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Cultural Studies and Cultural Experiences at HBCUs

With graduation around the corner, we look at some of the unique curricula and cultural studies programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. While it may come as a surprise, most HBCUs don’t have a department dedicated to Black Studies majors, African American Studies, or even Black history courses--this is primarily due to a lack of funding. But we were able to find some notable programs, from undergraduate to doctorate, for those interested in studying our global and cultural history.

• Howard was the first to establish an African studies program in 1953 and is now the only HBCU with an accredited doctoral program in African studies. The HU Department of African Studies is one of the oldest, attracting prestigious faculty members and academics alike.

• Bowie State University has developed courses on Hip-Hop Studies and Visual Culture within the Visual Communication and Digital Media Arts program. It is now offered as a minor within the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, for students seeking to further their research on popular Black art, music, and culture.

There are also many campuses where history and culture are simply all around us. While the coursework may not be funded, these schools are worth mentioning for the cultural experiences students have available to them, should they choose to attend one of these unique, historical institutions.

• Tuskegee University is home to The Legacy Museum, The George Washington Carver Museum, and the residence of Booker T. Washington, the first Black president of the university, has been converted into a museum. As the only HBCU to be designated by Congress as a national historic site, it is difficult not to feel inspired during time spent at Tuskegee.

• University of Virgin Islands, St. Thomas campus is a cultural immersion experience all its own. Student programs and coursework offerings are more hands-on, particularly undergraduate programs like Marine Biology, given access to nearby beautiful beaches. The rich culture of the Caribbean is celebrated throughout the islands, presenting students with a chance to learn about historical influences and traditions while earning a degree.

• Alabama A&M University’s appreciation for diversity and internationalism can be experienced during a visit to its State Black Archives Research Center and Museum. The state archive located on campus exhibits a curated collection of historical knowledge, modern achievements, and contributions from Black scholars from around the world.