American University fulfills George Washington’s dream of establishing a university in our nation’s capital. This Methodist-affiliated private college was charted by Congress in 1893 to train the public servants of the future. As such, the university has grown and flourished with the city of Washington D.C. and is actively involved in political affairs. For example, during the Great Depression, the university created a program to train federal employees to administrate New Deal policies. Now the program has evolved into a school for Public Affairs. During both WWI and WWII, the campus was used for military research and training. Even today, the school has twice been recognized by the Princeton Review for having the most politically active student body in the nation. The same publication ranked AU second in the nation for campus environment.
Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees are offered at American University. The school is noted for the large percentage of students who participate in internships or who study abroad, and has high-ranking programs in public policy, finance, and public management. A 2008 report by The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) praised the university for its student-faculty interaction, and for its challenging, enriching, and collaborative educational experiences.
American University began offering distance learning courses in 2004 and has been steadily increasing the available courses ever since. Classes are available to both current and visiting American University students. The same professors teach corresponding online versions of their campus courses. Many classes are available through the College of Arts & Sciences, the Kogod School of Business, and the Schools of International Service, Communication, and Public Affairs. Most of the courses are offered during the summer, though there are a few fall and spring classes available as well. The summer schedule includes ample courses from the School of Education, Teaching, and Health, as well as courses in literature, psychology, government, and journalism. Summer courses are offered for a discount at the rate of $2,400 for three credit hours, whereas spring and fall courses cost the same as their on-campus counterparts. Students fill out the FAFSA as well as a personal profile to help the university determine a financial aid package. Freshman should submit these forms by February first; current and transfer students have until March to apply for aid.
Classes are typically run asynchronously, which allows students a flexible schedule for completing course work. Blackboard is an online program that allows students to post comments, answer professors’ questions, and discuss assignments. Sometimes a program called Wimba is used for live lectures and discussions. Online classes may be challenging and time consuming because participation counts for a large part of the grade, so students will spend a lot of time reading and typing comments. Courses may progress twice as fast online, and students can expect to study ten to fifteen hours per week per class. Students can accelerate their education by taking up to two online classes at a time. Most students report that online classes are just as, if not more enriching than the classes they take on campus.