Universities in Dubai | Top Universities

Universities in Dubai

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Hasna Haidar

Updated Jan 08, 2024



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Part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai is both a city and an emirate – probably the best-known among the seven that make up the UAE. Take a closer look at Dubai, and it’s easy to see why: it has the largest population in the UAE, incredible diversity (of people, of culture, and of nature), a large collection of towering skyscrapers, impressive modern conveniences, and a strong international standing – all coexist with its traditional Arab values, cultures and customs (and its famous souks!).

Students wishing to study in Dubai may also be interested to know that there are more than 65 colleges and universities in Dubai, plus year-round sunshine, thousands of fellow international students, variety and choice in a thriving nightlife scene, and plenty of dedicated student facilities courtesy of the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), a purpose-built free trade zone for tertiary academic institutions. DIAC is home to a selection of globally recognized universities, training centers, e-learning centers, professional centers, and research and development companies, many of which were previously part of the earlier-established Dubai Knowledge Village – also a dedicated education zone.

Education in Dubai

The system of education in Dubai follows that of the UAE as a whole, but is unique in catering to a range of different higher education systems including American, British, French, German, Canadian, Australian, Indian, Pakistani, Filipino, Russian, and, of course, that of the United Arab Emirates. US, UK and International Baccalaureate curricula are taught in English, but students not of Arab heritage must take Arabic language classes, and Muslim and Arab students are required to take Islamic studies. At public universities in Dubai, the medium of instruction is Arabic, with emphasis on English as a second language, while almost all private universities in Dubai teach in English – perhaps due to the fact that most private universities cater to one or more expatriate communities.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR) is the government ministry concerned with higher education in Dubai, while the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) licenses institutions and accredits degree programs. Meanwhile the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) is a regulatory authority which carries out quality assurance of education in Dubai. Rather than checking stand-alone accreditation like the CAA, the KHDA checks for equivalence between the degree program in Dubai and the same course as taught at another institution (usually abroad). International students looking to study in Dubai must make sure their chosen institution provides internationally recognized accreditation if they wish to work overseas after graduation. Popular subjects chosen by international students to study in Dubai include architecture, business administration, computing, design, energy, engineering, finance, international relations and tourism.

Universities in Dubai

There are five public and 58 private colleges and universities in Dubai, serving both Emiratis and expatriates. Because, as in most countries, institutions have independent internal governance, you’ll find variations among universities in Dubai in terms of the subjects they teach (with some specializing in one or two subjects only) and the level of degree program they offer (with some offering only undergraduate or postgraduate programs). You’ll also find universities in Dubai are categorized as either a local university (founded and based in Dubai) or a branch campus (founded in another country, with a campus in Dubai). The following are some of the most prominent local and branch campus universities in Dubai:

Local universities in Dubai:

Al Ghurair University (AGU)

A private local university within DIAC, Al Ghurair University was first established to provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills to contribute towards the development and productivity of their communities. AGU is licensed by MOHESR and offers bachelor’s degrees across its three colleges: the College of Business Studies (COBS) teaches business administration, the College of Computing offers courses in computer information systems, and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences teaches electrical and electronics engineering and computer science with engineering. AGU also has a School of Design, which gives students academic preparation for professional practice in interior design.

University of Dubai (UD)

The University of Dubai is an internationally and nationally accredited university based in the center of Dubai city. Established to address the skills gap in the workforce, UD now offers bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, management, marketing, finance, banking, accounting, human resources management, entrepreneurship management, economics, supply chain and logistics management and information technology, along with master’s degree programs in business administration (MBA), information systems (MScIS) and law (LLM).

Zayed University

The newest of the three government-sponsored universities in the UAE, Zayed University has three main campuses – one in Abu Dhabi and two in Dubai. It is comprised of six different colleges offering globally recognized bachelor’s and master’s degrees in arts, business, communication and media sciences, education, sustainable sciences and humanities, and technological innovation. Zayed University also hosts the Institute for Islamic World Studies and University College (which prepares students for university-level learning).

Biotechnology University College Dubai (BUC)

A MOHESR-accredited biotechnology institution, Biotechnology University College Dubai offers both undergraduate and postgraduate programs in biotechnology, medical and pharmaceutical studies, environmental and agricultural studies, petroleum and industrial studies and DNA forensics and bioinformatics, along with a foundation program, an overseas student exchange program and a scholarship scheme. BUC boasts a modern campus, as well as opportunities for internships and professional training.

The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT)

The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) is one of the largest institutions of higher learning in the UAE, with more than 55,000 UAE nationals being graduates of the institution. Of the HCT’s 17 campuses, two in Dubai: Dubai Men’s College (DMC) and Dubai Women’s College (DWC), offering programs in business, computer and information science, applied communications and engineering, health sciences and education (only offered in DWC). DMC also offers graduate programs in business administration, computer and information science, engineering management, construction engineering and communication technology. Having moved to the Dubai International Academic City in 2004, the DMC campus offers a wide range of technology, sports, educational and recreational facilities.

Branch campus universities in Dubai:

American University in Dubai (AUD)

The American University in Dubai is a private university which started life as a branch campus of American InterContinental University, in Atlanta, Georgia (US). Based in Dubai, next to Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City and the Palm Islands, the AUD has both US (SACSCOC) and UAE (MOHESR) accreditation for all its programs and accepts both UAE nationals and international students. AUD offers a US-style education, with the university organized into the following departments: School of Architecture, Art and Design; School of Arts and Sciences; School of Business Administration; School of Education, Mohammed bin Rashid School for Communication; and School of Engineering.

University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD)

The University of Wollongong in Dubai is a private university located in the Dubai Knowledge Village, founded as a branch campus of Australia’s University of Wollongong in 1993. UOWD offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs including finance and accounting, business and management, engineering and information studies and arts and humanities (the latter exclusively a postgraduate program). The university also offers a range of scholarships for both international and local students and has a dedicated Language Studies Centre (LSC) offering a range of language courses and communication development programs.

British University in Dubai (BUiD)

The British University in Dubai is a research-based, postgraduate university that works in partnership with several leading UK universities – namely, the University of Edinburgh, University of Manchester, Cardiff University and King’s College London. BUiD is located in the Dubai International Academic City and offers MOHESR-accredited programs in subjects including business administration (MBA), informatics, information technology management, project management, education, finance and banking, architecture and sustainable built environment, human resource management, systems engineering, construction law, intelligent buildings design, construction management. The BUiD also offer a range of accredited postgraduate certificates and diplomas, and has been popular with local and international organizations who have offered to provide funding and scholarships.

American University in the Emirates (AUE)

The American University in the Emirates is a private university licensed by the CAA and based in Dubai International Academic City. AUE works in partnership with several US and other international universities and offers undergraduate and graduate programs (although not PhD programs). Its undergraduate programs are split among its six colleges: College of Business Administration; College of Media and Mass Communication; College of Computer and Information Technology; College of Fine Arts and Design; College of Education; and College of Law. Postgraduate programs offered are the Master in Business Administration (MBA), Master in Diplomacy (MDIP) and Master in Library and Information Science (MLIS). AUE also offers a range of additional centers including a language learning institution, a professional training center and a technology incubation center.

Other local universities in Dubai

A few other notable local universities in Dubai include:

  • The Dubai Medical College for Girls – the first private college awarding degrees in Medicine and Surgery in the UAE;
  • Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University – the first accredited e-University in the UAE;
  • The newly established Institute of Management Technology in Dubai – offering MBA and EMBA (full and part time);
  • Dubai School of Government – a research and teaching institution which focuses on public policy in the Arab world;
  • And the Dubai School of Dental Medicine – a newly established dental institution.

Other branch campus universities in Dubai

A few other notable branch campus universities in Dubai include:

  • The Canadian University of Dubai (CUD) – one of few Canadian universities in the UAE, notably offering an MBA in Islamic Banking
  • Strathclyde Business School, Dubai – a Scottish Business School offering accredited part-time master’s programs;
  • The Islamic Azad University UAE Branch – the IAU is based in Iran and is the world’s third-largest private university system (its UAE branch is located in Dubai)
  • The Saint-Petersburg State University of Engineering & Economics, Dubai Branch – also known as ENGECON Dubai, the branch specializes in the fields of economics, finance, logistics, management, and statistics
  • The Murdoch University, Dubai – based in Perth, Australia, the university offers four faculties: arts, education and creative media, health sciences, law, business and information technology and science and engineering
  • Manipal University, Dubai – a deemed university based in Manipal, India, offering biotechnology, engineering, IT, interior design and architecture, media and communications and health sciences subjects in its Dubai campus
  • And Hult International Business School – Hult’s Dubai campus made it the first US educational institution to be officially approved in the UAE.

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