America’s education footprint in the Middle East

Adam Popescu Apr 28, 2011

American universities operating abroad are big business. So big, in fact, that students can now receive a degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts — in Asia.

In the Middle East, many U.S. schools have branch campuses. Think of them as satellite programs where students can study abroad, conduct research, and do internships. The number of U.S. students studying in the region doesn’t compare to other locations like Western Europe and South America — there you’ll find more students and more programs. But in the Middle East, there has been a slow and steady increase over the last few years.

Here’s a breakdown of regional U.S. satellite schools in the Middle East region. View the map for more details:

    • Israel- 10
    • United Arab Emirates- 10
    • Egypt-9
    • Qatar- 6
    • Jordan- 3
    • Bahrain- 1
    • Kuwait- 1
    • Morocco- 1

    U.S. Students Abroad — A Few Americans Overseas

    California native Roei Eisenberg traveled to Israel to study politics after an undergraduate program at Washington University in St. Louis. Eisenberg decided to make the leap to a master’s program at the Raphael Recanati International School IDC in Herzliya. There, he hoped to deepen his understanding of regional politics.

    “Israel is a perfect place to study (conflict studies),” the 23-year-old Eisenberg said. “My experience was unique because my program was fully international, meaning we had students from every continent and background. One was a high-ranking diplomat from Kenya who was in his mid-50s looking to learn more during his time in Israel; another was a Swiss-Israeli lawyer who represents top-ranked tennis players and wanted something to do when he wasn’t traveling.”

    Julianne L. Greco is a senior at Dickinson College spending a second semester in Rabat, Morocco. There, she interns with the Moroccan Press Agency as part of the AMIDEAST Morocco program.

    Greco picked Morocco so she could study democratization in the Middle East.

    “I also wanted to learn Arabic and experience Moroccan culture and I figured the best way to get started is living in Morocco with a host family and engaging hands on,” she said. “Also, to be frank, part of the draw of the region has to do with adventure, the unfamiliar, and the extreme differences from the U.S… This abroad experience has been humbling… Living abroad in Morocco has been challenging, mentally (academically and emotionally) and physically, but extremely exciting as I learn so much every day that I would not have been able to learn from a textbook or an office back in the States.”

    Emily Coltvet of George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs determined that she wanted to learn in the field, and chose Amman, Jordan.

    “Since the Middle East is one of the more pressing/relevant issues in current international affairs and in Washington, D.C., it made sense to become more educated in the area, first hand,” she said.

    Coltvet, 22, parlayed that experience to a job stateside.

    “I enrolled in a history of Iraq class my senior year and in advanced Arabic classes, and accepted an internship in the Congressional department at the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in D.C. for a semester to further my understanding of what I had experienced… It is my goal to be able to apply my Arabic skills to a worthy cause in some capacity during my practice of law, or work in the government.”


    The Kingdom of Bahrain hosted 54 American students in 2010. The New York Institute of Technology opened its campus in 2003 in Adliya, with undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in a variety of fields: business, computer graphics, engineering, architecture. Schools offering technology are some of the most popular, and in-demand in the region. Courses are taught in English, offering the same degree to students at the Bahrain campus as it does at its New York campus.


    With a rich cultural history of ancient pyramids and hieroglyphs, Egypt has long been a popular destination for U.S. students interested in archaeology and Egyptology. However, recent political unrest has disrupted study there. A Feb. 2 Washington Post article highlighted the difficulties associated with hosting American students and institutions in a nation with a crumbling political system and a fractured sense of identity. As a result of the tumult, most U.S. students in Egypt have been evacuated. Fifteen Georgetown students left for Qatar in February; 37 students studying at Middlebury’s program in Alexandria were flown to Prague, Czech Republic; and seven students from the University of Maryland (one at the university in Cairo and six in Alexandria) left the country on break or flew to safety in Dubai.


    The state of Israel is home to at least 10 U.S. satellite campuses and programs: Clark University, NYU, Boston University (in Tel Aviv and Haifa), Dickinson College, the University of Maryland, Florida State University, the University of Colorado Boulder, George Mason University, and Emory University. Strong ties between the U.S. and Israel have fostered the growth of numerous in-country academic organizations and partnerships, including the U.S.-Israel Fulbright Foundation, and the Raphael Recanati International School IDC in Herzliya.


    This small, oil-rich nation of about 3.5 million partnered with the University of Colorado Boulder in 2009 to offer a three week, three credit winter study program covering economics, politics and society in the Middle East. Students visit major business institutions and oil companies, and meet officials, bankers, university faculty and regional students.


    Three U.S. institutions operate in the Kingdom of Jordan: DePaul University, Columbia University, and Seton Hall University. In 2005, DePaul University partnered with Balqa Applied University, providing postgraduate instruction in IT, software engineering, and underground and wireless communications. In 2009, Columbia’s Middle East Research Center was established in Amman. Part of a larger network of Columbia Global Centers, the center initiates major projects in genomics, architecture and public policy. A 2009 innovative joint collaboration between the University of Amman, Jordan, and Seton Hall offers a legal program geared towards banking and finance, and oil and gas litigation.


    There are no official U.S. institutions operating in Lebanon, but there are several Lebanese schools that work with Tuft University’s Talloires Network, an international association of institutions committed to strengthening civic roles and the social responsibilities of higher education. The Lebanese American University, established in 1949, operates under a charter from the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, an N.Y. state accrediting group.


    This constitutional monarchy has long been known for its openness with the West, and is host to a joint-program with nonprofit AMIDEAST and Dickinson College in Rabat, offering international students classes in Arabic as well as East and North African studies taught in English.


    Education City is a state-sponsored initiative just outside the capital of Doha. It boasts satellite campuses and study abroad programs offering computer science and business studies from Carnegie Mellon University, training in medicine from Cornell University, international affairs from Georgetown University, journalism from Northwestern University, engineering from Texas A&M University, and fine arts instruction from Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Saudi Arabia

    There are no U.S. institutions in operation in Saudi Arabia, but there are options for the enterprising student (especially if they lean towards general medicine). The National Institute for Specialized Health Training offers an academic year study-abroad program open to U.S. students. The general health education curriculum is accredited and allows for degree completion recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Saudi Council for Health Specialties. Only one catch: there is a residency requirement.


    Tunisia does not have any institutions operating in-country, but it does have a strong history of U.S. scholars lecturing and conducting research as Fulbright scholars. Forty-three Fulbright grants, including nine renewals, have been awarded to U.S. scholars in Tunisia since 1981. In the wake of this year’s Jasmine Revolution, the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia has announced an application process encouraging American institutions to set-up shop in the North African nation of 10 million.

    United Arab Emirates

    The U.A.E. is home to some of the most prestigious U.S. institutions, including Boston University, New York University, Harvard Medical International, Michigan State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Duke University, the University of Maryland, DePaul University, the University of Phoenix, and the New York Institute of Technology.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.