Our Vision

A New Era

Today, more than half of our students are living and studying outside Afghanistan, hosted at the American University of Iraq Sulaimani in Kurdistan, the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, and Bard College in the United States, or living independently and studying online from across the globe. Yet we remain acutely aware of the dangers and challenges faced daily by those students, faculty, staff, and alumni who remain in Afghanistan. We are working without pause to bring all to safety.

The coming year will see the establishment of AUAF’s new branch campus in Doha; the launch of an ambitious new institute for Afghanistan research and teaching, located at the campus of the Venice International University on the Island of San Servolo; and an expansion of online programs to reach students inside Afghanistan’s borders and around the world.

AUAF Global logo
  • Online Programs
  • Serving Students in Afghanistan & Abroad
AUAF Qatar logo
  • Undergraduate and
    Graduate Degree Programs
  • A New Life for AUAF at Education City
International Institute for Afghanistan Teaching & Learning logo
  • Research and
    Curriculum Development
  • Preserving Afghan History and Culture

Our Mission

The American University of Afghanistan empowers rising leaders with knowledge, skills, and agency to define their own individual and collective futures.

As a beacon of educational quality and academic freedom, AUAF embraces equal opportunity for women and minorities, preserves and amplifies Afghan history and culture, and creates connections between Afghanistan and global society through teaching, learning, and research.

Our Values

Freedom & Responsibility
Promotion of Pluralistic Ideas
Free Expression & Inquiry
Personal & Professional Integrity
Success Stories: Habib’s Fight for an Education While Remaining in Afghanistan

Success Stories

Habib’s Fight for an Education While Remaining in Afghanistan

Habib is a senior AUAF student pursuing a B.A. in Data Science while currently enrolled in MIT’s ReACT program – a year-long online learning program offered by MIT that opens up education-to-employment pathways for talented refugees, displaced populations, and underserved communities worldwide.  The program combines a rigorous academic curriculum, immersive skills workshops, professional internships, and experiential learning opportunities to provide students with the hands-on skills and experiences needed to accelerate their journey.

Habib, who taught himself to code in python before starting his freshman year at AUAF, is one of the only one-hundred individuals from around the world to be accepted into the ReAcCT program, which has an acceptance rate of only eleven percent. He credits much of his success on the program’s entrance exam to AUAF, stating, “much of my course-work at AUAF, specifically on statistics and probabilities, were very helpful towards the exam.

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Success Stories: Mursalina Continues Her Education at AUCA

Success Stories

Mursalina Continues Her Education at AUCA

Not a global pandemic or a national ban on women’s education can stop Mursalina from empowering Afghan girls. Mursalina is a sophomore AUAF student currently taking courses at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan while remaining as dedicated as ever to educating girls and young women back home in Afghanistan.

At just eighteen years old, even before her start at AUAF, Mursalina founded her own non-profit organization in Afghanistan titled Girls Towards Leadership. When she arrived at AUAF, Mursalina was overwhelmed by the number of students, girls and boys, eager to get involved. Together, they continue teaching girls leadership skills, English and are empowering them to pursue their academic interests while remaining in Afghanistan. Mursalina also started a Girls Up club at AUAF and will also start one at AUCA.

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Success Stories: Fulbright Student and AUAF Alum Works Towards her Women and Gender Studies Master’s Degree at University of Kansas

Success Stories

Fulbright Student and AUAF Alum Works Towards her Women and Gender Studies Master’s Degree at University of Kansas

Continuing her education was something Amina was not willing to sacrifice. With the help of Fulbright, Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute, and AUAF, Amina left behind her home country of Afghanistan, her family, and everything she knew.  Although unimaginably traumatic, she said leaving Afghanistan was necessary because “the best way to become a leader is through education.” This strong belief has driven her to become the extraordinary woman she is today.

Amina, a Fulbright scholar with a book-worth of accomplishments, has a joint AUAF and Stanford Law degree, a master’s degree in Law from a university in Eastern Europe and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Women and Gender Studies at a university in the US. Although her situation has changed entirely, she refuses to let circumstances get in the way of her goal of becoming a college professor, scholar, and writer– raising awareness to issues she is passionate about while creating an army of empowered leaders.

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Our Impact

AUAF President Ian Bickford

President's Message

"We Would Choose Knowledge Over Fear; Strength Over Surrender; and Ingenuity Over Doubt."

Dear Friends,

I joined the AUAF community in the early spring of 2021 with the knowledge that change would inevitably come to Afghanistan and to a university that has faced many challenges in its short history – indeed, more than its share. What I found was a cohort of students, a leadership team, a faculty, and a professional staff whose resilience and ability to adapt surpassed any I’ve seen before. Nobody asks for adversity; but, when tested by it, we sometimes discover the best parts of ourselves. I was meeting a community at its best.

We anticipated the changes to come with the confidence that AUAF would adapt again to realities that might be hard but could be overcome. In August, as these realities crystalized, we closed our two campuses in Kabul with heavy hearts but the clarity of mission: we would choose knowledge over fear; strength over surrender; and ingenuity over doubt. When we decided in those early weeks to begin the fall semester online and on time, it was our answer to skepticism and illiberalism, and we found our students no less ready to learn, no less ready to question, no less ready to use their voices than the day before Afghanistan’s dramatic change in political fortunes. Every day since, signing into classes in the shared pursuit of knowledge, they reaffirm this answer. Learning has never represented a greater act of courage.

AUAF is now a global university, with more than half of our students continuing their studies from sites outside Afghanistan, and faculty teaching online from around the world. New programs in Doha and Venice give us a place to stand; digital technology gives us the means to reach more students, in more places, and in more ways.

This global identity reflects the way Afghanistan has touched the world, bringing nations together in our aspirations to help an opening society over twenty years, yet also illuminating the divisions that hinder progress. We know more about the limits of military intervention to create meaningful change, even as we realize how little we knew about the currents that were drawing Afghanistan back to an authoritarian past. The new Afghan diaspora, deserving all the support we can muster, has much to teach us – about the richness and diversity of their cultural heritage, about the meaning and heartbreak of exile, and about what we can and must continue to do for the Afghan people.

We can and must continue to educate Afghanistan’s ambitious young women and men for leadership in their own society and in the world. We can and must continue to equip them with knowledge, skills, and agency to define their own individual and collective futures. We can and must ensure that their dreams for a more just, more equitable, more prosperous society do not end in obscurity.


Ian Bickford

Board of Trustees

  • Mr. Arsalan Lutfi Chair
  • Mr. Emal Dusst First Vice Chair
  • Dr. Kerry Healey Second Vice Chair
  • Mr. William Hammink Treasurer
  • Prof. Erik Jensen Secretary
  • Dr. Ian Bickford President
  • Dr. John Alexander
  • Mr. Farhad Azima
  • Mr. Christopher
    Nixon Cox
  • Mr. Christian Destremau
  • Dr. David Edwards
  • Dr. Jonathan Fanton
  • Mr. Robert Gangi
  • Ms. Shamim Jawad
  • Dr. Ayesha Sherzai
  • Dr. Nilofar Sakhi
  • Mr. Nitin Madhav
  • Mr. Harvey S. Schochet
  • Ms. Leslie M. Schweitzer
  • Mr. David S. Sedney
  • Ms. Hanaa Soltan
  • Mr. Chris Taylor
  • Mr. Sear Yagana
  • Ms. Debra Zumwalt
  • Dr. Morwari Zafar
  • Ms. Christine Drinan


AUAF President Ian Bickford
Dr. Ian Bickford President
Victoria Fontan
Victoria Fontan Vice President
Academic Affairs
Scott Brant
Scott Brant Vice President
Operations and
Arni Arnthorsson
Arni Arnthorsson Vice President
Student and
Institutional Affairs

Make a Difference

With your support, we can help meet the unique needs of AUAF students, faculty, and staff.

Your donation will help ensure that AUAF students can continue their education while our evacuation and rehabilitation efforts are constantly underway. The needs of the AUAF’s students and community members are changing every day and our ability to provide for them during these unprecedented times depends on your donation.

AUAF In the News
AUAF Event Photo Hillary Clinton


Friends of AUAF hosts an annual fundraising event to corral support for the university and raise donations to ensure that students may continue their education, regardless of their ability to pay.

While the context for our annual event on October 6th, 2021, changed after August 15th, the purpose did not. Friends of AUAF raised an unprecedented amount in donations and the night proved to be successful in re-inaugurating our mission to educate young Afghan women and men for a future of their own making.