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School of International Service Admissions

Grad Admissions FAQs: Other

Can I enroll for graduate level classes as a non-degree student?

  • Non-degree students can register for as many courses as they would like before applying for admission.
  • Non-degree students who apply and are admitted to a degree program can bring a maximum of 12 credits taken as an SIS non-degree student into their academic program.
  • Successful completion of non-degree study does not guarantee admission to a graduate program.
  • For more information, visit the SIS Non-Degree page: http://www.american.edu/sis/advising-grad/non-degree.htm

Can I get on-campus housing as a graduate student?
Currently American University does not provide housing for graduate students. Please refer questions to Housing and Dining Programs at 202-885-3370 or e-mail housinganddiningprograms@american.edu.

Can I set up an interview, phone conferences, tours, class observation or a meeting with a professor?
To make an appointment with an SIS admissions representative, please visit our online appointment calendar and then click on the “Schedule an Appointment” link. The Graduate Admissions Office is happy to help you arrange a class observation or to put you in contact with a professor. Tours are offered through our office Monday through Friday starting at 11 am. Please call 202-885-1646 or e-mail sisgrad@american.edu to arrange your visit.

I recently received my acceptance letter to an SIS Graduate Program at American University. When can I begin registering for courses?

  • Students will be sent an e-mail explaining the registration process and suggested courses once they have paid their deposit. Advisors will authorize registration for deposit-paid students who then can register themselves by setting up an account at my.american.edu.
  • New student registration begins May 1 for Fall 2008 courses. The exception is for students who attend Grad Day on April 14th and pay their deposit. They will be permitted to register that day.
  • Students admitted for Fall 2008 can begin their studies in Summer 2008 if they wish. Interested students should discuss this with their academic advisor.

I have a few questions concerning registration and degree requirements. When can I meet with my academic advisor?

  • Students will have an opportunity to meet with the academic advisor for their program fields once they have paid their deposit. This first meeting can take place via phone, in person, or at Grad Day on April 14th.
  • Students who have not paid their deposit but wish to know more about specific requirements are invited to e-mail the graduate admissions office (sisgrad@american.edu) with their questions, and an academic advisor will make an effort to respond within 48 hours to specific questions.

Can I waive the economics requirement if I completed economics courses while I was an undergraduate student?

  • Students in International Development, Development Management, or International Economic Relations may waive ECON-603, Intro to Economic Theory (thus reducing their program from 42 down to 39 credits) if they have completed courses in macroeconomics and microeconomics. Processes may vary by field.
  • In other program fields (where applicable and subject to degree requirements) students may be able to substitute a more advanced course for ECON-603. Students cannot waive the economics requirement as these fields do not allow a reduction in the total number of credits required for the degree.

I completed an undergraduate degree in a foreign language. Will my foreign language requirement be waived? What if I received a minor in a foreign language?

  • You would be able to use an undergraduate (or graduate) major to satisfy the language requirement provided that you completed the degree within 3 years of enrolling in SIS. An undergraduate minor or other similar coursework will not satisfy the requirement.
  • The SIS Language Proficiency website (http://www.american.edu/sis/advising-grad/toolofresearch.htm) details how students meet the language proficiency requirements.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to take the Tool of Research proficiency exam as a diagnostic tool to gauge their language abilities. Passing the Tool of Research exam fulfills the language requirement. Students can take the free Tool of Research proficiency exam at AU through the Language Resource Center. It is offered five times per year (in January, March, May, September, and November) and a student can attempt the test a maximum of three times. The exam exclusively tests reading comprehension (SIS expects that an MA student will be able to conduct research in that language by using books, newspapers, journal articles, and the like). To obtain more information (or to register for the language exam) visit the The Language Resource Center website.

What do I do if a course I would like to register for is closed?

  • Check the Schedule of Classes regularly—course enrollments fluctuate during the registration and Add/Drop periods. If a space in a course becomes available, you can then enroll yourself in the course.
  • The student may contact the professor of the course and request permission to register for the course (At AU this is often referred to as “blue carding” because the academic advisor completes a blue card to override the course enrollment cap).
  • To blue card into a course, the student must provide the academic advising office documentation from the professor (i.e. e-mail or signed registration form) that he/she has been given permission to register for the class before being allowed to register.
  • Students should keep in mind that most required courses are offered every semester.

I am interested in registering for a course at another university within the Consortium. How do I register for this course?

  • Students are normally limited to two Consortium courses per degree, generally not taken in the first semester. Students may only take these courses if an equivalent course is not offered at AU. Exceptions may be made for specific situations.
  • Students in the Global Environmental Policy or the Natural Resources and Sustainable Development program are limited to one course per student and degree. Students in the JD/MA program are not permitted to enroll in consortium courses except under exceptional circumstances.
  • It is expected that students will complete all core requirements at AU.
  • Internships, independent studies and other kinds of independent projects cannot be completed through the consortium.
  • Most DC-area colleges and universities (with the exception of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins [SAIS]) are members of the Consortium. For a complete list, visit http://www.consortium.org.
  • For more information on Consortium registration, including how to register, visit the consortium registration page.

I may have an opportunity to intern at the State Department this Fall. When can I register and earn internship credits?

  • Students can pursue internships for academic credit after completing one semester at AU.
  • Internships registered for academic credit must be related to the student’s academic program and be at least 85% substantive.
  • Students can earn credit for international internships..
  • Students can earn credit for paid internships.
  • Internships cannot be registered or applied retroactively (i.e. a student cannot register a summer internship during the fall semester).
  • For more information, visit the internship registration page.

I am interested in studying abroad during the summer semester. What programs are available and how do I register for Summer SIS Programs?

  • For more information on SIS Summer Programs, visit the Summer Programs website.
  • For more information, including applications and program costs, e-mail: sissum@american.edu.
  • Students can participate in a Summer SIS Program before the start of the academic year.

What is the policy for being a part-time student? Do I have to maintain a full-time status throughout my graduate program?

  • Students can register as a part-time or full-time. Full-time study at the graduate level equates to being registered for at least 9 credits.
  • AU bills graduate students by the credit hour. (JD/MA billing is an exception. While still law students at WCL, students are billed a flat full-time tuition fee that allows students to take up to 17 credits total, whether all Law courses or a combination of Law and SIS courses.)
  • Students only pay for what they have registered for in that semester, plus university and SIS fees as applicable.
  • Students must be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credits each semester in order to be eligible for federal financial aid.
  • International students on F-1 and J-1 visas and students on SIS merit awards must register full-time for 9 credits each Fall and Spring semester.
  • Students must be registered for at least 1 credit during each Fall and Spring semester until they complete their degree programs.

How can I get a teaching assistantship?

  • All assistantships are given to merit award recipients and (if space permits) to select students who have been awarded graduate work study as part of a need-based financial aid package.
  • There is no separate or outside process for consideration, and students meeting neither of those criteria stated above are not eligible to pursue assistantships in SIS.
  • Interested students should file a FAFSA indicating that they wish to be considered for graduate work study.

I just completed my Master’s degree and would like to continue on to a doctoral program at American University. What do I need to know before considering the SIS PhD program?

  • Applicants that apply for both the PhD and MA programs will be reviewed separately for PhD and MA admission.
  • Students cannot transfer directly from MA to PhD. They must apply separately to the PhD program and be admitted. If admitted, already earned graduate credits will usually be recognized toward the PhD.
  • For more information, visit the PhD website.
  • Individuals interested in the PhD program can contact the Director of Doctoral Studies, Professor Sharon Weiner, at skweiner@american.edu or Mary Barton, the PhD Academic Advisor, at mbarton@american.edu.

I started a graduate program in SIS a few years ago, but never finished it. I would like to return and complete my degree. What is the process for re-applying to SIS graduate program?