Colleges built and established before 1964 that focused on providing educational opportunities for African-American students are considered historically black colleges. The majority of these colleges were established after the Civil War. These colleges, 105 of them in total, offer many innovative programs and courses for black students. Over 50 of these colleges provide graduate and doctoral education opportunities. Historically black colleges provide three fourths of all doctorate degrees. Other significant efforts made by the historically black colleges include training three fourths of black military officers and three fifths of all of the black federal judges. Over 200,000 black students attend historically black colleges today. Another advantage to black colleges includes the increased financial aid opportunities compared to traditionally white universities.

Black colleges cover all of the typical curriculum required from a college or university, but many of these black colleges expand on their course offerings to provide truly innovative programs to explore. Historically black colleges also tend to give a smaller student to teacher ratio. The hands-on learning and small class size provide a personalized educational experience for black students. Many black colleges also provide services to help students transition into the college lifestyle, in order to avoid problems in continuing education. Finally, these colleges promote diversity and often end up with a multicultural mix of students from all over the world. Four southern historically black colleges, including Xavier University and Southern University, have established a hands-on course in business sales and customer service. This is one of many innovative programs that help black business majors learn all of the skills needed to compete in the business market, or to start businesses of their own.

Pennsylvania’s Cheyney University is a black college offering very innovative programs. This college has an Aquaculture Research and Education Center, which deals with fish raising and harvesting. This hands-on aquaculture opportunity provides the black students with both the practical and the economical facets of the aquacultural industry, due to partnerships with surrounding local businesses such as Herban Farms.

Two historically black colleges account for 80% of black doctors and dentists. Howard University and Meharry Medical University are at the forefront of medical education for African-American students.

Prairie View A&M University has many rather innovative programs – the university has a 1,000 goat research center. Not only is this the oldest goat research center, it’s also the longest running one in the country. The goat research center provides black students with research opportunities ranging from genetics to veterinary science.

A research study conducted by economists from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has revealed several surprising statistics about historically black colleges and their innovative programs. Black colleges have a 33% student retention rate, providing higher black graduation rates than other institutions. Many of these graduating students are the first to complete higher education in their families.

TNJ.com, a journal for black professionals and small businesses, provides useful information for graduating black students heading out into the business world.