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Muslim college gains accreditation

Berkeley-based Zaytuna College is accredited this month

A Berkeley-based college has become the first accredited Muslim campus in the country after it received approval from a key educational association. 

Zaytuna College, which was founded in 2008 and began holding classes the next year, offers liberal arts courses in politics, religion and ethics. Tuition is $15,000 annually and housing costs are $9,000. About 50 undergraduates are enrolled.

The school has been going through the accreditation process for several years and was approved by the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges this month. With the approval, students at the school could be eligible for federal financial aid, although most students receive private donations to pay for their education and graduate debt free.

The association is one of several accrediting groups and reviews schools' educational and financial records before giving approval.

The association's accrediting commission noted that Zaytuna had developed rigorous standards and has a driven student body.

"While Zaytuna has developed an exceptionally demanding undergraduate curriculum, its students enthusiastically embrace the distinctive character of this educational opportunity," the associated said in a letter.

Hamza Yusuf, the school's president, said he hoped there would be more schools that follow Zaytuna's lead.

"And we hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come," Yusuf said in a statement. 

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