Northwestern University in Qatar

Northwestern University in Qatar
Northwestern University in Qatar
Established 2008
President Morton Schapiro
Dean Everette E. Dennis
Location Doha, Qatar
Campus Education City, 2,400 acres (9.7 km2)
Colors Purple (official) and white (unofficial)
Mascot Willie the Wildcat

Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) is Northwestern University’s first overseas campus.[1] Founded in partnership with Qatar Foundation in 2008, NU-Q is located in Education City, Doha, Qatar. NU-Q offers a liberal arts and media education with undergraduate degrees awarded in communication and journalism.[2] [3] NU-Q will graduate its first class in spring 2012.[4]


Academic Programs

The curriculum leading to the award of the Bachelor of Science in Communication degree is overseen by the Northwestern University School of Communication on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Communication students at NU-Q pursue a major in Media Industries and Technologies, which combines elements of the Communication Studies and Radio/TV/Film major offered in Evanston.[5] The curriculum leading to the award of the Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree is overseen by the Medill School of Journalism in Evanston; this program is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.[6][7] Liberal arts courses are provided by Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.[8]

NU-Q courses are modeled closely on those offered on the Evanston campus, although adjustments have been made because NU-Q courses are taught in a fifteen-week semester system, rather than the ten-week quarter system in Evanston.[9][10] Additionally, courses with particular relevance to the region (e.g. Middle East Cinema or Newswriting in Arabic) are also offered at NU-Q.[11] All faculty teaching courses at NU-Q are approved for faculty appointments by the relevant schools and departments on the Evanston campus. Many faculty teaching NU-Q courses have come directly to Doha from the Evanston campus.[12]

NU-Q’s academic programs provide various opportunities for students to participate in international programs. Students in the journalism program are required to complete a junior year residency, which have occurred exclusively in the United States.[13] All students are eligible to apply for the Evanston exchange.[14] Shorter international academic trips are offered at various times throughout the year. Past destinations have included Turkey, Switzerland, Italy and the United States of America.[15]

NU-Q students can access courses at the five other American universities located in Education City.[16]

Degrees awarded by Northwestern University on the Qatar Campus are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. All course instruction is in English[17] and admission is competitive. During the 2010 round of admission, fewer than one in three applicants were offered admission to NU-Q.[18]


Having been approached in 2006 by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, Northwestern agreed the following year to open its Education City campus.[19] The inaugural NU-Q Class of 2012 began studies in August 2008.[20] Additional classes have been added each year and the university has established strong ties with local organizations, partnering with media groups and collaborating with a number of regional initiatives to generate additional educational and professional opportunities for its students. Speakers invited to address the student faculties have included journalist Evan Osnos, of The New Yorker, [21] television journalist Tim Sebastian [22] and Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi.

In January 2010, NU-Q began hosting a series of “Exploration Visits” for local high school students. Participants are invited to tour the facilities, meet staff and students and see examples of class projects. Also in 2010, NU-Q offered its first summer camp to high school students - a two-week course combining aspects of the Journalism and Communication programs.[23]

Students and Student Life

The State of Qatar provides the largest single group of students at NU-Q.[24] However, the student body is highly international and includes more than 20 different nationalities.[25]

NU-Q students have access to the full range of student activities offered to all Education City students, including the Education City Student Center, Recreation Center, clubs organizations and athletic leagues.[26]

In addition, students have access to and participate in a range of activities and clubs that are unique to NU-Q,[27] including:

  • Women’s Basketball
  • Men’s Football
  • Men’s Basketball
  • NU-Q Student Government
  • NU-Q Film Society
  • Oh Snap! Photography Club
  • Purple Project service club
  • Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)

Students also participate in a wide variety of leadership, service and experiential learning initiatives both in Doha and internationally. Some of these initiatives include StrengthsQuest, LeaderShape and retreats designed to help students learn about their strengths and how to apply them in their academic and personal lives.[28]


The leadership of NU-Q is appointed by the Northwestern University Provost, in consultation with the Qatar Foundation.[29] NU-Q’s dean Dr. Everette E. Dennis was appointed in June 2011. The founding dean was Dr. John Margolis, an associate provost at Northwestern University who served from 2008-11.[30] [31] David Carr was appointed chief operating officer in July 2011.[32] Senior associate deans Richard Roth and James Schwoch were appointed respectively in 2008 and 2010.[33]

The NU-Q staff provide the range of support services expected in an American college or university, including professionally staffed offices for admissions, academic and personal counseling, student activities, student records, information technology, human resources, finance, marketing/public relations, and facilities.[34] The collections of the professionally staffed NU-Q library focus on media issues, and students and faculty also have access to all electronic resources available on the Evanston campus and to the services of inter-library loan.[35] A production facilities department provides support for the media-intensive work of students and faculty at NU-Q.[36]


In addition to its core mission of providing undergraduate education to its students, NU-Q seeks to serve as a regional center for issues related to communication and journalism.[37] Often in collaboration with local, regional, or international organizations, NU-Q sponsors seminars and colloquia on topics related to the media.[38] NU-Q also sponsors short, non-credit programs for pre-college students designed to expose those students to developments in media.[39]

Joint Advisory Board

Like other campuses in Education City, NU-Q has a Joint Advisory Board, with members designated by Northwestern University and the Qatar Foundation. As of 2011 members of the NU-Q Joint Advisory Board are: H.E. Sheikha Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani (Director of HH the Emir’s Office) and Dr. Daniel Linzer (Provost, Northwestern University), co-chairs; Dr. Abdel Rahman Azzam (Communication Adviser to HH Sheikha Mozah), Thomas Cline (Vice President and General Counsel, Northwestern University), Dr. Lee Huebner (Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University), Wadah Khanfar (Director General of the Aljazeera Network), Rami G. Khouri (Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and editor at large of The Daily Star newspaper), and William Osborn (Chair, Northwestern University Board of Trustees). Dr. Abdulla Al-Thani (Vice President for Education, the Qatar Foundation) and Dr. Everette E. Dennis (Dean, NU-Q), serve as ex officio members.[40]


Until its permanent facility is completed, NU-Q occupies the top floor of the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar building in Education City.[41] This space includes office space and support space to house 24 faculty, and 52 administrative staff. The facilities include a 70-student lecture hall, a 93-person auditorium, one 30-person seminar room, three 25-person teaching labs, one 24-person and one 18-person computer lab, a library, a small video studio used for indoor training, eight video and audio edit suites, a student lounge area, and a dozen shared seminar and study group rooms of various sizes. In addition to the facilities in the CMU-Q building, beginning September 2011, NU-Q will utilize a specially-built studio facility including two video/television studios which also incorporate a newsroom, one large video edit room, five small video edit rooms and audio edit rooms.[42]

NU-Q’s permanent home was designed by architect Antoine Predock, and is projected for completion in 2013.[43] The facility includes four video production studios, two 150-person lecture halls, a black box theatre, a two-studio radio station facility for teaching and broadcast activities, a multi-media newsroom, a library capable of housing 40,000 volumes, office facilities for more than 50 faculty and 60 staff, a conference center for events and special programs, student lounge and activity spaces, classrooms, labs, small lecture halls, and seminar rooms. The facility will also have gathering spaces with seating to encourage informal faculty-student and student-student interactions. These “nodes” will be equipped with video screens and technology which will enable NU-Q students to connect computers for presentations. The largest of these areas will be equipped with a large video wall displaying a variety of media sources and student or faculty projects, and help to create an informal learning environment for new media techniques.[44]


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