Explore HBCU – Oakwood University

Staff Writer
April 26, 2022

Oakwood University is a private, historically black Seventh-day Adventist university in Huntsville, Alabama. 


Oakwood University was founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) in 1896 with a focus on the education of recently-liberated African Americans in the South. The school opened to 16 students and was named the Oakwood Industrial School, where a faith-based industrial training atmosphere was offered. 

In 1904, with the expansion to include a broader curriculum, the school’s name changed to Oakwood Manual Training School. The school grew to offer a two-year college program with an emphasis on subjects paralleling most junior colleges, and in 1917 the name changed to Oakwood Junior College. By 1943, the school’s name changed again, becoming Oakwood College as it received its first accreditation as a junior college, moving toward senior college status, and then becoming accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award both associate and baccalaureate degrees.

Most recently, Oakwood College became Oakwood University in 2008. Today the institution offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees of study. Along with the SACS, Oakwood University is accredited by the Adventist Accrediting Association, the Association of College Business Schools and Programs, the Commision on Accreditation of College Business Schools and Programs, the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education, the Council on Social Work Education, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Commision for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA). 

Oakwood consistently ranks in national media, business and educational associations, and U.S. News and World Report has ranked it perennially among the nation’s top colleges, in both categories of Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as Regional Colleges in the South. Furthermore, according to the Association for American Medical Colleges, Oakwood is the nation’s fifth-ranked producer of undergraduate black applicants to medical schools.

At Oakwood University, academic excellence is emphasized to promote the harmonious development of mind, body, and spirit, as well as the preparation of leaders in service for God and humanity.

Programs & Opportunities

Oakwood University has worked to transform lives and raise leaders through a quality Christian-centered education. Through the schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education & Social Sciences, Nursing & Health Professions, Theology, Graduate Studies, and the Adult Degree Completion and Honors Program, Oakwood students are ensured to graduate with a focus on excellence and strong commitment to integrity. 

Spanning graduate and undergraduate study, Oakwood University offers over 70 individual degree pathways. There are also numerous clubs and organizations to foster enriched spiritual, student, and campus life. 

Learn more about Oakwood University’s degree programming here.

Alumni Affairs

At Oakwood, school officials remain dedicated to instilling a sense of community and service oriented action within students. Many well-known leaders of industry have come to be added to the Oakwood University legacy. Some notable alumni include, but are not limited to:

  • Makeba Claggett Garrison graduated with a Masters in Divinity from Oakwood and was recently voted as the first female elder at the Memphis first Seventh-day Adventist Church. 
  • Raymond Winbush—scholar and activist known for his work examining the effect of racism and white supremacy on the global African community—graduated from Oakwood with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
  • Dr. Eric Thomas is a critically acclaimed author, speaker, educator, pastor, and CEO of the consulting firm, ETA LLC. He graduated from Oakwood University with a Bachelor’s in Education.
  • Sylvia Rhue—writer, filmmaker, producer, and LGBTQ+ activist—graduated from Oakwood University with a degree in psychology and sociology.

Financial Information

At Oakwood University, undergraduate tuition is $9,487 for resident and non-resident students, with the total charges per semester ranging from $9,995 to $15,020. For students enrolled and attending classes at Oakwood University in a financial aid-eligible program, financial aid may be available in the form of grants, work-study, a part-time on-campus job, student loans, or scholarships. 

Oakwood University is reportedly in the top 40th percentile of all colleges in the country, as 99% of incoming freshmen were offered scholarships averaging $10,880.


At Oakwood University, the mission remains to transform students through biblically-based education for service to God and humanity.

Learn more about Oakwood University here.