American University of Central Asia

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American University of Central Asia
American University of Central Asia (crests).jpg
Motto "Knowledge, Wisdom, Freedom"
Established 1993
President Dr. Andrew Wachtel[1]
Admin. staff 120
Students 1191[2]
Location 42.879872,74.60522
Campus Urban
Colors Blue and Yellow
Logo of the University

The American University of Central Asia

The American University of Central Asia (AUCA), formerly the Kyrgyz-American University and the American University in Kyrgyzstan, is a liberal arts university located in Bishkek, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan.

AUCA was established in 1997 with funding from the United States government and the Open Society Institute, a non-government donor organization set up by Hungarian philanthropist George Soros. One of its founders was human rights attorney and journalist Scott Horton.[3] While the university focuses on offering higher education opportunities to Central Asian students, its student body and faculty comes from all over Asia and other parts of the world.

In March 2010, AUCA has established an official partnership with Bard College located in the state of New York, United States. The partnership allows students of American Studies, Anthropology, Economics, European Studies, International and Comparative Politics, Journalism and Mass Communications, Psychology, Sociology, and Software Engineering programs to receive liberal arts degrees fully accredited in the US.

According to the USAID accreditation report, "AUCA is the first higher education institution in Central Asia that functions according to the American model, with a credit-hour system, an American-style liberal arts curriculum, and a commitment to democratic values, freedom of expression and inquiry, and academic integrity and honesty."[4]

The university is chartered in Kyrgyzstan and is authorized by the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education to offer the Kyrgyz National Diploma in eleven undergraduate programs and one graduate program (an MBA). AUCA also offers American-style diplomas, and students are required to take courses in both Russian and English. Currently AUCA and Bard College are entering into a collaboration to develop a joint-degree program, in which students at AUCA will receive both Kyrgyz diplomas and US accredited diplomas from Bard College.[5]


In 1991, as independence swept across Central Asian countries, the region advanced deliberately into a fast-changing world of free markets and democracy. This wave of change spurred new ideas in the educational system resulting in the establishment of the Kyrgyz-American School (KAS) within the Kyrgyz State National University (KSNU) in Bishkek in 1993.[6]

KAS experienced such dramatic growth over the next four years that it could no longer remain a school within KSNU and was poised to become an independent institution. In 1997, by a decree of the President of Kyrgyzstan, KAS became the American University in Kyrgyzstan (AUK), and an independent international Board of Trustees was established as the governing body.[7]

AUK was soon proposed internationally as a university based on the American liberal arts tradition of free and critical inquiry. Young scholars from 30 countries soon arrived for this new approach to education in Central Asia. In 2002, due to the University’s expanded mission and future vision, the Board of Trustees changed the name to reflect the University’s regional significance: the American University of Central Asia.[7]


The main building of American University of Central Asia was initially constructed in the 1930s and was used by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Kirghiz SSR, and by the Supreme Council of the republic.[8]

Portraits of Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels are still hanging in the conference hall of AUCA, while the coat of arms of the Kirghiz SSR is kept on the facade of the building.[9]

In 2008 Ishak Masaliev, then a Kyrgyz parliament member from the Party of Communists of Kyrgyzstan, called to change the location of AUCA, because of the "historic value" of the current main building.[10]

Academic programs[edit]

Preparatory programs[edit]

The university offers full-time and part-time programs to prepare students for university study. The programs include an intensive course of English language learning and university-level academic classes.[11]

Undergraduate programs[edit]

The university offers American-style Bachelor of Arts degrees in 11 major programs:[12]

Graduate programs[edit]

In addition to its undergraduate programs, AUCA also offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

Photo gallery[edit]




External links[edit]