Internationalization has been at the heart of the foundation of Saint Joseph University resulting on one hand, from cooperation that has been made between Jesuits of different nationalities and on the other, from relations with the Ottoman Empire, the Vatican and France.
The diplomas awarded by USJ were French diplomas up until 1975 when Saint Joseph University became a Lebanese University and started issuing Lebanese diplomas. The privileged relations with France still exist in the form of numerous cooperation agreements. Currently, USJ boasts agreements with 275 partner institutions that spread across 42 countries around the world, including Francophone, Jesuit and Arab institutions.
USJ is also a member of numerous international networks such as: the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), the International Association of Universities (IAU), the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU), the European Federation of Catholic Universities (FUCE), the Association of Jesuit Institutions of Higher Education in Europe and Lebanon (ASJEL), the Association of Arab Universities (AAU), the Euro-Mediterranean University Tethys, the Permanent Forum of European Universities (EPUF), the Anna Lindh Foundation, and the Talloires Network for Civic Engagement, to name a few.
In 2005, an International Relations office was created with seven key strategic objectives in mind:
- Enriching academic programs through the contributions of over 400 visiting professors as well as 400 outgoing teaching mobilites every year;
- Developing hosting facilities related to students and staff mobility;
- Developing new international programs;
- Developing cooperation relations in new geographical areas;
- Committing to the Arab world and Francophonie;
- Promoting existing partnerships and researching new strategic collaborations;
- Being involved in European cooperation programs.