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Founded in 1866, the American University of Beirut bases its educational philosophy, standards, and practices on the American liberal arts model of higher education. A teaching-centered research university, AUB has around 800 instructional faculty and a student body of around 8,000 students. The University encourages freedom of thought and expression and seeks to graduate men and women committed to creative and critical thinking, life-long learning, personal integrity, civic responsibility, and leadership.

The University, which was granted institutional accreditation in June 2004 by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the United States and reaffirmed in 2016, includes six faculties: Agricultural and Food Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Architecture, Health Sciences, Medicine (which includes the Rafic Hariri School of Nursing), and the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business.

AUB currently offers more than 130 programs leading to the bachelor's, master's, MD, and PhD degrees. The University became coeducational in 1922; its student body is 50 percent male and 50 percent female. The language of instruction is English (except for courses in the Arabic Department and other language courses).
The student faculty ratio is 11.2 to 1.

"This College is for all conditions and classes of men, without regard to color, nationality, race or religion. A man, white, black, or yellow; Christian, Jew, Muhammedan or heathen, may enter and enjoy all the advantages of this institution... and go out believing in one God, in many Gods, or in no God. But it will be impossible for any one to continue with us long without knowing what we believe to be the truth and our reasons for that belief".
Dr. Daniel Bliss, Founding Father
(at the laying of the cornerstone of the central building in 1871)
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