American University of Central Asia

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American University of Central Asia
Borborduk Aziyadagı Amerika Universiteti
American University of Central Asia (crests).jpg
Former names
American University in Kyrgyzstan (AUK)
Motto "Knowledge, Wisdom, Freedom"
Type University
Established 1993
President Dr. Andrew Wachtel[1]
Vice-president Çıngız Şamşiyev
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Undergraduates 1200
Location 42.879872,74.60522
Campus Urban
Colors Blue and Yellow
Logo of the University

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.[2] 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."[3]

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.[4]


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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[6]


The American University of Central Asia's old campus

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.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9]

New Campus[10][edit]

The new building has four stories, centered around a forum that will serve as the main meeting place.

The forum, an interior quad, represents the fact that in the 21st century learning is a collaborative and interactive activity, and that the places where students and faculty meet outside of the classroom are just as important as the classrooms themselves. Every space in the building works double and triple duty.

While the forum serves as a welcome to AUCA, a meeting place, and a place for events such as graduation, hallway spaces are easily converted into study areas, classrooms are not just for classes, and the 4th floor multipurpose space can be used as a conference center and as a gymnasium.

The main academic building is the first private construction project in Central Asia built with geothermal heating and cooling, rainwater harvesting for sewage and irrigation, and building insulation based on German standards of construction.

Built to the code set forth by the Kyrgyz State Agency on Construction and Architecture, the building would consume an estimated 4,189,561 kWh per year. A geothermal heating and cooling system would decrease energy needs to an estimated 533,072 kWh per year, an 87% reduction.

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] The New Generation Academy (‘NGA’) program at the American University of Central Asia (‘AUCA’) in Bishkek offers an intensive one-year course of study that aims to prepare its graduates for university education. The program seeks to fill the gaps in the public school system to help high school graduates to enter a university of their choice. Participants would complete a rigorous program in English, Kyrgyz, Russian languages, and College Math that are oriented towards developing critical and analytic thinking. The academic year is divided into four quarters; each consecutive quarter building on the outcomes of the previous one. NGA students receive over 600 hours of instruction per year plus language labs and practice tests. Additionally, NGA students are offered a range of workshops, trainings, and field trips as co-curricular activities.

Undergraduate programs[edit]

The university offers American-style Bachelor of Arts degrees in 16 undergraduate programs:[12]

General Education

Liberal Arts and Sciences

First Year Seminar

American Studies


Applied Mathematics and Informatics

Business Administration


Environmental Management and Sustainable development

European Studies

International and Business Law

International and Comparative Politics

Journalism and Mass Communications



Software Engineering

Graduate programs[edit]

In addition to its undergraduate programs, AUCA also offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science in Economics, Master of Arts in Central Asian Studies, Master of Arts in Applied Psychology


AUCA Library provides information resources and services in support of teaching, learning and research. The library holds about 60,000 items in its print collection of books, textbooks, manuscripts and other materials. The library provides access to 24 online databases.




  1. ^ "AUCA website". Archived from the original on 2010-01-16. 
  2. ^ Scott Horton Interviews The Other Scott Horton Archived 2011-02-20 at the Wayback Machine., Antiwar Radio (Dec. 11, 2010)
  3. ^ "USAID Accreditation Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  4. ^ "Inform Agency Belui Parus". Retrieved 2010-01-22. [permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "AUCA Website". American University of Central Asia. 2006-07-10. Retrieved 2010-01-20. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-18. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "AUCA NEW CAMPUS". 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-21. Retrieved 2015-01-21. 

External links[edit]

Photo gallery[edit]

Hillary Clinton delivering her speech during her visit to AUCA on November 11, 1997
Financer and philanthropist George Soros congratulates a new graduate at the Commencement ceremony of 2003
General David Petraeus, the designate Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and former Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, in AUCA Library.
Vladimir Posner, Russian journalist and memorable spokesman for the Soviets, delivering a master class for AUCA students.
Kjell Magne Bondevik, Former Prime Minister of Norway, delivered a public lecture on Parliamentary Democracy.
John Kerry at the opening ceremony of the AUCA new campus on October 31, 2015