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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - ISEP American University of Sharjah

AUS is a leading comprehensive coeducational university in the Gulf, serving students from the region and around the world. Admission is based on qualifications only, without regard to race, color, gender, religion, disabilities, age, or national origin. AUS is accredited by the U.S. Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the U.S. Department of Education in the State of Delaware and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the United Arab Emirates. 

AUS is located in the Emirate of Sharjah, in the beautiful setting of University City, about ten minutes’ drive from the border with Dubai. It is situated between the Sharjah International Airport and Dubai International Airport and is approximately two hours away from Abu Dhabi International Airport. The beautiful campus buildings reflect Islamic architectural traditions.

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.  

Learn more about the American University of Sharjah here!

Experiences of Former Students

Read a story by an ISEP student who studied abroad at American University of Sharjah.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).


Located between Ajman to the North and Dubai to the South, Sharjah is the third largest emirate of the seven that comprise the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Because of its commitment to art, culture, and the preservation of its heritage, Sharjah was awarded the 1998 UNESCO Cultural Capital Award for the Arab World. It boasts a wide range of museums along with other cultural offerings such as traditional markets (souks), Heritage Village areas, and a working port of Dhow fishing vessels. Visitors can experience desert safaris, green city parks, and the golden beaches of the east coast while also taking advantage of an array of modern shopping malls, restaurants, and cinemas. Sharjah’s culture, firmly rooted in the Islamic traditions of Arabia, embraces honesty, courtesy, and hospitality, making it a welcoming place to live and study. Admire majestic mosques and discover the beauty of true Arabian deserts, mountains, and beaches.

Sharjah has been designated as Capital of Arab Tourism for 2015 by the Arab Council of Tourism Ministers in addition to being named the 2014 Capital of Islamic Culture by the Islamic Organization for Education, Science, and Culture (ISESCO). Previously, Sharjah was awarded the 1998 UNESCO Cultural Capital Award for the Arab World. The Ruler of Sharjah places a very strong emphasis on education and cultural preservation through University City and a wide range of museums. Sharjah is one of the more conservative Emirates, with a dress code requiring that both men and women cover their shoulders and legs to below the knee, and avoid wearing revealing/low cut/transparent clothing. There are no alcohol or pork products available in Sharjah.

Sharjah has a wide range of cultural offerings, including traditional souks (the Blue Souk, Fish Souk, Vegetable Souk, Bird and Animal Souk, Plant Souk, etc.), Heritage Village areas, a working port loaded with traditional Dhow fishing vessels, etc. See more information about Sharjah Tourism.

Additionally, the American University of Sharjah (AUS) provides regular bus service to and from the Rashidiya Station of the Dubai Metro System. Taxis are readily available throughout Sharjah and the other emirates. See also transportation options available on campus.

To learn more about the visa process for this country, please visit the ISEP Country Handbook for the United Arab Emirates. 


The American University of Sharjah in the Middle East is an independent, fully accredited institution serving a diverse student body from the region and around the world. Courses are taught in English giving students an opportunity to study in accredited programs like architecture (NAAB), business (AACSB), and engineering (ABET). Students are encouraged to take advantage of the numerous courses in Arabic language, literature, as well as Middle East culture, history and contemporary politics. Sharjah’s culture, firmly rooted in Islamic traditions, embraces courtesy and hospitality, making it a welcoming place to live and study. Students on the Exchange and the Direct program will be fully immersed in regular University courses taught in English in a variety of fields while taking an Arabic language course.

Unique course offerings include AACSB accredited Islamic Finance, Islamic Art & Architecture (NAAB accredited), Introduction to Islamic Philosophy, History of material culture in the Arabian Gulf region, Chemical engineering and Petroleum Engineering (ABET accredited). Additionally, courses in Arabic translation, literature, and poetry are offered in both Arabic (for native or native-level speakers) and English.

All University departments are open to incoming ISEP students, provided students have the appropriate prerequisites to register for courses. Please check the Undergraduate Catalog for further information. 

AUS is also a unique place to study Middle East culture which is why students are encouraged to look at Middle East studies courses that are spread across disciplines. A sample of these courses can be found here.

Language Courses: Exchange and Direct students will be required to take at least one Arabic language class. Arabic courses are offered at all levels. Upon arrival, all students (except those with no prior language experience), will be required to take a placement exam. 

Note: The host institution ultimately determines your proficiency level and course eligibility. Arabic language and literature courses for native speakers are also available. Please refer to the Undergraduate Catalog for more information on various course levels.

The ISEP American University of Sharjah program uses the US semester credit system, in which 1 credit = 42-45 in-class hours, and 2 hours of out-of-class work per credit hour.

To Earn 4 Lake Forest credits, students must take 15-16 US semester credits.

To Earn 3 Lake Forest credits, students must take 12 US semester credits.

The number of credits listed here is estimated, and GEO will work with you, your advisor, and the registrar to ensure you are earning enough credits to keep you on track for graduation.


From the main website, choose ‘Academics and Research’ from the red navigation bar and choose ‘Registrar Services’. Click ‘University Catalogs’ to see the course catalog, and ‘Course Offerings’ to view the schedule for the upcoming semester as well as previous semesters. The quickest way to search for courses is to click here.

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.

Student Life

The American University of Sharjah (AUS) was founded in 1997 by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah, and Chair of the Board of Trustees and President of AUS. Consciously based upon American institutions of higher education, AUS is thoroughly grounded in Arab culture and is part of a larger process of the revitalization of intellectual life in the Middle East.


A customized orientation program will be delivered by the International Exchange Office (IXO) to cover specific information relevant to exchange students. The IXO orientation will span three days. The first will be geared towards familiarizing students with AUS and will cover practical and essential topics such as: health services, campus security and safety, cultural considerations (e.g. dress code, male-female interaction), academic terms and issues, IT Department support, public relations (concerning passports and visas), student clubs and organizations, library and campus tour, academic codes of conduct, banking, etc. The second day will focus on the practicalities of setting up a bank account, getting student IDs, signing up for sports activities, and touring the library. Finally, the third day will focus on familiarizing students with Sharjah (and how to get around). There will be activities and outings throughout the orientation week, including the weekend.

Airport pickup provided. Students must provide arrival information to host coordinator six weeks in advance.


AUS has approximately 70 student organizations and clubs for students to participate in, 33 of which are cultural clubs (e.g. Emirati Club, Iranian Club, etc). A wide range of cultural events are available for students. AUS maintains a Sports Complex and a varied Athletic program with approx. 21 sports teams. The International Exchange Office plans a schedule of exchange student activities each semester.

  Experiential Opportunities

AUS has a Community Service Division through which students can be involved in a wide range of community service projects. For on-campus volunteer opportunities, students can get involved with the Achievement Academy, which offers professional development enhancement, English language skills development, and a university preparation program. 

  Internship Opportunites
Daimler, a worldwide automotive company, has several 6-month paid internship opportunities at its regional location, Daimler Middle East & Levant. The regional office, located in Dubai, is responsible for the emerging markets throughout the Middle East and Levant region. With internship positions in the Human Resources department, the Sales & Marketing team, and the Regional Logistics Center, among others, these opportunities are great for business administration students to participate in after the completion of their semester at AUS. Interested students should contact the ISEP Coordinator upon placement at AUS.
Housing and Meals

ISEP Exchange students are housed in double rooms with shared kitchenette and bathrooms. Students receive a meal stipend to purchase food to cook in their residencies from grocery stores (mini marts) or buy meals at restaurants on campus. See housing information or on-campus services

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange to American University of Sharjah includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing, and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

ISEP costs for Exchange are usually the most cost-effective, as it is intended to promote mobility of students around the world. Direct options are available for those students that prefer to attend a school with limited availability for Exchange, though costs may be different as they are set by the host school. For students that participate in ISEP Direct, the program fee includes all of the above plus insurance.  However, the program fee may be different than that of Exchange.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2019/Spring 2020 programs:

Budget Item



Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost for Southern Hemisphere programs, as that starts a new academic year.


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Confirmation and Application Fees


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance (estimated, $90/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance, which may be instead of, or in addition to, ISEP insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2019. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office