Top 7 Historical Black Colleges and Universities To Study Design

Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have always played a vital role in supporting first-generation Black students and those from moderate to low-income households. They have produced plenty of prominent leaders, entertainers, and high achievers since 1837.

Attending an HBCU school offers several unique advantages to African Americans. It enables them to overcome systematic barriers and pursue a college education in a stable and nurturing environment. Today, these schools account for only 3% of the colleges and universities in the United States. However, they produce nearly 20% of all Black graduates.

Which are the best HBCU schools to study design, though? To answer this question, DesignExplorr researched the design programs offered by HBCU schools. Here’s what we found:

Our Process: How Did We Come Up With This List?

To prepare our list of best HBCU schools for design, we focused on the following aspects:

  • Does the college offer an undergraduate and/or graduate program?
  • How many design majors does the school offer?
  • What about student chapter affiliations? Is the school affiliated with organizations, such as AIGA, IDSA, AIA, IDS/ASID, etc.?
  • Does the school offer scholarship programs for design students?

We recommend visiting the college’s official website for more information about their degrees and programs. It is also essential to consider other factors such as location, ranking and cost when selecting a college. By doing so, you will decide whether the school is the best fit for your career goals.

Now, let’s get started on the top HBCU schools for you to study design:

1. Bowie State University

As one of the oldest HBCUs in the U.S., Bowie State University is an affordable college in the Baltimore-Washington area. As a result of the school’s location, students can take advantage of opportunities and make new connections to develop as designers.

Bowie State University set the stage for being part of the design community and having professors currently working within the design community. As these professors still work within their field, students can gain insight into what’s going on and what to expect after graduation.

As an undergraduate student at Bowie State University, you can major in Visual Communication & Digital Media Arts. The degrees you can concentrate on in this major include:

  • Advertising Design
  • Animation and Motion Graphics
  • Art
  • Digital Media Arts
  • Fashion Design
  • Visual Communications
  • Digital Media Arts

If you would like more information on Bowie State University’s design program, contact Jennifer White-Johnson.

2. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Florida A&M)

This college’s mission is to provide students with an affordable, high-quality education. Florida A&M provides students with a chance to get their bachelor’s degree without paying excessive fees. Students can earn a Bachelor’s degree in the following areas:

  • Architecture
  • Architectural Studies
  • Graphic Design
  • Visual Arts

Contact Walter L. Smith for more information on the Architect program. For more information on Graphic Design, you can view more on the Florida A&M website.

3. Hinds Community College

Hinds Community College’s two-year programs can open the doors to your career path within the design industry. Choosing a community college is also a good idea since you will most likely take the same introductory courses that you might take at a four-year college. Ultimately, it will save you more money starting this way.

Through the Art program, you can learn the foundations of design to continue your studies at a university. In the Career and Technical programs, you can study:

  • Animation & Stimulation Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Clothing & Fashion Design
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Engineering
  • Drafting
  • Design

Read the Art department page to learn more about the program.

4. Howard University

Howard University is a well-known HBCU and a member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). In the art department, you will have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Howard University offers a wide range of career options in the design industry.

The undergraduate program offers degrees in Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Interior Design, and Photography. Howard University’s undergraduate program provides unique degrees related to design:

  • Sculpture
  • Electronic Studios
  • Ceramics
  • Painting

Several graduate degree programs are available at Howard University, including:

  • Fashion Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Interior Design

On Howard University’s website, you can find more information about the degrees.

HBCUs enable African Americans to overcome systematic barriers and pursue a college education in a stable and nurturing environment.

5. Lawson State Community College

Lawson State Community College offers technical degrees and two-year degrees that transfer to a four-year college. Among the school’s college transferable degrees are Architecture, Interior Architecture, Art, and Graphic Design. In addition, you can earn a technical degree in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design.

You can learn more about transferable degrees here, and more about the technical degree here.

6. Norfolk State University

Another college you might like to consider for receiving a Bachelor’s or Master’s in design is Norfolk State University. At Norfolk State University, the undergraduate program offers Fine Arts, Graphic Design, and Architectural Drafting degrees. The school offers a degree in Visual Studies as part of its graduate program.

You can find more information about the degrees on Norfolk State University’s website.

7. Morgan State University

Morgan State University is another excellent school affiliated with both AIGA, the professional association for design and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Within the design field, the college offers undergraduate and graduate programs. You can earn a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Environmental Design and an Interior Design degree.

Three options are available for earning a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree. These include Graphic Design, Illustration, and Multimedia Studio. In addition, students can earn degrees in Architecture and Landscape Architecture through the master’s program.

You can find out more about their programs on Morgan State University’s website.

Top 3 Honorable HBCU Mentions:

Surprise! You thought you were only getting seven! However, DesignExplorr did not want to exclude these colleges due to their academic history, reputation, and value of their programs.

1. Mississippi Valley State University

Another NASAD College, Mississippi Valley State University offers three options in their undergraduate program. You can receive bachelor’s degrees in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design, 2-Dimensional Design, and Graphic design.

For more information about Mississippi Valley State University’s Bachelor’s degree in Arts, contact Edward Morse. You can learn more about Computer-Aided Drafting and Design on the Engineering Technology page.

2. North Carolina A&T State University

North Carolina A&T State University has four options in its undergraduate program. You can receive bachelor’s degrees in:

  • Civil Engineering
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Graphic Design Technology
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Visual Arts in Design

You can find more information about the degrees on North Carolina A&T University’s website.

3. University District of Columbia

At this school, non-degree courses are also offered along with a community college. University District of Columbia has two options in its undergraduate program, which are Architecture and Art. In addition, the community college offers two associate’s degrees in Architectural Engineering Technology and Graphic Design.

On the University District of Columbia website, you can find more information about the degrees. You can find more information on the community college here.

There You Go! The Top HBCU Schools to Study Design

Here are the top seven Historical Black Colleges and Universities for you to study design. Studying design at an HBCU provides you the opportunity to receive a more culturally relevant design education. It helps you connect with your roots and grow professionally within a safe and nurturing environment. You also get more access to new opportunities without having to compete with your white counterparts.

Besides the schools we just discussed, there’s another list you can view for your liking, which showcases more HBCU schools. Annually, the Animation Career Review evaluates graphic design programs and ranks them, and you can visit their website to learn more.

Did you find this article on HBCU schools valuable? Comment below and let us know! Also, subscribe to DesignExplorr’s email list to stay up-to-date on the latest news!

Tahlia Gaulding

Tahlia Gaulding is an editorial intern here at DesignExplorr, and set to graduate from Cleveland State University this December with a BS in English-Creative Writing. Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio; she writes poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Post-graduation she wants to work in the book publishing industry as a developmental editor.

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