Webster announces new degree offerings in Uzbekistan


Webster is the first U.S. university to offer degree programs in Uzbekistan.

On Feb. 4, Webster University and the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education in Uzbekistan signed documents to support both the programmatic and physical expansion of Webster University in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Webster is the first U.S. university to offer degree programs in Uzbekistan.

In September 2018, classes began for a Master of Arts (MA) in teaching English as a second language (TESL). Webster has a partnership and shares campus facilities with the Uzbekistan State University of World Languages in Tashkent to teach this program.

Webster received 200 applications within the first two weeks of advertising this program.

According to DJ Kaiser, director of TESL for Webster University, Webster originally planned to only accept 100 students, but decided to accept 125 with the increased demand for the program in Uzbekistan.

Kaiser said due to recent changes in government leadership in the last decade, there has been greater support from the Uzbek government for higher education. This aided Webster’s ability to forge this partnership. Kaiser said it is a particularly opportune time for Webster to be in Uzbekistan as it is the most populous country in central asia with a rapidly growing young population interested in higher education.

Dilnoza Bakhodirova enrolled in the TESL program in Tashkent and said she applied because she was interested in enhancing her knowledge with the help of an American teaching system. The one-year length of the program suited her needs, she said. Webster is the only degree program in her country that offers TESL from an American perspective.

She said at the beginning of the program she had some difficulty adapting to the American system. However, she said Kaiser and other faculty members have created a friendly environment and give clear instructions to encourage students all the time.

Lisa Mann teaches multiple Webster TESL graduate courses in Uzbekistan. She has taught at universities in the U.S. and around the world but this is her first time teaching through Webster. She said a big part of her job is to provide support to the teaching staff and act as a liaison between Webster’s MA TESL program in the U.S. and the program in Uzbekistan.

She began teaching courses in January and said she had no idea what to expect before arriving. She has taught TESL courses from the U.S. to Peru to Tajikistan.

DJ Kaiser, director of TESL for Webster University, gave a seminar to graduate students studying in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

“I have been nothing but pleasantly surprised,” Mann said. “The teaching staff here is incredible. They have such great ideas about how to present the content in original and creative ways. I feel very lucky to be here with these talented people.”

Mann said the curriculum is very similar to the one at the St. Louis campus, which is part of the appeal of the program.

“Our students are getting an extremely high-quality American graduate-level education without having to actually leave their homes and families and move halfway across the world,” Mann said. “[The students] are all excited to be a part of the first cohort of Webster students in Uzbekistan. They see earning an MA from a respected American institution as a major advantage in their future careers.”

In a Webster University news release, Webster Provost Julian Schuster said this partnership has been developing for years and continues to expand and deepen.

“Since 2012, we have explored with the Ministry various approaches to successfully meet the needs of the citizens of Uzbekistan and other students in the region,” Schuster said in the statement. “We’ve been conducting needs assessments and developing programs that align with new and emerging educational requirements.”

Schuster said in a statement Webster plans to launch increased cohorts in the TESL program as well as an MBA program.

Bakhodirova said it would be wonderful if Webster offered a PhD program in Uzbekistan as well to further her education. She also said she would enjoy studying abroad at the St. Louis campus if given the opportunity. She said being a Webster student means being more knowledgeable and experienced in the field in Uzbekistan.

“Receiving a master of arts degree from Webster means opening a door of new opportunities for my future career in other foreign countries,” Bakhodirova said.

Kaiser said he sees an immense amount of Webster pride among the students in Uzbekistan. He said the students really identify and see themselves as Webster students. Both Mann and Bakhodirova agree students at the Uzbekistan campus are excited about the educational opportunities Webster brings to the country.

“I think it’s something that everyone at Webster University should be proud of as an institution,” Kaiser said. “We are able to provide this kind of education opportunity in a place where others haven’t thought to come.”

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