The University of Bethlehem opened in 1973 and is situated in Palestine overlooking the city of Bethlehem 8km from Jerusalem and covers 35 dunum. It is a Catholic Christian university although students of all religions are welcome. Bethlehem University is a co-ed higher educational institute and was the first of its kind in the West Bank. The university is a member of the International Federation of Catholic Universities and the Association of Arab Universities. Tuition is conducted in Arabic and a few courses are offered in English although Arabic is necessary in order to gain a degree from Bethlehem University. The university welcomes international and local students and many foreign students come here to study Palestinian history and culture from a unique perspective.
The University of Bethlehem is open for three semesters annually and works along the lines of the American academic credit system with each completed course giving students 3 credits. The professional teaching staff is mostly Palestinian. The academic courses taught at the Bethlehem University include Master in International Cooperation and Development, Master Program in Biotechnology, Religious Studies, Computer Information Systems, tourism (including the unique Tourism and Pilgrimage Management), hotel management, education, arts, science, nursing and business administration.
The university has a range of modern facilities like the computer laboratory, a four storey library with 3,000 Arabic books and 46,000 English language books, a Digital Media Center, video-conferencing facilities, an amphitheatre, the Palestinian Cultural Heritage Center and many classrooms, lecture halls, assembly halls and other standard university facilities mostly funded by international donations. There are several unique centers of Bethlehem University including the Hereditary Research Laboratory, Palestinian Traditional Music Archives and the Water and Soil Environmental Research Unit. The university offers programs in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Amman, Heron, Gaza, Qubeibeh, Ramallah and online.
The Bethlehem University nurtures an environment of cooperation between the students who come from different cultural, religious and social backgrounds. There are a number of extracurricular activities and dynamic social activities including outreach programs and the student’s get involved in environmental issues, have visiting guest lecturers and sports competitions with other educational institutes.
The University of Bethlehem invites pilgrims and other visitors to come to the university campus and Visitors’ Section Ahlan Wa Sahlan. Here the visitors can see a background movie about the university, meet students and staff and visit the chapel, Cultural Heritage Center and see the campus.