BIHE at a Glance

  • BIHE was founded in 1987
  • In the first year of its establishment, 1987, students were accepted in two fields of studies, namely sciences and humanities
  • BIHE has five faculties with 4 associate programs, 17 undergraduate degree programs and 16 graduate degree programs
  • BIHE offers over 1050 courses ranging from Persian Literature to Biological Science
  • BIHE has a combined faculty and administrative staff of over 955 members
  • BIHE currently accepts about 450 students into its first year programs
  • BIHE applicants must conform to the same rigorous academic standards as other students in Iran. They must pass the national entrance exam, and meet all the BIHE academic requirements
  • BIHE graduates have been accepted at more than 115 different university graduate programs outside of Iran
  • BIHE greatly benefits from its Affiliated Global Faculty (AGF) – an increasing resource of volunteer professors from around the world that assist with the development, implementation and instruction of the BIHE courses
  • BIHE uses a unique combination of online and in-person delivery mode


1. When was BIHE founded?
In 1987, a group of Bahá’í professors and professionals who had been dismissed from their jobs set up an informal network of higher education to teach Bahá’í youth voluntarily. This was called the ‘Free Scientific Institute’, later known as the Bahá’í Institute of Higher Education (‘BIHE’) outside of Iran. The first cohorts of students were admitted in 1987.
2. Why was BIHE founded?
BIHE was created by the Baháʼí community in Iran as a direct response to the expulsion of Baháʼí students and educators from Iranian universities.
3. Is BIHE a parochial university?
BIHE is sponsored by the Baha’i community, but is not parochial or a seminary. Consistent with prominent universities in North America and Europe, BIHE follows the standard models of curricula for all of its degree programs. In other words, the curricula for all BIHE academic programs follow the common coursework expected in any accredited university and reflect the same rigor and level of detail.
4. Is BIHE an underground university?
It would be incorrect to call the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education an "underground university," since its existence was well known to the authorities from its earliest years. In fact it is a unique open university in Iran, which has been portrayed as an underground university.
5. How is BIHE funded?
BIHE is a community-sponsored non-profit organization. The voluntary and participatory nature of BIHE significantly reduces its demand for financial resources compared to other higher education institutions. Such resources needed to cover BIHE’s operating expenses come from the contributions of the members of the Bahá’í community, and not from outside political, social, and religious organizations.
6. Where does BIHE funding come from?
The financial resources needed to cover BIHE’s operating expenses come from the contributions of the members of the Bahá’í community, and not from outside political, social, and religious organizations. The selfless contributions of thousands of parents, relatives and friends of the students who are moved by BIHE’s vision and mission, and are committed to its success, have supported the university since its inception. BIHE does not accept contributions from political associations, the business sector, and government entities.
7. Does BIHE offer scholarships or financial aid?
BIHE is committed to providing educational access and opportunity to all qualified students. It promotes a broader participation in higher education by providing financial assistance to help bridge the gap between the cost of a student’s education and the family’s own financial resources. BIHE believes students from all economic backgrounds should have the opportunity to pursue their educational dreams, and finances should not be a barrier to succeeding in higher education.
8. Do BIHE students pay tuition fee?
The students are aware of costs and encouraged to share the costs incurred for ancillary services, infrastructures, materials, etc., if they have the means. Following the 2011 coordinated attacks on BIHE intended to shut down its operations and the accompanying increased pressures on BIHE collaborators, BIHE suspended the collection of the nominal tuition fees directly from students and merely encourages students to donate whatever portion of their nominal semester’s tuition fee they can afford to their local Baháʼí community fund.
9. Are BIHE instructors and staff being paid?
BIHE’s faculty is comprised mostly of volunteers from the Bahá’í community who offer their expertise selflessly and at great risk to their personal safety. Hundreds of administrators voluntarily offer their services to ensure the smooth operation of the university. Visiting professors and adjunct lecturers, and a small fraction of BIHE’s collaborators are being paid.
10. What is AGF?
AGF stands for Affiliated Global Faculty. This is a sizeable group of professors from prominent international universities who teach courses at BIHE. For further information please visit AGF page
11. What languages are BIHE courses offered in?
Most of the undergraduate level courses are taught in Persian. A portion of graduate level courses are taught in English by international faculty who may not be fluent in Persian . In either case, a basic knowledge of English would be essential and a good command of the language would be advantageous. BIHE offers EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classes regularly
12. What support resources are available to BIHE students?
Several support services are available to students. The Office of Student Affairs provides academic and personal support services to students throughout their journey in BIHE. For its newly enrolled students, each program has a cohort advisor who provides educational guidance and assistance and advises students individually and/or in groups regarding course requirements, course selection, academic policies and procedures, and academic resources. Also Student Associations provide students with the opportunity for academic, artistic, and social activities. Counseling and Mental Health services is a newly established center, which provides free and confidential mental health advice and treatment to BIHE students. Its aim is to help students manage any problems or issues that may hinder their learning and studies.
13. Have BIHE graduates been able to obtain admission in postgraduate programs at other universities?
Because of its commitment to excellence, graduates of BIHE have been accepted in graduate (Masters and Ph.D.) programs of more than 114 prestigious universities outside of Iran. To see the list of those universities and further information on global recognition of BIHE please visit here .
14. Is BIHE recognized by any accreditation organizations?
Certain accreditation organizations have recognized all or some BIHE degrees such as Evaluation Services Inc. (ESI) in the USA, National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) in the USA, The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI), NOKUT (the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education), ABE UK and SAQA (South African Qualification Authority).
15. Is BIHE an accredited university in Iran?
The accreditation of BIHE degrees in Iran is not simply a matter of satisfying standards, requirements, qualifications, and quality assurance procedures., which are the default route for accreditation of any other university. Due to the evident, and well documented, systematic oppression of the Bahá’í community in Iran, the government not only refuses to recognize BIHE, but even attacks and arrests its staff and attempts to shut down its operations. The Iranian Ministry of Education even refuses to recognize the credentials of those BIHE graduates who have been awarded masters or doctoral degrees by prestigious universities abroad and returned to Iran, with the excuse that their first degree is not recognized.
16. Do I need to be fluent in English in order to succeed at BIHE?
For Undergraduate programs you are not required to be fluent in English. BIHE offers EFL courses in order to prepare students for the required level of English. For Graduate Programs, the applicants are required to present proof of English proficiency at the level of the "International English Language Testing System" (IELTS) 6.5 in each of writing, reading, comprehension & expression. This can be assessed by an IELTS, the "Test of English as a Foreign Language" (TOEFL) or equivalent.
17. Do I need to study English as a Second Language (ESL) before I begin my major?
No. The English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program, a comprehensive fully online program, is developed to teach students English for Academic Purposes (EAP). This enables them to benefit from English textbooks, academic journals, and web-based courses, and prepares them for taking online university courses offered in English by the hundreds of Affiliated Global Faculty in North America, Europe, Australia and other regions.
18. Do I need to take an English language proficiency test?
For Graduate Programs the applicants are required to present proof of English proficiency at the level of the "International English Language Testing System" (IELTS) or the "Test of English as a Foreign Language" (TOEFL) or equivalent.
19. What is the credit hour system in BIHE?
A credit hour is a value assigned to each course which reflects the number of hours the class will meet with the professor each week. You can read more about credit hour in BIHE here
20. What is a GPA?
Grade Point Average (GPA) is a numeric indicator for a student's academic performance, calculated on a scale of 4.0.
21. What assessment system does BIHE use?
Letter grades indicate a student's academic performance. Each letter grade has a numeric value which is used to calculate a GPA, on a scale of 4.0.

The minimum passing grade for undergraduate courses is “D". Students are expected to maintain a minimum of “C" average each semester.
22. How are BIHE courses delivered?
All BIHE programs use a hybrid mode of instruction, i.e., a combination of online and in-person delivery models. The strengths of the two models are combined to achieve the primary goals of: enhanced learning outcomes, increased flexibility, and improved resilience.
23. What are the programs offered in BIHE?
BIHE currently offers 11 undergraduate vocational programs, 4 associate degree programs, 15 undergraduate degree programs, 5 postgraduate short-term programs and 20 postgraduate degree programs. With a combined faculty and administrative staff of over 955 persons, BIHE offers more than 1050 courses ranging from Persian Literature to Biological Science. For more details about the programs offered in BIHE please visit here
24. If I file my application on time, when will I be notified of my admission status?
Applicants are notified of their admission status around early September each year.
25. What is the deadline for filing an application for admission?
Those who wish to apply to one or more programs at BIHE are asked to submit their application and supporting documents by the end of June.
26. What is the academic calendar of BIHE
The academic year at BIHE consists of two semesters, Fall and Spring, each of which is 19 weeks long. In each semester, one week is allocated to midterm examinations and two weeks to final examinations.
The timing of each semester is as follows:
Fall Semester (19 weeks): From early October to mid-February
Winter Break (7 weeks): From mid-February to early April
Spring Semester (19 weeks): From early April to mid-August
Spring Break (7 weeks): From mid-August to early October
27. Who is eligible to apply to BIHE programs?
At the present time, all students in this institute are Baháʼís. The legal regulations of the state do not permit the offering of its services to other Iranians. However, the aspiration and desire of BIHE is that, in the future, it will be able to make all its services accessible to all citizens of its home country of Iran and, indeed, to all children of humanity throughout the world, and undertake any and all endeavors to promote the well-being and prosperity of humankind.
28. Do applicants need to take part in any entrance or qualification exams?
Depending on applicant’s chosen program, his/her performance in specific subjects in high school is carefully weighed against the specified program’s requirements and standards. In certain programs, selected applicants are invited to participate in an exam whose subject matter may vary depending on the course they aim to study