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Global Scholars Program

Student Life

Global Scholars Enrollment Exceeds Expectations

By Annie Lyon, CAS/MA '03

Incoming Global Scholar Conor Gallagher, SIS/BA '14, sports his American University sweatshirt while traveling in England. Photo courtesy of Conor Gallagher.

Incoming Global Scholar Conor Gallagher, SIS/BA '14, sports his American University sweatshirt while traveling in England. Photo courtesy of Conor Gallagher.

When SIS announced that it was creating a three-year BA option, called the Global Scholars Program, to begin in the fall of 2011, the school anticipated that there would be 25 students interested to fill up the first-year cohort.

However, “interest in the program exceeded all of our expectations,” according to Leeanne Dunsmore, Associate Dean for Program Development.

The quality of the applicants and the number of applicants were so high that AU eventually decided to double the size of the first year class. The students will work hard, completing eight semesters’ work in three years, including the summers after their first and second years in the Global Scholars program.

Dr. Sarah Cleeland Knight, director of the program, is impressed with the caliber of the students entering the program. “These students were essentially performing at the college level during their senior year of high school, by enrolling in multiple AP or IB classes, or pursuing dual-enrollment at a local community college. So they are ready to hit the ground running in the fall.”

14% of the class is comprised of international students (higher than AU as a whole), and 25% of the cohort identify themselves as a member of an underrepresented group. All members of the class, however, are passionate about global issues and creating meaningful change, which they demonstrated by submitting an essay on the topic as part of their application.

“Many students have lived or traveled extensively abroad,” explained Dr. Knight. “Several students raised money through activities such as bake sales and babysitting to go abroad with their high school groups. Others may not have yet had the opportunity to travel, but have been active working with NGOs such as Amnesty International or with immigrant groups in their home communities.”

Traveling abroad during her three years is exactly what incoming student Jean Peterson, SIS/BA ’14, has in mind. “I chose the Global Scholars Program because it encompassed everything I needed and wanted for a program,” said Peterson. “Not only is it a rigorous and accelerated program designed to make it easier for students who wish to graduate in three years do so, it also gives the student access to even more study abroad opportunities, the best way to learn anything dealing with international studies and understanding, and possibilities for internships and jobs right after graduation.”

The Global Scholars three-year BA program is designed to give accelerated students the opportunity to live and learn together as a cohort and participate in a rigorous program of study to be completed in three years, rather than the traditional four. The students will participate in a special living-learning community, have the opportunity to study abroad during their first summer, and benefit from focused sequential career development and advising and undergrad research opportunities, including presentation at research conferences. Students may even choose to continue their studies and earn a master’s degree.