Historically Black colleges and universities, known as HBCUs, are educational institutions founded before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the primary mission to help provide academic opportunities to Black students when many educational opportunities were inaccessible.
Delaware State University is the state’s only HBCU. With popular business management, marketing, and social science programs, it’s one of the top HBCUs in the country. It currently enrolls about 3,900 students.
The History of Delaware’s HBCU
Delaware State University was established on May 15, 1891, as the Delaware College for Colored Students. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education officially accredited the institution in 1944.
Delaware did not immediately embrace its only Black college, however. The state provided the majority of its financial support to a private Presbyterian school, Delaware College (now known as the University of Delaware). As a result of the lack of funding, Delaware State University lost its accreditation in 1949. The school’s accreditation was reinstated in 1957 and has been maintained ever since.
Academic Excellence at an Affordable Cost
As of 2023, DSU offers three associate degree options, 48 undergraduate degree options, 23 master’s degree programs, and six doctoral degree programs. Its most popular majors include Business, Management, Marketing, Social Sciences, and Psychology.
DSU could be a great choice for remote students, as its online programs are extremely popular. In fact, 65% of its students take classes online.
Tuition costs vary depending on the program. Undergraduate students can spend between $346 and $764 per credit hour. DSU has more than 280 scholarships on its website, providing students with financial aid opportunities in addition to the Federal Pell Grant.
DSU is conducting research in five major areas: agriculture, natural resources, biomedical, renewable energy, as well as food and nutrition. There are several dozen research programs available for DSU’s undergraduate students. These programs are primarily STEM-based, but there are also opportunities for students interested in law.
Embracing Culture as the Sole HBCU in Delaware
DSU caters to a variety of student interests through its many organizations. There are eight active chapters of Black Greek organization from the National Pan Hellenic Council. There are also academic, social, religious, professional, and music-related organizations. Students with musical talent can also join the DSU marching band, known as the Approaching Storm.
Athletics are a significant part of college life, and DSU doesn’t fall short. The university offers 18 NCAA Division I sports teams.
A Closer Look at Campus Life
Campus life at DSU expands beyond its main campus. Delaware State University is located in Dover, but has three additional campuses: one in Georgetown, one in downtown Dover (previously Wesley College), and another in Wilmington.
DSU gets involved with its community, particularly in the health sphere. Located in a county that has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, DSU partnered with The Community Well-Being Initiative to help connect individuals with opioid abuse disorder to local treatment, recovery, and prevention services.
The majority (68%) of DSU’s student body is Black. About 10% of attending students are white, 7% are Hispanic, and about 1% are Asian. Most (68%) of students are women. A little more than half (55%) of students receive the Pell Grant, making DSU an economically diverse school.
Reggie Barnes is a football player who ranks second in team history and twelfth on the MEAC all-time list. Clyde Bishop, on the other hand, is an American diplomat who served as a U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands between 2006 and 2009. Many other alums have gone on to have successful careers in well-established companies, creating robust networking opportunities for post-graduation employment.
Other Schools in Delaware that Offer Inclusive & Diverse Learning Experiences
Attending an HBCU can be an invaluable experience for many students, but not every HBCU fits an individual’s specific needs. There are other schools in Delaware that offer unique cultural and career-driven organizations for their Black students.
University of Delaware
The University of Delaware (UD) is a much larger school than DSU (19,000 vs. 5,000 students, respectively). Although the number of enrolled students is much higher, the Black population is significantly smaller, at 6%. UD has a Center for Black Culture and a Black Student Union, which works with its students to implement organizations and programs. The CBC offers peer mentoring, a Black Leadership Council, on-campus jobs, and more.
Goldey-Beacom College is a significantly smaller school with less than 1,000 students and a much higher acceptance rate of 98%. Despite its size, it has a much bigger minority population than the University of Delaware. A quarter of its students are Black. It has two organizations dedicated to Black students: the Black Student Union and the National Association of Black Accountants.
Frequently Asked Questions about the HBCU in Delaware
Is Delaware State University the only HBCU in Delaware?
Delaware State University is the only HBCU in Delaware and has been since its inception in 1891. One of its closest neighbors, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, is the oldest HBCU in the country and was founded in 1831.
Lincoln University is also close by, located in Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1854, and although it’s younger than Cheyney University, it was the first degree-granting HBCU in the nation.
What resources and support services are available for HBCU students in Delaware?
Many scholarship opportunities are available for HBCU students outside of the dozens offered by DSU. The nation’s largest private scholarship provider to minority students, The United Negro College Fund, gives more than $100 million in scholarships to students every year.
There are also nationwide mentorship programs for HBCU students, such as the B.E.S.T. Program that connects students to Black executives currently in the workforce.
Does Delaware State University have any online programs?
Delaware State University has 10 online programs. DSU has over 3,000 online students, accounting for about 65% of its student population. However, DSU doesn’t offer any associate degree programs online.
DSU’s online undergraduate programs include, but aren’t limited to, psychology, social work, and public health. Its graduate programs include nursing, public administration, and sports administration. DSU only offers one online doctoral program: educational leadership.
Why should I attend Delaware State University?
DSU offers an inclusive campus community with a rich history as a historically Black university. It provides a wide range of academic programs and research opportunities. With its many campuses and online programs, there is a lot of flexibility for students who don’t live near Dover, Delaware. This school is a better fit for students looking for a small on-campus community.