St. Mary’s University (SMU) evolved from St. Mary’s Language School, which started operation in 1991. Then, as a college, it was established in 1998 with campuses in Addis Ababa and Hawassa. The College had its head office in Hawassa, which moved to Addis Ababa in 1999. Showing noticeable progress through time and after the rigorous evaluation by the Ethiopian Relevance and Quality Agency, it was awarded a university status in 2013— an exclusive club of only 5 private universities among over 300 private higher learning institutions in the country.  

Fully accredited by the national quality assurance organization, SMU offers undergraduate and graduate programs in diverse fields of studies in the conventional and distance modes of learning. At present, it offers programs in Accounting, Computing Science, Management, Marketing Management,  Tourism and Hospitality Management and Economics  in the regular and extension classes at undergraduate level. The regular graduate programs offered by the School of Graduate Studies include MBA programs in General Management, Human Resource Management, Accounting and Finance, Impact Entrepreneurship, Project Management, and Masters in Marketing Management, Development Economics, Computer Science, Agri-Economics, Development Management, Social Work and Quality and Productivity Management. 

In the distance mode of learning, it offers Accounting, Management, Marketing Management, Agricultural Extension, Agricultural Economics, Cooperatives, Educational Management and Planning, Economics, and Sociology in the undergraduate program. In partnership with Indira Gandhi National Open University of India (IGNOU), it runs graduate programs in eight areas of studies in distance learning. Partnering with the Open University of Tanzania, SMU offers Masters programs in four areas.

Quality and standard are among the primary foci at SMU. St. Mary’s carries out a range of activities to enhance teaching, learning and assessment to enrich student skills and experience. The University has a testing center, which is entrusted with administering higher education admission tests, exit examinations, and recruitment tests for employers. This center enjoys the recognition of international organizations. It conducts international tests such as TOEFL, GRE, Praxis, and CISI. The Testing Center also engages in offering training to instructors on exam blueprint preparation and measurement and evaluation. 

SMU has a strong research culture to advance a conducive environment for students, academics, researchers and practitioners. The University organizes four conferences annually. The International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa, which draws world-class scholars and researchers from across the world, has been held for the last twenty,one years without interruption. 

The Multi-disciplinary Seminar, which brings scholars and practitioners in diverse areas, has been organized for fifteen years continuously. The Student Research Forum, which provides special opportunity for students to practice and demonstrate 21st century skills, has been organized for seventeen years. The College of Open and Distance Learning Seminar, which focuses on the open and distance learning, has been held for eleven years. In addition to these four conferences, an annual research review session, where SMU faculties present proposals for funding, is held every year. Findings of these conferences, seminars, and forums are published in proceedings and disseminated to stakeholders in various forms. 

The University publishes peer reviewed biannual journals in Law, Business, and Agriculture, and a bi-annual bulletin of Teacher Education in addition to the books it publishes in diverse disciplines including the primary readers. The Law journal – Mizan Law Review, and the Journal of Business and Administrative Studies (JBAS) have been accredited by the Ministry of Education. To date, SMU’s Press has published over hundred different title books.

SMU strongly believes in and is proactive and responsive to partnership and collaboration. More than ten Master’s programs have been run in collaboration with foreign universities and several projects have been executed with different local and international institutions. SMU is the founding member of the Association of the Ethiopian Private Higher Education and TVET Institutions. It is a member of the Association of African Universities (AAU, Ghana), the Association of International Universities (France) (where the President of SMU is serving as board member) and the Institute of International Education (IIE, USA). It is also an associate member of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE), an associate member of African Quality Assurance Network (AfriQAN), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). It also partners with several foreign universities and runs programs jointly.  

SMU actively engages in the socio-economic development of Ethiopia. Its commitment to the quality of its services and contributions toward the enhancement of higher education in Ethiopia has won it public and government credibility. The 21 conferences held over the last two decades have been recognized by the Association of African Universities which has become a partner since 2010. The President of SMU has been chosen to serve as a jury member of the Ethiopian Quality Award, which works toward improving the quality of services and products of companies in Ethiopia, has been receiving annual recognition from the nation’s Office of the President on annual basis. He has served as a board member of the Ethiopian Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency for many years and is now elected to serve as a board member of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education. SMU, represented by its President, also served as a Vice Chair of the Board of Ethiopian Red Cross and Crescent for two terms. The Vice President, the former Dean of the Student Support Services Office, the Director for the Center for Educational Improvement Quality Assurance and the former Head of the Language Enhancement Center of the University also served as committee members of the Board of Ethiopian Red Cross and Crescent at Sub-city level for which they have been acknowledged. The University has been awarded cups and certificates for its contributions by various community groups and organizations. 

SMU has two campuses: one for undergraduate and the other for graduate programs; both of them are a walking distance from the headquarters of the African Union. Both campuses are located at the heart of the city right at the popular Mexico Square


Very Friendly and Welcoming Environment for Learning

  St. Mary’s University provides students with a very friendly and welcoming environment to enhance their potential. It is not only an institution from which students will acquire knowledge and skills, but it also creates the most comfortable environment for them to contribute to the knowledge, skills and experience building and sharing endeavors. Different forums are put in place to help students practice their leadership, management, presentation, research, debate and critical thinking skills. Its conducive campuses help students grow personally, academically, professionally, and socially.

Commitment to Quality Educational and Professional Services

St. Mary’s University has a well-established culture of quality assurance and enhancement practices. To ensure that its services are of high quality and standard, SMU involves practitioners, academicians and researchers in its teaching and assessment. This allows students to see the convergence and/or divergence between theory and practice

Safe Campus

St. Mary’s University has been a premier choice for both boys and girls because it has very safe campuses. More than 60% of the undergraduate and about 40% of the graduate students are female. SMU takes extra care for its students. To this effect, the University has put in place systems that help students exercise their rights.

Smoking-Free Campuses

With a view to keep the teaching learning environment healthy, St. Mary’s University has made its campuses smoking-free for more than a decade and a half now.


St. Mary’s University has two campuses. They are located at the heart of Addis Ababa,  formerly known as Maichew now Mexico Square. The campuses are half a kilometer away from each other. Both of them are accessible for students coming from and going to different directions. One can catch a taxi a couple of minutes’ walk away from the campuses to go to any direction of the city.


St. Mary’s University (SMU) is a premier accredited private university in Ethiopia. Established in 1998 as a college, SMU got its university status in 2013 following the rigorous evaluation by the then Ethiopian Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA) now Education and Training Authority. St. Mary’s is committed to quality education, research and community services. Having evolved from a language center, it now offers undergraduate and graduate programs in various fields of studies with magnificent dynamism to meet the rapidly growing demands of students, the industry and the country at large. As an entrepreneurial university, SMU places high regard to the critical need for entrepreneurship. Its sustained commitment to the quality of its services has won it trust and credibility by the public. The figure below shows the turning points of the University.