American University of Afghanistan (AUAF)


  • Implementation period: August 2013 – July 2018
  • Project budget: $40 million

Afghanistan’s higher education system suffered tremendously following the Soviet occupation in 1979, and the subsequent conflicts of the 1980s and 1990s. After the Taliban regime ended in 2001, the country needed significant investment to develop its higher education sector, and access to a liberal arts education has remained limited. To address this need, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined the Ministry of Higher Education, Afghan business leaders, and private donors in Afghanistan and abroad to establish the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in 2006.

AUAF is the first private, independent, non-profit university in Afghanistan. Operating on the U.S. liberal arts model, the university offers undergraduate degrees in business administration, information technology and computer science, public administration, political science, and law. Additionally, AUAF offers Master of Business Administration and Master of Education degrees. AUAF’s English-based curriculum provides a world-class education to Afghanistan’s next generation of leaders. Over 40 percent of its faculty members hold doctoral degrees. AUAF values free expression, tolerance, mutual respect, critical inquiry, and academic rigor. It promotes these values within the Afghan cultural context and the protections afforded by the constitution of Afghanistan.


  • Provides the Foundation Studies Program, a college preparatory experience for high school graduates designed to strengthen their English language proficiency and study skills to the level needed for admission to AUAF’s undergraduate programs.
  • Delivers professional development training for public and private sector employees, and to the general public through short-term customized courses in Kabul and four regional centers.
  • Provides equal educational opportunities for women to gain certification in the regular academic programs as well as high-demand, market-connected fields of accounting, information and communication technology.
  • Offers a campus environment that is supportive and intellectually challenging, with world class services and modern facilities.


  • Opened in 2006 with 53 students, AUAF has increased enrollment to 1,222 students in graduate and undergraduate programs; 40 percent are women.
  • Awarded 371 undergraduate degree and 385 graduate degrees as of September 2015.
  • Launched Afghanistan’s first Master of Business Administration program.
  • Opened four Professional Development Institutes in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, and Mazar-i-Sharif to provide professional training and certification programs in English, business, and project management, which contributed to more than six percent of AUAF’s overall revenues.  
  • Developed a Bachelor of Arts and Law degree with Stanford Law School to cultivate a professional class of lawyers ready to navigate Afghanistan’s unique and challenging legal landscape.
  • Renovated the existing campus with seven major academic and student services buildings.
  • Developed a campus plan for building new state-of-the-art educational facilities on a 75-acre site provided by the Afghan government, with construction to begin this academic year.

Last updated: January 20, 2016

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