The place of American University among major universities with first-rate faculties and academic programs grounded in the arts and sciences is secured by its enduring commitment to uncompromising quality in the education of its students. But its distinctive feature, unique in higher education, is its capacity as a national and international university to turn ideas into action and action into service by emphasizing the arts and sciences, then connecting them to the issues of contemporary public affairs writ large, notably in the areas of government, communication, business, law, and international service.
Recognized for its emphasis on personalized teaching and experiential education, the university provides for the direct involvement of faculty and students in the institutions and culture of the most important capital city in the world. Since its founding by an Act of Congress in 1893 as a private, independent, coeducational institution, under the auspices of The United Methodist Church, American University has been a national and international university. This is reflected in the scope of its teaching and research programs and the diversity of its faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and student body, today representing over 135 countries.
The university actively encourages a commitment to public service, inclusive participation in university governance, equity and equal access, and an appreciation of diverse cultures and viewpoints. Its commitment to social justice, its ability to respond to the needs of a changing world while retaining its core values, and its capacity to turn to educational advantage the resources of the nation's capital are hallmarks of the institution.
The university distinguishes itself through a broad array of undergraduate and graduate programs that stem from these primary commitments:
interdisciplinary inquiry transcending traditional boundaries among academic disciplines and between administrative units
international understanding reflected in curriculum offerings, faculty research, study abroad and internship programs, student and faculty representation, and the regular presence of world leaders on campus
interactive teaching providing personalized educational experiences for students, in and out of the classroom
research and creative endeavors consistent with its distinctive mission, generating new knowledge beneficial to society
practical application of knowledge through experiential learning, taking full advantage of the resources of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area
The central commitment of American University is to the development of thoughtful, responsible human beings in the context of a challenging yet supportive academic community.