Iraq - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training Services
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The GOI in Baghdad and the KRG in Erbil each operate ministries to oversee primary/secondary and post-secondary education in Iraq.  The Ministry of Education in Baghdad manages all primary, secondary, and vocational institutes in most of Iraq, while the KRG’s Ministry of Education oversees similar schools in the IKR.  Colleges and universities in the IKR are administered by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHE) in Erbil, while universities in the rest of Iraq are under the control of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR) in Baghdad.  

The two ministries of higher education and scientific research have a cooperative relationship that allows students from the IKR to study at universities in the south, transfer credits, and receive scholarships from the central government programs.  Universities in the IKR must meet standards set by both the KRG MHE as well as the GOI MOHESR to be fully-accredited and recognized.

Post-Secondary Education:  There are 11 public universities, two public technical institutes, and eight approved private universities in the IKR, with a total of approximately 40,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs.  The KRG’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Erbil directly controls the publicly-funded universities and provides oversight for private universities.

In federal Iraq, there are 35 public universities, and 45 private universities.  About 850,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in federal Iraq (exclusive of the IKR).  The GOI’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research also has 118 medical, engineering, agricultural, veterinary, and informatics consulting centers.  The MOHESR in Baghdad directly controls the publicly funded universities and provides oversight for private universities.  It also has 25 cultural offices located in Iraqi embassies overseas, including the Iraqi Cultural Office in Washington, D.C.

There is great diversity across Iraq.  This diversity makes a significant impact on higher education facilities and challenges.  Universities located in the IKR generally have better facilities, laboratories, libraries, and IT infrastructure compared to universities in other parts of Iraq.  IKR universities also receive international experts and academics, host international higher educational conferences, and frequently participate in faculty and student exchange programs.  Universities in other parts of Iraq have limited access to these types of activities because the security situation prevents foreign experts and students from visiting, teaching, or studying at these institutions.  IKR universities have also benefitted from a significant number of highly educated members of the diaspora who have returned to the IKR in the last decade.


Demand outstrips supply for post-secondary education, and Iraqi universities are constructing new buildings and even new campuses to meet the growing need for higher education.  Infrastructure for IT services remains underdeveloped in most parts of the country.  Universities have limited internet capacity, most university faculty do not have regular access to computers at work, and computer labs for student use are inadequate and often non-functional.  Many university faculty and staff lack basic computer skills and internet experience.  Outside of major urban centers, many academics and students do not have email addresses.

Younger students are more tech-savvy and a larger percentage of them are on the internet.  Some have access to the internet and personal computers at home.  However, poor English language skills limit their access to English-language internet sites and services.

The GOI MOHESR has gradually implemented requirements that all students must complete the Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3) course and the Institutional Testing Program (ITP) TOEFL test before they can continue with graduate education.  The KRG Ministry of Higher Education does not have these same requirements. 

As IT access is limited and uneven, education remains highly dependent on printed materials.  Books, periodicals, and magazines are highly prized and respected.  Each college at a university has its own library for students in that discipline.  Lending libraries do not exist, and most students cannot easily access the resources available on campus, most of which are old and outdated.

The level of English language skills overall is low, even amongst educated professionals and academics. Young people show a strong desire to learn English and access the western world, both online and in person.  The quality of English language teaching in primary and secondary school is improving, but it remains poor overall.  English language teaching and training at the university level is also improving, but it is hindered by inadequate training, large class sizes, outdated teaching methodologies, and lack of proficiency amongst teaching professionals.


  • GOI Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR)
  • KRG Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research
  • The Higher Committee for Education Development (HCED)
  • Iraqi Cultural Office
  • The Kurdistan Regional Government in the United States
  • EducationUSA Iraq:
  • StudyUSAIraq (Facebook page):
  • U.S. Embassy in Iraq:
  • U.S. Commercial Service in Iraq: