Scientific Institutions of the Armenian Community in Lebanon

10 m.   |  2019-04-26


he five Armenian scientific centers in Lebanon are:  

  1. Haigazian University in Beirut
  2. The Seminary of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia
  3. “Khatcher Kalusdian” Pedagogical Center of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia
  4. Genocide Orphans’ “Aram Bezikian” Museum, Byblos
  5. The Seminary of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Bzommar

None of these above-mentioned scientific-educational institutions is independent. They are part of the three Armenian churches in Diaspora (Armenian Apostolic, Catholic and Evangelical churches). The Haigazian University in Beirut is under the control of the Armenian Evangelical Church and is funded by the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA). Currently the President of the University is Paul Haidostian (since 2002). The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia has its Seminary as an educational institution. “Khatcher Kalusdian” Pedagogical Center and Armenian Genocide Orphans’ “Aram Bezikian” museum founded in 2015 also belong to the Catholicosate.  Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Bzommar also has its Seminary.

Haigazian University in Beirut was established in 1955 by the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East and the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), as a liberal arts college to assist in the preparation of teachers and pastors. This later turned into a University. In 1996, it was granted a University status by the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education of Lebanon [1].

The present enrolment is approximately 700. The Armenian and foreign students studying there are not only from Lebanon but from other countries in the region as well. This gives the University an International University status. The teaching staff of the University is also nationally diverse [2].  

Previously, when the Near and Middle Eastern Armenian communities were quite large, the majority of the students were Armenians. Later, when the number of Armenians dropped significantly, the ethnic breakdown of the students also changed. Now Armenian students comprise about 40%. In 2018, Haigazian University had 121 Bachelor’s and Master’s degree students, of which 51 were Armenians [3].

The University has 4 faculties:

  • Faculty of Business Administration and Economics
  • Faculty of Sciences, which in its turn has Division of Natural Sciences and Division of Mathematical Sciences
  • Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Faculty of Humanities

Undergraduate students study mainly in these four faculties [4] and the graduate students study in the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics and the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences [5].

        There are two Armenological divisions in the University: the Chair of Armenian Studies and the Armenian Diaspora Research Center. The first one teaches the Armenian language, politics and culture [6].The graduates of this chair become teachers of Armenian language and teachers in the field of Armenian Studies. The second is the Armenian Diaspora Research Center, established in 2012. The Director of the center is Antranik Dakessian. This center organizes annual international conferences on Armenian communities of Near and Middle East. The conferences held recently were dedicated to the Armenian communities in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and other countries in the region. The international conference organized by the center in 2018, was dedicated to the Armenians of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. In 2019, it is planned to hold a conference on the issues of Armenian communities in Greece and Cyprus. Unlike the Chair of Armenian Studies, the Armenian Diaspora Research Center is a separate unit [7].

Vahagn Atabekyan, Ambassador of Armenia to Lebanon (from left) at Haigazian University, and Paul Haidostian, the honored President of the University (from right)

S ince 1970, the University has been publishing “Haigazian Armenological Review”, which is one of the most famous and most remarkable scientific periodicals in diaspora. It publishes the works of not only Lebanese-Armenians, but also other communities of Diaspora, Armenian scientists and researchers. The Review is open to all authors from any country, the only thing that matters is that the published article should be Armenological.

The Seminary of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia is one of the oldest higher educational and scientific-research centers. It was founded in 1930, during the establishment of Catholicosate in Antelias [8]. Although the Seminary was created for preparing clergymen for the Armenian Church, its graduates also become secular figures in culture, education (religion and Armenian language teachers) and in other fields.

This scientific-educational institution ensures a two-degree education. The department, which provides the first degree, is called Zharangavorats. It is similar to the secondary school. The department providing the second degree is called Yntsayaran. It is divided into two departments: Theological and Armenological. In each department, the education lasts 4 years.

Subjects taught at Seminary are classified into the following groups:

  • Armenological subjects: Armenian language (Old Armenian, New Armenian), Armenian Literature, Armenian history, Armenian Church history, Armenian Culture history, Armenian Geography, Sharakan
  • Religious Subjects:՝Biblical and Ritual Materials, Old and New Testaments Studies, History of the Holly Grace period, Interpretation, Theoretical Theology, Shepherds Theology, General Church History, History of Religions, History of Inter-church Movement (Ecumenism), Ritualism, Discipline
  • Other Social Subjects: General History, Philosophy, Ethics, Psychology, Sociology, Pedagogy, Bibliography
  • Foreign Languages: Arabic, English, French
  • Natural Sciences: General Geography, Arithmetic, Geometry, Physics, Chemistry
  • Art: Music, Painting.

The Seminary has about 25 teachers, among whom are both clergymen and secular specialists. His Holiness Aram l, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, is the head of the teaching staff. Each semester the Seminary has 60 students. Since 1957, “Gladzor” yearbook has been published, the editorial work of which is carried out by the students. The Seminary is a member of the Middle East Schools of Theology Union [9], which proves its international level and reputation.  

“Khatcher Kalusdian” Pedagogical Center was established in 1987 to provide personnel for Armenian Educational Institutions. It prepares pedagogues for kindergarten, pre-school and secondary schools. Graduates of this center work not only in Lebanon, but also in other eparchies of the Great House of Cilicia. Education lasts for three years, during which students are taught not only school subjects (Armenian language, History and Religion), but also psychology, pedagogical skills, teaching methodology. Students also get teaching skills (internship). The center gives its graduates BT and TS Certificates of Lebanon, which are recognized by the Ministry of Education since 2003 [10].

Genocide Orphans’ “Aram Bezikian” Museum in Byblos is also a scientific institution and is similar to the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute of National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan.

Armenian Genocide Orphans’ “Aram Bezikian” Museum

T he museum was established in 2015 by the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, within the framework of Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. It has 3 departments: Armenian life during the pre-genocide and genocide periods, Armenian orphans’ life in Middle East countries and their future lives [11]. The museum was founded in the territory of “Birds Nest” orphanage, which was once founded by Western missioners in order to give orphans a shelter.

The Seminary of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Bzommar was also a place for teaching clergymen (priests and monks). It consists of a small Seminary, called “St. Michael” and of a big Seminary called “Ignatius Maloyan”. The subjects taught here are mostly similar to the subjects taught in the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia. What refers to the foreign languages, there are some differences in foreign language study programs: they teach Latin, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. This is a result of its being a Catholic institution. Knowledge of Latin and Italian are very important as a ritual language of the Roman Catholic Church.

Scientific Institutions working not so long ago

Higher Institute for Armenian Studies of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association had its unique place in the Lebanese Armenian scientific community. Here, in fact, we deal with the two-level membership. The institution belonged to a structure, which in its turn, belonged to another greater Institution (ARF). Being established in 1974, the Higher Institute for Armenian Studies worked until 2005, with some interruptions (1975-79) [12]. Its aim was to prepare pedagogical personnel for Armenian educational institutions. At first, giving a limited number of graduates (about two dozens), the Institution gradually expanded its students’ number. Over the last few years, the students’ number was about 150. The graduates started their activities as educators, editors, community and national institutions leaders not only in Lebanon, but also in other communities of Diaspora. Famous Armenian intellectuals of Lebanese Armenian community joined the teaching staff. Because of the lack of finances, the Institute stopped functioning in 2005 [13].

The School for Armenian Studies Development of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Bzommar is also among the scientific institutions, which from 2010-2012 published “Armenian Pedagogue” academic and pedagogical journal [14].

As a conclusion:

  1. T he example of the Armenian scientific institutions in Lebanon prove that the national institutions of Diaspora, which are the three churches (Armenian Apostolic, Catholic and Evangelical), the three political parties (ARF, RAK, SDHP) and AGBU are not just social-political, religious and charity institutions. They have scientific, educational, cultural, regional, informational, charity and other institutions.  
  2. The Armenian scientific-educational institutions in Lebanon, despite their diversity, are mostly Armenian Studies and Religious oriented.
  3. The opinion, that Haigazian University is the only Armenian University in Diaspora lasted for a long time. In fact, there are also other institutions, which provide higher education and scientific researches. The difference is that Haigazian University is mostly an international institution, where students of different nationalities acquire education.
  4. The activities and influences of both Haigazian University and other Armenian scientific-educational institutions in Lebanon go beyond the country’s borders and cover both Middle and Near East and the whole Armenians in the world. This is the main reason why the Armenian community in Lebanon continues to maintain the status of Main Colony of Diaspora.
  5. The advantage of the Armenian scientific-educational institutions graduates of Lebanon is the profound knowledge of different foreign languages.



[3] Haigazian University, The Fifty-Eighth Commencement Exercises, Beirut, 2018.


[5] Տե՛ս






[11] Brochure: Armenian Genocide Orphans' “Aram Bezikian” Museum

[12] The interruption was a result of the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990).