Explore HBCU – Shorter College

Staff Writer
August 11, 2022

Shorter College is a private, faith-based, liberal arts historically Black junior college located in North Little Rock, Arkansas.


Shorter College was founded in 1886 as the Bethel Institute by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The mission was to both train teachers and educate formerly enslaved individuals and the classes were held in the basement of the Bethel AME Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1891 Bethel relocated to Clark County, Arkansas and just a year later the school was renamed Shorter University in honor of Bishop James A. Shorter, who in 1868 had organized the Arkansas Annual Conference of AME churches.

After Shorter was chartered in 1894, the school moved its operations to what is now North Little Rock in 1898. By 1903 Shorter University became Shorter College, at which point the school also added a new three-story building that housed classrooms, offices, a library, and a boys’ dorm. Up until 1928, Shorter College was also the only school in North Little Rock that offered high school diplomas for Black students until 1928. Additionally, the school provided a four-year curriculum until 1955 when financial struggles prompted Bishop R. Wilkes and college president at the time Theophilus D. Alexander to make Shorter a two-year college.

After receiving full accreditation in 1981, Shorter College students were able to transfer credits directly to four-year institutions. Today, Shorter College is also accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the only private, two-year HBCU in the nation.

Programs & Opportunities

Shorter College is philosophy rooted in the fundamental understanding of liberal arts academic disciplines, including language, literature, philosophy, mathematics, social studies, the arts, and the abstract sciences. The school offers academic courses in the following areas: Child Development, Christian Leadership, Criminal Justice, General Studies, Entrepreneurial Studies, and Computer Science.

In addition to the associate degree opportunities, Shorter College students can take part in a variety of special programming that work to enhance spiritual, social, and moral values. Students can take part in tutoring programs, student organizations like that of Student Government, the Health and Wellness Club, the National Association of Black Men United (NABMU), Black Male Initiative (BMI), Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), and more.

Learn more about Shorter College here.

Alumni Affairs

Students at Shorter College are encouraged to become leaders who transform lives through Christ and global service within a biblical worldview.

Some notable alumni from Shorter College include, but are not limited to:

  • James Hal Cone attended Shorter College for two-year study before going on to attend Philander Smith College, and is largely known as the founder of Black liberation theology, as well as being the Bill and Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary.
  • Scipio A. Jones—lawyer, activist, educator, and philanthropist—attended what would become Shorter College (at the time, Bethel Institute) where he received his bachelor’s degree.
  • Daisy Gatson Bates, alumna of Shorter College, was a civil rights champion as well as mentor and advisor to the group of students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. 

Financial Information

Students taking part in educational offerings at Shorter College enjoy quality levels of education at affordable costs. Regardless of in-state or out-of-state resident classification, students share the same cost of tuition, which is $2,100 per semester for full-time students (those taking 12-15 credit hours) and $175 per credit hour for students who go below 12 credit hours or above 16 credit hours.

Financial aid like that of scholarships, grants, and loans are available to help students with the cost of fees and payment arrangements can be made available for students not eligible for Federal Financial Aid.


Shorter College strives to meet its mission of advancing the kingdom of God through a commitment to academic excellence, spiritual growth, Christian leadership, and global service.

Learn more about Shorter College here.