The Call to Qatar

Georgetown University will become the next American college to offer degrees in the Middle East.
April 8, 2005

There may soon be enough American colleges operating in Qatar to start an athletic league.

Georgetown University has reached a tentative agreement to start a degree program in Qatar -- through the university's School of Foreign Service -- beginning in the fall of 2006. The initial program will be a bachelor's degree, but graduate programs may follow.

Other American colleges that have opened degree-granting campuses in Qatar include Carnegie Mellon University (in business administration and computer science), Cornell University (in medicine), Texas A&M University (in engineering) and Virginia Commonwealth University (in art and design). In addition, George Mason University recently announced that it would open a campus in the United Arab Emirates offering programs in nursing, engineering, information technology, management and English.

All of the programs in Qatar are supported financially by the Qatar Foundation, which has paid the costs of setting up the programs and also paid the sponsoring universities large additional sums. Georgetown's new program, like existing ones in the region, is expected to draw students from throughout the Middle East and South Asia.

Georgetown officials noted that their program will have a stronger liberal arts emphasis than the existing programs. All students will be taking courses in literature, philosophy and religion -- in addition to the foreign service curriculum. The foreign service curriculum is also broader than its name would indicate, and focuses on preparation for  a range of international careers (in companies and non-government organizations) in addition to more traditional foreign service careers.

Negotiations over Georgetown's campus in Qatar have been going on since 2002, and the discussions have also involved Vatican officials, to ensure that the program would be consistent with the university's Roman Catholic identity. Under the agreement, Georgetown will have full control over admissions and the curriculum -- and the university's nondiscrimination policies will apply.

A spokeswoman for the university said that 25 students would probably make up the first class next  year, and that enrollment would then expand.


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