American University of Armenia

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American University of Armenia
Type Private
Established September 21, 1991; 26 years ago (1991-09-21)[1][2]
President Armen Der Kiureghian
Academic staff
200 (fall 2015)[1]
Students 1,799 (fall 2016)[3]
Undergraduates 1,319 (fall 2016)[3]
Postgraduates 480 (fall 2016)[3]
Location Yerevan, Armenia
40°11′35.85″N 44°30′16.26″E / 40.1932917°N 44.5045167°E / 40.1932917; 44.5045167Coordinates: 40°11′35.85″N 44°30′16.26″E / 40.1932917°N 44.5045167°E / 40.1932917; 44.5045167
Campus Urban
Affiliations University of California[4]

The American University of Armenia (AUA) (Armenian: Հայաստանի ամերիկյան համալսարան, ՀԱՀ; Hayastani amerikyan hamalsaran, HAH) is a private independent university in Yerevan, Armenia. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. As of 2015, it is the first and sole U.S.-accredited institution in the former Soviet Union that provides undergraduate and graduate education.[5]

It was founded in 1991 by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the University of California (UC), and the Armenian government during Armenia's first year of independence. The university is the first institution in Armenia modeled on Western-style higher education, committed to teaching, research, and service. The university offers master's degrees in nine fields and bachelor's degrees in four fields of study (the undergraduate program was introduced in 2013).[6]



The idea of an American-style institution of higher education in Armenia has its origin the late 1980s. When Armenia was struck with a devastating earthquake in 1988 the country, then still part of the Soviet Union, was opened to unprecedented international humanitarian and technical assistance. A number of earthquake engineers from the West arrived to Armenia to help in the reconstruction of the disaster zone. In 1989, Yuri Sarkissian, then rector of the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute, suggested to Armen Der Kiureghian, Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, that an Armenian technical university based on the Western model ought to be established to foster educational progress in Armenia. The proposition was narrowed to the express goal of creating a graduate university on the American model. Der Kiureghian and another earthquake engineer, Mihran Agbabian, Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California, set out to realize the goal. A number of American and Armenian academics supported the concept of the university. Der Kiureghian and Agbabian, along with the late Stepan Karamardian, formerly Dean of the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Riverside, presented their proposal for the university to the Armenian government.[7][8] Agbabian became the founding president in 1991 and served until 1997.[9]

Two institutions were noteworthy in realizing the establishment of AUA: the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the University of California (UC). In addition, the Armenian government—in particular the Ministry of Higher Education and Sciences (now the Ministry of Education and Science)—offered financial and logistical support for the university from the start in the face of the turbulent political and economic circumstances in Armenia from the period of 1989–1991. The AGBU underwrote a significant portion of the operational funding required to establish AUA. When the UC was asked for its assistance in founding the university, David P. Gardner, then president of the University of California, appointed a task force led by then Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs William R. Frazer to evaluate the possibility of an affiliation between AUA and UC. After the task force's visit to Armenia in July 1990, the Regents of the University of California voted unanimously in favor of an affiliation with the university. Through this affiliation, UC provides technical support and experience for the growth of AUA and collaborates with AUA in preparing a cadre of faculty for the university.[7]

First years[edit]

The university was formally established on September 21, 1991,[1][2] the day Armenia held an independence referendum. The AUA opened its doors on September 23, 1991—the day the Armenian parliament declared the independence of Armenia just two days after the referendum.[10] AUA began instruction with 101 students,[7] who were enrolled in an intensive English language program and later allocated into three graduate degree programs.[11] In 1993 AUA's first commencement took place, where 38 people graduated with master's degrees in Business and Management, Industrial Engineering, and Earthquake Engineering.[11]

The AUA Extension, a program offering short courses and training programs, was established in 1992.[11]


The university introduced an undergraduate program in 2013.[6] That year some 300 students were accepted.[12]

Campus and estate[edit]

Locations of AUA buildings in central Yerevan

The university's two central buildings: the Main Building and the Paramaz Avedisian Building share the same address; they are located at 40 Marshal Baghramyan Avenue in central Yerevan.[13] Baghramyan Avenue is one of Yerevan's major roads, home to the presidential palace and the National Assembly (parliament). The UK embassy stands next to the university's Main Building, while the statue of Soviet Armenian Marshal Ivan Bagramyan (Hovhannes Baghramyan), for whom the avenue is named, was erected in front of the building in 2003.[14][15][16]

Main Building

The university's main building, informally known as the "old building" (հին մասնաշենք),[17] housed the Political Enlightenment House of the Central Committee of the Armenian Communist Party during the Soviet period.[18] It was granted to the AUA by a September 21, 1991 government decision.[2][19] It has six floors and originally had lecture halls, auditoriums, laboratories, library facilities, and offices.[20] After the construction of the Paramaz Avedisian Building in 2008, it has been used for administrative and nonacademic purposes.[21] The main building has solar panels on its rooftop, which have a total capacity of around 50 kilowatt hour (kWh) and photoelectric capacity of 5 kWh, which secures the continuous operation of the whole system.[22]

Paramaz Avedisian Building

The construction of the Paramaz Avedisian Building (PAB) began in 2005.[11] Designed by Gagik Galstyan,[23] it was dedicated on November 1, 2008. Located next to the Main Building,[24] it has some 100,000 square feet of space, which includes classrooms and seminar rooms, laboratories and research centers, offices for faculty.[21]

AUA Center

The AUA Center is located at 9 Alex Manoogian Street in central Yerevan.[13] It is a multiple-use rental facility suitable for business or not-for-profit organization. It has two different conference and meeting rooms and a large auditorium.[25] The center was established in 1999 through financial support of the US government.[10]

AUA Vartkes and Hasmig Barsam Building

In 2005 the AUA acquired the Hye Business Suites Hotel located at 8 Mher Mkrtchyan Street in central Yerevan. It was donated to the university by Vartkes Barsam and is used to house visiting faculty and students and provides additional income for university operation.[26][27] United States Agency for International Development (USAID) invested $300,000 to renovate and upgrade the building.[28]

AGBU Papazian Library

The AGBU Papazian Library came into existence in 1991 when AUA was established. It is named after the Papazian family, a generous benefactor of the AUA.[29] As of June 2015 the library contained 45,291 printed book titles and 205,000 digital books, journals, CD/DVD and audio-visual cassettes.[1] Several notable Armenian Americans have donated books to the library, including historian Richard G. Hovannisian, who donated his personal library of 1,338 books to the library; academic and educator Vartan Gregorian, who has been donating books from his personal library to AUA since 2010, a mostly English-language collection which surpassed 600 titles in 2014.[30]


The AUA was accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission in 2006. The university had received the candidacy status for accreditation in 2002.[31] The AUA thus became the first university in the former Soviet Union to be accredited by a US educational institution. Accreditation means that degrees issued by the AUA have a status equal to those in United States.[32] By 2013 the university had received accreditation by WASC and a license from the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science to offer four-year education.[33]


The university had around 1,200 students in 2014. According to President Der Kiureghian by 2014 the university had 2,500 graduate alumni 71% of whom lived and worked in Armenia.[34]

Among its notable alumni are:

  • Emil Babayan, Deputy Prosecutor General (since 2013) who holds a degree of Master of Laws from 2001[35]
  • Sedrak Barseghyan, Adviser to Minister-Chief of Government Staff of Armenia (since 2013). Class of 2009.[36]
  • Lilit Galstian, a member of parliament from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (2007–2012) who graduated from the faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations in 1996[11][37]
  • Tevan Poghosyan, a member of parliament from Heritage party (since 2012) who graduated from the faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations in 1996[38]

Faculties and schools[edit]


  • College of Business and Economics
  • College of Humanities & Social Sciences
  • College of Science and Engineering
  • School of Public Health


  • English and Communications
  • Computational Sciences
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Data Science


  1. Mihran Agbabian (1991–1997)[9]
  2. Haroutune Armenian (1997–2009)[39][40]
  3. Bruce Boghosian (2009–2014)[41]
  4. Armen Der Kiureghian (2015–)[42]

Rankings and reputation[edit]

The American University of Armenia is widely considered one of the top universities in Armenia. It has been described as such by former Education Minister Armen Ashotyan (2009-2016),[43] the U.S. Embassy in Armenia,[44] Armenian Weekly,[45] the Armenian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,[46] independent news agency CivilNet,[34] and other media outlets.[47][48] AUA has been ranked second (behind the Yerevan State University) in Armenia in at least two rankings:

Year Source Rank nationally Rank globally
2014 Armenian government[49]
2015 Webometrics Ranking of World Universities[50]

A 2009 business report prepared by the Michigan State University wrote that "according to those interviewed, the only reputable MBA program in Armenia is offered in Yerevan at the American University of Armenia."[4] According to a 2004 sensitive but unclassified report titled "Corruption Levies Heavy Toll on Armenian Universities" by the Embassy of the United States to Armenia, the AUA is seen by its alumni as the only "clean" non-corrupt university in Armenia, where "students' assessment is performance based."[51] As of 2004 the AUA was one of the four universities in Armenia where public administration was taught.[52]

At his 2015 AUA Commencement Speech US Ambassador Richard Mills stated: "AUA is like no other university in Armenia. At no other school are you challenged to think critically like you are here. As an extension of our well-regarded University of California system, AUA has planted and nurtured informed, critical thinking skills that will stand you in good stead throughout the rest of your lives."[53]

At a June 1994 fundraising banquet for the AUA, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Harry Gilmore stated that the university was one of the "islands of light" in an Armenia caught in war and economic hardship, where people had been living without heat and light for several years. Gilmore praised the university as follows:[54]

To me, the American University of Armenia exemplifies what is best about Armenian education. When you walk in the doors of the American University, you feel a sense of energy, of purpose. When you look in the computer lab, and see the students at work stations, you could be in any American University. But I think there are very few universities in the United States where the students work with such dedication and enthusiasm. There is another difference--when you talk to the students, you learn they are not there just for themselves, they are there because they want to make Armenia a better place to live for future generations.

Notable visitors and speakers[edit]

Among notable individuals who have visited the university and/or have given lectures include Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (April 2014),[55] rock singer Serj Tankian (April 2015),[56] President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan (July 2015),[57] former Governor of Massachusetts and the 1988 Democratic nominee for President Michael Dukakis (April 2016),[58][59] Democratic Representative from California Jim Costa (July 2016),[60] Russian nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian (September 2016).[61]

See also[edit]

Other foreign universities in Armenia
Other American universities


  1. ^ a b c d "American University of Armenia Factbook 2015-2016 Academic Year" (PDF). American University of Armenia. October 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Որոշում Հայաստանի ամերիկյան համալսարան ստեղծելու մասին". (in Armenian). Armenian Legal Information System. Archived from the original on 25 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Institutional Research Office
  4. ^ a b Huddleston, Patricia; Linz, Susan J. (2009). "Doing Business in Armenia – Local CEOs Are Optimistic" (PDF). globalEDGE Business Review. Michigan State University. 3 (7): 1. Civic involvement of Armenian diasporans resulted in the founding and support of the American University of Armenia, a U.S. accredited graduate institution affiliated with the University of California. [...] according to those interviewed, the only reputable MBA program in Armenia is offered in Yerevan at the American University of Armenia. 
  5. ^ "CSUN Signs MOU with American University of Armenia". California State University, Northridge. 3 November 2015. AUA is the first stand-alone, U.S.-accredited institution in the former Soviet Union that provides undergraduate and graduate education. 
  6. ^ a b "American University of Armenia: A Groundbreaking Year in Review". Asbarez. 31 December 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c "History of the University". American University of Armenia. 
  8. ^ Martirosyan, Marine (20 October 2011). "Կրթությունը մարդու կյանքի որակը բարելավելու միջոց է". (in Armenian). 168 Hours. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "Mihran S. Agbabian, Ph.D., N.A.E." University of California, Berkeley. Archived from the original on 2016-02-06. ...Agbabian joined two colleagues to found the American University of Armenia (AUA) where he served as founding President (1991-1997)... 
  10. ^ a b Petrossyan, K. R. (2009). "Հայկական բարեգործական ընդհանուր միության գործունեությունը Հայաստանի Հանրապետությունում 1990-ական թթ. [Activities of Armenian General Benevolent Union in the Republic of Armenia in the 1990s]". Lraber Hasarakakan Gitutyunneri (in Armenian). Yerevan: Armenian National Academy of Sciences (3): 133–143. ISSN 0320-8117. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "Achievements and Milestones". American University of Armenia. 
  12. ^ Chilingaryan, Elen (2 September 2013). "Ամերիկյան համալսարանի բակալավրիատ 300-ից ավելի ուսանողներ են ընդունվել". (in Armenian). Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 
  13. ^ a b "AUA Campus Buildings". American University of Armenia. Archived from the original on 2016-01-22. 
  14. ^ "Monuments of Yerevan". Yerevan Municipality. 
  15. ^ "Take a Cruise in Yerevan". Barev Armenia. 5 September 2011. ...Baghramyan Street, here you will find the Constitutional Court. National Assembly, the Presidential Palace and a number of embassies. The American University of Armenia is also here, the statue of Marshal Baghramyan stands proudly in front of it. 
  16. ^ "Victory Day Marked in Yerevan with Songs and Russia, Karabakh, Ukraine, USSR Flags". 30 April 2014. ...Marshall Ivan Baghramyan's statue, which is in front of the American University of Armenia, next to the UK Embassy. 
  17. ^ "Տեղի կունենա "Հանրային երկխոսության և համայնքային զարգացման" երկրորդ համաժողովը". (in Armenian). Noyyan Tapan. 2 November 2012. ...Հայաստանի ամերիկյան համալսարանի մեծ դահլիճում (Երևան, Բաղրամյան 40, հին մասնաշենք, 2-րդ հարկ): 
  18. ^ "Հայաստանի կոմունիստական կուսակցություն [Communist Party of Armenia]". Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia Volume 13 Soviet Armenia (in Armenian). Yerevan. 1987. p. 224. 
  19. ^ "Ամերիկյան համալսարանը հայ ժողովրդի հետ միասին անցավ բոլոր դժվարությունների միջով" (in Armenian). 30 September 2011. 
  20. ^ "AUA Main Building". American University of Armenia. 
  21. ^ a b "AUA's New Paramaz Avedisian Building Opens". Armenian General Benevolent Union. 17 November 2008. 
  22. ^ "Solar Energy". Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Armenia. 
  23. ^ "Rector Gagik Galstyan". National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia. 
  24. ^ "AUA Paramaz Avedisian Building". American University of Armenia. 
  25. ^ "AUA Center". American University of Armenia. 
  26. ^ "AUA to Mark 15th Anniversary During Banquet". Asbarez. 28 October 2006. 
  27. ^ "Hotels / Minotel Barsam Suites". In the meantime, you will be making a contribution to the development of Armenia because funds from the Barsam Suites directly support the American University of Armenia scholarship fund to the benefit of many talented students of the University. 
  28. ^ "AUA Campus Grows, Acquires Hye Business Suites Hotel". American University of Armenia. 4 April 2015. 
  29. ^ "About Us, AUA's AGBU Papazian Library". American University of Armenia. 
  30. ^ "Giants of education at the American University of Armenia". Armenian General Benevolent Union. 29 October 2014. 
  31. ^ "American University of Armenia". WASC Senior College and University Commission. 
  32. ^ Hakobyan, Julia (9 March 2007). "Home Study: AUA students get Armenian education and American diploma". ArmeniaNow. 
  33. ^ Gevorgyan, Siranuysh (20 July 2012). "Milestone from AUA: American University of Armenia adds Bachelor degree starting in September 2013". ArmeniaNow. 
  34. ^ a b "Ամերիկյան համալսարանը՝ կարևոր խաչմերուկում [The American University at important crossroads]". CivilNet. Civilitas Foundation. 14 December 2014. Եվ այն իսկապես այսօր Հայաստանում դառնում է բարձրագույն կրթության առաջատարը: 
  35. ^ "Deputies Prosecutor of General Emil M. Babayan". Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Armenia. 
  36. ^ "Sedrak Barseghyan". Republic of Armenia Government. 
  37. ^ "Lilit Galstian". National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia. 
  38. ^ "Tevan Poghosyan". National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia. 
  39. ^ "AUA President Dr. Haroutune Armenian Announces Retirement". AGBU Blog. 27 April 2009. 
  40. ^ "Haroutune Armenian". 
  41. ^ "AUA's President Dr. Bruce Boghosian Announces Departure". American University of Armenia. 4 February 2014. 
  42. ^ "Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian Appointed as President of the American University of Armenia". American University of Armenia. 10 February 2015. 
  43. ^ ""Ինտեգրում կրթության միջոցով". Ա. Աշոտյանը հանդես է եկել դասախոսությամբ Հայաստանի Ամերիկյան համալսարանում". Aravot (in Armenian). 21 November 2015. Նախարարը նշել է, որ իր համար պատիվ է հանդես գալ դասախոսություններով, մասնավորապես, Ամերիկյան համալսարանում, քանի որ վերջինս ՀՀ առաջատար բուհերից մեկն է: 
  44. ^ "Discussion on Us-Armenia Relations With Students". Embassy of the United States, Yerevan. 3 March 2009. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. ...the American University of Armenia, one of the country’s leading academic institutions. 
  45. ^ Janbazian, Rupen (2 October 2015). "The American University of Armenia: A Home Away from Home". Armenian Weekly. The American University of Armenia (AUA) is considered one of the top academic institutions in Armenia. 
  46. ^ "Հայաստանի ամերիկյան համալսարանը բակալավրիատ կունենա". (in Armenian). Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 27 September 2011. 
  47. ^ Nemtsova, Anna (1 May 2015). "Why Armenia Won't Be Dragged Behind a New Iron Curtain". The Daily Beast. The American University of Armenia, AUA, is at the top of Armenia’s most popular universities for its approach to higher education focused on freedom of speech, critical thinking and independent research. 
  48. ^ "Հայաստանի Ամերիկյան Համալսարանը 20 տարեկան է". (in Armenian). 27 September 2011. ...Հայաստանի լավագույն ուսումնական հաստատություններից մեկը։ 
  49. ^ "Հայաստանի երեք լավագույն բուհերն են ԵՊՀն, Ամերիկյան համալսարանը և Երևանի պետական բժշկական համալսարանը" (in Armenian). Armenpress. 25 December 2014. 
  50. ^
  51. ^ Ordway, John (18 February 2004). "Corruption Levies Heavy Toll on Armenian Universities" (Sensitive but unclassified). WikiLeaks. Embassy of the United States to Armenia. 
  52. ^ Selimyan, Gayane (May 2004). "Ethnic minorities in public administration in the Republic of Armenia: distant utopia or a tangible future?" (PDF). The 12th NISPAcee Annual Conference “Central and Eastern European Countries inside and outside the European Union: Avoiding a new divide”. Vilnius, Lithuania. p. 12. 
  53. ^ "Ambassador Richard Mills' AUA Commencement Speech". 6 June 2015. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. 
  54. ^ "Speech by U.S. Ambassador to Armenia". Congressional Record Volume 141, Number 2. Government Publishing Office. 9 January 1995. pp. S518-S520. 
  55. ^ "AUA Hosts US Congressional Delegation". American University of Armenia. 21 May 2014. 
  56. ^ "Serj Tankian meets with students at American University of Armenia". 22 April 2015. 
  57. ^ "President visits American University of Armenia". Office to the President of the Republic of Armenia. 8 July 2015. 
  58. ^ "Former Governor Michael Dukakis Arrives in Yerevan". Asbarez. 20 April 2016. 
  59. ^ "Michael Dukakis delivers lecture at American Universityof Armenia". Armenpress. 21 April 2016. 
  60. ^ "Rep. Jim Costa Visits, Speaks at American University of Armenia". Armenian Mirror-Spectator. 28 July 2016. 
  61. ^ "Nuclear Physicist Yuri Oganessian Visits AUA". American University of Armenia. 20 September 2016. 

External links[edit]