Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is a mountainous country of particular geopolitical significance owing to its location in three spheres of Asia. Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. Known as a developing country, Iran is a regional power, and holds an important position in international energy security and world economy as a result of its large reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Iran has the largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, and the fourth largest proven petroleum reserves.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is a country of beauty, diversity, and a long, rich history. The official language of Iran is Persian though it's quite common to hear spoken languages that include Persian, Arabic, Turkmen, Gilaki, Kurdish, Armenian, and more. Iran is the 18th largest country in the world with a population of nearly 77 million. It is one of the oldest civilizations in the world dating back to 2800 BC.
Iran is located in West Asia, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Caspian Sea, and the Persian Gulf. Northern neighbors of Iran include Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Iraq is located west of Iran and to the east are Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Richard Nelson Frye wrote, "Iran's prize possession has been its culture." With nearly 5000 years to percolate, it's no wonder that culture is such as important part of Iran today. Art, literature, religion, tradition, music, architecture, and ceremony come together to create a culture that is steeped in the past while trying to embrace the future without losing anything vital in the process. It's a lesson in contradictions for some people, and a complete and total wonder to others who are peering in from the outside. For a student of life, it's a wonderland.
Cost of Living
Another reason students consider studying in Iran is the significantly reduced cost of living -- particularly when compared to countries such as the U.S. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment inside a major city in the U.S. is typically around $900 per month while it is around $500 a month in Iran. Students willing to live further out can rent for around $300. The same holds true with lower prices for utilities, food, public transportation, and entertainment. Students interested in partying, however, may not be interested in attending college in Iran where the median price on a single bottle of beer is more than double the price in the U.S.
Study in Iran
Higher Education in Iran
Iran higher education is available to students who have successfully completed one year of pre-university, or Peeshdaneshgahe, and passed the National Entrance Examination, called the Konkur. University education lasts four years, typically between the ages of 18 and 22, and awards a Bachelor degree, Karshenasi, or License upon graduation.
Academic terms in Iranian universities take place between the months of September and June. Classes take place Saturday through Thursday and the academic year is divided into two terms called semesters or course credits.
Why Study in Iran?
Iranian universities are best known for their programs in chemistry, medicine, engineering, and physics. Many foreign students come to Iran to study the culture and history of the region. Post-secondary admission in Iran is highly competitive for state funded colleges. Students who earn admission to universities do not typically pay for tuition or boarding except those attending Islamic Azad University, which is self-funded and, therefore, independent of the state budget.
Some people wish to study in Iran to master the language, learn about the culture, or even prepare for a future in diplomatic relations with Iran and other Middle Eastern cultures.
Be aware that female students in Iran were barred from pursuing degrees in more than 70 different degree courses in 2012. The official reason is that the state has decided these courses are to be single gender courses, which effectively limits them to men. Female students interested in studying abroad in Iran, need to verify the courses they plan to take will be available to them.
Prominent Universities in Iran
There are several prominent universities to consider in Iran including the University of Tehran, Tarbiat Modarres University, Iran University of Science and Technology, and Shiraz University. Students pursuing studies in the medical field may be interested in Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences or Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences.
Study Possibilities for International Students
While there are no proficiency requirements to study in Iran, the courses are taught in Persian. This means students must read, write, and communicate effectively in Persian in order to excel in these programs. There are many programs available to international students in Iran though the most common are Persian study courses and sources in Islamic studies. International Muslim students pursuing Islamic studies in Iran are eligible to receive scholarships that waive tuition, boarding, and medical expenses while also providing living expenses for the duration of their studies.
Student Visa Requirements
Student visas are available to foreign nationals who wish to study in Iran. They require two application forms, passport that is valid for six months, two recent photographs, visa fee, and acceptance from an accredited university or educational center. An interview may be necessary in addition to the other requirements.
It is best to begin the application process for your student visa as early as possible in order to be able to attend university in Iran on schedule. Do not wait until the last minute or you may have to put off your studies for another year.
Current tuition at University of Tehran for International students ranges from $7,000 to $9,000 per year for undergraduate studies and $6,500 to $8,200 for graduate studies. However, non-Iranian students pursuing degrees in Persian Language and Literature or in Iranian Studies may be granted 15 percent additional discounts while those who are successfully admitted to Master's or Ph.D. programs may be granted discounts equal to fifty percent of tuition (65 percent total for graduate students in Persian Language and Literature or Iranian Studies). These fees, however, do not include dormitories, food, or insurance fees.
While not required for attendance at some Iranian universities, it is strongly urged that international students attending college in Iran consider obtaining health insurance from local insurance companies. Even if your existing insurance company extends coverage while traveling or studying abroad (many insurance companies do not cover these circumstances), finding facilities that accept foreign insurance may prove difficult. Local insurance coverage is the best option for international students, by far.