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SIS Programs: BA/MA Program (For AU Undergraduates)

The BA/MA Program

The BA/MA program is a distinctive opportunity reserved for top BA students currently in SIS to pursue advanced studies and complete both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree consecutively. There are several benefits to the program. First, students applying to the BA/MA in any SIS field are not charged an application fee, and do not need to take the GRE or submit GRE scores. Admitted students are not required to pay a deposit, and are able to share credits between the two programs, effectively reducing the time required in the graduate program by more than one semester.

Am I Eligible to Apply?

BA/MA Applicants must:

  • Be a current American University undergraduate student.
  • Students must be completing their undergraduate major in an SIS discipline. Students pursuing a double-major are eligible to apply, as long as one of those majors is in SIS. Note: BA/MA applicants to the MA in Global Environmental Policy may major in any undergraduate discipline at AU.
  • Applicants must have a minimum of a 3.50 cumulative undergraduate GPA at the time of application.
  • Have completed at least 75 but no more than 90 credit hours at the end of the semester in which the student applies.

When Can I Apply?

BA/MA students apply during their junior year (or equivalent) of their undergraduate program when they have completed between 75 and 90 credits.

SIS accepts applications for the BA/MA program twice per year, per the deadlines below:

  • Applicants for Fall Admission: March 1
  • Applicants for Spring Admission: November 15

Required Application Materials

Students applying to the BA/MA program are required to submit the following application materials:

  • Online Application (fee is waived)
  • Current AU transcript, reflecting any completed and in-progress coursework
  • Transcripts from any colleges or universities attended prior to AU
  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of Purpose
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation, at least one of which must be from an SIS professor

BA/MA applicants are not required to submit GRE scores.

Graduate Coursework As An Undergraduate

The BA/MA program allows students to accelerate their graduate degree by allowing students to take graduate-level coursework during their BA program. Upon receiving an offer of admission to the program, students attend a meeting with both their undergraduate and graduate advisors to offer personalized advice on course selection for the remainder of the student's academic program, review important financial aid information, and answer any questions. Students must meet with their advisors either in person or via phone in order to register for graduate-level courses. Per American University's academic regulations, students can share up to 15 credits for a 39-hour or more master's degree for graduate level courses taken as an undergraduate.

FAQ for BA/MA Students

What degree programs in SIS can I apply to as a BA/MA applicant?
BA/MA students may apply to any of the following programs in SIS (click for more details about the program):

I'm currently a sophomore and am interested in the BA/MA program. What can I do to plan ahead?
Review the degree requirements for the MA program in which you’re interested (you can view these requirements online, in the University Catalog, or you can pick up a program worksheet in the SIS Graduate Advising Office in SIS 250). If you’re not sure which program you’d like to pursue, contact the SIS Graduate Admissions Office (sisgrad@american.edu) to schedule an appointment with an admissions representative to discuss your options (or schedule an appointment online here). Your undergraduate advisor may also be able to make some suggestions based on your policy and regional specializations.

Also, be sure to look into taking upper-level courses before applying, as your performance in those classes will usually impact your admission. They are also great opportunities to work with faculty who will be able to furnish you with stronger letters of recommendation. Speak with your undergraduate advisor about taking higher-level courses that fulfill your degree requirements.

I am have already passed the recommended application timing of 75 credit hours - can I still apply?
Per American University's graduate regulations, we accept applications from BA/MA students who will have between 75 and 90 completed credits during the semester in which they apply. If you will have more than 90 credits at the end of the current semester, and still wish to apply for the program, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions. Please note that the earlier you apply to the program, the more time you have to take full advantage of the credit-sharing benefit.

Which advisor should I work with?
Until you are admitted, you should continue to work exclusively with your undergraduate advisor. Once you are admitted, you should continue working with your undergraduate advisor AND start work with your graduate advisor - you’ll meet with both of them when you begin the BA/MA program. Once you complete your BA you’ll be working exclusively with your graduate advisor.

Does this impact my undergraduate financial aid?
If you are receiving undergraduate merit based aid, please be advised you may complete your undergraduate work before you have utilized all 8 semesters of your undergraduate merit award. You may only use your undergraduate merit aid to cover limited approved graduate course work that counts toward your undergraduate degree program. To further clarify how your enrollment in the BA/MA program may impact your undergraduate financial aid, please make an appointment with a counselor at AU Central following your academic planning meeting with your SIS academic advisors. Admission to the BA/MA program is reserved for high academic achievers and as such, represents a substantial financial benefit to students. Typically, no additional graduate-level financial aid from SIS will be available once they have completed their undergraduate studies. Students will have the opportunity to apply for graduate research and study abroad awards as they move toward completion of their MA program.

Can I defer my offer of BA/MA admission?
BA/MA students are not permitted to defer their admission. Should you change your mind and opt not to pursue graduate study immediately after completing your BA, your BA/MA status is lost. To later enter a Masters program at SIS, you would need to apply as a regular graduate student, and you would not be eligible to double-count any credits.

Can I take a leave of absence from the MA program the semester after I graduate from the BA?
No. While you are eligible to take a leave of absence later in your graduate program, you must be enrolled in the first semester in which you will only be a graduate student to maintain your BA/MA status.

I've been admitted to the BA/MA program, and have changed my mind about which program I'd like to pursue. What can I do?
It is extremely important to make sure you know which MA program you want to pursue, as you may have a hard time double-counting or reserving any credits if you decide to change programs. In the event you still want to change, you will need to spend your first MA-only semester in the program to which you are admitted. After that you can submit a Field Transfer Application to the field into which you would like to transfer. If your request is accepted, you would then switch and start working in the new program (and with the graduate advisor for that program), but there is no guarantee that credits earned as a BA/MA student will apply to your new program, and you’ll have very little flexibility in your course selection if you change programs.

General Requirements

Applications to SIS consist of the following elements (click for more details). Please see the program descriptions to the left for specific requirements for applying to your program of interest. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found in our online FAQ.