AU Core Curriculum

General Education in the 21st Century

AU Students Put Their Curiosity to Use.

American University believes curiosity goes hand in hand with the knowledge and expertise that characterize difference-makers. From your first semester to your last, you will cultivate a set of intellectual habits that strengthen your academic success. By bringing together the inquiry-based values of the Core with the work you do in your major, you will become bright and engaged participants in the great conversations that define the future.

American University's New Curriculum

Our students will engage with complexity, value diversity, & understand change.
Over the last three years, our faculty have come together to design a core curriculum that highlights metacognition—that is, making students aware that learning is a recursive process that happens over time, equipping them to participate more deliberately in that process. Perhaps the most important thing a student learns in the AU Core is how to learn, whether that learning comes from books, from teachers, or from each other.

List of AU Core Requirements

  • American University Experience I (1.5 credits)
  • American University Experience II (1.5 credits)
  • Complex Problems (3 credits)
  • Written Communication and Information Literacy I (3-6 credits) and Written Communication and Information Literacy II (3 credits)
  • Quantitative Literacy I (3 credits) and Quantitative Literacy II (3 credits)
  • One course in each of the five (5) Habits of Mind Areas
    • Creative-Aesthetic Inquiry (3 credits)
    • Cultural Inquiry (3 credits)
    • Ethical Reasoning (3 credits)
    • Natural-Scientific Inquiry (4 credits)
    • Socio-Historical Inquiry (3 credits)

  • Diverse Experiences (3 credits)
  • Capstone (3 credits)

Contact Us

If you have questions about AU Core, please reach out to our staff:

  • Brad Knight, Manager of AU Core and Assessment (202-885-3869)
  • Andrew Bowen, Program Coordinator of AU Core (202-885-2134)

Email AU Core

Implementation Timeline

  • Complex Problems, the first-year seminar course, is piloted with 42 Faculty Fellows and is expected to be rolled out to all first-year students in 2018. More than 75 additional full-time faculty have had course proposals accepted and will participate in faculty development workshops this year.
  • Habit of Mind proposals, for courses that will be offered beginning in 2018-2019, will be accepted until March 2, 2018. We will also host many opportunities for faculty to share their expertise, and build a community of shared interests in teaching and learning.
  • Campus conversations about learning outcomes and course requirements will continue for Writing-Intensive (W2) and Quantitative Reasoning (Q2) courses, and begin for the Diverse Experiences (DIV) courses.
  • New undergraduate degree-seeking students will be required to complete the AU Core Curriculum to graduate. In the first year, we expect students will take Complex Problems, AUx1 and AUx2, College Writing, and University Math. Some students may also take one Habit of Mind course.
  • Faculty will be supported through additional teaching and learning workshops, one-on-one consultations, and conversation groups. Special attention will be paid to the needs of faculty teaching Writing-Intensive (W2) and Quantitative Reasoning (Q2) courses.
  • Campus conversations about learning outcomes and course requirements will begin for the Capstone requirement, which is the culmination of students' academic journeys.
  • Undergraduates will explore and reflect as they continue their academic experience in the sophomore and junior years. We expect that students will register for Habit of Mind courses and the Integrative Courses (W2, Q2, and Diverse Experiences).
  • An initial set of Capstone courses will be offered to students completing their degrees in May 2020. These courses allow students to connect the work they've done in the Major and the Core with the world beyond college.
  • Faculty development that enhances instruction, student learning, and assessment will be an ongoing partnership between the AU Core and the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning (CTRL).

Propose Habit of Mind Courses for 2018-2019

In this call for HoM courses, we are accepting proposals for new and existing courses.

A. The deadline for submitting a "revise and resubmit" proposal is February 23, 2018.
B. The deadline for submitting a new or existing course proposal is March 2, 2018.

More Information

Quantitative-Intensive (Q2) Learning Outcomes

The AU Core Q2 Subcommittee has developed a draft of learning outcomes, proposal requirements, and course requirements for the Q2 courses. This draft has been discussed in two town halls, and we'd now like input from the campus community. Comment on the draft on the AU Core blog.

AU Core Blog

General Education Program

Undergraduate degree-seekers who entered American University prior to Fall 2018 complete the General Education Program, instead of the AU Core. Click "How it Works" to learn more.

How it Works