Going to Grad School? Why HBCU Undergrads Should Consider Attending A PWI

Last Updated on November 14, 2021

Black female graduate student in the College library of a PWI.

If you are a person of African decent some of the best years of your life can be spent at a historically black college or university. HBCUs are a unique place of higher learning that feels much like a family as it feels like a school. I spent four years at a historically black university in Atlanta, Georgia. My HBCU taught me about politics, science, and communication from a cultural perspective. Most of my professors were black and we read books written by black authors. For me this community of black consciousness was exciting. I enjoyed learning about my history and growing my confidence as an emerging leader. As I considered going to grad school, I realized that it was necessary to diversify my educational experience by going to grad school at a predominately white institution (PWI).

Here are three factors for HBCU undergrads to consider going to grad school at a PWI:

Employers want diversity

Many employers look at diversity as a key factor in their hiring decision.  Racial diversity is important, but so is educational diversity. It’s easy to assume that a degree is your ticket to land the job of your dreams, however where the degree comes from is sometimes more important than what you studied. For example, schools that are well-known for their sports teams receive lots of media publicity. These schools are far more recognizable to employees than community colleges. Same goes for HBCUs. Many are not well known to non-black people. Therefore, you want at least one school on your resume with name cache. Not all PWI’s are widely recognized, but choose one that is if you are going to grad school.

Your network is your net-worth

Another reason to choose a predominately white institution for your graduate studies is the wide network of students. Many HBCU’s are just like a family, small and intimate. PWI’s tend to be more like a community, large and diverse. This key difference can be crucial especially when you consider that students often rely on their school’s alumni network for jobs after graduation. If your network is small, so too are your opportunities.

More financial aid

Finally, predominately white institutions may also give you more financial aid. Some student chooses PWI’s because they have special minority scholarships available for incoming students. Most HBCUs are private and receive limited state funding. This often leads to higher tuition costs and few scholarships.

No matter what school you choose for your collegiate studies, always remember to give yourself the competitive edge. By diversifying your educational experience you will stand-out among the crowed and be prepared to compete in a world that looks quite different from comfort-zone.

9 thoughts on “Going to Grad School? Why HBCU Undergrads Should Consider Attending A PWI”

  1. Great piece, especially pointing out employers’ wanting to see diversity and the power of the network. I’ve heard a few HBCU alums say that either they were glad they attended a PWI for grad school or they wish they had. Conversely, PWI alums seem to enjoy many of the grad programs offered at HBCUs. Taking it a step further, there are quite a few PWIs that encourage their students to attend grad school at other institutions for the same reasons this piece stated.

  2. I find this piece to be extremely helpful, as I am currently deciding which institution should I attend for graduate studies. It is a toss up between an HBCU, (which is where I received my undergrad from) and a PWI. I will take all of your points into consideration. Thanks Chantel and keep doing what you’re doing!

  3. I find this piece to be extremely useful for those seeking higher education at the graduate level. As a graduate from a phenomenal HBCU and a current graduate student at a prestigious PWI I can honestly back up this article.

  4. This article is interesting…

    I actually followed this logic when deciding on a graduate program and it has it’s pro’s and cons. I attended Bowie State University for my undergraduate studies; and Georgetown University for my Masters. I will say that although attending a PWI was a good experience, there are other ways to diversify your resume, if you are considering a HBCU for graduate school. I am looking to attend law school in the next few years, and I have already decided that I will be returning to an HBCU.

  5. Absolutely! I’m from New Orleans and two great examples are Xavier’s College of Pharmacy and Southern Univ. at New Orleans’ School of Social Work, specifically the MSW program. Both offer fantastic programs that non-black students enjoy!

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