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Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars | Apply


Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program
Hughes, Room 100

Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016-8119
A teacher in front of a classroom of students.


The award-winning Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars (FDDS) program has emerged as one of the nation’s best leadership development programs. Our mission is to elevate the ideas, influence, and impact of enterprising students for creative collaboration, post-baccalaureate achievement, and a lifetime of giving. We bring together students of high potential and groom them for socially responsible leadership in creative industries, communications, government, law, technology, business, entrepreneurship, education, medicine, health, and international service. 


Scholarships: Every Scholar receives full tuition, as well as mandatory fees, books, on-campus housing, and a generous meal plan. This scholarship is renewable for a total of four years of undergraduate study, provided scholars satisfy academic performance and program requirements.

Customized Career and Academic Planning: Each Scholar creates and implements a personal and professional development plan of action, tailored to his or her short-term and long-term goals.

International Engagement: Scholars can leverage our local and global resources to better understand challenges in North America, South America, Europe, and other areas of the world.


The program is only open to first-year undergraduate students who have an expressed interest in leadership development and attending graduate and/or professional school. The program annually admits a cohort of 5 high-achieving Scholars from a wide range of backgrounds. You may apply during your final year of high school or within four years of receiving your high school diploma/GED. You also must apply separately to the Honors program. Undergraduate Admissions and the FDDS Faculty Advisory Committee will assess candidates based on their leadership experience, intellectual curiosity, standardized test scores, recommendation letters, personal qualities, and demonstrated commitment to positive social change. While we encourage applications from all ambitious, well-rounded students, the most competitive applicants will:

  • have a minimum 3.3 GPA (unweighted) or 3.5 GPA (weighted);
  • have a minimum 1190 SAT (critical reading/math) or 26 ACT;
  • aspire to obtain a graduate and/or professional degree;
  • demonstrate a commitment to the betterment of the human condition and a lifetime of giving; and
  • be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

Athletes are strongly encouraged to apply. Finalists will be interviewed on campus. Travel costs, including lodging and meals, will not be covered by American University.


The application deadline for the FDDS program can be found here.

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