The American University Honors Program (AU Honors) is a rigorous,
hands-on, four-year program dedicated to exploring real world issues through an
AU Honors students are dedicated, hard-working, intelligent, and
committed to expanding their worldview. Enrolling 25 students each year, the
program is designed to challenge students with the desire and ability to perform
at the highest level.
The Honors Idea
No single academic discipline can fully solve the problems faced in
contemporary society. Employers and
communities are looking for those who can examine an issue and bring forward
responses that transcend any single disciplinary perspective. The program looks to educate individuals
capable of responding to the challenges encountered now and in the future. The world needs creative and informed
responses to “wicked problems” like climate change, inequality, access, and healthcare.
The mission of the AU Honors program is to provide students with
advanced skills in research, communication, and innovation. The curriculum aims
to train students to become problem solvers and learn the concepts of
The final programming objective is to help students foster a network of
alumni, faculty, and fellow students from a variety of disciplines. With Honors
programming, we hope to connect students to resources that will help them reach
their goals at AU and after graduation. The living-learning experience helps to
create the beginnings of these networks and to support the topics learned in
class through discussions outside of class time.
Prior to the creation of the Honors Program, students at American University
pursued Honors work within their majors. Beginning in 1959, students in the
College of Arts and Sciences had the opportunity to participate in an Honors
Program that combined general Honors colloquia with independent study in a
specialized field. As AU continued to grow, students, faculty and
administrators recognized the need for a different type of program, one that
had a special identity but was compatible with the needs of a wide variety of
intellectual disciplines and with the character of the university as a whole.
The University Senate approved legislation for a campus-wide Honors
Program in the fall of 1977. Students and faculty from every department and
college in the University had the opportunity to interact and share ideas. The
program's first students took such Honors seminars such as "Personality
and Politics," "The Astronomical Perspective," and
"Philosophy, Science, and Religion."
The Honors Program continued to grow and expand, each semester offering
creative and challenging topic courses taught by specially selected faculty. An
Honors community developed with the establishment of Honors floors in the
residence halls and the development of social, cultural and educational
programming for Honors students.
In response to the program's growth as well as to changes in the
university's General Education Program, the Honors Program implemented a
thorough restructuring that went into effect in the fall of 1989. In addition
to Honors Colloquia, the program included special Honors sections of courses
taken at every level of a student's academic career, from General Education
courses through courses taken in all of the various majors the University has
to offer and the completion of a senior Capstone project.
In Fall 2014, the university welcomed the inaugural class of the new AU
Honors program. The inaugural class was originally composed of approximately 45
students each year. In Fall 2016, the program reduced its incoming class size
to 25 students.