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Discover, Learn, Lead

American University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) offers more than 60 graduate degrees and certificates in the humanities, arts, sciences, and social sciences. Each program reflects our philosophy that a combination of academic training and real-world professional experience is the best preparation for success as a leader in your field.

Our students take advantage of diverse on-campus activities and resources, including conferences and symposia with panels of experts, lectures by visiting luminaries, and cutting-edge research laboratories. The college also connects you with influential people and institutions in the Washington region, across the US, and around the world.

Our faculty are nationally known artists, researchers, and scientists committed to innovation in teaching and to excellence in research and creative endeavors. Each year world leaders, distinguished scholars, and renowned practitioners in many disciplines come to campus to encourage open debate on current issues and expose students to new frontiers in thought and research.

Arts

Art     

Our art department exposes students to innovative approaches, fostering a broad understanding of the discipline and its wide-ranging applications. Faculty members specialize in Italian art, Northern European art, Modern European art, American art, and Asian art. Our program prepares you for doctoral studies, curatorial positions, or one of many other museum-related careers.

MFA Studio Berlin is a six-week residency in Berlin, Germany. Our graduate students work independently while collaborating with other international artists-in-residence.

Perfoming Arts

Our performing arts department prepares students for prominent roles in arts organizations around the world. The curriculum covers managerial, ethical, financial, marketing, fundraising, and communications skills. The program is tailored specifically to individuals, with capstone experience options that include a thesis, directed research project, or master’s portfolio.

Ranked #1 by Education Portal, our MA in audio technology program uses cutting-edge recording facilities designed by the architect of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric

Lady Studios.

Humanities

“I would not be in this position if it wasn’t for AU. I was very fortunate to work with people like Professor Alan Kraut, people who both challenged and nurtured me. And what AU did for me was help bring a sense of order and structure to somebody who just loved history and didn’t really know what you could do with it.”
—Lonnie Bunch
Secretary
Smithsonian Institution

History

We encourage students to produce original research and collaborate with high-profile historical institutions. Our programs prepare you for a wide variety of careers, such as research and writing in higher education, working in museums, cultural tourism, community history, historic preservation, and cultural resource management. PhD students can specialize in public history, making them more competitive and versatile.

With the Humanities Truck, we bring history to life in the communities of Washington, DC. This experimental mobile platform, located in a renovated delivery truck, provides a dedicated space for fellows to collect oral histories, analyze and preserve documents, create exhibits, and expand dialogue around the humanities.

Our public history practicum provides students with opportunities to work directly with community organizations and public institutions on real projects. Previous partners have included the National Museum of American History, the Anacostia Community Museum, the National Park Service, and the White House Historical Association.

Literature

Graduate programs in our literature department provide students with skills that employers want: superb writing, the ability to extrapolate big ideas, and an aptitude for close reading. We are also the home of Washington, DC’s only MFA in creative writing program. Our faculty and alumni are well connected within the DC sphere, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, and others.

Teaching practicums offer all literature department graduate students the opportunity to gain college-level teaching experience; many of our students move on to full-time staff and lecturer positions throughout the country.

“At AU, it’s so great to be around others who share my obsessions.”
—Karan Madhok

Known for his sports journalism on basketball in India, Madhok writes for major sports publications and his blog, Hoopistani. As an undergrad in the UK, he majored in computer science, but his passion for writing persisted. He enjoys the creative atmosphere his colleagues and professors give AU’s MFA program, where he is working on his first novel.

Philosophy and Religion

Philosophy applies to important issues in biomedicine, environmental protection, human rights, media, business, and race relations. We offer a wide variety of academic tracks that emphasize flexibility and faculty mentorship. Our aim is to prepare you for doctoral study, law school, or career goals.

The annual McDowell Conference brings a keynote speaker to the AU community each year to speak on issues surrounding philosophy and social policy.

The MA program in ethics, peace, and human rights is an interdisciplinary degree between the philosophy department and the School of International Service that prepares students to be ethically informed thinkers and practitioners in the analysis, development, and application of policy responses to contemporary global issues.

Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies

Discover the philosophies, methods, and theories of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies using a blend of contemporary scholarship and historic theories. This graduate certificate program encourages you to take an interdisciplinary approach to confronting complex problems. The flexible curriculum teaches you to become a critical thinker, an innovative researcher, and a skilled communicator.

“My internship at the Feminist Majority Foundation taught me valuable skills in the nonprofit field, including research, networking, and writing. I assisted on a violence against women project that brought to my attention the necessity of support for victims of violence and increased my ability to critically examine grant-funding programs.”
—Mariel Kirschen

Students can apply certificate coursework to MA and PhD degrees in the following departments: anthropology, art, communication, economics, education, government, history, international relations, literature, philosophy, psychology, and sociology.

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

We aim to create a community of learners and connect our students to the expanding ESL community. During your course of study, you will gain practical, hands-on teaching experience through involvement with local ESL institutions, public schools, or community-based volunteer teaching programs.

Washington, DC, is a truly global city with hundreds of embassies and cultural organizations. Your master’s degree will qualify you to teach English to speakers of other languages practically anywhere around the world.

95% of TESOL graduates are working, in graduate school, or both.

World Languages and Cultures

Many areas of business, industry, and government service consider a language background a career must. Our graduate certificate programs provide you with an academic grounding in translation theory and practice for French, Russian, or Spanish. The curriculum focuses on translating to English, but other options are available with the appropriate language advisor.

Our graduates have gone on to teach abroad, further their graduate studies, or work at translation agencies such as CETRA Language Solutions.

Gorky Cruz, director of the Center for Language Exploration, Acquisition, and Research (CLEAR), and professor of Spanish, has received the College Dean’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to an Inclusive Community. Cruz was recognized specifically for transforming CLEAR into a hub of activity for the many diverse linguistic and cultural groups on our campus.

Sciences

“At AU, we are building an integrative scientific culture, as opposed to a collection of individual laboratories. We are uniquely supportive of diverse research interests.”
—Terry Davidson
Director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and Professor of Psychology

Biology

The biology department emphasizes experiential learning through immersion in all aspects of scientific research. Our groundbreaking Hall of Science features collaborative labs as well as connections to research institutions throughout DC. Students are prepared for a variety of careers in the life sciences or to pursue further graduate study.

Our program has professional partnerships with many well-known DC-area organizations: the Smithsonian Institution, the National Aquarium, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Wilken tracked the hatch rate, survival, growth, and behavior of zebrafish reared in water from the Anacostia River. The results of her research in modeling biological river health may allow behavioral data to identify contaminants in aquatic systems.

“I am confident we can introduce higher quality, safer products to the market.”
—Rebecca Wilken

Chemistry

Our chemistry department cultivates an environment where you can fulfill your intellectual interests and further your professional goals. You will be prepared for doctoral studies or for a number of careers in research, development, education, and administration. You will learn the skills you need to conduct specialized laboratory research in the highly competitive chemical and biological industries.

Alumni of our program work for companies like Solenis and in government agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Department of State.

Our professors are respected, cutting-edge scientists with connections to a number of research facilities in the DC area. They conduct research in a variety of fields, including analytical chemistry, biochemistry, computational chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biotechnology, organic synthesis, electrochemical energy conversion, nanomaterials chemistry, environmental chemistry, forensic chemistry, physical biochemistry, and green chemistry.

Computer Science

In our computer science department, you will master theoretical and practical aspects of computer technology by studying programming languages, software engineering, computer architecture, artificial intelligence, simulation, and modeling. Make your degree fit your intellectual interests and career goals by selecting from a wide variety of tracks.

Consistently ranked as one of the best cities for job seekers, DC is the ideal city for graduates with computer science skills. AU’s robust network of partnerships gives you access to the area’s many research institutions, technology firms, government agencies, and NGOs.

Top Employers

  • Capital One
  • Amazon
  • Deloitte
  • Google
  • BAE Systems
  • Lockheed Martin

Data Science

Designed for individuals beginning or furthering studies in data science, our program prepares you to acquire, process, analyze, and present complex data. Students will master both theoretical knowledge and practical skills to prepare for a career in this fast-growing field.

Forbes and Glassdoor ranked data scientist as the number one job in America for the last three years with a median base salary of $130,000. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.5 million jobs will be created in data science by 2026.

Top Careers

  • Business Analyst
  • Data Mining Engineer
  • Big Data Scientist

Environmental Science

Our department delves into the politics, policies, and economics of environmental challenges. We offer advanced coursework in climate modeling, geochemistry, conservation, and statistics, partnered with research in the field. Our graduates develop innovative solutions to critically important issues facing the world, from climate change to food and water security.

82% of our graduates work in an environmental field with agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Washington, DC, boasts the highest environmental science salaries in the nation.

Math and Statistics

Our programs in the math and statistics department are an excellent way to further your mathematical education, prepare for doctoral study, or gain the expertise to advance your career. Our professors are experts in fields such as representation theory, dynamical systems, and molecular biology.

“Grad school helped me understand the math behind the models.”
—Jen Dumiak

Dumiak works in strategy and operations at Deloitte Consulting. Over the past year, she has created data visualizations in Tableau, constructed interactive dashboards, built an activity-based costing model, and optimized workforce allocation.

Our department has key partnerships with the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.

Psychology

Our faculty-run laboratories give our graduate students hands-on experience in the field of psychological research. The coursework prepares you for careers in specialized research or for clinical, experimental, or neuroscience doctoral studies. We offer a flexible program that includes individualized research supervision and the opportunity to take rigorous doctorate-level courses.

With experts in psychology, biology, neuroanatomy, and physiology, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of brain function and behavior.

David Haaga, psychology professor and department chair, won the 2019 Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award, the university’s highest honor. Haaga works in clinical psychology, and is known across campus as a prolific author and inspiring teacher. He has co-authored more than 130 journal articles, yielding over 9,300 citations, and has been awarded nearly $1.4 million in research grants.

Social Sciences

Anthropology

We believe in using public anthropology and archaeology as tools for social justice. Whether the issue is racism, sexism, environmental degradation, social discriminations, class struggle, or community displacements, we marshal the professional rigor, the methods, and the theoretical perspectives to contribute to real progressive change in the world.

Our anthropology students intern in such places as the Smithsonian Institution, the National Center for Environmental Research, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and the Center for American Progress.

“Studying at American University, I received really excellent training in field methods from the Dismal Swamp Field School with professors Daniel Sayers and Richard Dent, and many other archaeologists along the East Coast.”
—Becca Peixotto

In 2013, Peixotto was part of the expedition team that unearthed a new species of human relative, Homo naledi—a discovery that has shifted the way scientists think about human history.

Economics

With several unique tracks, our economics department offers a policy-oriented program that helps you develop a vital understanding of markets, monetary forces, human action, and organizational behavior as you prepare for a career as an economist in the public or private sector.

“I create vital innovative tools to boost growth and foster development.”
—Marc Alain Boucicult

After graduation, Boucicult returned to Haiti, where he works as an operations analyst for the Inter-American Development Bank. He and his colleagues created Groupe ECHO, the first youth-led venture capital fund in Haiti. He also cofounded HFund, a closed-ended micro-venture capital firm. A Fulbright scholar, Boucicult teaches economics at Collège Les Oliviers.

96% of the program’s graduates are either employed or pursuing a PhD within six months of graduation at institutions including JP Morgan Chase, Deloitte, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the International Monetary Fund, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Health Studies

Health issues are universally relevant, transcending the boundaries of race, religion, culture, and national origin. Through innovative education, transformational research, creative partnerships, and policy-change advocacy, we empower future leaders to improve the health and well-being of individuals, communities, organizations, and societies.

Established in 1980, our MS in health promotion management program has been recognized by the National Wellness Institute with a Distinguished Academic Program Award (DAPA).

Our students make the most of our DC location, which provides access to internship sites such as the Women’s Collective, Kaiser Permanente, the National Kidney Foundation, and the National Institute of Public Health.

Sociology

Our sociology department prepares you for doctoral studies or a career in social advocacy, research, teaching, human services, or policy-making. Research focuses on social determinants of health— inequities of race/ethnicity, class, and gender and sexuality. A practicum allows you to complete a professional-quality research project over four semesters, a unique experience for students in a master’s program in sociology.

Our graduate students have interned at the World Bank, the Barker Adoption Foundation, the Urban Institute, DC Public Schools, Youth for Understanding, and the Center for the Advancement of Public Policy.

The Center on Health, Risk, and Society promotes and supports transformative, multi-disciplinary research to understand and address the social context and structural drivers of health and risk across settings.