American University: Academics, Admissions & Tuition Info

Research the degree programs offered at American University in Washington, DC. Learn about its academics, and get admission and financial aid info to decide if this is the right school for you.

About American University

American University (AU) is a private, United Methodist-associated school located in northwest Washington, DC. Students come from all 50 states and 139 nations. In 2012, The Princeton Review named AU to the number one spot on its list of schools with the most politically active students. U.S. News and World Report ranked AU 77th on its 2013 list of national universities.


American University has seven schools and colleges, including the College of Arts and Sciences, the Kogod School of Business, the School of International Service, the School of Public Affairs and the Washington College of Law. The university offers 61 bachelor's degree programs, 54 master's degree programs and 11 doctoral programs in addition to law degrees (JD), associate degrees and certificates. The university also has more than 100 study abroad programs.

Out of all undergraduate students, 85% have taken part in an internship and more than half have participated in study abroad programs. Women make up more than half of the school's physical and natural science majors. The school's faculty includes full-time instructors, 94% of whom hold the highest degree in their field, and adjunct faculty members who are also journalists, scientists, artists, business leaders and policymakers.

Special programs for first-year students include learning communities, University College and honors programs. In learning communities, students can choose to participate in multiple courses centered on researching a topic from different views or single classes that focus on research outside the classroom as a team.

All first-year students are eligible to apply to the University College program, which lasts one Fall semester or the entire first year. For this program, participants must reside on campus and live in the same residence halls. The program includes field work or field service, seminars and class trips to Washington, DC. If students continue with the program for the Spring semester, they focus on a research project.

The Honors 101 program matches first-year honors students with upperclassman honors mentors and gives students the opportunity to reside with fellow honors students in the residence halls. Qualified students (limited to about 15% of an incoming class) are invited to join the honors program when they are admitted to the university and may remain in the program throughout their four years. Students who have completed at least two semesters and meet the program requirements may nominate themselves to join the honors program, which requires a senior capstone project.

American University offers some online courses. The College of Arts and Sciences hosts a specialized facility for professors to record their lectures; teachers can also invite special guests to video conference with students. The school's online course delivery technology includes special cameras and projectors.


The university accepts either the online or printed version of the Common Application. Applicants also need to submit the Common Application supplement, essays, SAT I or ACT test scores that include the writing portion, letters of recommendation, mid-year grades and the required application fee, unless the applicant has a fee waiver due to financial hardship. Scholarship and financial aid awards, if granted, are named in acceptance letters. For graduate admissions, students apply to a particular school.

Applicants can choose to participate in the university's pilot test-optional program. Applicants are evaluated on the basis of their application, essay, recommendation letters and participation in extracurricular activities; submission of ACT or SAT scores isn't required and won't be considered, even if already received by the school. The deadline for this program is November 15 for early decision applicants or December 1 for general admissions applicants and applicants using the second early decision deadline. Test-optional applicants remain eligible for the same scholarships and awards as all other applicants.

Applicants can apply for early decision, which is binding, with the choice of two application deadlines. For the November 15 deadline, applicants will be notified of the decision by December 31 and for the January 15 deadline, applicants will be notified by February 15. With the admissions decision, early decision applicants also find out if they've been granted financial aid, merit scholarships and an invitation to the honors program. For the Fall semester, the general admissions deadline for incoming freshmen is January 15. Students applying for Spring semester entrance must submit their applications by October 1 of the year before.

To apply for special academic programs, including the Global Scholars program, the Public Health Scholars program and the Politics, Policy and Law Scholars program, a separate online application is required. French Baccalaureat, AP, IB (International Baccalaureate), CLEP and other international exam credits may be accepted.

For the Fall 2011 semester, American University had 18,706 undergraduate applicants; 42% were admitted and 20% enrolled. In the Fall 2011 semester, there were 12,724 total students, including 7,212 undergraduate students and 5,512 graduate students.

Tuition & Financial Aid

For the 2012-2013 academic year, tuition is $19,491 per semester for full-time undergraduate students enrolled in 12-17 credit hours. Graduate tuition is $1,399 per credit hour for most students taking nine credit hours in full-time graduate programs. Master of Business Administration and Master of Science programs cost $16,507 per semester for 12-17 credit hours, and tuition for full-time law school students costs $22,957 per semester. Mandatory fees include a sports center fee, technology fee and activity fees. For the 2011-2012 academic year, books and supplies were estimated to cost $800. In that same year, room costs ranged from $3,346-$6,689, and meal plan rates ranged from $1,423-$2,846.

Students applying for early decision must complete their CSS Profile by November 15 or January 15, whichever matches the early decision application round chosen; these students must also submit the FAFSA by February 15. After financial aid has been applied, full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students may be eligible to pay the remainder of their tuition bill with year- or semester-length payment plans. Entering freshmen who don't have financial aid may choose to pay all four years of tuition upfront and be exempt from tuition increases in the future. Students can choose to enroll in a tuition insurance program, which guarantees reimbursement of 75% of the tuition price if the student has to withdraw from courses due to an accident or illness.

When students apply for admission, the admissions office awards qualified students merit and athletic scholarships. There is no need to fill out a scholarship application for these awards, unless the student is applying for a specific scholarship, such as the Tuition Exchange Scholarship, the Champions of Excellence Scholarship, the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholarship or the AU United Methodist Scholarship, all of which have specific eligibility requirements. The university offers grants based on need to undergraduate students. Graduate students can apply for assistantships or fellowships; they may also receive merit-based awards.

School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit*
Degrees Offered Associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; undergraduate and graduate certificates**
Religious Affiliation United Methodist*
Academic Calendar Semesters**
School Setting Large city*
Student Body 7,212 undergraduate students and 5,512 graduate students as of Fall 2011*
Student Housing Ten residence halls**
Schools and Programs Seven schools and colleges; 61 bachelor's degree programs, 54 master's degree programs, 11 doctoral programs, JD program; associate degrees and certificates**
Student-Faculty Ratio 12 to 1*
Most Popular Fields of Study by Degree Level (Number of Recipients) In 2011:
Associate: Liberal Arts and Sciences (3)
Bachelor's: International Relations and Affairs (365)
Master's: International Relations and Affairs (259)
Doctoral/Professional: Law (464)
Certificate: Public Administration and Social Service Professions, Other (11)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rates 74% in four years
77% in six years*
Admission Rate 42% in Fall 2011*
Entering Class Size Approximately 1,500 as of 2012***
First-Year Retention Rates 90%*
Average SAT Scores of Admitted Students Middle 50% SAT scores: 600-700 in critical reading, 570-670 math, 580-680 in writing in 2011*
Undergraduate Application Due Date Regular admissions: January 15
Early decision: November 15 or January 15**
Decision Notification Date Regular admissions notification: April 1***
Early decision notification: December 31 or February 15**
Tuition $19,491 per semester for undergraduates (2012-2013)**
Financial Aid Sources Available (Percentage of Full-time Beginning Undergraduates Receiving it) In 2011: Federal grants (16%), state and local grants (4%), institutional scholarships (71%), federal loans (56%)*
Percent of Full-time Beginning Undergraduates Receiving Some Form of Aid 80%*

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **American University, ***The College Board.

School Contact Information

  • Address: Office of Admissions, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016-8001
  • Phone: (202) 885-6000
  • Website:

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