Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at the NOOR Lab

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a collection of questions and concerns often voiced by students who consider joining Masdar Institute. If you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Disclaimer: the content of this page represents the personal opinion of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Masdar Institute.

General Questions

Do you admit international students?

Absolutely, we're open to applicants from around the world. Most of the students (and faculty) at Masdar Instiute are international.

Do I need to pay for my studies?

No. All admitted students receive full financial support. Click here for more details.

How much is the salary of students/postdocs?

It is sufficient to cover all (reasonable) living expenses, and is in agreement with international standard and the standards of the UAE. All details will be clearly communicated in your offer letter.

I am not a Muslim. How it will affect me?

While Islam is the official religion of the UAE, people of all other religions are welcomed and respected. You are free to practice your religion and follow your traditions while living in the UAE.

How is life in the UAE?

UAE is a very open and cosmopolitan society. You will be able to enjoy a similar lifestyle to what you are used to in your home country.

I'm a female. Do I need to wear a local outfit?

No. You do not need to wear traditional Muslim dresses, unless you choose to do it. Many people do wear traditional Muslim clothes, but many others do not. Most people you see on the streets of Abu Dhabi or Dubai are not dressed much differently from what you can see in Europe or in the US.

Will I need to learn Arabic language?

No, unless you want to. English is the official language at Masdar Institute, and is very widely spoken in all big cities.

Some countries in the Middle East are not very stable - what about the UAE?

Throughout its history, the UAE has been a very stable and peaceful country, with very low crime level. It has never been involved in any armed conflicts. The UAE enjoys excellent relationship the US, Europe, as well as other countries in the Middle East and the world. Just as an example, Masdar has been visited and endorsed by such world leaders as the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and George W. Bush during his US presidency.

Despite your answers above, I'm still worrying whether I can adjust to the culture of a Muslim country.

If you're still worrying, think about the facts - every year millions of tourists visit the UAE, and millions of people have relocated to the UAE to work and live here. UAE is one of the most international countries in the world: less than 20% of the population are Emirati citizens, and more than 80% of people who live in the UAE came from other countries from all over the world. There must be a reason why so many people find UAE an attractive country to live.

Questions about Masdar Institute

I understand that Masdar is a new institution. I'm worried that proper academic procedures are not in place yet, and it will negatively affect my studies.

The procedures are in place and in fact in 2013 the Institute already graduated three batches of students. It is true that the procedures are evolving, and some labs and some equipment in the cleanroom is not fully operational yet. The progress had been fast and the Government of Abu Dhabi is committed to making Masdar a leading institution, so we're expecting many exciting things to happen in the coming months. By joining Masdar you become a part of this development. Another thing to consider is that because of rigorous admission standards, the number of students per faculty is relatively low, so that the students can expect more personal attention and guidance in their studies and their research.

I cannot find the class schedules on Masdar website. Why?

Masdar is a new, growing institute and our programs are quickly evolving. At the moment, the class offering is changing fast and sometimes we decide whether to offer some class in a given term based on the input from our current students. Therefore, it is difficult to keep up-to-date institute-wide list of classes. The schedule is normally communicated by email by the registar office before the beginning of each term. We do our best to keep the information about the classes offered by the NOOR faculty up-to-date.

Questions about MSc/PhD admissions

I'm interested in applying - should I email individual faculty to introduce myself and indicate my interest? If I don't introduce myself, will I be at a disadvantage?

We do not recommend contacting individual faculty, unless you have specific questions. Many students feel that informal contacts with the faculty will improve their chances of admission. However, this is not the case. All students need to follow the same application process when they submit their formal application to the Institute. The Admission Committee then decides on the admissions, listening to the opinion of the faculty. Consider a faculty who is evaluating a submitted application. If the faculty doesn't like the application, will he/she recommend to admit the student just because the student previously sent him an email introducing himself? No. What if the faculty likes an application, but the applicant did not previously introduce itself, will the faculty recommend to reject the applicant because of this? Of course, not! So emails with an introduction/expression of interest will not help. The best place to introduce yourself and explain why you are interested in working with us is your Statement of Objectives. To sum it up, if you are interested in working with us, please submit your application to the Institute, and we will do our best to evaluate your application in the most fair way. Please be assured that you will not compromise your chances by not emailing individual faculty with introduction/expression of interest.

I do not have scores for TOEFL/IELTS and GRE, and it is problematic to take these tests in my country. Can I apply?

TOEFL/IELTS are required of all applicants (except applicants from English-speaking countries). If you studied in an English-speaking country like Britain or Australia, you can argue that in your case an English test is not required. However, English test scores are required in all other cases, and this requirement cannot be waived. We definitely understand that taking these tests is difficult in some countries. At the same time, how we can be sure that a student has sufficient language proficiency to succeed in our program? Studying at Masdar is quite difficult, and if a student arrives here without good English, there is no way he or she will be able to keep up. This would be a very bad situation both for the student and for the Institute. To avoid this, we require all applicants to submit an English test score as a part of their application.

GRE is recommended for all applicants, and a good GRE score will make an application stronger. However, for MSc applicants having GRE is not mandatory; if the application is otherwise strong, a student can be admitted without GRE. The admission will be "conditional", meaning that the student will need to either pass GRE or basic-level placement exams in order to transfer into the "normal" MSc program. If no GRE scores are provided and the student fails the placement exams, he/she will be required to take additiona courses to compensate for the appartent gaps in the background. For PhD applicants, GRE can be waived if a student has 2 publications in journals or conferences.

My TOEFL / GRE score is below the minimum required by the Institute because I was unlucky at the exam. Can I still apply?

This is considered the same as not submitting any TOEFL or GRE score (see the answer above).

The language of instruction in my undergraduate studies was English. Can you waive TOEFL/GRE requirements for me?

Unfortunately, no (unless you did undergrad in countries like the US, Canada, UK, or Australia). It is difficult for us to evaluate the level of English of your undergraduate institution, and there are cases when students from such institutions still have significant language issues.

Can you check my application and suggest how I can improve it? Can you help me write my research statement? I want to end up at the top of the pile.

No, the faculty cannot offer such help. This would be unfair to other applicants who rely on themselves to put their application together.

I sent an email to a faculty member with a question. Why don't they reply?

Please do not take it personally, there can be many reasons for this. We understand your anxiety about your application and your chances of admission, and we try our best to answer all questions, here on this website as well as by email. However, unfortunately sometimes we simply don't have time for everything. A faculty can be on travel, busy with deadlines or teaching, or simply receiving too many emails. In this case some queries will be left unanswered, especially if they ask questions which are already answered on this website, or do not contain specific questions at all.