Bowie State University is the oldest historically black university (HBCU) in Maryland. The present-day public university, located in suburban Bowie, Maryland, was founded by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Improvement of Colored People in 1865. Then known as the Baltimore Normal School, the institution’s goal was to train African Americans to become teachers.
The Board of Education provided funding and assumed control of the school in 1908. The school relocated to Prince George’s County and received the name Maryland Normal School in 1914. The first four-year programs began in 1935 and the institution became a state college in 1963. The first graduate degree was in 1970 but Bowie State did not receive university status until 1988, when it became one of the first members of the just-established University System of Maryland. The school’s first doctoral program graduates earned their degrees in May 2005.
Bowie State is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The school’s mission statement includes the desire to “provide high-quality and affordable educational opportunities at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels for a diverse student population of Maryland citizens and the global community.”
The university emphasizes the education of minority students as well as students who struggle with socioeconomic issues. It is classed as a Master’s College and University I by the Carnegie Institute.
Bowie State offers 20 undergraduate majors, 20 master’s programs and two doctoral programs, as well as numerous graduate certificates and certificates of advanced study.
With graduate enrollment nearly equivalent to undergraduate enrollment, the university is both a rounded undergraduate institution and a leading graduate institution. It consistently ranks in the top schools granting graduate degrees to African Americans in various disciplines, and is ranked highly among HBCUs for granting graduate degrees to African Americans in all disciplines.
The university is comprised of five colleges:
- College of Arts and Sciences
- College of Professional Studies
Combined, the colleges offer 18 departments, 23 undergraduate majors, 19 master’s degree programs, two doctoral programs, and numerous advanced certificate programs.
Bachelor’s degrees can be received in many majors, including communications, computer science, English, fine and performing arts, history and government, mathematics, biology, sociology, criminal justice, business administration, nursing, social work, and education.
Graduate programs allow qualified students to pursue advanced levels of study that can lead to a Master of Education, Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Nursing. Doctoral programs offered by the Graduate School include the Doctor of Education and the Doctor of Applied Science in computer science.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Bowie State is a participant in the National Science Foundation and NASA partnership program, Model Institutions for Excellence. This partnership implements specific improvements to ensure a high percentage of students are retained and graduate from the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. The program includes teaching and research laboratories, and specific tutorial facilities to assist students. The Satellite Operations & Control Center is a training facility and mission control center for NASA spacecraft on the Bowie State campus, where students participate in satellite operations and earn mission controller certification.
The university offers continuing education and extended education in various forms: partnerships with public high schools, distance learning, non-credit workshops, and through several institutes, including the Institute for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and the Institute for Development and Entrepreneurship Advancement.
Bowie State is known for granting admission to nearly all applicants who meet minimum admission standards. Factors that determine acceptance for high school seniors who will be entering college for the first time (as well as first-time college students who have earned a GED) include GPA, standardized test scores, and recommendations from counselors and teachers.
Prospective undergraduates must submit a completed application form along with the required non-refundable application fee. Official high school transcripts and official SAT or ACT test score reports must be submitted directly to the Office of Admissions. Application essays and letters of recommendation are optional but suggested. International students, students who are transferring from other colleges or universities, and students who are applying for re-admission to Bowie State may be asked to meet additional requirements.
Students applying to graduate programs should consult the individual department and/or school to which they are applying. General requirements include undergraduate transcripts and other materials or supporting documentation as required by the program. Applications and supplemental materials must be accompanied by the non-refundable application fee.
Students should submit all required application documents and fees by the specified deadline, which is posted on the Bowie State website. Priority consideration is given to all applications submitted prior to the deadline.
The Financial Aid office at Bowie State provides counseling services to students and their families regarding the cost of higher education and where they can find assistance to accommodate that cost. The majority of financial aid that is awarded is based on financial need, but merit-based aid programs are also available. The university supports and provides programs such as the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans and Maryland State Scholarships. There are also a variety of private donor-supported scholarship funds for general support and for support of students with particular interests, talents, and majors. Students are also encouraged to inquire with individual departments about particular aid opportunities for student who study specific disciplines.
Financial aid is available in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans. Federal Work-Study jobs are also available for qualified students. Students who seek financial aid will need to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible each year. Aid is available from federal and state agencies and from institutional funds.
Student Financial Aid Details
Student life at Bowie State University includes opportunities in a diverse range of activities and organizations. Students can participate in a wide variety of clubs and organizations, including academic and honor societies, fraternities and sororities, the Student Government, and various clubs organized around specific interests, cultures, and religions.
Popular groups include an Art Guild, the Baptist Student Ministry, clubs organized for students in various academic majors, the Bowie State Chapter of the Greater Washington Urban League, a Jazz Ensemble, and WBSU Radio. Many of the university’s activities and organizations are unique to the school or unique to HBCUs.
Campus is home to several residence halls and a student apartment complex as well as the Thurgood Marshall Library, which provides access to all the volumes in the University of Maryland system as well as its own collection.
Student services include career advising, health services, and assistance locating off-campus housing.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The Bowie State Bulldogs compete in the NCAA’s Division II and in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Bulldogs participate in football, basketball, bowling, tennis, volleyball, softball, and cross country, along with both indoor and outdoor track and field.
Student athletes train and compete on campus in Bulldog Stadium, the A.C. Jordan Arena, and the Leonidas James complex.
The university proudly maintains its historical emphasis on educating African American students for positions of leadership and success in the professional and academic worlds. Dating back to Baltimore’s first normal school, which held classes in the African Baptist Church, Bowie State has always combined the thrill of inquiry with the respect and reverence for African American history.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.