Financing a graduate education can be daunting. But with some early planning and careful attention to detail, you can manage the cost of a graduate education.
Tuition and Cost of Study
The approximate cost of a year of graduate study is as follows:
Tuition: $1,440 per credit hour (academic year 2013-14)
Fees: $517 (total fees for two semesters)
Health Insurance: $1,675
* Figures are based on average expenditures reported by university students.
American University offers merit and need-based financial awards to help you meet the cost of study.
Merit-Based Graduate Awards
Merit awards are made by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences based on the recommendations of the academic departments. These awards are granted only to full-time students who demonstrate outstanding academic merit. Funding for these awards is extremely competitive, and only a small number of exceptional students receive a merit-based award.
The College of Arts and Sciences administers the selection process for awarding graduate assistantships in accordance with university regulations. The priority deadline for merit awards is February 1 unless otherwise specified. Please refer to the requirements chart for other deadlines.
All merit awards fall into one of the following categories:
Graduate assistantships are merit-based awards that are given to new graduate degree students and normally provide the recipient with a stipend and 18 hours of tuition remission in degree-related courses in a given academic year. Assistantships are given to full-time graduate students to assist them in completion of their programs of study. Priority for these awards is ordinarily given to full-time students enrolled in the highest degree programs offered in that discipline at American University.
Graduate assistantships for PhD students carry with them a learning component in the form of an assignment that enhances and complements a student's academic program, such as a teaching assistantship, a research assistantship, or a technical assistantship, which requires no more than 20 hours per week of supervised learning. The specific description of this learning component is determined by the teaching unit and should be clearly relate and contribute to the academic objectives of the student's degree program. Assistantships for master's students may include compensation for work on an hourly basis.
Merit awards do not cover the full cost of attending AU. Even if you anticipate receiving a merit award from AU, you should seek additional funding to cover the remainder of your expenses.
Need-based aid (U.S. Federal loans)
Need-based awards are loans from the U.S. federal government which are administered by the American University Financial Aid Office. Two types of loans are offered:
Federal Direct Loan
Eligible students must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be enrolled in a degree-granting academic program. Graduate students must be enrolled in at least six credits per semester to qualify for need-based assistance. Graduate students who qualify for federal loans may borrow up to $20,500 every two semesters. All federal loan programs require the FAFSA be filed before eligibility can be determined. Students who wish to apply for need-based assistance must submit the FAFSA (Financial Application for Federal Student Aid) by March 1.
Federal Graduate PLUS Loans
PLUS loans are intended to cover the amount of the total Cost of Attendance (COA) that is not covered by other financial aid. Students must have already completed the FAFSA to be considered for the Federal Direct loan prior to applying for the Federal PLUS loan.
For information regarding need-based financial aid and application procedures, visit the Financial Aid webpage or call 202-885-6100.
Alternative Financing Options
University awards for enrolled graduate students
Note: these awards are for currently enrolled CAS degree program students
Listed below is just a sample of some of the prestigious awards for which CAS graduate students may be eligible and for which they may apply through the Office of Merit Awards in the AU Career Center. Note that awards requiring university nomination may have an earlier deadline than is listed. In addition, some awards are open to application by graduating seniors who will be entering graduate programs in the Fall. For further information, send a message to email@example.com.
- Economic Club of Washington Graduate Scholarship (for doctoral study)
- Jacob K. Javits Fellowship (for "study at the doctoral and Master of Fine Arts level in selected fields of arts, humanities, and social sciences")
- Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans
A number of privately funded designated awards are available. These merit awards are granted to students who meet specific criteria. To be considered for a designated award, please state the name of the award in the space provided on the CAS Application for Graduate Admission. The designated awards are:
Massey Foundation Awards
This fellowship is awarded each academic year to one or more incoming Canadian students pursuing graduate studies full-time at American University. The fellowship is applied to tuition charges. For more information please see
United Methodist Graduate Scholarships
This scholarship is awarded each academic year to new full-time graduate students who have held membership in the United Methodist Church for at least two years, have strong academic skills, and are either US citizens or permanent residents. The scholarship is applied to tuition charges. For more information please see
Graduate Fellowship in Information Technology
Graduate students are invited to apply for a fellowship in information technology offered by the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE). The position provides for three courses worth of tuition remission and a monthly stipend in exchange for 20 hours per week of work. The applicant will provide assistance to faculty and students in the use of Blackboard, or other web-based teaching software. Contact James Lee in the CTE at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Hall of Nations Awards
Hall of Nations Awards provide tuition remission only and are given to international students who do not have permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship.
Special Opportunity Awards
Special Opportunity Awards are assistantships as described above and granted under the same terms to under-represented minority students.
You may want to check the following web sites for information on independent scholarship organizations
Departments and programs have schlarships available to enrolled students. Please see CAS Graduate Scholarships for detailed information.
International students may also wish to visit the following web sites to locate additional sources of financial aid:
Graduate students are encouraged to contact the university's Human Resources office about part-time or full-time employment. For off-campus employment, graduate students should consult American University's Career Center Job Listing Service at 202-885-1800.
Prospective students who are currently employed are reminded to contact their own Human Resources office to inquire about tuition and employer sponsorships.
Note: International students on an F-1 or J-1 visa may work up to 20 hours a week on campus when classes are in session, with the permission of the international student advisor. Students on all other types of visas should check with the International Student Services Office. For more information on employment options, please contact the International Student Services Office as well.
For the convenience of graduate students and their families, American University has instituted the American Installment Plan and the Semester American Installment Plan.
The American Installment Plan (AIP) allows full-time students who are attending both the Fall and Spring Semesters to spread their yearly out-of-pocket costs over 12 or 10 months. The Semester American Installment Plan allows graduate students to pay for their semester expenses with three monthly payments.
Additional information can be found at the Student Accounts website.