universities45%
Fisk UniversityNashville, Tennessee#13#146 National LACs71%
Dillard UniversityNew Orleans, Louisiana#15#159 in National Liberal Arts Colleges 80%
Clark Atlanta UniversityAtlanta, Georgia#21#361 in National Universities56%

Below, we’ll go into detail about each of these schools.

1. Spelman College

Spelman College is a historically Black liberal arts college for women in Atlanta, Georgia. It is ranked #1 in HBCUs. It was originally founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary and became a college in 1924.

Spelman offers over 30 majors, with the most popular majors being Psychology, Biology, and Political Science. Spelman’s student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and two-thirds of its classes have less than 20 students. Approximately 2,374 undergraduates are enrolled.

Spelman has the most competitive acceptance rate of the Black Ivy League schools at 28%. Data from the Fall 2023 Admitted Student Profile shows the average SAT score is 1206 and the average ACT score is 26. Students reported an average unweighted GPA of 3.9.

Applications to Spelman can be submitted in Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision rounds. As of 2024, tuition is $48,809 per year for an on-campus student.

Notable Alumni of Spelman College: Marian Wright Edelman (activist), Alice Walker (novelist), Keshia Knight Pulliam (actor), Cassi Davis (actor)

2. Howard University

Founded in 1867 by Civil War hero General Oliver O. Howard, Howard University is ranked #2 in HBCUs. Its 256 acre campus sits in Washington, D.C.

Howard University is the top producer of Black undergraduates who go on to earn PhDs in natural sciences and who go into medical school in the U.S. It also has the highest number of HBCU Rhodes Scholars who go on to study at the University of Oxford.

Howard offers majors in more than 130 areas within 13 schools and colleges. Approximately 9,689 undergraduates are enrolled.

Howard University has an acceptance rate of 53%. Data from the 2022-2023 Common Data Set shows the median SAT score is 1170 and the median ACT score is 23. Students reported an average unweighted GPA of 3.65.

Applications to Howard can be submitted in Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision rounds. As of 2024, tuition is $49,818 per year for an on-campus student.

Notable Alumni of Howard University: Kamala Haris (Vice President of the U.S.), Thurgood Marshall (former U.S. Supreme Court Justice), Toni Morrison (novelist), Zora Neale Hurston

3. Tuskegee University

Located in Tuskegee, Alabama, Tuskegee University was founded in 1881. It is ranked #4 in HBCUs and is the only HBCU designated as a National Historic Site. The university has been home to numerous important African-American figures, including founder and first principal Booker T. Washington, scientist George Washington Carver, and World War II's Tuskegee Airmen.

Tuskegee University offers over 60 degree programs. Approximately 2,400 undergraduates are enrolled.

Its notable distinctions include:

  • Number one producer of Black aerospace science engineers in the nation.
  • A leading producer of Black engineering graduates in chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering.
  • The top producer of Black Ph.D. holders in Materials Science and Engineering in the U.S.
  • Produced more Black general officers in the military than any other institution, including the service academies.

Tuskegee University has an acceptance rate of 30%. According to its website, “the preferred applicant will have earned a 21 ACT Composite Score or 1080 SAT Score and an unweighted 3.0 cumulative high-school grade point average.”

You can apply to Tuskegee for either fall admission or spring admission. For the 2024-2025 school year, tuition is $36,534 for an on-campus student.

Notable Alumni of Tuskegee University: Lionel Richie (musician), Daniel James Jr. (four-star general in the U.S. Air Force), Ralph Ellison (writer), Alice Coachman (Olympic gold medalist)

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4. Morehouse College

Founded in 1867 and located in Atlanta, Morehouse College is the largest liberal arts college for men in the United States. It is ranked as the #5 HBCU and is a member of the Atlanta University Center consortium along with Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University.

Morehouse College was founded in response to the liberation of enslaved African-Americans and has played a key role in the civil rights movement. It is the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr.

Morehouse offers 32 majors, with the most popular majors being Business, Social Sciences, Biology, and Communications. Its student-faculty ratio is 10:1, and half of its classes have less than 20 students. Approximately 2,206 students attend.

Morehouse has an acceptance rate of 59%. Typical admitted Morehouse students scored between 18-25 on ACT Math, 19-26 ACT English, 510-610 on SAT reading and writing, and 500-600 on SAT Math. Students reported an average unweighted GPA of 3.5.

Applications to Howard can be submitted in Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision rounds. As of 2024, tuition is $38,806 for an on-campus student.

Notable Alumni of Morehouse College: Martin Luther King Jr. (activist), Samuel L. Jackson, (actor) Spike Lee (filmmaker), Maynard Jackson (attorney and politician)

5. Hampton University

Hampton University is a prestigious private college in Hampton, Virginia. It was founded during the Civil War in 1868 on the grounds of a former plantation. It is ranked #7 in HBCUs.

Hampton offers 133 programs and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. There are 3,649 students enrolled. Top majors include Business, the sciences, and liberal arts.

Hampton University’s acceptance rate is 45% as of 2024. Students with an unweighted GPA of at least 3.30 or who rank in the top 10% of their class can choose whether to submit standardized test scores. To be considered for merit-based scholarships, you must submit SAT or ACT scores.

You can apply to Hampton during the non-binding Early Action round or the Regular Round. As of 2023, tuition is $42,148 — which includes room, board, and fees as well.

Notable Alumni of Hampton University: Booker T. Washington (author, orator, nad educator), Wanda Sykes (comedian), Spencer Christian (TV broadcaster)

6. Fisk University

Founded in 1866, Fisk University is the oldest institution of higher learning in Nashville, Tennessee. It is the #13 HBCU in the country.

Fisk offers over 20 undergraduate and graduate programs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Clinical Psychology, as well as bridge Masters to Ph.D. programs through a partnership with Vanderbilt University.

Fisk has an acceptance rate of 71%. Half of students admitted have an SAT score between 1090 and 1490.

You can apply to Fisk in the following rounds: Early Action I, Early Action II, and Regular Decision. As of 2023, tuition and fees are $23,578.

Notable Alumni of Fisk University: W. E. B. Du Bois (sociologist and activist), John Lewis (civil rights leader), Nikki Giovanni (poet)

7. Dillard University

Dillard University was founded in 1869 and is the first HBCU in Louisiana. It is ranked as #15 in HBCUs. Unlike most of the other universities in the Black Ivy League, Dillard is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

Dillard offers over 20 degrees and certificates and has 1,202 undergraduates enrolled. One hundred percent of Dillard graduates pass their nursing license exam. The student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1.

The acceptance rate at Dillard University is 80%. They require a minimum 2.5 unweighted GPA, an 18 ACT composite score, or a 960 SAT score. Students can elect not to submit their ACT/SAT scores, but they must have at least a minimum GPA of a 3.0 to be considered.

Dillard University has rolling admissions. They recommend applying by June 1st for fall admission and December 1st for spring admission.

Notable Alumni of Dillard University: Ruth Simmons (professor and academic administrator), Garrett Morris (actor), Jericho Brown (poet and writer).

8. Clark Atlanta University

Clark Atlanta, ranked #21 in HBCUs, is a private Methodist university in Atlanta, Georgia. It is also the first HBCU in the American South. First founded in 1865 as Atlanta University, it consolidated with Clark College to form Clark Atlanta University in 1988.

Clark Atlanta is a research-intensive institution. It offering undergraduate and graduate programs in 41 areas of study throughout Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, and Social Work.

Over 4,000 students are enrolled at Clark Atlanta University, and it has a student to faculty ratio of 16:1. The average GPA of admitted students is 3.33, while the average SAT and ACT scores are 1036 and 20, respectively.

You can apply to Clark Atlanta University during the Early Action or the Regular Decision round.

Notable Alumni of Clark Atlanta University: Bobby Valentino (R&B singer), James Weldon Johnson (civil rights activist), Eva Marcille (model, actor), DJ Drama (musician)

The Bottom Line

The Black Ivy League schools hold a unique and prestigious place within the landscape of American higher education. From producing notable alumni who have made significant contributions across various fields to maintaining high standards of academic excellence, these institutions continue to attract talented students from all backgrounds.

Are you thinking about applying to a school in the Black Ivy League? Crimson can help you put your best foot forward. Crimson students are 6.75x more likely to be accepted to top universities than the general applicant. Book a free consultation today to see how we can help!

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