Establishment

St. Mary’s University (SMU) evolved from St. Mary’s Language School, which started operation in 1991, and, as a college, it was established in 1998 with campuses in Addis Ababa and Hawassa. Upon establishment, the College had its Head Office in Hawassa, which moved to Addis Ababa in 1999. Showing noticeable growth 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.  

SMU offers accredited undergraduate and graduate programs in diverse fields of studies in the conventional and distance modes of learning fully accredited by the national quality assurance organization. At present, it offers programmes in Accounting, Computing Science, Management, Marketing Management, and Tourism and Hospitality Management in the regular and extension classes at undergraduate level. The regular graduate programmes offered by the School of Graduate Studies include MBA programmes 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 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 nineteen years without interruption. 

The Multi-disciplinary Seminar, which brings scholars and practitioners in diverse areas, has been organized for 13 years continuously. The Student Research Forum, which provides special opportunity for students to practice and demonstrate 21st century skills, has been organized for 15 years. The College of Open and Distance Learning Seminar, which focuses on the open and distance learning, has been held for nine 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 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 – has been accredited by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (now Ministry of Education) and the Journal of Business and Administrative Studies is undergoing evaluation for accreditation. To date, SMU’s Press has published over hundred book titles. 

SMU strongly believes in and is proactive and responsive to partnership and collaboration. More than 10 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 Institutions. It is a member of the Association of African Universities (AAU, Ghana), the Association of International Universities (France) 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). 

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 19 conferences held over the last two decades have been recognized by the association of African Universities which has become a collaborator 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 and receives 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 selected 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 recognitions have been made. The University has been awarded cups and certificates for its contributions by the 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.