Scholarship Offers Syrian Women Opportunity to Pursue Higher Education

Multi ethnic group of teenage students inside the high school classroom posing on board

It’s estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 Syrian youth have been displaced from higher education since 2011 as a result of the conflict in Syria. Furthermore, Syrian men are three times more likely than women to resume their studies in exile.

To help address barriers to higher education for Syrian women, nonprofit organizations Jusoor and the Institute of International Education (IIE) launched the “100 Syrian Women, 10,000 Syrian Lives” Scholarship Program, allowing some of these women to resume their studies in North American universities. Developed in partnership with the Illinois Institute of Technology and with support from EducationUSA, the program emphasizes the importance of higher education in ensuring Syria’s future stability and success.

“An investment in education is a long-term investment in peace,” IIE President and CEO Allan Goodman said in a press release. “Empowering young women affected by the Syrian conflict is a key component of stabilizing not only Syria, but also the global community.”

Officially launched in November 2015 — when the scholarship application for the fall 2016 semester opened — the project’s goal is to bring a total of 100 Syrian women to study at North American colleges and universities over the next four academic years.

The first cohort is currently enrolled at 12 universities in the U.S. and Canada. It consists of five undergraduate and 13 graduate students studying fields ranging from education, politics, and biology to architecture and engineering.

In addition to receiving scholarships, made possible by the OPEC Fund for International Development and the American Syrian Arab Cultural Association, the women are provided mentorship and support throughout the duration of their academic careers. This support includes mandatory online and in-person workshops focused on career development and leadership.

The program is open to Syrian women who, according to the program’s website, have demonstrated “exemplary social service with leadership, academic excellence, and civic responsibility” and possess characteristics such as empathy, humility, courage, and resilience and have the potential to become global leaders. Applicants must be Syrian or Palestinian refugees living in Syria and must demonstrate English language proficiency via the TOEFL test, as well as financial need. The Educational Testing Service is providing TOEFL test vouchers to students who need them. Final receipt of the scholarship award is contingent upon a student’s admission to a U.S. or Canadian college or university and her ability to acquire a visa.

“The 100 Syrian Women, 10,000 Syrian Lives Scholarship Program is grounded in the belief that investment in education contributes to capacity-building for Syria and its people in the long run,” said Director of Jusoor Maya Alkateb-Chami. “These women have thrived despite challenging circumstances. … We selected them because they have the potential to serve as global leaders.”

For more information, visit