Curious about NYU Abu Dhabi? You’re in the right place. Continue reading for useful facts about applying to NYU Abu Dhabi, life on campus and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the student experience.

The NYU Abu Dhabi campus buildings lit up in red and green for UAE National Day.

Applying to NYU Abu Dhabi

I Have Doubts…Is NYU Abu Dhabi Actually NYU?

It sure is! NYU Abu Dhabi is one of NYU’s degree-granting campuses. So you’ll graduate with a New York University degree. How cool is that?

Is the NYU Abu Dhabi Application the Same as the New York City One?

It’s the same…but also different. You will select “New York University” on the Common Application, then choose “Abu Dhabi” as your preferred campus. From there, you’ll find that most of the Common App requirements are the same as the ones for the other two NYU campuses, New York City and Shanghai.

Once you’ve submitted your application, NYU Abu Dhabi also offers post-submission touch points like the evaluative Candidate Conversations and our exciting Candidate Weekend. Throughout these events, you can express your understanding of the NYU Abu Dhabi offering as well as immerse yourself in our campus and locale.

I’m the Next Picasso. Can I Submit an Artistic Portfolio with My Application?

No need! NYU Abu Dhabi does not require an artistic portfolio. You can indicate an area of interest or intended major in your application, but all NYU Abu Dhabi students technically enter the University “undeclared.”

Can I Apply as a Transfer Student?

Not really. You are eligible to apply for admission to NYU Abu Dhabi even if you’ve started an undergraduate degree at another university or are doing a foundation year. However, NYU Abu Dhabi does not accept transfer credits. Therefore, regardless of the amount or level of coursework you have already completed, you would apply to enter as a first-year student for a four-year course of study. For these reasons, candidates who graduated high school two years (or more) prior are discouraged to apply.

Do I Have to Know Arabic to Study at NYU Abu Dhabi?

Laa! That means “no.” Our courses are conducted in English. The country is very multicultural. So everywhere you go in the UAE, there will be signage in English. You’re also sure to encounter people who are fluent. That said, you can always minor in Arabic if you want to! And if you already know the local language, that’s awesome!

Qasr Al Hosn, a historical landmark in Abu Dhabi. It is the oldest stone building in the city.
Qasr Al Hosn

Living in Abu Dhabi

Is Abu Dhabi the Same as Dubai?

No! The two cities are an hour away but located in two different emirates. They offer countless work and tourism opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Yet, they are distinct. Abu Dhabi is the seat of the UAE government. It has a strong community feel anchored in history and culture combined with ultramodern facilities. Some of my favorite factoids:

  • “Abu Dhabi” means “father of the gazelle”
  • Saadiyat,” the island where NYU Abu Dhabi is located, means “happiness”
What’s Your Favorite Place to Visit or Thing to Do in Abu Dhabi?

Without question, the gorgeous Louvre Abu Dhabi. Also, the atmosphere at the Yas Marina Circuit is unmatched. And all the spice shops. Seriously, there are too many things to choose from!

I love the energy and colored fish at the Mina Market, the peaceful white walls of Qasr Al Hosn on a hot day, and the Jubail Mangrove Park boardwalk. I also enjoy shopping and eating at Yas Mall and watching the sunset from the beach resorts on Saadiyat.

How Safe Is the UAE?

Very safe! A recent study by Georgetown University states, “the UAE was ranked first in terms of community safety, with 98.5 per cent of women saying they felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods at night.” In 2021, Abu Dhabi became the world’s safest city!

Are There Things I Shouldn’t Do While in the UAE?

You simply want to respect our host city’s and country’s laws, cultural norms, and guidelines. For instance, much like at NYU in New York City, NYU Abu Dhabi undergraduate students cannot “purchase, possess, consume, sell, distribute or be in the presence of alcohol on campus.” Also, “being drunk and disorderly is a serious offense in the UAE and is punishable by law.”

People must dress modestly in public areas, such as shopping centers, university campuses, and businesses. Especially during periods of religious significance such as Ramadan. Trust me, you may feel more comfortable dressed this way. The AC is on high blast everywhere, all the time. So wearing layers is highly recommended!

Also note that physical displays of affection, regardless of gender, sexuality, or marital status, are considered private matters that should not occur in public spaces.

How Inclusive Is the NYU Abu Dhabi Campus?

NYU Abu Dhabi is committed to building and strengthening a university-wide culture of inclusion, diversity, belonging, and equity. These values have been fundamental to NYU Abu Dhabi since its inception and are reflected in both our vision and mission.

Do I Have to Live On Campus?

We guarantee accommodation on campus for students throughout their four years to ensure continuous integration in a diverse community and easy access to our facilities throughout the week. While some local Abu Dhabi residents and Emirati students may choose not to live on campus, most international students do. Also, who doesn’t want to live on Happiness Island? Even many of our faculty members enjoy living on our fabulous campus. We have two Starbucks locations and the iconic Blacksmiths Coffee Company, an excellent sushi place, a mini-mart, a pharmacy, a hairdresser…I could go on! Don’t miss our excellent NYU Abu Dhabi Campus Tour video.

Can I Choose My Roommate?

Yes and no. When assigning rooms to first-year students, geographic diversity is a primary variable. It reflects the University’s value that students should network across geographic differences. At NYU Abu Dhabi, all new students should meet new people, expand their interests, broaden their understanding of different regions and culture, and stretch their comfort zones. Residents should celebrate each other’s commonalities and expect that they will respect each other’s differences. Therefore, students may not submit requests for specific roommates during their first year.


NYU Abu Dhabi’s library.

Being an NYU Abu Dhabi Student

Is There Academic Freedom at NYU Abu Dhabi?

Yes, it is one of our core principles. We are committed to “academic freedom, rooted in the belief that human understanding advances through rigorous study, exchange of ideas, collaboration, interdisciplinarity, encounters with difference, and mutual respect.”

What’s the Coolest Core Curriculum Class?

How many hours do we have? There are way too many to choose from. Based on the titles alone, I’m keen to take Ghosts, Magic, and the Mystical: Understanding the Supernatural; Price of Luxury; and Poverty and Inequality from the Core Colloquia. I’m also intrigued by Gamified Learning for Social Impact and Education; Mediterranean Foodways: Cuisine, Culture, Sustainability; Science of Martial Arts; and The Meaning of Life from the Core Competencies.

Which classes would you take from the amazing NYU Abu Dhabi Core Curriculum?

Can I Double-Major?

Yes! But it’s hard and may not be advised for everyone (like busy engineering students). Your academic adviser will help you figure all of this out. Then you will formally need to declare your major and minor combinations at the end of your second year.

I once met a student who was double-majoring in Political Science and Legal Studies and minoring in Theatre. He also did two internships while studying away in London. I’m not exactly sure when he found time to sleep! He probably spent a lot of time in our well-stocked library.

What’s the Capstone Research Project All About?

The Capstone Project is one of the culminating experiences for all students at NYU Abu Dhabi. They showcase their research, talent, and goals. It’s also a staple in our research-heavy approach to academics. Every student conducts research for the Capstone in their fourth year. It is a demanding, yearlong endeavor aimed at a significant piece of research or creative work, such as an historical narrative; musical composition; performance; invention; documented experiment; scholarly thesis; or other medium appropriate to the student’s goals.

Beyond Capstone, undergraduate students are encouraged to take on research projects across all disciplines. At NYU Abu Dhabi, “students become active investigators and experience the challenge, creativity, and rigor involved in grappling with unanswered questions, proposing answers, considering problems from new angles, and developing data.”

We also offer the following competitive grants:

  • Grants to support students who have secured noncredit summer research positions, under the direction of a faculty supervisor
  • Conference grants to support students who have been selected to present their research at academic conferences
What Can I Do After Attending NYU Abu Dhabi?

Pretty much anything you want! “The Career Development Center (CDC) plays an integral role in the undergraduate experience at NYU Abu Dhabi, providing guidance, advising, programs, and resources to students during their time in campus and beyond.” The CDC supports “students in an iterative process of discovering and refining their strengths, choosing a major, and gaining professional experience.” Students can get help developing a solid CV, meeting industry insiders, and applying to graduate school or global awards.

During their time on campus, students can intern on- and off-campus in the UAE, and beyond. The CDC has an active, dedicated team working to build relationships with local and global organizations, curating job and internship opportunities for NYU Abu Dhabi students and alumni. CDC advisers specialize by industry and help students find and prepare for industry-specific work. Students and alumni find specifically curated jobs on the career portal, Handshake Abu Dhabi.

After they graduate, NYU Abu Dhabi alumni are employed around the world in industries ranging from consulting and technology to start-ups and the arts. Many choose to stay in the UAE. The majority of graduates choose to work after graduation, but many continue studying for master’s and doctorate degrees at top universities around the world, pressing into research, developing new knowledge, and building skills for professional paths. About one-third of students in graduate school pursued further study in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

You can find out much more about career and education outcomes after NYU Abu Dhabi in our Life Beyond Saadiyat report.

Are You Big on sports?

We have a strong sports culture at NYU Abu Dhabi and superb facilities.

You can play for the Falcons on one of our seven intercollegiate sports teams. NYU Abu Dhabi athletes compete in the Abu Dhabi Inter-University Sports League against teams from other UAE universities. On the less competitive side, beginners and experienced athletes alike can enjoy our 14 club, intramural, and recreational teams and activities.

In the Fitness Center, you will gain nonstop motivation to keep yourself moving, whether you take group classes or personal training sessions. A separate women’s gym also provides a more private environment. I once took a yoga class in the Fitness Center at 7:00 a.m. (!) and loved it.

Finally, you can swim laps in our Olympic-sized pool, run laps in our indoor track, or scale our rock climbing wall—all a part of our amazing indoor athletics facilities. Outside, you can enjoy a friendly game of tennis or play on the football (soccer) pitch that the Uruguay national team trained on during the last World Cup in Qatar!

I Have an Idea for a New Club. Can I Create My Own Student Interest Group (SIG)?

Yes, you can! As long as it doesn’t already exist and there is enough student interest on campus. You can take part in many SIGs under the following categories: academic and professional pursuits; art, media, and literature; cooking and food; cultural and religious traditions; music and performance; outreach and engagement; sports and athletics; and technology and entrepreneurship.

NYU Abu Dhabi’s mascot, Faiza the Falcon, and the author.
Get to know Faiza, our Falcon mascot!

Can’t find the answer to your question here? Please email your question to us at [email protected].

Don’t forget, the next NYU Abu Dhabi application deadlines are January 1 for Early Decision II and January 5 for Regular Decision.

Lisa is a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for NYU Abu Dhabi and the Global Admissions Team, based in the London office.
Born and raised in France, Lisa also lived in Denmark and spent a couple of years in leafy upstate New York.  She is a dedicated gardener, a keen traveler to India and Japan, and loves watching the tennis at Wimbledon. She now spends her free time playing with her little rescue terrier dog, Cooper.