Under the name of the Syrian Protestant College, the American University of Beirut first opened its doors to 16 students in December 1866, basing its educational philosophy on the American liberal arts model of higher education.
Since very early on, the university has expanded and developed its faculties and degree programmes, quickly opening a School of Medicine in 1867 and a School of Pharmacy in 1871. Today, it has six faculties with around 800 academic staff. It offers more than 130 undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes to just under 8,000 students, 50 per cent of whom are women. The majority of classes are taught in English.
AUB is based at a 64-acre urban campus in the centre of the Lebanese capital, situated on the shores of the Mediterranean. It houses the AUB Medical Center, the Charles W. Hostler Student Center, the Archaeological Museum, the Natural History Museum, a Lebanese geological collection and five libraries (including the Jafet Memorial Library). The Saab Memorial Medical Library is considered among the best medical libraries in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the university’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, a 247-acre research farm, is located in the Beqa'a Valley.
Students are attracted to the university by its proximity to the city and its surroundings, from where it is possible to visit one of the oldest cedar forests in the world at Bsharre.
Notable alumni of AUB include the architect Zaha Hadid and former Lebanese prime minister Salim Al-Hoss.