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4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016-8001
p. 202-885-1000

American University

American University Rating: 4.4/5 (73 votes)

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American University (AU) was born of George Washington’s vision of a national university, open to Americans and students worldwide. While technically the brainchild of Washington, it was John Fletcher Hurst who actually founded the school in 1914.

Since it first opened, AU has cultivated a reputation as one of the country’s top universities and consistently ranks as one of the best universities in the country by Princeton Review’s Best Colleges and U.S. News and World Report.. The school attracts students from around the country and the world. Students hail from more than 145 nations to comprise 10 percent of the university’s 13,000 undergraduate, graduate, law, and study abroad students.


A private liberal arts school, the institution holds accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and professional degrees in addition to certificate and non-degree programs with professors typically holding the highest degree possible in their fields. The faculty/student ration is 13:1.

The College of Arts and Sciences, Kogod School of Business, the School of Communication, the School of International Service, the School of Public Affairs, and Washington School of Law are the main colleges. The university offers 57 undergraduate degrees, 53 graduate degrees, and 10 doctoral degree programs.

The university has also become well-known for its Washington Semester Program, which allows visiting students from around the world and the United States to study at the university and to undertake internships in the nation’s capital.

The Kogod School of Business has been named one of the nation’s best business schools by Business Week, The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Business Journal. It attracts students from more than 60 countries because of its unique dual degree programs. Students can earn degrees in both business and law, can opt for a business and music degree, or can create their own interdisciplinary degree. The Kogod School of Business currently offers a range of majors, including advanced tax concepts, entrepreneurship, real estate, sustainability management, and taxation.

The School of Communication’s doctoral program can be completed in only three years, allowing students to cut down on the traditional four to six year completion rate and to get into the workforce more quickly.

Most Popular Fields of Study


Admissions are competitive with 53 percent of applicants receiving acceptance letters each year, earning the university a spot on U.S. News & World Report’s 100 Lowest Acceptance Rates. In addition to high school transcripts and test scores, generally the SAT or the ACT, the admissions committee evaluates applicants based on letters of recommendation and a statement of interest. International applications are required to demonstrate a proficiency in English by submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Applicants who have been homeschooled must, in addition to the normal freshmen applicant requirements, submit the curriculum that was followed, including but not limited to readings and descriptions of courses, and a statement outlining the homeschooling philosophy. Applicants may be contacted for further information after the initial application materials have been reviewed.

In addition, there is an early decision application option for freshmen applicants who have chosen the university as their top school. Applicants, however, must agree to attend if they are accepted and must have their completed application materials sent to the school by mid-November. Acceptance letters, including financial aid and scholarships offered, are generally sent out at the end of December.

All other applicants must turn in their applications and supporting materials by mid-January for the fall semester and by the beginning of October for the spring semester.

Applicants to the graduate school or Washington College of Law are required to submit the relevant test scores (GRE or LSAT) and must apply for admission through the school to which they are applying. Applications and financial assistance information is available directly through the individual colleges.

Financial Aid

Students often fund their education through grants, scholarships, and loans with more than 80 percent of all freshmen receiving financial aid.


AU accepts grants from several states, in addition to the District of Columbia, including Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Delaware, and Connecticut. Students should be advised that states typically require their funds be used in-state, although some exceptions do exist.

Students may qualify for grants from the federal government. Both the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant are available to students who demonstrate considerable financial need.

The university also offers its own grant program. The American University Grant is awarded to students based on financial need and can only be used to pay for tuition. Students also receiving scholarships and other grants may have the amount of their grant adjusted accordingly.


Incoming freshmen and transfer students are automatically considered for scholarships, including the AU Freshmen Merit Scholarship, the Presidential Scholarship, and the Leadership Scholarship. Recipients generally exhibit strong leadership skills and possess a strong academic record.

The Athletic Department also offers athletic scholarships to standout transfer and freshmen student athletes.

In addition, eligible students are automatically considered for a limited number of privately endowed scholarships. The one-time only awards generally range from $100 up to $10,000.

Other Funding Options

Students can supplement their grant and scholarship funding by participating in the Federal Work Study Program or by taking out a loan. Students and their parents have several loan options, among them The Stafford Loan and The Parent Plus Loan.

Students and their parents have the option of paying tuition in installment plans. The academic year installment plan generally requires between 10 and 12 payments while the semester installment plan is paid in three payments. Each requires students to reapply for the payment plan after the current one ends.

Students needing assistance with financial aid issues can visit the Financial Aid Office on campus.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 1699th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Dist. of Columbia.


Resident Life

The campus is located in the heart of Washington DC with easy access to the suburbs of Northern Virginia and Maryland. The metro and bus system provide quick access to just about anywhere in and around the city and the campus.

Students who opt to live on campus may live in one of eight residential halls on the South, North, and Tenley Campuses. Anderson Hall is the largest residential building, is laid out in traditional dormitory style, and caters to freshmen and sophomores. Students share hall bathrooms and can seek assistance or advice from the two Resident Assistants (RA) living on each floor. Nebraska Hall, on the other hand, offers apartment-style living with one to four bedroom apartments, living rooms, private bathroom, and a shared kitchen.

In addition to residencies, the university also features several Living-Learning Communities. Living-Learning Communities allow students with common interests to live together and to engage in educational opportunities together. One of the current Living-Learning Communities is The Sophomore Seminar. Residents of the community, who must be sophomores, all live together on one floor and will take a general studies class together.

Amenities in residential halls include cable television, wireless internet, and furniture. Residents in each building also have access to common lounges and fully equipped kitchens on each floor.

In a move designed to become more environmentally conscious, the residences provide showering students with water from solar thermal units. The university also uses wind power for 100% of its purchased electricity.


Students can peruse dozens of clubs and student organizations, ranging from academic (Anthropology Club and International Communication Student Forum) to social justice (Dignity for Women Worldwide to STAND: An Anti-Genocide Student Coalition). There is a strong Greek system with more than 20 fraternities and sororities.

Student Media

Students can keep up with the latest campus news through student media, which is all run entirely by students. The Eagle Online, the campus newspaper, provides students with the latest news both on and off campus while ATV, the official campus television station, airs student-produced programming 24 hours a day. Politically minded students might want to join or just read the once-a-semester student magazine American Way of Life.. The American Literacy Magazine, American Word Magazine, and The Talon Yearbook round out the officially recognized publications on campus.

The Student Activities organization sponsors and plans many of the activities on campus, including concerts, movies, workshops, and lectures.

Experience DC

Students who want to experience the District with other students can join Experience DC, sponsored by Student Activities. Experience DC provides students and faculty with the opportunity to see and experience all the city has to offer, from nighttime bus tours to taking in a dinner theater alongside visitors to the nation’s capital.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


AU Eagles

As on most university campuses, sports play an important role in university life. The Eagles, who wear orange and blue, have a long and celebrated history, with the men and women’s basketball teams first making their debuts in 1925.

The Eagles have a winning history in both men and women’s sports in the Patriot League. The women’s volleyball team claimed eight Patriot League titles in a row from 2000 through 2008; the women’s field hockey team earned champion status in the Patriot League for seven consecutive seasons from 2001 to 2009; and Steve Jonnings, the women’s field hockey coach, went to the Olympics, acting as the assistant coach to the U.S. Olympic team.

Men’s Teams

  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Soccer
  • Swimming and diving
  • Track and field
  • Wrestling

Women’s Teams

  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Lacrosse
  • Field hockey
  • Soccer
  • Track and field
  • Swimming and diving
  • Volleyball

Intramural and Club Sports

American University also has a thriving intramural program and club sports. The intramural program allows students to play in one of two leagues – the Eagle or the Clawed League. The Eagle League is ideal for students who want to be more competitive while the Clawed League is played more for fun.

Club sports, which pit AU teams against other schools, also have a strong presence on campus. Club sports include baseball, crew, cricket, cycling, field hockey, ice hockey, gymnastics, rugby, sailing, ultimate Frisbee, and volleyball.

Local Community

Students have all that Washington DC has to offer at their doorstep: The Smithsonian Museums, Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall, and the Lincoln Memorial provide only a small taste of the city’s rich history. Events fill the calendar throughout the year with hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to the city for the Fourth of July fireworks display, the lighting of the White House Christmas tree, and the Cherry Blossoms Festival in April.

Sports fans have plenty to cheer about all year around whether they root for DC’s or Baltimore’s teams. The District is home to baseball’s Nationals, football’s Redskins, hockey’s Capitals, and basketball’s Wizards.

Washington DC is also a gateway to major cities, including Baltimore, and the beaches of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia are within easy access by car, train, and bus. Students can trek through the city on the metro, on bike, or on city buses.

Information Summary

Ranks 2nd in Dist. of Columbia and 156th overall
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Campus Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault 4 0.03
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape 4 0.03
Robbery 3 0.02
Arson 4 0.03
Burglary 31 0.24
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft 4 0.03
Arrest N/A N/A

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 2,949 0.48
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter 108 0.02
Forcible Rape 172 0.03
Robbery 3,756 0.61
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 3,849 0.62
Larceny 20,124 3.26
Vehicle theft 4,339 0.70

Demographics – Main Campus and Surrounding Areas

Reported area around or near Washington, DC 20016-8001
Surrounding communityLarge city (inside urban area, pop. over 250,000)
Total Population31,374 (31,374 urban / N/A rural)
Households13,926 (1.97 people per house)
Median Household Income$80,651
Families6,229 (2.73 people per family)

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Doctoral/Research Universities
UndergraduateArts & sciences plus professions, high graduate coexistence
GraduateComprehensive doctoral (no medical/veterinary)
Undergraduate PopulationFull-time four-year, more selective, lower transfer-in
EnrollmentMajority undergraduate
Size & SettingLarge four-year, highly residential

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringDoctoral degree
Calendar SystemSemester
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationUnited Methodist
Congressional District1198

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 136th for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $40,132 $40,132 $40,132
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $517 $517 $517
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour $1,337 $1,337 $1,337
FT Graduate Tuition $25,920 $25,920 $25,920
FT Graduate Required Fees $430 $430 $430
PT Graduate per Credit Hour $1,440 $1,440 $1,440
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $56,808 $56,808 $56,808
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $56,808 $56,808 $56,808
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $43,328 $43,328 $43,328

Student Tuition Costs for Professional Fields

  In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Law Degree — Tuition $47,268 $47,268
Law Degree — Required Fees $880 $880

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $38,071 $39,499 $38,071 $39,499 $38,071 $39,499
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $800(N/C)
On-Campus – Room & Board $13,648 $13,920
On-Campus – Other Expenses $1,134(N/C)
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $13,648 $13,920
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $1,134(N/C)
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $1,834(N/C)

Admission Details

Effective as of 2014-09-19
Application Fee RequiredN/A
Undergraduate Application Fee$70
Graduate Application Fee$65
First Professional Application FeeN/A
Applicants 17,545 (6,580 male / 10,965 female)
Admitted 7,566 (2,473 male / 5,093 female)
Admission rate 43%
First-time Enrollment 1,627 (556 male / 1,071 female)
FT Enrollment 1,624 (556 male / 1,068 female)
PT Enrollment 3 (N/A male / 3 female)
Total Enrollment12,818

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record  /  N/A / 
College Prep. Completion
Formal competency demo
Admission test scores
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Athletics - Association Memberships

Sports / Athletic Conference Memberships NCAA
NCAA Basketball Conference Patriot League
NCAA Track & Field Conference Patriot League

ACT Test Admission

118th for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting ACT results 35%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 26 / 33
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 24 / 28
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 26 / 30

SAT Test Admission

126th for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting SAT results 67%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 590 / 690
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 570 / 660
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 1160 / 1350

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm Capacity3,977
Meals per WeekN/A
Room Fee$9,466
Board Fee$4,714

Student Completion / Graduation Demographics

Total 159 237 238 240 17 1,816 667 3,436
Accounting 7 8 2 9 1 38 12 79
Acoustics 2 3 1 10 2 18
American/U.S. Law/Legal Studies/Jurisprudence 6 9 2 3 10 30
American/United States Studies/Civilization 3 3 6
Anthropology 3 3 1 20 10 37
Applied Mathematics, General 2 2
Applied and Professional Ethics 1 1
Art History, Criticism and Conservation 2 14 4 20
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management, Other 1 1
Arts, Entertainment,and Media Management, General 1 2 1 4
Asian Studies/Civilization
Biochemistry 1 2 3
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 1 3 1 7 16 11 39
Business Administration and Management, General 13 20 30 31 176 52 329
Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other 3 3
Chemistry, General 1 1 2 4 8
Cinematography and Film/Video Production 1 11 5 3 1 38 11 71
Communication and Media Studies, Other 1 1 6 8
Computer Science 4 1 5
Creative Writing 3 7 3 13
Criminal Justice/Safety Studies 4 8 10 64 14 101
Curriculum and Instruction 6 1 1 11 9 28
Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia 3 5 1 9
Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General 1 4 1 7
Economics, General 2 2 8 6 2 29 20 71
Economics, Other 1 1
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities 1 7 2 10
Educational Leadership and Administration, General 1 1
Elementary Education and Teaching 7 19 7 34
Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurial Studies 1 1
Environmental Science 1 1 1 3 4 10
Environmental Studies 2 10 6 19
Ethics 1 3 2 1 4 2 13
Ethnic, Cultural Minority, Gender, and Group Studies, Other
European Studies/Civilization
Experimental Psychology 7 4 11
Film/Cinema/Video Studies 4 3 2 17 6 32
Finance, General 8 2 6 8 31 10 65
Financial Mathematics 7 7
Fine and Studio Arts Management 1 1 1 11 8 22
Fine/Studio Arts, General 1 6 2 10
Foods, Nutrition, and Wellness Studies, General 2 2 4
French Language and Literature 2 2
French Studies 2 2
General Literature 1 2 1 20 5 30
German Language and Literature 1 1
German Studies 2 2
Graphic Design 2 8 5 15
Health and Physical Education/Fitness, General 1 2 1 9 14
History, General 3 1 2 42 11 59
International Business/Trade/Commerce
International Economics 1 1 1 3
International Law and Legal Studies 35 3 7 12 1 14 35 107
International Relations and Affairs 41 33 65 68 4 435 158 820
International and Comparative Education 1 1 9 5 16
International and Intercultural Communication 1 1 5 2 10
Journalism 1 9 7 5 52 13 89
Language Interpretation and Translation 1 8 5 14
Latin American Studies 4 11 8 23
Legal Professions and Studies, Other 1 1 2 4
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies
Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography 1 1 2
Marketing/Marketing Management, General
Mass Communication/Media Studies 6 22 15 12 86 18 167
Mathematics, General 1 6 4 11
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other 1 2 3 15 3 24
Music History, Literature, and Theory 1 1 10 2 14
Music, General 1 7 3 11
Near and Middle Eastern Studies 1 1
Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution 9 5 3 2 2 26 13 61
Personality Psychology 1 2 3
Philosophy 1 2 1 15 4 26
Physics, General 4 5 9
Political Science and Government, General 4 10 20 14 121 28 200
Political Science and Government, Other 1 1 1 4
Pre-Medicine/Pre-Medical Studies
Psychology, General 8 10 2 1 56 22 101
Public Administration 5 22 3 6 54 16 109
Public Administration and Social Service Professions, Other 1 3 2 10 6 22
Public Health, General 2 2
Public Policy Analysis, General 3 4 1 4 1 39 9 61
Real Estate 1 7 1 9
Religion/Religious Studies 2 1 3
Russian Language and Literature
Russian Studies 2 2
Secondary Education and Teaching 5 3 1 1 23 13 47
Social Sciences, General 2 4 1 39 9 55
Social Sciences, Other 1 2 3
Sociology 1 6 2 22 6 37
Spanish Language and Literature 5 1 6
Speech Communication and Rhetoric 2 1 15 1 19
Sport and Fitness Administration/Management 1 1 10 7 21
Statistics, General 1 2 2 4 4 13
Statistics, Other
Taxation 1 2 5 14 7 29
Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ESL Language Instructor 1 8 9 18
Women's Studies 1 1 2

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 220th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $99,668 ($108,080 male / $86,498 female)
Number of FT Faculty 767 (422 male / 345 female)
Number of PT Faculty 1,385
FT Faculty Ratio 0.6 : 1
Total Benefits $18,263,000

Elisabeth Bailey+

Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

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