Higher Education in Qatar
Qatar has one institute of higher education, Qatar University, established in 1973. However, many Western universities have branches in the country as part of the “Education City” established by the Qatar Foundation. The Education City includes both educational and research facilities and has the goal of being the educational center of excellence in the Persian Gulf region. Currently about 2,500 students study at Education City; about half are Qatari nationals and the other half are international students. Faculty, staff and students in Education City hail from 45 different countries.
Why Study in Qatar?
The main reason for international students to study for a master’s degree in Qatar is for the Arabic cultural immersion in a safe environment. Students who speak Arabic or who want to improve their Arabic skills will find many interesting master’s programs in Qatar. Students not proficient in Arabic will also find a welcoming environment, as English is common in Qatar and is treated as a second language. Many master’s programs are taught in English, especially those in the natural sciences, engineering and business.
Universities in Qatar
Qatar University offers master’s degrees in several areas, including business administration and environmental studies. The Western universities in Education City offer master’s programs in a wide variety of academic disciplines, including arts, engineering and business. Many master’s degrees can be completed on either a full- or part-time basis and some programs are offered online.
Tuition and Program Duration
Tuition at Qatar University is QR 1,250 (about 350 USD) per credit hour. The number of credit hours required varies by master’s program, but is usually 30-35. Most master’s programs take two years to complete, and many provide the option to complete a thesis (research option) or focus on practical application through additional coursework or internships.
The academic year consists of two semesters, Fall and Spring. Fall semester runs from September to January and Spring semester runs from February to June. Some courses are offered in the summer as well.
There are many opportunities for students to work in Qatar after graduation; in fact, foreign nationals outnumber Qatari nationals in the work force. Arabic is the official language in the country, but English is widely spoken. Although the tourism industry is booming in Qatar, most people will find post-graduate employment in the oil and natural gas sectors. Work permits are required and the worker must have a sponsor (the prospective employer) to obtain one; however, a person’s sponsor will normally provide assistance with obtaining the work permit.
Students need a sponsor to obtain a visa for studying in Qatar. Students who do not already have a sponsor in Qatar (e.g., as employees of an international business) can normally be sponsored by the school where the student will be studying. Getting a student visa is straightforward. Once the student has a letter of confirmation from their school, they can apply for the visa at the Qatari embassy or consulate in their home country. Students are also required to demonstrate that they have sufficient means of support to complete their studies.
Health insurance is not mandatory in Qatar. However, it is highly recommended that students obtain health insurance in their home country before arriving in Qatar as health care is not free. Doctors and hospitals normally expect cash payment when services are rendered even when the patient has insurance.
Modest dress should be worn year round out of respect for the Islamic Culture.
Students planning to drive while in Qatar should obtain a Qatari driver’s license, which requires both a written exam and a road test.