What does HWCU stand for?

Historically white colleges and universities

When you hear the term HWCU, it stands for “historically white colleges and universities.” These are institutions of higher learning where the majority of students have traditionally been White. It’s not unusual for HWCUs to also be predominantly white institutions (PWIs), which means that most of their current students are White as well.

Typically, HWCUs come up in discussions comparing them to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). The focus of these conversations is often on the historical policies and social conditions that have led to HWCUs being mostly White and what steps these institutions can take to increase diversity among their students.

Examples of HWCUs can be found across the United States, with most of the nation’s colleges and universities falling into this category. It’s important to remember that while the term HWCU describes an institution’s historical student composition, it doesn’t predict or prescribe the racial makeup of its future student body.

Example for using ‘HWCU’ in a conversation

Hey, have you decided which colleges you want to apply to?

Yeah, I’m thinking about HWCUs.

HWCUs? What does that stand for?

It means ‘historically white colleges and universities’.