HBCUs With the Best Accounting Programs


Updated March 20, 2023

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Are you a Black student and interested in being an accountant? When applying to schools, consider HBCU accounting programs for an enriching experience.

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A bachelor's in accounting is necessary for learners working toward a certified public acountant (CPA) license. Accounting programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) combine affordable tuition with excellent community support, which can help lead to student success.

HBCUs have played a major role in improving educational outcomes among Black learners. According to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), HBCUs account for just 3% of all U.S. colleges. However, they enroll 10% of all Black college students and produce nearly 20% of Black college graduates.

This guide lists the best HBCU accounting programs in the United States. It offers information for students considering an HBCU as part of their educational journey. Continue reading to explore leading HBCU accounting programs and the admission processes.

History of Top HBCUs

Founded in 1837, the African Institute (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania) ranks as the first HBCU in U.S. history. Prior to the Civil War (1861-1865), only a handful of HBCUs operated in the United States. Many HBCUs opened following the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. The passing of the Second Morrill Act of 1890 secured funding for HBCUs by sanctioning them as land-grant institutions.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Higher Education Act of 1965 dramatically reshaped the U.S. college landscape. The Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination and segregation in education, among other areas. The Higher Education Act helped lower- and middle-income students access higher education through government funding and outreach programs. 

Schools founded and accredited prior to 1964 became officially known as HBCUs following the passage of the Higher Education Act. Additionally, HBCUs must maintain national accreditation and the mission to educate Black Americans. 

Similar schools established after 1964 are called predominantly Black institutions (PBIs). PBIs follow different eligibility requirements than HBCUs, including 50% or more of learners identifying as low-income or first-generation college students. According to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, 101 HBCUs and PBIs operate in the United States today.

Today's HBCUs include 51% public and 49% private institutions. While learners can study practically any subject, HBCUs play a particularly important role in preparing students for technical fields. Multiple HBCUs rank among the national leaders in awarding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees. 

HBCUs' student bodies are becoming increasingly more racially diverse. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that non-Black students rose to 24% in 2019 from 15% in 1976.

What Counts as a Top HBCU in Accounting?

This ranking uses the definitions endorsed by the U.S. federal government in determining which institutions count as HBCUs. To qualify, an institution had to be established before 1964 with a specific mandate to educate Black students. 

Next, we evaluated many data points to generate a list of the top bachelor's degrees in accounting. The final ranked list included dozens of colleges and universities. We removed all non-HBCU institutions from the list to yield our final ranking.

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Why Seek the Best HBCUs in Accounting?

  • Community Support

    HBCUs' high enrollment of African American college students cannot be found anywhere else. Learners at HBCUs immerse themselves in peer groups that largely share their cultural backgrounds. This creates a strong sense of inclusivity, extending to student-instructor relationships and adding value to the college experience.
  • Student Diversity

    HBCUs maintain their historical focus and mandate to educate Black students. However, their campuses feature surprising and rising levels of ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity. Interactions between Black students and their allies build powerful social bonds that extend beyond institutional walls.
  • Excellent Alumni Networks

    The UNCF notes that most HBCUs feature large and active alumni networks. This can generate valuable mentorship and networking opportunities. Many graduates derive significant value from these networks as they move into their careers.
  • Less Debt

    Each institution in the national HBCU network sets its own tuition rates, which vary across different programs. However, average costs tend to fall significantly lower than those charged by comparable non-HBCU institutions. As a result, HBCU students tend to graduate with less debt.
  • Scholarship Access

    A 2021 analysis noted that more than 70% of HBCU students qualify for federal Pell Grants. HBCUs also host many internal programs designed to help students meet their educational costs. Organizations like the UNCF also help; The nonprofit group issues about 60,000 scholarships each year to HBCU students.

What to Expect From an Accounting Bachelor's Degree

HBCU accounting programs closely match those found at leading schools. Graduates of HBCU accounting programs pass their CPA exams at comparable rates to non-HBCU institutions. 

Accounting bachelor's degrees usually require 120-150 credits and take about 4-5 years of full-time study. Most programs focus on the core accounting proficiencies and tools. Many programs also offer instruction in related subjects, like economics, finance, and organizational management.

When considering a college – HBCU or otherwise – be sure to carefully research whether it's accredited. Credits from accredited schools are universally recognized among employers and other universities. 

Notably, several of the best HBCU accounting programs hold program-specific accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Many experts consider AACSB the world's most prestigious accreditor of business programs. As of 2019, business and accounting programs at 22 HBCUs held AACSB accreditation.

Admissions Process

Each HBCU has its own admission process. Students should research individual application requirements early on. In general, applicants will need to submit:

Personal essays, letters of recommendation, and other supporting materials may be requested or required. The same is true of test scores, including the ACT and SAT.

If you plan to apply to multiple institutions, the Common App can simplify the process. Students who receive offers of admission and need help meeting costs should submit a FAFSA.

Representation of Black Accountants

HBCUs are inclusive and welcoming places for Black students and other students of color. However, a lack of diversity remains a noteworthy issue in the accounting profession. According to a 2019 Bloomberg analysis, about 9% of all U.S. auditors and accountants are Black. This marks significant underrepresentation, as Black people account for approximately 13% of the U.S. population.

According to a 2019 Bloomberg analysis, about 9% of all U.S. auditors and accountants are Black.

Deloitte recently established a $75 million diversity program. Even so, representation remains a problem for historically excluded populations. The links below offer advice and resources for overcoming diversity-related professional challenges.

Top HBCU Schools in Accounting

If an accounting career interests you, explore the following top five accounting programs from HBCUs. We analyzed the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics to find the top accounting programs, then refined our list to include HBCU programs only.


Elizabeth City State University

Hugh Cale founded Elizabeth City State University in 1891 as a two-year training school for Black teachers. Part of the North Carolina Promise tuition plan, this university offers affordable, high-quality education to about 2,000 students.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

ECSU's bachelor of science in accounting prepares students for careers in finance and accounting. The program emphasizes analytical, critical thinking, and technological skills, which prepare enrollees for continued higher education or in-demand jobs. Almost 25% of recent graduates currently work in accounting, with another 10% in banking and 7% in government positions.

The curriculum combines core accounting classes with economics, management information systems, auditing, and marketing. Degree-seekers participate in experiential learning opportunities, including problem-based projects and a required 150-hour internship in the final year.

Each ECSU student receives personalized guidance. Those interested in taking the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam can create a study plan to complete the additional 30 required credits.

Applying to ECSU

Candidates must complete an online application, submit high school and college transcripts, and pay the $30 fee. ECSU also requests SAT or ACT scores.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Tuition: $500/semester (in state); $2,500/semester (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

Dillard University

As Louisiana's first HBCU, Dillard University began with the 1934 merger of Straight University and New Orleans University. Both institutions prioritized Christian values. Dillard continues as a member of the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

Although Dillard's accounting program only requires 121 credits, students can complete 29 additional credits to qualify for the Louisiana CPA exam. The core curriculum covers fundamental accounting, management, finance principles, and introductory business law. Students must complete two business research courses and three economics classes. The math focus includes business calculus and statistics.

Dillard's College of Business values social consciousness, professional competency, and ethical awareness. The bachelor's in accounting curriculum reflects those goals through courses like leadership in ethical decision-making. Enrollees must also complete an internship, preparing them for the workforce and exposing them to modern businesses' social issues.

Applying to Dillard

Applicants must submit high school transcripts showing a 2.5 minimum GPA. They also need at least an 18 on the ACT or 960 on the SAT. Students without test scores need a 3.0 minimum GPA. Dillard also requires a $36 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $8,705/semester
  • Required Credits: 121
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

Miles College

Christian Methodist Episcopal pastors founded Miles College in 1898 to provide education for middle and working-class African Americans. This Alabama college partners with schools, community colleges, and other organizations to promote local businesses, improve STEM programs, and fight economic inequality.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

As part of Mile's Division of Business and Accounting, the accounting major offers a comprehensive program. The required courses cover communication plus financial and managerial skills needed to excel in private and public sectors. With classes like strategic management, legal environment of business, and business decisions, graduates can also pursue an entrepreneurial career path.

Enrollees complete internships and a senior seminar that prepares them for the workplace. They can also join the National Association of Black Accountants student chapter at Miles to connect with leading professionals. Members enjoy conferences, seminars, networking, and mentor relationships that help establish a successful accounting career before graduating.

Applying to Miles

Students must complete an online application and submit high school transcripts. Miles accepts SAT and ACT scores but does not require them.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $11,164/year
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University began in 1887 as an African American institution with only 15 students. This land-grant university in Tallahassee, Florida, now has almost 10,000 students and various satellite campuses.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

FAMU's School of Business and Industry (SBI) aims to produce world leaders. The bachelor of science in accounting program reflects that goal with courses like professional leadership development, managerial accounting principles, and strategic management. Additional courses cover business calculus, economics, marketing, and business ethics.

Degree-seekers must complete internships during their second and third years. FAMU offers competitive paid internship opportunities in the U.S. and abroad, lasting between three months and one year.

Students can also begin networking with academic and corporate accounting leaders while studying. SBI provides mentoring, international exposure, and an extensive alumni network to help enrollees land top internships and jobs.

Applying to FAMU

FAMU requests official high school transcripts, an online application, and a $35 application fee. Applicants must also submit SAT or ACT scores, an essay, and two recommendation letters.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $2,277/semester
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

Florida Memorial University

Located in Miami Gardens, Florida Memorial University promotes five core values: service, leadership, accountability, character, and scholarship. This Baptist-affiliated university began in 1879 and is South Florida's only HBCU.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

As part of Florida Memorial's School of Business, the bachelor of science in accounting program prepares students for financial careers in public, private, and governmental sectors. Enrollees explore current national and international issues that accountants face. The required business law and ethics courses prepare graduates to handle such situations. Other core classes include auditing, business statistics, microeconomics, and federal income tax.

During their final year, enrollees must complete a business internship and seminar. Business school alumni landed internships with notable businesses like Deloitte and Touche, Fidelity Investments, and American Express. Additional graduation requirements include two research-based courses in the final semester.

Applying to Florida Memorial

Florida Memorial requires fall semester applicants to have a 2.4 minimum high school GPA. Students should also score at least 17 on the ACT or 700 on the SAT. They must submit an online application with a personal essay and recommendation letters.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $6,288/semester
  • Required Credits: 122
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

Common Questions About the Best HBCU Schools and Accounting

Which HBCUs offer a degree in accounting?

A 2018 analysis counted 66 accounting programs at HBCUs. This figure accounts for about two-thirds of all HBCUs recognized by the U.S. federal government. 

What is the No. 1 HBCU?

School ranking organizations differ in their opinions of the top HBCU schools in the United States. However, the schools that consistently earn top marks include Howard University, North Carolina A&T, Morehouse College, Hampton University, and Spelman College.

What is the hardest HBCU to get into?

Among HBCUs, Howard University has one of the lowest acceptance rates of 36%, according to College Scorecard.

Can I go to HBCU online?

Yes, a growing number of HBCUs offer online accounting programs and classes. These programs allow students to follow flexible schedules as they work toward their degrees.

Reviewed by:

Portrait of Susana Muñoz, Ph.D.

Susana Muñoz, Ph.D.

Dr. Susana M. Muñoz is an associate professor and program coordinator of the Higher Education Leadership (HEL) Program. She is also co-director of CSU initiatives for the Race and Intersectional Studies for Educational Equity (RISE) Center in the School of Education at Colorado State University (CSU). Her scholarly interests center on the experiences of minoritized populations in higher education. Specifically, Dr. Muñoz focuses her research on issues of equity, identity, and campus climate for undocumented Latinx students, while employing perspectives such as legal violence, racist nativism, Chicana feminist epistemology to identify and dismantle power, oppression, and inequities as experienced by these populations. She utilizes multiple research methods as mechanisms to examine these matters with the ultimate goal of informing immigration policy and higher education practices.
Dr. Muñoz has been honored by the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics for her teaching and research. She was also recognized as a Salzburg Global Fellow and named one of the "top 25 most influential women in higher education" by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine. She brings 13 years of student affairs experience in multicultural affairs, Greek life, diversity and leadership training, TRiO programs, and residence life.
Susana Muñoz is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.
Page last reviewed Feb. 7, 2022

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