Higher education in Lebanon is administered by the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education, and all but one of the 41 Lebanese universities are private. Although the official language of Lebanon is Arabic, the language of instruction at universities in Lebanon is English or French (the latter due to the country’s colonial past).
A total of 10 universities in Lebanon feature in the QS University Rankings: Arab Region 2016, a ranking dedicated to this world region. Three of these leading Lebanese universities are also featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2016/17. These are:
American University of Beirut (AUB)
Ranked 2nd in the Arab region and joint 228th in the world (up from 268th last year), the American University of Beirut (AUB) is a private and secular university with about 8,400 students, of which over 1,700 are international, coming from 77 different countries. As you may gather from the name, teaching is conducted in English. The American University of Beirut was founded in 1866 and states that it “bases its educational philosophy, standards, and practices on the American liberal arts model of higher education”. There are more than 130 programs available in seven faculties. AUB is a member of various international associations and has collaborated with many overseas institutions, including the US’s Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Speaking of medicine, AUB ranks within the top 300 universities in the world for this subject in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016.
Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth(USJ)
Also known as Saint Joseph University, in English, USJ is ranked 17th in the Arab region and 491-500* in the world, and was founded in 1875 by the Jesuits, making it one of Lebanon’s oldest universities. It is also the country’s main French medium university and is known for its university hospital, Hôtel-Dieu de France. USJ has the distinction of being the only university in the Middle East to adhere to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), whilst still being in accord with the laws on higher education in Lebanon. There are around 12,000 students enrolled at USJ and around 2,000 teachers. The university’s student to faculty member ratio is the second best in the country, after Université Antonine.
Lebanese American University (LAU)
Ranked 651-700 in the world and joint 15th in the Arab region, the Lebanese American University (LAU) was founded in 1835 and had more than 8,300 students enrolled as of Autumn 2015, of which 19% are from abroad. Located in Beirut and Byblos, the Lebanese American University is a private, secular university which conducts teaching in English. It is a member of the Association of American International Colleges and Universities, which enables student exchanges and allows information to be shared amongst member institutions.
*For information about ranking categories, and answers to other frequently asked questions, click here.
Life in Lebanon
International students coming to Lebanon will be pleased to learn that Lebanese cuisine is world famous, and locals are known for their hospitality – they enjoy welcoming visitors and treat them like family. Dining in Lebanon is a social event, so don’t be surprised if you’re invited to come for dinner soon after meeting someone! Lebanese people consider it an honor to have a guest in their home and you will be able to try a delicious array of Mediterranean dishes. It’s also considered courteous to bring along a small gift when dining as a guest in someone’s home, and hand-shaking as a greeting is common.
Lebanon is a part-Muslim, part-Christian country, and appropriate respect should be showed for all of the country’s religions, laws and customs. In many areas you will find that the dress code is more relaxed than in other countries in the region, but you should still cover up to visit religious sites. Social attitudes in Beirut are arguably more relaxed than in the rest of the country. Alcohol is legal and widely available in most areas of Lebanon, and the legal drinking age is 18.
Read on to find out more about Lebanon’s student cities. Do take note of the travel advice for parts of Lebanon – as of April 2016, the UK government advises against travel to Tripoli, Sidon and parts of Beirut.
Also known by its French name, Beyrouth, Beirut is Lebanon’s capital and largest city, with over two million people residing in its metropolitan area. Beirut is also one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back over 5,000 years, and it was known as Berytus in antiquity. The city is the seat of the Lebanese government and also plays a central role in the country’s economy. Visitors are attracted to Beirut’s fascinating cultural sights during the day and some of the best nightlife in the region by night, as well as the city’s attractive location overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Among the top universities in Beirut are some of the oldest and most prestigious in the country, including the American University of Beirut (AUB).
Tripoli is the second-largest Lebanese city, home to over a million people in its metropolitan area. Dating back to the 14th century BC, Tripoli famously has the largest Crusader fortress in the country, the Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles. Like Beirut, the city blends its modern and historical aspects into a lively metropolis with iconic monuments and mosques. Lebanese University and Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth have their North Lebanon branches in Tripoli, and there are several other Lebanese universities found here.
Sidon, which takes its name from the Arabic word for fishery, is another attractive city on the coast. Sidon is Lebanon’s third-largest city, with 266,000 people living in the metropolitan area. Its historical sights include an old city, Sidon Sea Castle and the Khan El Franj. Shopping and entertainment in Sidon is also not in short supply, with many western food chains opening in recent years. Lebanese University and Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth also have branches here.
One of the oldest cities in the world and dating back thousands of years, Byblos is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its remarkable history, with ancient ruins left over from civilizations such as the Phoenicians and Romans. It’s therefore ideal for students who are passionate about history and archeology. Today, Byblos is a modern city that retains its historical past and is emerging as a popular tourist destination. As well as its great history, the city offers scenic views both from its Mediterranean coastal setting and surrounding mountains. The Lebanese American University has a campus overlooking the city on a hill, which houses its professional schools. Byblos is much smaller than Beirut, with a metropolitan population of around 100,000 people.
Applying to a Lebanese university
You should apply directly to your chosen Lebanese university, providing documents such as your academic record. If you’re studying at bachelor’s level, you’ll need a high school certificate or equivalent, and you’ll need proof of an undergraduate degree if applying to study at postgraduate level.
You’ll also need to prove your proficiency in the course’s language of study, which may be in English or French depending on the university. You don’t need to provide this if you’re a native speaker, and may not need to if you have previously studied in English or French.
You may also need to provide one or two letters of recommendation, an essay or personal statement, and admission test results such as the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) for business students. Check your chosen university’s official website to find out the exact requirements for your course.
Student visas are required for international students of all countries except for Syria (unlimited stay), while students from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE can stay in Lebanon for up to three months without a visa. All other students need a visa, but note that you cannot enter Lebanon if you’ve visited Israel.
You should apply for your visa from your nearest Lebanese embassy, paying a small fee and providing the following documents in French, Arabian or English:
- Letter of acceptance from a Lebanese university;
- Proof that you have enough money to support yourself in Lebanon, both in terms of tuition fees and living costs, or proof of a scholarship if you have one;
- Two passport-size photographs of yourself;
Application Process for a Tourism Degree
The application process for a tourism degree can be a complicated and lengthy process, but being accepted by the school of your choice is worth the effort! Undergraduate and graduate degrees share several similarities and differences and the following information can help international students as they start the application process for either of these degrees.
There are several things international students need to be aware of as they begin the application process for a tourism degree. Firstly, most undergraduate tourism schools have similar requirements for their applications; most colleges or universities will require things like specific ACT, SAT, or TOEFL scores, a GPA above 2.0, high school transcripts, etc. within the application. However, some tourism schools may have unique requirements of their applicants. Florida International University, for example, not only requires high school transcripts of international students, but specific financial documents and transcript evaluations by NACES agency as well. Make sure to visit the admissions page of the school's website you are interested in; you can find everything you need to include in the application as an international student.
Whether you are applying to a tourism program or a general college/university, you need to make sure that your essay and application stand out. A school can receive hundreds or thousands of applications and the best way to get noticed is through your essay. International students need to highlight what they will contribute to the campus socially, academically, and culturally in their college application and essay. International students should also emphasize their diverse background and explain why they would like to attend a tourism school in the U.S.A. Another way to make your application stand out is to present yourself as an individual with different interests and hobbies. U.S. colleges are always looking for well-rounded students, not just academic all-stars. Make sure to involve yourself in extracurricular activities such as playing an instrument, sports, or volunteering.
The graduate application process for a tourism degree shares some similarities and differences with an undergraduate degree. Like the undergraduate application, students will need to submit their GPA and TOEFL scores along with a transcript from their college or university. It is likely that you will also be asked to submit an essay or personal statement with your application. You may be asked to write about yourself, or about specific topics. The same principle that was applied to the undergraduate essay can be applied to the graduate essay; make sure to describe how you can benefit from being in the graduate program, and how the program will benefit from having you.
At this point the similarities end between the graduate and undergraduate degree application processes. Depending on your GPA (or grade point average), you may be required to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) or GRE (Graduate Record Examination) tests. Also, some graduate degree programs require applicants to have several months or years' worth of experience working or interning in the tourism industry before they can begin to earn their degree. Aside from the tests scores and transcripts you may also need several letters of recommendation from former professors, internship supervisors, or bosses. These letters are very important and sometimes can determine if you are accepted into the graduate program or not.
Another step which differs from the undergraduate application process is the interview. Almost all graduate programs involve an interview with applicants. Schools use this interview process to determine which finalists they think are the best match for their school. During the interview you will most likely be asked to describe yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, why did you choose this career, why did you apply to this program, etc. Remember, although you are the one being interviewed, you can use the opportunity to find out if the school is the right fit for you as well. You can ask about alumni success in the job market, why the graduate program is better than the rest, are there scholarships or financial aid available, etc.
Now that you are familiar with the application process for a tourism degree, it should seem a bit more manageable. For both graduate and undergraduate application processes it is important that international students do sufficient research before submitting everything; you should know what specific test scores and documents are required in the application. For whichever degree you apply for, undergraduate or graduate, make sure to get your application noticed by highlighting why you are the best choice for the program; they need to know why they'd be lucky to have you attend their school!
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