Public Health Scholars Program FAQ

Students with paintings

Please see below for answers to the following question areas:


I am already enrolled as a full-time AU student. Can I apply to be in the 3-year program?

No, students are selected for the 3-year program at the time of admission and can only enter the program in the freshman year.

I am a transfer student. Can I apply to be in the 3-year program?

No, the program is only for entering freshman.

Is the 3-Year Public Health Scholars program application timeline different from the standard AU admissions deadline?

Yes, in addition to completing the application to the university, there is a two round, secondary application process. More details about the application process can be found here.

Can I do the 3-year program and still be part of University College, AU Scholars, or Honors Program?

No, each program is a uniquely different experience. However, the 3-year program is similar to those programs and does include a similar Living-Learning experience.

Can I apply AP or IB credits toward a 3-year program?

Yes, AP or IB credits can be used to satisfy some AU requirements. Please check with your academic advisor to find out what credits will count towards your program.

Can I earn a BA or the BS as a 3-year Public Health Scholar?

Yes, 3-year students can choose to earn either the BA or the BS in public health.

Is it possible to double major, minor, and/or complete pre-med requirements?

Possibly, however, it is not a guarantee; it primarily depends on the requirements of the other major or minor you hope to earn as well as if you have any AP or IB credits. (Please contact us about any specific areas of interest so we can advise accordingly). Double majors or minors are not a requirement to graduate; you are free to only pursue one major at AU and still graduate. Possible combinations include:

  • Public Health Major and 2nd Major (Not every 2nd major at AU is possible; majors that are more similar to public health are easier to obtain, especially if you have AP or IB credits. A Public Health and Biology double major is not possible. Please contact us if you have any specific combinations of interest.)
  • Public Health Major and a Minor
  • Public Health Major and Pre-Med requirements
  • Public Health Major, Pre-Med, and Biology Minor (The ability to earn the Biology minor usually requires that you have AP or IB credits.)

What if I decide I do not like the program? Can I transition to a traditional 4-year degree program?

Yes, students who decide that the 3-year program is not for them can transition into a 4-year degree program. The easiest transition will be into a 4-year public health degree program. However, if a student would like to change majors they can move to a new degree program. The best time to do this will be before the start of the summer. Please understand that there may be financial aid implications. If you choose to switch to a 4-year program and use financial aid during a summer. The financial aid will not be available for your entire 4th year. You can only use financial aid for a total of 8 semesters as an undergraduate. Also, students will need to work closely with their academic advisor to determine which of their already earned credits will count towards the new degree program.

Will I have time to do research during the three years of the program?

Yes, you will have the same ability as any other public health major to participate in a variety of activities, such as research, clubs and work, while completing your 3-year degree program. Usually, most opportunities to participate in research start after you have completed a year or more of college.

As a cohort, will I be taking all my classes with others in the 3-Year Public Health Scholars program?

No, you will only be taking certain classes together as a cohort such as Introduction to Public Health in your first semester and Study Abroad for Public Health in your first summer. During the rest of your time, you will likely have classes with many of your peers in the cohort program since you have many of the same requirements, but the entire cohort will not necessarily be in the classes with you. Also, most of your courses will be taken with other students enrolled in a variety of other programs across the university.

What are the experiential-learning opportunities?

The experiential-learning component is two parts. (1) All 3-year public health students partake in service-learning as part of the Introduction to Public Health course during the Fall of their first year. In general, you will have an option to choose between several community partners and will volunteer with of the organizations for 6 weeks each. Through this work you will deepen your practical understanding of public health while supporting the needs of an organization. (2) The second part is participation in the Community Service-Learning Program (CSLP). CSLP is a community service add-on credit to an existing course where students enhance their educational experience through practice by working with a nonprofit organization. For students in the 3-year public health program, we just ask that you keep the ideals of public health in mind when selecting your site. The CSLP credit must be completed during Spring or Summer of your first year.

How much time will I have off during the summer?

You are guaranteed one week between the end of your Spring semester and start of the Summer. However, it could be a few more days depending on when your classes finish. The time-off between the end of the summer and the start of the Fall depends on when you have to report to the study abroad site, the range is about one day to four weeks. During the second summer it will again likely be one week between the Spring and Summer and two weeks between the Summer and Fall.

If I completed all of my requirements within three years, can I choose to study beyond the three years of the program?

Yes, it is possible for students to continue their education; however, you will not be eligible for financial aid beyond the three years (i.e. 120 credits) of the program.

Would graduate admissions consider a three-year degree as prestigious as a four-year degree?

There are two ways to think about how graduate programs will look at your three-year degree. On the one hand, the degree itself is the same, so you will be evaluated by graduate programs using the same criteria as a student graduating in four years (GPAs, GREs, essays, letters of recommendation, etc.). On the other hand, the fact that you graduated in three years will be a testament to your motivation and work ethic, and generally will be noted positively in your assessment by graduate programs. The weight of this, however, will depend on the graduate program itself and the committee reading your application. Study abroad programs, internships, research, awards, and other activities also are factors considered by graduate programs.

Financial Considerations

What is the cost of the 3-year program? Is it cheaper than a 4-year degree?

The cost of attendance for the 3-year degree program is similar to the cost of a 4-year program, since students will be attending the same number of semesters (8 total). For some students, it is possible for the overall cost to be cheaper because the cost of attendance in the summer is based on credit hours. However, there are additional costs associated with studying abroad (described in the Study Abroad section) and some additional costs for transportation (such as metro fare) that are necessary to attend the service-learning sites.

Where should I start looking for financial aid?

A new student's first point of contact should be the AU Financial Aid Office.

Are there jobs available on campus for 3-year students?

Yes, there are a variety of on-campus job opportunities for all AU students. However, jobs designated as work-study are generally awarded for just the fall and spring semesters. If you had a community service work-study position during the fall and spring and would like to work during the summer, you may be eligible to apply for summer work-study through the Center for Community Engagement and Service.

Can I apply for merit awards or scholarships as part of the 3-year program?

Yes, students in the 3-year public health cohort program will still have the opportunity to receive merit awards and scholarships. Eligibility will vary for each award. AU merit awards do require the completion of 30 credit hours during the fall and spring. Those hours cannot be completed during the summer.

I have received a grant or scholarship, am I eligible to apply the grant or scholarship to this program?

Yes, only students in a 3-year program can use their AU grant and/or merit awards during the summer. Your scholarship amount for the summer is awarded on a per credit basis that is at equivalent to the amount you would receive in either the fall or spring semester.

Can I use financial aid for the summer?

Yes, students admitted to the 3-year public health scholars program can use their financial aid and merit awards to cover summer tuition and living expenses, provided you have met the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements and have submitted a Summer Aid Application. As long as you are enrolled at least half time, you are still eligible to receive financial aid (including merit awards). The aid is prorated based on your enrollment status. Merit awards are capped at tuition and do not cover living expenses. If you need additional financial aid to cover living expenses, you will need to complete a FAFSA when it becomes available in January for the following summer.

I have received a Federal Pell Grant, will it cover all of my semesters at AU.

No, Federal Pell Grants can only be used for two full-time semesters per academic year. Therefore, you will not receive Federal Pell Grant support in the Spring semesters of your second and third years. For example, if you attend full-time in the summer of your first year, you will receive the Pell Grant for that summer and the following fall. You would not receive it that spring; therefore your out-of-pocket expenses would be more during the spring compared to the fall.

I have received a scholarship from an institution not affiliated with the university, am I eligible to use it during the summer?

Yes, provided the scholarship institution allows you to do so. The requirements of each scholarship external to the university are different, you would need to discuss the terms directly with the institution providing the scholarship.

If I decide I do not like the program and transition to a traditional 4-year degree program, how will this affect my financial aid?

If you choose to switch to a 4-year program and use financial aid during a summer. The financial aid will not be available to you for your entire 4th year. You can only use financial aid for a total of 8 semesters as an undergraduate.

Study Abroad

Is studying abroad required?

Yes, students enrolled in the 3-year public health cohort program will study abroad as a small group for one semester (currently, in the fall semester of their second year). Current sites for the 3-year program are India, Kenya, and England. Prior to departure, students will take an Introduction to Study Abroad course to prepare them for the study abroad experience.

Is it possible to study abroad more than once?

Yes, students may choose to study abroad for a second semester on their own at any of the locations offered by the AU Abroad program. Students opting to study abroad for a second semester must work closely with their faculty director and academic advisor to identify the study abroad experience that works best with their academic curriculum. However, it can be difficult to study abroad again if you are a BS major or working to complete double major or pre-med requirements.

How much does it cost to study abroad?

The estimated study abroad costs associated with each cohort location are provided below. These costs include such items as airfare, housing, passport fees, meals, academic supplies, and local transportation. These costs are in addition to AU tuition and fees. Most students find these costs to be very similar to the cost of room and board at AU. These costs are only estimates and are subject to change.

  • Nairobi, Kenya: $7,400
  • Manipal, India: $8,250
  • London, England: $10,500

In general, the basic costs of a semester abroad (tuition, room and board, necessary local transportation, books, etc) are about the same as the costs for students attending AU in DC. For more information about financing studying abroad, please visit the AU Abroad website to learn more about financial aid, scholarships, and awards.

Residential Life

Can I live in another dorm that is not part of the living-learning community?

No, students in the 3-year public health cohort program are required to live in a living-learning community for the first two semesters of the program. Being part of a cohort living together helps to quickly foster close relationships with like-minded and equally motivated students. After the first two semesters (Fall and Spring), students are free to live wherever they choose, on or off campus, including commuting from home.

Do I have to live on campus during the first summer?

No, students are only required to live on campus for the Fall and Spring semesters of their first year. However, students do choose to live on-campus during their first summer.

Do I have to live on campus all three years?

No, students are only required to live on campus for the Fall and Spring semester of their first year. Students who desire to continue living as a cohort can form a Residential Community Cluster (RCC), which will continue the link between the academic, social, and/or extracurricular elements of the university. See the RCC website for more information. However, it is not possible to form an RCC during the Spring of your second year after returning from studying abroad in the Fall.