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AU Recognized for Undergraduate Teaching and Innovation in U.S. News National University Rankings

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Entrance to AU campus

American University’s undergraduate teaching ranks 25th in the nation in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings of national universities. This recognizes schools whose faculty have an unusually strong commitment to high-quality undergraduate teaching, according to U.S. News, and is based on the judgment of top academics nationwide. Overall, AU placed 76th in national universities, up a notch from last year’s rankings. The recognition across a diverse spectrum of educational achievements reflects the university’s momentum, commitment to the student experience, and high-quality educational programs.

“American University is a dynamic community of changemakers, from our outstanding teacher-scholars who shape their fields and inspire in the classroom, to our purpose-driven students who are committed to confronting the challenges of our changing world,” said AU President Sylvia Burwell. “Our focus on scholarship, learning and community produces an educational environment like no other, where students can pursue their passions and prepare for impactful careers in a supportive, collaborative setting.”

AU’s peer universities placed AU 43rd among national universities in First Year Experiences in the U.S. News rankings. AU’s robust teacher-scholar model encourages faculty to actively incorporate their research into their teaching. All students take a first-year transition program known as AUx, which focuses on academic success and wellness, forming a community of care, and addressing issues of race and privilege. In addition, they take Complex Problems, a small seminar with leading faculty and fewer than 20 students that inspires students to flex their intellectual muscles in examining real-world problems.

“I’m delighted at this recognition from our peers honoring AU’s challenging academic programs, expert faculty and staff,” said Acting Provost Peter Starr. “At American University we align our research and teaching initiatives to focus on society’s most pressing issues and our student’s evolving interests.”

AU also emphasizes a robust and holistic first-year advising model, with a student’s AUx instructor serving as their advisor to ensure ongoing connection and a very low advisor-to-student ratio. First-year students also can take advantage of comprehensive academic support including a writing center, quantitative support center, academic coaching and peer tutoring.
“AU’s first-year advising program is designed to meet students where they are, recognizing that incoming first-year students have unique needs,” said Jessica Waters, dean of Undergraduate Education and vice provost for Academic Student Services. “It ensures that each of our students has ‘their person’ to help them navigate the transition to college life. In their first semester, students see their academic advisor at least once a week—at many universities, it’s once a semester. That intentional, sustained relationship building makes a difference.”

American University is also among the nation’s top innovative universities, placing 35th in the rankings. According to the U.S. News criteria, highly rated universities in this category feature “cutting-edge changes the colleges are making on their campuses.”

The university’s Changemakers for a Changing World strategic plan embraces an innovative approach to the future of higher education. AU has just completed a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary Hall of Science to enhance collaboration and scientific discovery. The AU Center for Innovation pairs students with educators and entrepreneurs to identify opportunities and launch new ventures. AU’s Game Lab serves as a hub for experiential education and research, and innovative production of games not just for entertainment, but for social impact. And the Design and Build Lab, open to all members of the AU community, teaches problem solving through hands-on designing and building.

U.S. News also ranked AU 11th for study abroad programs. More than 70 percent of AU students participate in study abroad, taking part in over 130 programs in 30 countries. AU also manages three Premier Centers Abroad – in Belgium, Spain, and Kenya – which focus on experiential learning, offering small, specialized classes and internships that focus on the pressing global issues of today’s world. AU’s wide variety of study abroad programs, and its commitment to making global experiences an integral part of every student’s education, make AU a leader in the field of international education.

The U.S. News overall ranking is based on academic reputation (including scores by peer institution presidents), student excellence (such as SAT scores and class rank), faculty resources (mentioned above), social mobility (such as Pell student graduation rates), outcomes measures (including retention and graduation rates), financial resources (such as expenditures per student) and alumni giving.