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    Feb 23, 2024  
American University Catalog 2015-2016 
American University Catalog 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

CAS General Information

Undergraduate Program Information

Academic Advisement

The College challenges students to assume substantial responsibility for defining their educational goals, yet provides careful professional guidance to help them respond to the challenge. Undergraduates plan their academic programs with academic counselors and faculty advisors according to their interests, professional plans, and academic progress. Before they enroll in classes, first-semester freshmen choose courses with the assistance of a detailed curriculum guide. During freshman orientation, students are assigned an academic counselor who serves as the primary advisor until they choose their majors, usually by the end of the sophomore year. After students formally declare their majors, they are advised by faculty advisors from their major departments, but may consult with their academic counselor as needed. At transfer orientation or upon enrollment, transfer students meet with an academic counselor and then go to the departments of their intended majors for academic advisement as described above. Transfer students undecided on a major, are advised by an academic counselor.

Foreign Language

The university encourages students to gain proficiency in at least one foreign language, especially those embarking on a career in international relations, study of the humanities, or specialization in minority groups in the United States. Graduate study will often require proficiency in one or more foreign languages.


Internships engage students in practical experiences, support learning, and provide on-the-job training. Interns work in many organizations in both the public and the private sectors in the Washington area. The growing number of internships in the College is testimony to both their popularity and their success. For more information on internships, students should consult with their academic units and the Career Center.


No later than the end of the sophomore year, students in the College are expected to declare an academic major. In this field the student pursues study in depth and synthesizes academic knowledge. Major programs are described in the departmental sections. Students should become familiar with departmental requirements and regulations as stated in this catalog. When making a formal declaration of major, students are assigned an academic advisor who will supervise their studies until graduation. Students interested in the natural sciences, mathematics, music, and art need to take specific courses in the freshman year if they intend to complete a degree in eight semesters. Such students should declare their interests as soon as possible and seek explicit counseling from the appropriate department.


Undergraduate students may earn a minor in most departments and programs of the College of Arts and Sciences. All minor programs consist of a minimum of 18 credit hours, including at least 9 credit hours at the 300 level or above. For all minors, at least 9 credit hours of the stated requirements must be taken in residence at American University and at least 12 credit hours of the minor must be unique to the minor. For more information see undergraduate degree requirements. For descriptions of specific minor programs, see individual departmental listings.

Individualized Majors and Minors

College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate students may design their own majors and minors by applying to a review committee overseen by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies. Students must have a 3.50 cumulative GPA and must apply no later than before the completion of 60 earned credits in residence at American University.

Individualized programs must American University’s minimum requirements for majors and minors.

Preprofessional Programs

Preprofessional programs are available in engineering, law, and medicine and related health fields. Pretheology students find the university’s relationship with the Wesley Theological Seminary beneficial, and the Kay Spiritual Life Center directs an innovative program of religious activities that complements preprofessional studies in religion.

Study Abroad

AU Abroad offers the opportunity for students to study abroad and gain full American University course credit. All students are encouraged to learn and work in another culture. Students may spend a semester or year at prestigious universities in over 40 countries, spanning six continents. In addition, international study tours led by faculty members are offered during semester breaks and summer sessions. For more information and a full listing of AU Abroad programs, go to:

CAS LEAD Program

The College of Arts and Sciences Leadership and Ethical Development Program (CAS LEAD) is a selective sequenced four-year certificate program designed to teach and empower students from all CAS majors to become effective leaders and problem solvers. The program, which was specifically designed for CAS students, is based on the study of ethics and leadership theory. Students apply to the program the summer before their freshman year. The program can be added to any existing CAS major and is compatible the AU Living/Learning Programs, AU Scholars, and the Honors Program, study abroad, and internship opportunities. For further information, including the application, see:

Leadership and Ethical Development (Undergraduate Certificate)  

Graduate Program Information

The graduate programs of the College of Arts and Sciences are directed toward the development of highly competent scientists, artists and performers, sensitive teachers, and critical scholars. To achieve this objective, the College provides an academic setting and climate favorable to the free interchange of ideas and the disciplined exploration and testing of concepts and hypotheses.

Doctoral programs are offered in anthropology, economics, history, clinical psychology, and behavior, cognition, and neuroscience.