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Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played a major role in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for Black students.

HBCUs account for only about 3% of all U.S. degree-granting institutions. Yet, they have combined to produce 32% of Black bachelor's degree-holders in STEM fields.

Cybersecurity ranks among the world's hottest industries in terms of job opportunity. In 2021, Cybersecurity Ventures reported a 350% increase in the number of vacant cybersecurity jobs between 2013-2021. The organization predicts a total of 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings worldwide by 2025.

These trends boost the appeal of studying cybersecurity at an HBCU. This guide profiles the leading HBCU cybersecurity programs of 2022.

Why Attend an HBCU?

HBCUs emerged in the 19th century. Most schools now recognized as HBCUs opened between 1865-1900, after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Prior to the Civil War, three colleges were established in the North to educate free Black people: Cheyney, Lincoln, and Wilberforce.

The eldest institution, Cheyney University, began in Pennsylvania in 1837. Lincoln University, founded in 1854, is noted as the first Black institution to actually grant degrees. Ohio;s Wilberforce University became in 1856 the first Black-owned institution under the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The south had refused to admit Black people to established white schools. The Second Morrill Act of 1890 helped create land-grant colleges in southern states.

HBCUs play a key role in making higher education accessible to historically excluded populations.

As the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) notes, HBCUs play a key role in making higher education accessible to historically excluded populations. In particular, the UNCF stresses their importance for first-generation college students from lower-income backgrounds.

HBCUs offer excellent alumni networks, supporting the success of learners transitioning into their careers. Additionally, HBCU graduates are more likely to earn graduate and professional degrees.

Emerging research suggests that Black students who attend HBCUs may also enjoy health benefits in older age. A 2020 Ohio State University study compared metabolic syndrome rates in college-educated Black students who attended HBCUs. It found that Black people enrolled at HBCUs were 35% less likely to develop the syndrome than those who attended a non-HBCU school.

Further data published by the Brookings Institution in 2021 found that such benefits may extend to numerous other areas. This survey-based study reported the following conclusions:

  • Higher rates of financial well-being among HBCU graduates (40%) compared to non-HBCU graduates (29%)
  • A stronger sense of purpose among HBCU graduates (51%) compared to non-HBCU graduates (43%)
  • Increased feelings of social well-being among HBCU graduates (54%) compared to non-HBCU graduates (48%)

These findings support long-held notions documenting the holistic benefits of HBCU attendance for Black students.

Why Study Cybersecurity at an HBCU?

HBCU cybersecurity programs offer multiple unique benefits for learners who study at historically Black institutions. These include:

  • Increased Investment: In 2015, the Obama administration invested $25 million in HBCU cybersecurity programs. The money provided facility development funding to 13 leading HBCUs. It resulted in major improvements that generated a valuable college-to-career pipeline for aspiring Black tech professionals.
  • A Culture of Innovation: A growing number of HBCUs began offering new cybersecurity and other STEM programs during the 2010s. HBCUs with established programs in these fields invested in lab improvements and other campus resources. This work has helped build a strong culture of tech innovation at HBCUs. These innovations are a major reason why HBCUs produce the majority of Black doctorate-holders in STEM fields.
  • Alumni Support: HBCU graduates gain access to one of the largest, strongest, and most extensive alumni networks in the United States. Alumni programs serve as valuable networking resources that can turn into job offers and other economic opportunities.

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What to Expect From HBCU Cybersecurity Programs

Learners can study cybersecurity at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at HBCUs. The top HBCU cybersecurity schools feature demanding curricula that equip students with vital, industry-standard skill sets. From an academic and career training standpoint, these programs match the ones offered at accredited non-HBCU institutions.

Many HBCU cybertraining programs embrace interactive teaching strategies that focus on hands-on learning. Many HBCUs maintain partnerships with major employers and tech organizations including Google, NASA, Lockheed Martin, and SpaceX. These programs offer valuable internship and job recruitment opportunities.

Bachelor's in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity programs develop the skills for protecting digital resources from cyberattacks and unauthorized use. Most programs require little to no previous technical experience. However, learners with strong backgrounds in mathematics, computing, and applied logic tend to adapt well to the subject matter.

Like most bachelor's degrees, cybersecurity programs demand about four academic years of full-time study. Some schools offer cybersecurity as a concentration in general computer science programs. Others allow learners to pursue specializations in targeted areas of cybersecurity, such as:

  • Threat analysis and intelligence
  • Security administration and operations
  • Digital forensics

Candidates should always research the accreditation status of any school under their consideration. Credits earned at accredited institutions readily transfer. Accredited schools often have recognition among employers and other colleges and universities.

Admissions Process

Each HBCU sets its own admissions guidelines and policies. You should familiarize yourself with each school's standards before applying.

General admission requirements include:

  • Proof of high school completion (diploma, GED certificate, or homeschool certificate)
  • Official academic transcripts
  • A completed institutional application

If you plan to apply to multiple programs, Common App can make the process easier to manage.

Depending on the school, applicants may also need to submit ACT or SAT test scores and other supplementary materials. Examples include letters of recommendation and personal essays. Double-check each school's test score policies, as many colleges temporarily or permanently suspended ACT/SAT requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Master's in Cybersecurity

Master's programs in cybersecurity often feature one of two objectives. First, they build advanced skills in targeted areas of professional cybersecurity. Second, the programs function as specialized extensions of general undergraduate computer science education.

At the master's level, cybersecurity programs cover 10-12 courses (30-36 credits) and take 1-2 years to complete. Course content focuses on advanced topics and is not meant for newcomers to the field. Some programs include formal computer technology training or work experience in their admission requirements.

Programs may conclude with a major research project, field learning experience, or capstone. These components allow students to pursue their interest in specific topics within the broader cybersecurity field.

Admissions Process

Master's programs in cybersecurity often require a bachelor's degree in a related field. General examples include computer science and computer engineering. Some programs consider applicants with degrees in non-technical subjects like college-level coursework in discrete mathematics and calculus.

As with other programs, HBCUs set their own admissions criteria. It is standard practice for them to request academic transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities. GPA cutoffs and standardized test scores may also apply. Commonly requested test scores cover the GRE, GMAT, MAT, and LSAT exams.

Selecting the Right HBCU Cybersecurity Program

Many different HBCUs offer quality cybersecurity programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students should expand the focus of their school research to include other important factors.

Depending on your learning goals, these factors may include:

  • The size, strength, and reach of the school's alumni network
  • The availability of internships, practicums, and extracurricular activities
  • School and program reputation
  • Post-graduation placement rates (in jobs or graduate degrees)

Accreditation can also help guide your program search. Look beyond institutional accreditation to consider these specialized endorsements:

  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
  • Computer Science Accreditation Commission
  • The Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency's Centers of Academic Excellence program

Many reputable programs do not necessarily hold specialized accreditation. However, those that do are known to offer a comprehensive, high-value learning experience.

Top HBCU Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs

This ranked list, refreshed for 2022, reviews three leading bachelor's HBCU cybersecurity programs in the United States. The link below explains the data points and analytical methods we use to generate rankings.

#1

Talladega College

School Information
Location Talladega, Alabama
Graduation Rate 34%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 95% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Talladega is the oldest private HBCU in Alabama. The affordable and nationally recognized school maintains a legacy of excellence spanning more than 150 years. Its scenic campus features some of Alabama's most treasured and historic architecture. 

Bachelor of Arts in Cybersecurity

Talladega's bachelor of arts in cybersecurity takes a skills-based approach. This program aims to produce graduates with job-ready abilities in:

  • Incident response
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Penetration testing
  • Security analysis

It also strives to build versatile general programming skills. Required coursework focuses on Python and Java programming languages.

Talladega offers the program through its computer science department, which maintains partnerships with Cisco's Networking Academy and CompTIA. Talladega's computer science department is also a member of the EC-Council's academic partner program.

Applying to Talladega

Talladega welcomes applications from learners of all racial, religious, cultural, and national backgrounds. The school considers each applicant on a case-by-case basis on factors such as academic performance history, extracurricular activities, and ACT/SAT scores.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $505/credit
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On-campus
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#2

Hampton University

School Information
Location Hampton, Virginia
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

HU opened in 1861 against the backdrop of the U.S. Civil War. Its famous alumni include legendary orator, author, and presidential advisor Booker T. Washington. 

Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

HU's bachelor of science in cybersecurity degree applies three key educational objectives. The program aims to develop versatile general computer science skills and strives to build advanced critical thinking abilities. Finally, it aspires to produce graduates with advanced technical knowledge for cybersecurity careers. 

The curriculum begins with introductory courses in computer science and programming. Learners advance into more complex and specialized topics covering programming, database management, cybercrime, and data security. In the final year, students apply complete advanced projects while engaging in antiterrorism and homeland security coursework.

Applying to HU

HU takes a holistic approach to admissions. School officials consider each applicant on an individual basis. Key considerations cover academic achievement, ethical character, and leadership potential. ACT/SAT scores remain optional for 2022. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $26,198/academic year
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On-campus
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#3

Grambling State University

School Information
Location Grambling, Louisiana
Admission Rate 97%
Graduation Rate 35%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Established in 1901, Grambling State University began granting degrees in 1944. The Louisiana-based school expanded during the 1970s to become a leading regional HBCU. Its campus features nine buildings included in the National Historic Registry.

Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

Grambling developed its bachelor of science in cybersecurity program using guidelines endorsed by ABET. The organization has since accredited the program, adding to its value and prestige.

Learners engage with a cross-disciplinary curriculum focused on foundational skills. Students can supplement core technology courses with electives in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and cybercrime. The program prepares learners to pursue employment in private industry, the government, and national security roles.

Applying to Grambling

First-time college applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT/SAT test scores. Each applicant pays a non-refundable $20 fee. The school only admits learners who possess standard high school diplomas.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); ABET
  • Tuition: $3,842/semester (in state); $8,353/semester (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On-campus, hybrid
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Top HBCU Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Updated for 2022, this ranked list covers the three best HBCU cybersecurity programs for master's students. To learn about the methodology and data points used to generate the ranking, click here.

#1

Hampton University

School Information
Location Hampton, Virginia
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

At age 16, the celebrated Black orator and author Booker T. Washington walked 500 miles to attend HU. Today, more than 3,300 undergraduate and graduate students attend this acclaimed HBCU. 

Master of Science in Cybersecurity

HU's master of science in cybersecurity builds on students' knowledge to develop cybersecurity professionals with complete skill sets. Two-thirds of the curriculum covers core courses, including:

  • Information assurance
  • Cryptography
  • Digital forensics
  • Viruses, malware, and other cyberthreat subtypes

Learners can apply the remaining third of their credits to electives. The program culminates with a comprehensive exam that tests each student's mastery of essential abilities.

Applicants who do not fully meet the program's admission standards can enroll in a 13-credit bridge program. To qualify, the candidate must have a bachelor's degree, programming experience, and college coursework in calculus and discrete math.  

Applying to HU

HU requests that each applicant submits official college transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Candidates must also provide GRE scores and complete online applications. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $665/credit
  • Required Credits: 36
  • Program Length: 2-3 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online, on-campus, hybrid
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#2

Norfolk State University

School Information
Location Norfolk, Virginia
Admission Rate 92%
Graduation Rate 36%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Norfolk State University traces its history to 1935. Founded as a beacon of educational hope for Black Americans during the Great Depression, the school became a degree-granting institution in 1956 and earned full university status in 1979.

Master of Science in Cybersecurity

NSU's master of science in cybersecurity balances theory with skills-based practice. It welcomes learners from all academic backgrounds. Students engage with a rigorous, standardized curriculum that concludes with a capstone experience.

The curriculum covers computer security foundations and advanced topics in networking, forensics, and database security. Learners also develop penetration testing and ethical hacking skills. The program holds affiliations with a long and prestigious list of partners, including:

  • National Security Agency
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • INFOSEC Institute
  • EC-Council
  • U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Defense

Its key objective is to develop cybersecurity professionals capable of earning advanced leadership roles.

Applying to NSU

Students create their own NSU Portal Accounts to apply. Each candidate submits a general application through the account. NSU will then provide a list of required supplemental materials.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $12,690/year (in state); $25,502/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 36
  • Program Length: 2-3 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
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#3

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

School Information
Location Princess Anne, Maryland
Admission Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 41%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has matured into an acclaimed doctoral research university from humble beginnings dating to 1886. Its location in Princess Anne, MD puts it in close proximity to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

Master of Science in Cybersecurity

UMES' master of science in cybersecurity maintains a sharp focus on two related objectives. It primarily trains professionals to shape and maintain strong security measures for protecting digital assets. The university also aims to develop each student's ability to mount effective responses to cyberattacks and security breaches.

The UMES curriculum offers flexibility. Elective courses make up about two-thirds of credit requirements, which allows enrollees to pursue areas of personal interest while building essential skills in core coursework.

The program concludes with an intensive master's seminar. It combines lectures with discussion-oriented modules and a capstone project consisting of original student-led research.

Applying to UMES

Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree in a computer science-related field. Candidates with degrees in non-technology subjects can qualify if they have professional cybersecurity experience and at least one cybersecurity certification. UMES also requests GMAT or GRE scores.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $332/credit (Maryland residents); $458/credit (Delaware and Virginia Eastern Shore residents); $616/credit (out of state) 
  • Required Credits: 34
  • Program Length: 2-3 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
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FAQ About HBCU Cybersecurity Programs

Are HBCU cybersecurity programs hard to get into?

HBCU cybersecurity programs generally require a strong background knowledge of mathematics and computer science. Learners that possess such backgrounds can access opportunities to earn a cybersecurity degree. However, all HBCUs establish their own admission policies.

Should I study cybersecurity at an HBCU?

HBCUs have a long history of preparing Black students for careers in technology. Comprehensive analysis has found that HBCUs have issued 32% of all bachelor's degrees in STEM fields held by Black college graduates.

Which HBCU has the best cybersecurity program?

Organizations that compile rankings differ in their opinion of which school has the best HBCU cybersecurity program. Prospective students should check multiple sources during their program search and focus on schools that appear on multiple lists.

Which cybersecurity degree will help me get a job?

Most industry experts view a bachelor's degree as the minimum criteria for an entry-level cybersecurity job. However, an upgradable associate degree may suffice, especially given the continued lack of necessary skills in the labor pool.


Featured Image: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

Reviewed by:

Portrait of Dr. Pamela 'Safisha Nzingha' Hill, Ph.D.

Dr. Pamela 'Safisha Nzingha' Hill, Ph.D.

Dr. Pamela "Safisha Nzingha" Hill, Ph.D., is a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant; Afrocentric scholar; activist; journalist; educator; student development practitioner; and life student of Africana studies.

For over 20 years Dr. Hill has worked in higher education in both student development and academic affairs. She has served as a mid-level student affairs administrator in positions of assistant dean of students, diversity director, and assistant vice president, as well as adjunct assistant professor teaching in the areas of higher education, humanities, developmental writing, African American studies, and social work.

As a student-centered educator/consultant, she is experienced at developing culturally based curricula and conducting specialized professional development sessions on cultural competency and sensitivity educational training within academic and organizational settings. Additionally, she has lectured at a number of colleges and universities across the nation on issues pertinent to the Black experience and multiculturalism in higher education.

Dr. Hill is a proud graduate of Langston University — Oklahoma's only Historically Black University — where she received a bachelor of arts degree in broadcast journalism. Additionally, she holds a master of science in college teaching/student personnel services from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, and she earned a Ph.D. in higher and adult education with an emphasis in student development and minors in Black studies and educational counseling psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia — one of the nation's top-tier Research I institutions.

She holds membership in the Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education, Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Langston University Alumni Association, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is the proud mother of a daughter, Safisha Nzingha, who is a student at Langston University.

Dr. Hill sees her life mission as moving people forward through the vehicle of culturally grounded education.

Dr. Hill is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.

Page last reviewed March 17, 2022

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