Becoming a student is already tough in and of itself. You have to figure out so many things, like what major to choose, where to turn to with a write my paper request, and how to balance studying and having fun.
Becoming a student when you’re a Muslim woman is a lot more overwhelming. There are anti-Muslim sentiments that are still on the rise. There’s an increasing rate of hate crimes throughout the US. There’s the racial profiling, the bullying, the religious discrimination. The list, unfortunately, goes on.
That’s why you need to take into account not only the quality of education or resources at a given college or university. You also have to consider what kind of environment you should expect – and what support these institutions provide to Muslim women.
That support is rarely financial. Most scholarships are private and can be used to fund studies at any accredited institution in the defined area. But that’s not the only type of support out there.
For the purposes of this article, support means the institution’s infrastructure, resources, policies, and day-to-day practices. Their purpose is all the same. They are meant to help Muslim women enjoy their student life without worrying about how their identity may impact their experience.
Here are 4 colleges and universities that provide outstanding support for you (in no particular order).
Cornell University in Ithaca, NY is among the best in the whole world. In fact, it came in 21st worldwide in the QS Rankings for 2022.
Cornell doesn’t have a strict specialization, per se. It’s not a strictly tech or humanities university. You can choose from more than a hundred fields of graduate studies, 80 undergraduate majors, and 120+ minors. They range from architecture and information science to history, psychology, and physics.
Here’s why Cornell made this list:
- Halal and kosher meals are available on campus (plus, some restaurants in Ithaca itself serve halal and kosher, too);
- You have two religious and 10+ cultural student organizations to choose from to find your community;
- There are 6 courses on Islam available;
- Al-Huda Islamic Center & Saturday School in Ithaca have their doors open, too;
- The Diwan Foundation, a Cornell alumni organization, is there to provide support for Muslim students;
- You can turn to Cornell’s Muslim Educational and Cultural Association for help, too.
You can find out more about what it’s like to be a Muslim student at this university from the Cornell Muslim Life website.
Boasting the oldest campus among the state’s public universities, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is a public institution with 150 majors available for your consideration. It’s also a powerful research hub. And, it accommodates more than 7,000 international students.
Here’s what makes this university worth your consideration:
- The on-campus Muslim Student Association (MSA) is strong and active in the student community. It holds Jummah every Friday, for example;
- There’s also the Al-Madinah Cultural Center that has a room open for praying, holding events, and just hanging out;
- The local community is large and diverse, with many Muslim international students adding to its diversity even more;
- The non-Muslim community is open-minded and welcoming, both on campus and in the area in general.
This university, located in the Great Lakes State, can boast more than 200 academic programs in a variety of fields. You can choose to major in chemistry, communication, journalism, and even Russian. It’s also a powerhouse for research and entrepreneurship. And, finally, it boasts a one-of-a-kind approach to living-learning communities.
Here’s why MSU is on this list:
- The state of Michigan has one of the largest Muslim communities in the US;
- Kosher meals are available and certified by Kosher Michigan. During Passover, the university’s culinary services offer packed kosher meals;
- Halal meals are on the menu in every neighborhood;
- There’s an intersectional Muslim Studies program available as an undergraduate minor;
- There’s also a Muslim Mental Health Consortium working at the MSU’s department of psychiatry;
- MSA has a presence on the campus and organizes plenty of events, including Islam Awareness Week.
Located in Atlanta, Emory might not be a household name like the Ivy League universities. But that doesn’t mean it’s worse in any way. In fact, the quality of education there is on par with top US education institutions.
As for its scope, Emory is the place where every future student can find the right program for themselves. There are 270+ options to choose from, after all. The student body itself is smaller than in the likes of MSU – around 14,000 students call Emory their alma mater.
Here are 5 reasons Emory was selected for this list:
- Emory has a Muslim Chaplaincy onboard. (There are also spiritual communities for interfaith, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian students.);
- On-campus communities are represented by the Graduate Muslim Student Council and the MSA branch;
- There’s also an Emory Muslim Alumni organization;
- The university has set up its own Emory Muslim Service Award to recognize its students’ outstanding service in the community;
- Certified halal and kosher meal plans are available.
Financial support is, for some, the most important type of support. Most prominent scholarships, however, aren’t offered by particular universities or colleges. Instead, it’s private foundations and non-profits that help Muslim women foot the bill for their studies.
Here are 3 scholarships that are aimed at empowering students like you and facilitating their studies.
It’s open to all Muslim women currently enrolled in or accepted for a STEM program at any US college or university. The eligibility criteria include a minimum GPA threshold (3.4 for current students). Candidates should also provide proof of financial need and research or community service experience.
It offers financial support to Muslim undergraduates who need it. Candidates must be enrolled in a finance, mathematics, or economics program. The minimum GPA threshold stands at 3.5.
Available to Illinois residents, this scholarship seeks to empower students accepted or currently enrolled in an undergraduate college program or trade school.
Apart from scholarships targeted at Muslim students, scout for programs targeted at female or minority students in general. There are tons of them out there, such as:
- Distinguished Young Women;
- StudySoup’s Women in Technology Scholarship;
- Generation Google Scholarship;
- Elliott C. Roberts Scholarship;
- Association for Women Geoscientists’ Minority Scholarship.
What factors should you take into account before settling on your future alma mater? Here are 3 things you should add to the checklist:
- Consider the size of the community. It goes not just for the college or university itself but the area in general. With a large community, you’ll have someone to help you deal with stressful situations or just adjust to a new life.
- Reach out to student associations. They should be your go-to place for any questions regarding your potential student life in this or that institution. Most colleges and universities have a branch of MSA on their campus.
- Ask about halal and kosher meals, as well as housing arrangements. If you go on a tour to your potential alma mater, don’t hesitate to pose these questions to your guide. If you don’t plan on doing that, the on-campus MSA branch will probably have all the answers you need.