Howard University

Black Excellence abounds at Howard University. The students we met are motivated, sharp, resourceful, and intellectually curious leaders. It’s no surprise that Howard University is the number one producer of black students who go on to medical school or get PhDs in the STEM field. Students also get amazing business opportunities through varied corporate sponsors including: Disney, Amazon Prime Video, and Google.

All of the students intentionally chose Howard over other schools, including Ivies, so they could be in their words: “Surrounded by black excellence that inspires them and pushes them outside of their comfort zone.” We got a taste of the spirit and pride of HU students while we chanted along: “HU. You Know!”


Howard University was chartered on March 2, 1867 as an HBCU (historically black college or university) Howard’s goal is to make contributions to the African diaspora and throughout the world. They are on the verge of becoming an R1 status research university.  

There are seven undergraduate schools including the following. We indicated some specifics of each school along with majors that are undersubscribed. 

  • College of Engineering and Architecture
    • Architecture is 5 year masters. Apply for Architecture and Design studies then for 5th year transition to masters program.  MArch (50 per year)
    • Needs a portfolio
  • School of Business
    • Supply chain mgt and MIS undersubscribed
  • School of Communications
    • More media and film studies
  • Nursing and College of Allied Health Science
    • Nutritional Sciences, Clinical Lab Science, Radiation Therapy undersubscribed
  • School of Education
    • Minors allow for certification
  • College of Fine Arts (Phylicia Rashad is the Dean)
    • Require audition or portfolio (Slide Room)
    • Looking for potential
    • Theater is most competitive major: acting
  • College of Arts and Sciences

Students cannot double major across schools because Howard wants students to graduate in four years. They can minor though in other schools. Howard also offers a number of experiential learning opportunities through company sponsorships and Centers to prepare students for a wide range of industries.  They also participate in the Google Tech Exchange where students spend a semester on Google’s campus to prepare them to work in the tech industry. 

Social Life

Howard requires all 1st and 2nd year students to live on campus, creating a strong residential community. They also have an active Greek life on campus, which includes the Divine 9 (5 of them started at Howard). The Cascade Club is the largest LGBTQ+ club on campus and provides a safe space for the queer community. 

While we toured during the summer, the student panel described DJ block parties, spoken word competitions, a myriad of speakers, and activities that abound on campus.  Washington DC is also very accessible.  Howard has D1 sports. 

Student Body

The students we met were motivated, sharp, resourceful, and intellectually curious leaders.  There are 9,000 undergraduate students, and that number has grown over the past few years. Howard draws from students all over the world.  Roughly 65-70% of the students are black, 5-10% are Asian, Native American or Hispanic, and the remaining 20 percent do not disclose their race. 

Students are from all over the world.  Below are some snapshots of the students on our panel.

Arthur is majoring in chemistry, military science, and political science.  He participates in ROTC on campus.  He hails from Miami.  Even though the University of Pennsylvania met almost all of his financial need, he chose Howard because of its lifelong impact on students and graduates.  What he loves about Howard is that every day he learns something new and great.  He also appreciates the support of having so many high achieving black students around him. 

Kayla attended a predominantly white high school in New Orleans and was all set to go to Tulane as a Posse scholarship recipient.  She is the first in her family to go to college and when she visited Howard, she felt at home.  She joined the marching band which gave her an additional scholarship. 

Kayla likes the support she has received at Howard; for example she initially came in as a pre-med student but after struggling with chemistry she changed to Nursing until she eventually found her way to pre-Physical Therapy.  As a lifelong dancer, she loves how as a physical therapist, she can help people heal their bodies.  She is also able to minor in business, which opened her eyes to how non profits run.  

John, a political science and criminology major from Indiana had never heard of HBCUs until his counselor suggested them to him. He fell in love with Howard’s history as well as the diversity of the African American community.  Being surrounded by black excellence inspires and pushes students to step outside of their comfort zone.

He also noted that lots of kids on campus have their own business and hustle. John is very involved in speech and debate and the Mock Trial team; he said there are a lot of future politicians on campus, which makes the election season quite competitive and engaging. 

Deoncia, a finance major/Spanish minor, who hails from Mississippi knew she wanted to go to 

an elite institution that would support her blackness.  She wanted to enjoy being around like-minded people without any questioning her belonging.  Deoncia participated In Jack and Jill (a national organization that nurtures leaders) in high school.  Every summer when she attended its teen conference, she noticed that many of the seniors were going to Howard.

She felt the pull tugging at her to come.  The only problem was she needed financial support because Howard does not meet full need.  She set her mind at getting one of the Presidential scholarships and worked hard to get a 35 on the ACT.  She also won a case study competition through one of the many corporate sponsored programs and got another $30,000.  Doencia took advantage of everything Howard has to offer and learned more about the world. She got a job in corporate finance at American Airlines through Howard’s strong corporate alliances.  

Surrounding Area

Howard is located in Northwest DC, which is not the nicest neighborhood.  However, it is very close to other parts of DC, and students take advantage of all DC has to offer in terms of internships, museums, restaurants, and culture. 

Admissions and Financial Aid

Students apply to one of seven schools and can designate their first and second choice major. Prospective engineering majors need to be calculus ready to be competitive, and admissions prefer students who have taken calculus in high school. Howard is piloting a bridge program to get students ready to take calculus first semester. 

Admissions will admit students to an undecided major in the College of Arts and Sciences if they are not qualified for their first choice major.  Once they’ve completed the relevant prerequisites, they can do an inter school transfer. The top majors are: Biology, Psychology, Nursing, Media/Journalism, Political Science. 

Howard is Test Optional for most programs, and more than 75% apply test optional.  However their combined degrees including: BS/MD, Accelerated BS/DDS, BA/JD do require testing as well as some scholarships including their highest scholarship award. Students for these scholarships typically have 1500+ on the SATs or 35+ on the ACTs.  

Students apply as a biology or chemistry major to be considered for the BSMD or BSDDS programs. Once they matriculate as students, they are put in the pipeline to be considered for the program. To be competitive, they need to complete the program with a 3.5 GPA and 3.3 BCPM (biology, chemistry, physics, math) GPA along with an average MCAT for school. Only 10-15 students get into this program per year. 

Howard is need blind for all students including international students but they do not meet full need.  Transfer students do not qualify for merit aid and get limited need based aid. 


For students looking for a supportive, engaging environment that promotes black excellence in the middle of Washington DC, Howard is an excellent choice. 

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