Chartered by an act of Congress in 1893, American University (AU) sits in a green suburban neighborhood of Washington DC, a little removed from the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital. A major research hub, the university’s faculty, network, and resources are put at the disposal of its almost 7,000 undergraduate students, who come from 129 countries and all 50 states.
Situated a short shuttle ride from the closest metro station, AU offers a more visibly traditional campus feel than would be expected in such an urban setting. Most academic buildings surround the quad, with students chatting and studying in the sun, coffee in hand. Everything is within walking distance and students have access to various restaurants on campus, as well as several coffee shops, and a grocery store. Student housing is guaranteed for two years, often in doubles, with the occasional triple room. Each room is equipped with cable and a thermostat, and each residential floor hosts a communal lounge with a kitchen.
The university is broken into seven academic colleges. At the undergraduate level these include the College of Arts and Sciences, the Kogod School of Business, the School of Communication, the School of International Service, and the School of Public Affairs. Although students apply to the university as a whole, they are placed in a particular school upon admission, the largest of which is the College of Arts and Sciences. The curriculum includes several general requirements, including two semesters of college-level writing and one level of college level math although AU does accept college credit earned in high school. The most popular major is International Relations closely followed by business and political science. In fact, the Kogod School of Business has its very own independent career center and an entrepreneurial lab. The latter is a resource for students interested in starting their own for-profit or non-profit businesses. The average class size is 23 students and the student: faculty ratio is 12: 1.
American is unique in its various optional rigorous programs for students who wish to challenge themselves. These include the Honors Programs, which come with a hefty scholarship and opportunities to research with key experts from the start of freshman year. Another option is the Three-Year Scholars Programs, an accelerated opportunity that maintains the traditional university experiences as well as options of internships and study abroad. Both programs, which require additional applications, have individual deadlines and requirements. Students may also be invited to join one of the two selective living-learning communities.
American University’s three foundational components are its distinguished faculty, engaged students, and the “Washington lab.” Faculty members are from all walks of life and careers, including former ambassadors and academic experts – 94 percent of whom have the highest degree in their field. AU students are actively engaged on campus, through over 200 clubs and organizations, and off campus, where AU students are collectively responsible for over 10,000 volunteer hours over the course over a weekend. In fact, the university is on the Presidential Honor Roll for Community Service for the fifth year in a row. The Washington lab, as admissions officer Tristin Kitts explained, is the commitment to using Washington DC as a learning laboratory and an extended classroom. This takes the form of exclusive internships at the White House, NBC, NPR, Homeland Security and research opportunities that begin as early as freshman year.
Another benefit to AU is the fact that 89 percent of its students participate in internships during their college experience, with the average student completing between three and five such programs. Not surprisingly, within six months of graduation, 91 percent of AU graduates are working or in graduate school full-time, in their field.
Another hallmark of AU is its study abroad program. With 135 locations available to students and with aid remaining unchanged while a student is away, almost 60 percent of AU students study abroad. Within certain majors, the number jumps to 80 percent.
AU ranks among the most politically active school in the nation. A member of the Division I Patriot League, its sports teams compete as the American University Eagles.
American University offers three rounds of applications: Early Decision I and II and Regular Decision. It accepts both the Common Application and the recently inaugurated Coalition Application, with no preference for either. Within the application, students will also submit high school transcripts which, noted admissions officer Kitts, should show that they have challenged themselves throughout high school. Students will also submit a secondary school form, which provide some context on the student’s high school, an activity report, and optional supplemental essays, which the vast majority of students choose to submit. American University has been test-optional for seven years and will Superscore both SAT and ACT scores.
AU prides itself on being a ‘need-aware’ university, meaning they will meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need through grants, loans, and work-study. Although it offers both need- and merit-based aid, there are no extra documents needed in order to apply for merit awards. Merit-based aid is maintained for all four years, provided academic performance is maintained.
Students enrolling at American University join the long list of notable alumni, including media personality Star Jones, president and COO of Goldman Sachs Gary Cohn, US Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Arthur S. Fleming, and co-chair of the Republican National Committee Patricia Harrison.
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20016