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As a new generation of Americans recognize Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) for their significant contributions, a new study shows HBCU graduates in seven specific majors earn higher average salaries than graduates from other universities.
Using salary data from the U.S. Department of Education, an OnlineU study found that it pays to attend these often overlooked institutions.
On average, HBCU grads who major in finance / financial management services, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, multi/interdisciplinary studies, human development / family studies, and fine and studio arts earn higher salaries than their non-HBCU counterparts.
Primarily in the areas of STEM, the study shows HBCU grads earn anywhere from $15 to $4,000 more, depending on the degree.
For instance, despite being underfunded and overlooked for decades, HBCU grads who major in finance earn $53,239 on average compared to the $49,126 average salary for all colleges.
HBCU in the spotlight
For decades, HBCUs have been leaders in crafting new generations of Black leaders with a significant salary, from doctors and lawyers to scientists and filmmakers.
In recent years, D.C.’s Howard University has catapulted into the national consciousness. Famous New York Times Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones leads a journalism program there as the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism. She ditched a position at her predominantly white (PWI) alma mater, University of North Carolina, due to racist backlash.
“This fight is about ensuring the journalistic and academic freedom of Black writers, researchers, teachers and students,” Hannah-Jones said last year after making the switch.
In Mississippi, former NFL player and current Jackson State University head coach Deion Sanders is showing the nation that an HBCU sports program can recruit top talent and secure primetime television slots.
“Being the first HBCU to have our spring game nationally televised is a monumental leap in the right direction for Jackson State and all HBCUs. It’s time that we’re seen, heard and recognized,” Sanders said in March.
Salary Study shows it pays to attend an HBCU
The recent OnlineU study confirms that not only do HBCUs bring culture and recognition for Black Americans, but they also pay higher dividends upon graduation.
In some cases, the difference represents more than $20,000 in average annual earnings.
For example, the median alumni salary for a finance major at Howard is $72,085 compared to the $49,126 average salary for finance majors at all colleges.
The study notes how environmental factors, such as racial bias and the cost of living, negatively affect these outcomes for some HBCUs. Yet, it serves as further proof that these historically Black-serving institutions will continue to play a significant role in the upward mobility of resilient people.