A leader in global education, AU enrolls a diverse student body from throughout the U.S. and more than 160 countries.
AU is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area , allowing students to enroll in courses offered by other member institutions and students at other member institutions to enroll in courses at AU.
AU traces its history to a letter written by George Washington, in which he expressed a desire for a "national university" to be located in the nation's capital. AU was chartered by an act of the United States Congress in 1893, nearly a century after Washington's death, and ground was broken in 1896. After some difficulties with funding, the first degrees were awarded in 1916, and the first undergraduates were admitted in 1925.
During both World War I and World War II, the university allowed the U.S. military to use some of its grounds for testing. In 1917, the US military divided American University into two segments, Camp American University and Camp Leach. Camp American University became the birthplace of the United States' chemical weapons program, and chemical weapons were tested on the grounds; this required a major cleanup effort in the 1990s. Camp Leach was the home to advanced research, develop and testing of modern camouflage techniques. During WWII, the campus was home to the US Navy Bomb Disposal School and a WAVE barracks. For AU's role in these wartime efforts, the Victory ShipSS American Victory was named in honor of the university. American took over the previously unaffiliated Washington College of Law in 1949, and added a business school and an international relations program in the 1950s.
AU's political intertwinement was furthered by President John F. Kennedy's Spring 1963 commencement address. In the speech, Kennedey called on the Soviet Union to work with the United States to achieve a nuclear test ban treaty and help reduce the considerable international tensions and the specter of nuclear war during that juncture of the Cold War.
The university has two campuses: The main campus off Ward Circle and the Tenley Campus. The university also owns a few buildings in the Tenleytown area, as well as the Washington College of Law building in Spring Valley. Additionally, in cooperation with Capital Properties, the university operates Park Bethesda, a 258-unit luxury apartment complex in Bethesda, Maryland to house graduate and upperclass-standing undergraduate students.
American University's main campus occupies 84 acres (340,000 m²) in a residential neighborhood in northwest Washington, D.C., at the intersection of Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues—the top of Embassy Row. Highlights of the campus include a main quadrangle surrounded by several academic buildings, six residential halls, a 5,000-seat arena, and an outdoor amphitheatre.
The major and notable buildings include the following:
Jack I. and Dorothy G. Bender Library and Learning Resources Center
Mary Graydon Center, home to the main dining facilities, student organization offices, and the School of Communications. A history of the building
Abbey Joel Butler Pavilion, administrative offices for the Office of Campus Life
Sports Center: Bender Arena, Reeves Aquatic Center
School of International Services, ground broken by President Dwight Eisenhower. A new building is slated to begin construction in 2006.
Hurst Hall, ground was broken for this first building in 1896 for what was to be the College of History.
McKinley Building, had its cornerstone laid by President Theodore Roosevelt. Slated to become the new home to the School of Communications.
Battelle-Tompkins Building, formerly the library until 1977 and now home to the College of Arts and Sciences.
Ward Circle Building, built in 1968 as a home for the School of Government and Public Administration (now the School of Public Affairs). The largest classroom building on campus.
Kay Spiritual Life Center, a nondenominational place of worship built in 1963, it is the home to the University Chaplains and is used for speeches and performances.
Kogod School of Business, formerly the home to the Washington College of Law. Is set to annex the now empty Experimental Theatre and Butler Instructional Center in 2006.
Residences: There are 6 residence halls on the main campus, capable of housing approximately 3000 students. Anderson, Letts and Centennial halls make up the southern cluster of residence halls, and Leonard, McDowell and Hughes halls make up the northern cluster of residence halls.
Former buildings include:
Leonard Learning Center/Cassell Center
This campus, formerly the Immaculate School, is located half a mile east of the main campus, and was purchased by American University in 1987. During the academic year, Tenley Campus is home to the Washington Semester Program students, and during the summer, American University uses the residence halls for summer interns. Administratively, Tenley Campus is home to the Washington Semester Program, the Office of Development, University Publications, and Media Relations.
Capital Hall, the oldest and most ornate of the Tenley Campus buildings, it houses 170 students, a fitness center and the stained glass chapel that is used for dance and music recitals.
Congressional Hall, with 156 students, contains the central reception desk for the Tenley Campus
Federal Hall, housing 107 students, contains the mailroom and the cafeteria on its first floor.
Dunblane House, a small administrative building.
Constituion Building, an administrative building.
A sports field used for intramural sport matches.
Public radio broadcasts
American University also operates a pubic radio station, WAMU, broadcasting at 88.5 mHz on the FM band. The commercial free station is affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Radio International. The station began broadcasting as the student radio station, but developed into a professionally staffed station when the administration spun off the student radio station. Original programming includes the Diane Rehm Show and Kojo Nnamdi Show.
Washington Semester program
American University also offers a "Washington Semester" program to subscribing colleges and universities nationwide. The purpose of the program is to bring students from various backgrounds together for a semester of study combining access to Washington, DC, insiders in a variety of different fields ranging from political science to journalism and the arts. Students enrolled in this program are also expected to find and hold an internship in their field of study during the 3-4 month program.
American University offers one of the most comprehensive and renowned study abroad programs in the United States. Open to both AU Students as well as students from other American universities, students can chose to participate in a number of diverse programs around the globe. Utilizing partner institions as well as AU-operated programs abroad, students can take courses and/or intern in over 30 countries. Additionally, students may arrange to study at a non-partnered or hosted instution abroad through AU Abroad. Programs are offered by semester, year or summer.
In 1997, American University was been included as one of the top 50 "wired campuses" in the United States by a Yahoo! survey. Since adding a campus-wide advanced wireless broadband network in 2001, American University has been classified as one of the most "unwired" campuses in the U.S. by Intel. Recently, American University has expanded its wireless precense by teaming with T-Mobile to first convert American University into the first HotSpot campus in 2004 and then again in 2005 when the Kogod School of Business became the first business school to integrate RSS data services with BlackBerry devices distributed to all graduate business students. In 2005 American University became one of the first Universities in the country to provide all students in on campus housing access to download free movie and music content via the Ruckus Network. The University Library also launched a program whereby its Media Services Department is converting films to digital format for exclusive use by faculty in teaching their coursework for streaming media content.
College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)
Department of American Studies Department of Anthropology Department of Art Department of Biology Department of Computer Science, Audio Technology, and Physics Department of Chemistry Degree Completion Programs Department of Economics Department of Education Department of Environmental Studies Department of Health and Fitness Department of History Department of Jewish Studies Department of Language and Foreign Studies Department of Literature Department of Mathematics and Statistics Department of Multimedia Design & Development Department of Performing Arts Department of Philosophy and Religion Department of Psychology Department of Sociology Department of Women's and Gender Studies
Kogod School of Business (KSB)
Department of Accounting Department of Finance Department of International Business Department of Management Department of Marketing Department of Information Technology
School of Communications (SOC)
Department of Film and Media Arts Department of Journalism Department of Public Communication
School of International Service (SIS)
Department of Comparative & Regional Studies Department of Global Environmental Politics Department of International Communication Department of International Development Department of International Economic Policy Department of International Peace & Conflict Resolution Department of International Politics Department of U.S. Foreign Policy
School of Public Affairs (SPA)
Department of Government Department of Justice, Law, & Society Department of Public Administration