When Gender Issues Are Not Just About Women: Reconsidering Male Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

May. 15, 2011

Source: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 5, 2011, p. 934-968.

Purpose of Study

The primary purpose of this study is to examine the research and literature on African American male enrollment, experiences, and degree completion trends at four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).The secondary goal is to recenter the gendered dialogue that occurs within HBCU undergraduate student research, such that barriers specific to African American men are identified and examined, with the expectation of better promoting their postsecondary success.

Data Collection and Analysis
First, the authors conducted a review of historical and contemporary literature to identify the role and contribution of four-year HBCUs on African American males over time.
In addition, the authors employed a secondary data analysis of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System to identify six-year graduation rates for one cohort of African American male and female student at HBCUs.


Critical analysis of historical data from the mid-19th to early 21st century indicates that African American males have indeed been neglected in research on undergraduate enrollment, experiences, and degree completion at four-year HBCUs.
African American males face a number of issues that are not absolved on matriculation to HBCUs merely because their environments are predominantly Black.
This analysis suggests that in general, the nurturing and supportive environment on HBCU campuses, when harnessed by African American male (and female) students, can promote postsecondary matriculation and success.


HBCUs have undoubtedly afforded African American males a route by which to gain access to postsecondary education.
However, the lack of attention toward their struggles has served to silence their gendered experience and perpetuate a lack of accountability for African American male underachievement within the higher education establishment.

Updated: Oct. 24, 2011