Looking for a suitable University with the right balance of practical and theory in the UAE can be a challenge if you’re not familiar with the field you’re stepping into.
University websites and brochures tout fantastically packaged courses that promise you social climbing opportunities, internships that turn into jobs at midnight and a faculty that never wavers.
We’ve collected the good, the bad and the take from students who’ve been there and done it.
Here are 5 UAE Universities for Architecture and Design Undergraduate programs to choose from:
1. American University of Sharjah
If you’ve been in the UAE for more than a few years, you know this University has a reputation for being both expensive and arguably, the best in the region. AUS is notorious for its rigorous design and architecture courses where the competition is high and the drop-off rate even higher over 5 years.
The CAAD facilities and off-beat experiential courses offered are worth noting – trips abroad for drawing through the summer, frequent exhibits, and participation in international biennales are commonplace. The faculty pushes students to originality, and both software and drawing skills are honed.
Placements are extremely valuable and the Alumni affairs and SBA services are very helpful. With a supportive environment and the accessible help of the seniors, staying back at campus is never a headache.
Quality comes at a great cost; at AUS, the cost will make your eyes drop. The fees also keeps changing for every batch. Rated as the 12th most expensive University in the world by Forbes, even with financial aid and scholarship, it’s a considerable amount. The Arab centric environment overshadows the possibilities offered through modern concepts.
More importantly, if you’re looking for a laidback environment to explore your creative skills, not every design course at AUS will suit your needs – it is quite demanding in time and effort.
I would say that my experience at AUS has been positive yet challenging. In many ways, the academic structure (which includes choosing your own courses, timings and professors among other things) has helped me become an independent decision maker and has taught me how to handle difficult situations. Most importantly, the mandatory fact that each student must undertake courses other than one’s own major (including choices in fields of psychology, math, social sciences and language) has enabled me in becoming an all rounded and well informed student. The one thing that I love about my major is that there is no right or wrong way to success. Design is subjective and failure is always welcomed as an excuse to experiment and get closer to your version of a successful outcome.
– Sarah Ahmed Abdul Quadeer, Bachelor of Interior Design
Bachelor of Architecture
Bachelor of Interior Design
Bachelor of Science in Design Management
Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design
Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication
The fees varies on the basis of your course; but approximately the fees is AED 90,000 per year. You can check more details here.
2. Manipal University, Dubai
An Indian University, known for placing an emphasis on practical skills, MUD is known to have regular field visits and educational tours. While less flexible in terms of choosing subjects, the design and architecture courses are known to be among the best within the University. The senior-junior relationship is very helpful and there is a lot to learn as people work together to build ideas and share them. The competition level within the university motivates students to innovate and be ready to face the challenges of the professional world. The university also actively participates in leading professional and international competitions which provide a learning ground for the students.
A significant lack of quality in-house placements and relatively, the expenses for this course are downsides. While the University has many cultural activities, it has a predominantly Indian vibe, so interaction with other nationalities is limited. The teaching equipment requires enhancement especially those used for printing and workshops.
The traditional methods of teaching may be suited to some, while for others, the experience can limit rounded personality development.
Despite the hectic schedule we architecture students go through, I have tried participating in various cultural activities such as drama, singing and also being a part of the student body.
Almost all the aspects and elements of my course make me happy. The faculty is well qualified and experienced. What makes the course more relevant is that; we have many visiting faculties coming from different firms. This helps us get a feel of the real world out there. Mainly, there is a focus on the technical and digital aspects and professional institutes conduct training sessions in various soft wares. From designing new forms to interacting with the faculty members, field trips to different countries and presenting ourselves as confident individuals to our clients.
Bachelor of Architecture
Bachelor of Arts- Interior Design
Bachelor of Design- Interior Design
AED 39,000 per annum
Manipal also offers various scholarships that you can check out here.
3. Heriot Watt University, Dubai Campus
A University with roots in Scotland, this program offers plenty of developmental opportunities to its students by breaking out of the UAE mold for international exchange. With a wide range of extra-curricular activities, like theatre, music, dance, interaction with other students is high.
The faculty is well-equipped to assist students and have valuable technical skills.
Parking facilities are scarce and tuition fees are perceived as high by current students. The placement cell is slowly picking up although quality placements remain rare. The course options are lesser in comparison to the main campus in UK and when one moves to a succeeding year, not much briefing is given which leaves students clueless.
The course structure is such that students are exposed to a tough lifestyle with very little time for themselves. There are too many submissions and in case of any errors, you have to work hard simultaneously.
We delved right into practical work in our first week, the teaching style turning out to be far more efficient than the monotonous droning I’d been accustomed to. The highly qualified professors helped smoothen the transition into the University greatly. They helped us find solutions, parted with valuable knowledge on a daily basis thus playing key roles in boosting our careers after graduation and helping us land jobs in the real world. The greatest learning you can get is that of time management, once you get used to the workload and set a schedule, the routine becomes easier to follow.
Aaisha Memon, Bachelor of Arts (Interior Design)
Bachelor of Engineering- Architectural Engineering (HONS)
Bachelor of Arts- Architecture (HONS)
Bachelor of Arts- Interior Design (HONS)
The current annual fees amounts to approximately AED 52,000. The university offers some really profitable scholarships. Check them out here.
4. Canadian University, Dubai
Located at a prime location accessible by metro or bus, Canadian University offers a detailed course in architecture and design that helps students learn the basics well with foundation courses and a multi- cultural environment that lends itself to expanding personal development. The placement cell is pretty active.
While the fees are high and transfers are costly, the university is seen as an up and comer in the UAE educational sector. With a small student body and a growing faculty, this University is its growing years.
It’s not been a smooth ride – tons of sleepless nights and students are forced to give their best in a very crammed up time. Despite all that, it’s an extremely rewarding experience and I believe that there is nothing I would ever do rather than this. There isn’t any plan B in my life to be very honest and I’m glad I picked CUD as I can easily transfer my credit hours in almost any international university.
-Hikma Rizvi, Bachelor of Architecture
Bachelor of Architecture
Bachelor of Science in Interior Design
Approximately 72,000 per annum.
You can check out their scholarship programs here.
5. American University in Dubai
The very location of the university breathes excellence and innovation. Situated on the busy streets of Sheikh Zayed, AUD has architecture and interior design programs that combine studio courses, study of design products, lighting essentials, furniture design, history set and stage design. In this way, the course fulfills the creative sensibilities of every aspiring student in the field. Emphasis is placed on technical learning where students are required to graduate with a knowledge of minimum four softwares; the basics being AutoCAD, Revit, 3D Max and Photoshop. One can choose more as well.
Students are also offered participation in various competitions like Marina Project Remake or the Swedish Wood Student Design Challenge which leads to great internships and jobs. The university is well- known for its CIDA accreditation making it the one and only university outside the US and Canada to have been accolade with the same. Such a growth has heightened the reputation of the university making it a globally recognized educational body. At the end of the course, students are required to complete a thesis project that challenges their abilities based on their learnings.
The course promotes and lays emphasis on the technical as well as artistic abilities of a student. Safety, accessibility and sustainability are as important as creativity in design.
The course leads to many sleepless nights caused by the immense overload of work. With fixed deadlines and lots of projects, stress is a natural part of the process until you are really a whiz at time management. One has to be ready for long hauls, nights spent at the university itself and difficult challenges in order to excel.
The fees demands a great deal of your wallet and even though scholarships are granted to those worthy, the remuneration for the course is undoubtedly on the higher side. However, that is often regarded worth the quality of education. One is always expected to have their own laptop in possession before the second year.
“I believe that our faculty members are well practiced and trained. They are professionals who bring their experiences with clients and contractors into the classroom. They do not enter the class just to teach but also to share with us their experience in the world of design.
One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is how to express my feelings, thoughts and creativity in each project. I admit it, I didn’t have the courage at the beginning to do what I feel or to be different than the rest of my classmates. But with the challenges that we face, we come to learn that each one of us has a different taste whether in design, fashion, music, etc. I believe that for a person to stand out he/she should be original and not a copy.
What I love about interior design is how we impact people’s lives in an environment and the ability to make them happy and comfortable. I love how we can lead the client to their vision and turn whatever they want into a reality. I love how interior design adds challenge to my life, and with every project I make, I gain a lot of information and experience.”
-Lourdy Ghorayeb, BFA in Interior Design
BFA in Visual Communication
Bachelor of Architecture
BFA in Interior Design Program
While the annual fees is approximately AED 84,000; a detailed information regarding fees can be found here.
Other universities which offer Architecture/ Design:
If you belong to any of these colleges/universities, then give high school grads a hand & leave a comment below reviewing your time there [Faculty, Fun, Fees]. Sure they’d appreciate your honest feedback.
1. University of Sharjah
2. Amity University, Dubai Campus
3. Zayed University
Do you know of more UAE Universities for Architecture and Design? Tell us in the comments below.