Northwestern University in Qatar

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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, Al Rayyan, Qatar. NU-Q offers a liberal arts and media education with undergraduate degrees awarded in communication and journalism.[2][3] The university graduated its first class in spring 2012.[4]

Academic Programs[edit]

The curriculum leading to the award of the Bachelor of Science in Communication degree is based on that of 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 majors offered in Evanston.[5] The curriculum leading to the award of the Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree draws on that of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications 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 are offered at NU-Q.[11] In 2012, NU-Q secured permission from the Board of Trustees to make its own academic appointments.[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.[13] Juniors in the communication program are eligible to apply for the Evanston exchange.[10] Shorter international academic trips are offered at various times throughout the year. Past destinations have included Turkey, Switzerland, Italy, South Africa, France, India and the US. All students are eligible their sophomore year to apply for a one-week trip to Evanston, which takes place in May of each year.[14]

NU-Q students can access courses at the five other American universities located in Education City.[15]

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[16] and admission is competitive. During the 2010 round of admissions, fewer than one in three applicants were offered admission to NU-Q.[17]


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.[18] The inaugural NU-Q Class of 2012 began studies in August 2008.[19] 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 students and faculty have included journalist Evan Osnos, of The New Yorker;[20] television journalist Tim Sebastian; [21]Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi; Carlos Van Meek, head of output for Al Jazeera English and lead on the channel's launch in the US; Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times; Jeff Cole, head of the World Internet Project; Rami Khouri, editor of the Beirut Daily Star, and Sofia Al Maria, author and filmmaker.

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.

Students and Student Life[edit]

Regardless of passport, many students come from Qatar, and 30 nationalities are represented across the four classes at NU-Q, as of 2013.

NU-Q students have access to the full range of student activities offered to all Education City students, including the "Hamid bin Khalifa University" Student Center, Recreation Center, clubs, organizations and athletic leagues.[22]

In addition, students have access to and participate in a range of activities and clubs that are unique to NU-Q,[23] including:

  • Women’s and Men's Basketball
  • Men’s and Women's Football (Soccer)
  • Men’s Basketball--a joint team with Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar
  • 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.[24]


The leadership of NU-Q is appointed by the Northwestern University Provost, in consultation with the Qatar Foundation.[25] An educator, author and media expert, 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.[26][27] Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Jeremy Cohen was appointed in 2013, as were Scott Curtis, PhD, Director of the Communication Program; Mary Dedinsky, Director of the Journalism Program, and Sandra Richards, Director of the Liberal Arts Program. [28][29] Cohen announced his departure in 2014 and is no longer with NU-Q. [30]

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.[31] 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.[32] A production facilities department provides support for the media-intensive work of students and faculty at NU-Q.[33]


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.[34] Often in collaboration with local, regional, or international organizations, NU-Q sponsors seminars and colloquia on topics related to the media.[35] NU-Q also sponsors short, non-credit programs for pre-college students, which are designed to expose them to developments in media.[36]

Joint Advisory Board[edit]

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.[37]


Until its permanent facility is completed, NU-Q occupies the top floor of the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar building in Education City.[3] 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, NU-Q features 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.[38]

NU-Q’s permanent home was designed by architect Antoine Predock, and is projected for completion in 2015.[39] 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 video wall displaying a variety of media sources as well as student and faculty projects designed to help create an informal learning environment for new media techniques.[40]


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