Most of Maryland's historically black colleges and universities began in the 19th century as secondary schools or teaching colleges. Today, they are respected universities with a wide array of programs and degrees.
The schools evolved from post-Civil War initiatives to provide educational resources for African Americans, aided by the Freedmen's Aid Society. These institutions of higher learning would train African-American men and women to become teachers, doctors, preachers, and skilled tradespeople.
Bowie State University
Though Bowie State University began in 1864 in a Baltimore church, in 1914 it was relocated to a 187-acre tract in Prince George’s County. It first offered four-year teaching degrees in 1935. It's Maryland's oldest HCBU, and one of the ten oldest in the country.
Since then, this public university has become a diverse institution that offers baccalaureate, graduate and doctoral degrees in its schools of business, education, arts and sciences, and professional studies.
Its alumni include astronaut Christa McAuliffe, singer Toni Braxton, and NFL player Issac Redman.
Coppin State University
Founded in 1900 at what was then called Colored High School, the school offered a one-year training course for elementary school teachers. By 1938, the curriculum expanded to four years, and the school began granting bachelors of science degrees. In 1963, Coppin moved beyond just granting teaching degrees. The name was officially changed from Coppin Teachers College to Coppin State College in 1967—and to Coppin State University in 2004.
Today students earn undergraduate degrees in 24 majors and graduate degrees in nine subjects in the schools of arts and sciences, education, and nursing.
Coppin's alumni include Bishop L. Robinson, the first African-American commissioner of the city of Baltimore, and NBA player Larry Stewart.
Morgan State University
Beginning as a private Bible college in 1867, Morgan State University expanded to become a teaching college, awarding its first baccalaureate degree in 1895. Morgan remained a private institution until 1939 when the state purchased the school in response to a study that determined that Maryland needed to provide more opportunities for its black citizens. It's not part of the University System of Maryland, retaining its own board of regents.
Morgan State is named for Rev. Lyttleton Morgan, who donated land for the college and served as the first chairman of the school's board of trustees.
Offering undergraduate and masters degrees as well as several doctoral programs, Morgan State's well-rounded curriculum attracts students from all over the country. About 35 percent of its students are from outside Maryland.
Alumni of Morgan State include New York Times' William C. Rhoden and television producer David E. Talbert.
University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
Founded in 1886 as the Delaware Conference Academy, University of Maryland Eastern Shore has had several name changes and governing bodies. It was Maryland State College from 1948 until 1970. Now it is one of the 13 campuses of the University System of Maryland.
The school offers bachelor's degrees in more than two dozen majors, as well as masters and doctoral degrees in subjects like marine estuarine and environmental sciences, toxicology, and food science.