Founded in 1866 as the Syrian Protestant College, the American University of Beirut (AUB) predates the founding of the Lebanese nation by over 80 years, and is today a selective, secular teaching university of the first rank. It is believed to have been the first Middle Eastern university to go "co-ed" by admitting women in 1922, and is currently ranked 300th in World Universities rankings.
AUB follows the US degree structure and offers over 120 degree programs, all of them taught in English. It boasts the oldest Nursing and Medical schools in the region, and also features Faculties of Engineering & Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Agriculture & Food Sciences, and the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business. Participants in its Visiting International Student (VIS) program may take courses in any of these Faculties, all of which, with the exception of the Faculty of Medicine, offer both undergraduate and graduate courses. Why Study at AUB?
In Roman times, Beirut was a flourishing port city and the site of a famous law school. Today it is once again a vibrant and welcoming center of commerce and education: its rebuilt downtown market or Souk, is home to the trendiest European designer boutiques; to the east of downtown the historic Achrafieh neighborhood bustles with fine dining and nightlife venues; while on the western side of town, the Hamra neighborhood, home to three institutions of higher education and students from around the world, is full of bookstores, cell phone vendors and wi-fi-connected coffee shops.
Wrapping around these neighborhoods like a sparkling necklace, winds the fabled Corniche, or beach boulevard. It is here where the centuries-old vibrancy and multiculturalism of Beirut is best experienced: where locals and tourists jog together in the early morning light, where Starbucks vies for customers with the strolling vendors of Turkish coffee, and where the mini-skirted Lebanese college student strolls arm-in-arm with her head-scarf-wearing childhood best friend to view sunset over the sparking Mediterranean ocean. Like Paris, a city to which it has often been compared, today's Beirut is a movable feast and it is simply not to be missed.
Internationalism and Diversity
AUB has a diverse student body of about 6,500 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students. In any given semester, somewhere between 66 and 75 nationalities are represented on campus. The largest national group after Lebanese is American students; other large cohorts include students from Jordan, Syria, Canada, Palestine, France, Venezuela, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United Kingdom and Iraq. Approximately one out of every 10 students at AUB qualifies as an "international student"--although defining this term precisely can be tricky on a campus where many students hold dual (or triple) nationalities, and have family members around the world.
Students and Student Life
Student Clubs, Activities & Fitness
AUB is recognized for the rich variety of its student clubs, which include cultural groups such as the Japan Club, Latin Dance Club and Lebanese-Armenian Heritage Club, to more service-oriented groups such as Special Olympics Club, Greenpeace Club and the Red Cross Society (observed to the right, holding a fund-raising event). In keeping with its mission, AUB also offers organized volunteering and community service activities through its Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS), located in the basement of West Hall. It offers both volunteering and internship opportunities through IBSAR, the Nature Conservation Center for Sustainable Futures, and summer internships through the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI).
The Hostler Student Center, a sustainably-designed building, includes an indoor pool, two squash courts, three basketball courts, four tennis courts and fitness training equipment & also serves as the headquarters for the University's sports teams. AUB also has its own private beach, accessible via underground foot tunnel passing from the football field below the encircling Corniche.
AUB houses about two-fifths of the student body, primarily freshman, sophomores and visiting undergraduates, in dormitories on and near campus; most upper-classmen and graduate students find rental housing, which exists in plentiful supply, either in the immediate neighborhood of campus or the trendy downtown areas. Undergraduate visiting students receive high priority for dormitory housing if they request it as part of the pre-arrival registration procedure, as well as assistance in finding room-mates and negotiating the local student rentals market.
Most dorm rooms at AUB are multiple occupancy units, with shared lounge and kitchen facilities; there is no meal-plan on campus, although there is a cafeteria, two coffee-houses, and multiple snack machine clusters. The men's dormitories are located on upper campus, close to Bliss Street, which offers a wide variety of multiple snack and restaurant choices. The women's dormitories are primarily located on lower campus, near the beach and the Corniche; there is also an off-campus women's facility located close to Bliss Street.
The urban nature of Beirut makes homestays an impossibility, but students who are eager for a taste of rural life may choose to participate in a retreat on the AUB Farm (in the Bekaa valley, shown to the left) or to give its more formal name, the Agricultural Research and Education Center (AREC). The AREC provides fresh organic produce and dairy products to the AUB community program year-round at its grocery outlet on the lower campus. All Visiting International Students are also welcome to enroll in Agriculture or Veterinary Studies courses which will engage them in the work and research at AREC.
How to Apply
All applications, whether from potential visiting international students (incoming study abroad) or from degree-seekers, are handled in the Beirut Admissions Office. It is hoped that an on-line application process will be fully operational by September 2013, but in the meantime it is preferable to continue to use the Visiting Student application documents found in .pdf format on the Admissions web page.
Applicants residing in North America may send their completed applications care of AUB's New York office, which will forward them to Admissions in Beirut; all others should send applications directly to the Admissions Office in Beirut. For visiting students, the priority deadines are April 1st for Fall Semester or Summer term entry and November 1st for Spring entry, after which AUB practices rolling admissions. The Admissions committee will continue to review applications from visiting students through June 30th and January 15th, respectively, but students must be aware that applications which are postmarked long after the above priority deadlines will necessarily receive lower priority when making decisions regarding the allotment of on-campus housing.
AUB requires a minumum 3.0 GPA for admission, plus the completion of at least one year of college-level students. In addition, students from universities or countries where English is not the official language of instruction will be required to provide proof of English language proficiency. Information about methods of fulfilling the English Language Proficiency Requirement or ELPR, as well as the required proficiency standards can be found in the Admissions Manual on the Admissions web page noted above.
Health, Safety and Security
Whether the issue is smoking prevention, chemistry lab safety, or responses to civil unrest, the safety of its students, staff and faculty is of the utmost concern to AUB, regardless of their nationality. For this reason, AUB created, in 1990, a permanent 25-member task force which regularly reviews health and safety standards and practices, and monitors potential natural as well as political threats to its community. Wit h regard, in particular, to its international student populations, who comprise approximately 25% of its student body; AUB is the only Middle Eastern University to subscribe to the institutional safety and crisis response standards of two key international education associations: NAFSA:AIE and the Forum on Education Abroad.
There are currently over 700 North American students at AUB, most of
them degree-seekers; but there are also more than 50 US colleges and
universities, as well as more than 40 European, Asian and African
universities, who send students to AUB for a semester, summer or academic year. The immediate outcome of the Arab uprisings on Lebanon and AUB has been an increase in visiting student applications and a corresponding upsurge in formal campus visits and affiliation agreements.
Read the student perspective on the effect of the last year's Arab uprisings on their AUB experience at our Health, Safety & Security website.