Founded in 1919, the American University in Cairo is a leading English-language, American-accredited institution of higher education and center of intellectual, social, and cultural life of the Arab world. Its community of students, parents, faculty and staff, trustees, alumni, and other generous sponsors represent more than 60 countries. The University stands as a crossroads for the world’s cultures and a vibrant forum for reasoned argument, spirited debate and understanding across the diversity of languages, facilities, and human experiences.
For additional information, visit the American University in Cairo website.
The City of Cairo
Cairo is the largest city in Africa and has become a cultural center for the Arabic-speaking world, as well as a crossroads for the sharing of ideas, leadership, and trade. Modern Cairo was founded in the 10th century AD, however, the city has flourished as one of the vital centers of the Arab world for over two thousand years. The city has a diverse history, having been under the occupation of Arabs, the Mamluks, the Ottomans, the French, and finally the British, before it was granted independence. As the site of great development of Arabic literature, science, and institutions, Cairo is an ideal base from which to explore the rich heritage of Arab and Islamic culture.
Did you know…?
The Ben Ezra Synagogue of Cairo is the oldest synagogue in Egypt, and the 14th century Mosque and Madrasa of Sultan Hassan in Cairo is one of the largest in the whole world.
Notice to Applicants: The travel destination of this study abroad program is in a location currently on Penn’s list ofHeightened Security Risk Regions. Study abroad to this location is subject to review and approval by Penn’s Committee on International Travel Risk Assessment (CITRA). Please refer to Penn’sInternational Travel Guidancefor more information.
The program at the American University in Cairo is for College credit only.
Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0
Language Prerequisite: Previous study of Arabic recommended, but not required.
Additional Course Pre-requisite(s): Successful completion of 1 Area Studies course in language or culture by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure is required.
Language of Instruction
A full course load at the American University in Cairo consists of four to five classes per semester. Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.
Penn students at AUC elect courses from the regular general course offerings and integrate into courses alongside degree-seeking AUC students. Penn students normally select courses that contain a Middle Eastern focus. Students who wish to take courses in general subjects that are not specifically related to the Middle East must ascertain that relevant Penn departments will recognize them for Penn credit.
AUC's language of instruction is English, except for advanced courses in Arabic literature. Past participants have commented that the pace of instruction is affected by the fact that English is often the second or third language of their degree-seeking classmates.
As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.
All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by the American University in Cairo prior to the start of each semester.
The International Student Orientation is scheduled the week before classes begin. Upon arrival, students will receive a welcome pack, including the orientation handbook. International Peer Leaders (IPLs) will be present to welcome students and guide them around campus. Orientation includes a series of lectures and sessions to prepare new students for AUC and life in Cairo. During orientation, students may take care of routine transactions such as obtaining their student ID card, taking placement tests, and late registration.
Arabic Language Courses
For study abroad students wishing to study Arabic alongside general courses from other disciplines, AUC offers a wide range of non-intensive classes in Modern Standard Arabic and Egyptian Colloquial Arabic through the Arabic Studies Department. Penn students wishing to study Arabic at AUC must coordinate their language course selection with the appropriate faculty in the Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations Department.
Penn students studying at AUC have access to a wide range of student activities and associations. More information can be found here.
Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.
Penn students are required to live in on-campus accommodation at the American University in Cairo.
The on-campus residence facility has twelve residential units called cottages – 7 for women and 5 for men. Each cottage has a ground (garden) level plus two floors with a sum total of nine double rooms, one single room, and five apartments. Each apartment has four single rooms and a common living space; there are two toilets, a sink, common lounge, and study area. As for the rooms outside the apartment setup, for every three double rooms, there are two showers, two baths, and two sinks. Each cottage has a courtyard and a roof terrace. The men’s section and the women’s section each have study areas. There is a laundry room with washers and dryers and a storage trunk in both the women’s and men’s cottage areas. Students living on campus use the AUC shuttle system to travel between campus and the city center at nights and on weekends as they wish.
Information regarding accommodation can be found here.
Cost and Finance
Penn Abroad Financial Policies
Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs. Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare. Please see the program budget sheets below for more information. For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.
Financial Aid and Study Abroad
In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs. Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.
David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad: Supports undergraduate study abroad focusing on geographical areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to US national security. (Excludes study in US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.) These US government grants entail a service obligation.
For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.
To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.