You are here: Frequently Asked Questions

You should consult with an advisor before you register for classes each term, to ensure that you are meeting the AU Core requirements and making timely progress toward your degree. Be sure to read the relevant sections of the Undergraduate Academic Rules and Regulations so that you understand the policies around the curriculum. Ask your academic advisor or email us at core@american.edu if you have any questions. Below, we've included some of the most common questions about the AU Core.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Students in the first year will typically register to take:

  • AUx1 (1.5 cr.) in the fall and AUx2 (1.5 cr.) in the spring;
  • A Complex Problems Seminar (3 cr.);
  • Written Communication and Information Literacy I (3-6 cr.);
  • Quantitative Literacy I (3-5 cr.);
  • And one or two Habits of Mind courses at the 100 or 200 level.

The requirements for the major, the area of a student’s academic concentration, are listed under individual degree programs.

Foundational Courses: Students may not use College Writing, University Math, Complex Problems, or AUx to satisfy major requirements.

Habits of Mind: Students may use one Habits of Mind course as an elective toward each major or minor they pursue.

Integrative Courses: Most departments will designate specific courses or sets of courses in the major to satisfy the writing-intensive (W2), quantitative reasoning (Q2), and capstone requirements. Unless otherwise specified by majors or minors, any integrative courses may be applied toward these AU Core Curriculum requirements.

To receive AU Core credit, a student must successfully complete AU Core courses with a grade of C or better.

Students may not use Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), CLEP subject examinations, or other American University-approved exam credits to satisfy university-wide requirements. Exam credit may be used to determine which Written Communication and Information Literacy I and Quantitative Literacy I course(s) the student must complete.

Written Communication & Information Literacy(W1): Incoming students may satisfy the W1 requirement by receiving advanced credit for specific exams (published annually by the Office of Admissions) and earning a grade of “C” or better in the 3-credit hour WRTG-106.

Quantitative Literacy (Q1): Incoming students may satisfy the Q1 requirement by receiving advanced credit for specific exams (published annually by the Office of Admissions), and also earning a grade of “C” or better in an appropriately designated Quantitative Literacy I course offered by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Advanced credit exams may still be applied toward the major or minor, or as elective credit. Specific information about exam credit is maintained by the Office of Admissions and is available in all advising units.

Bringing in transfer credit? Please read on to see which credits may be used to satisfy AU Core requirements.

Written Communication & Information Literacy I: Students with transfer credit may satisfy the Written Communication and Literacy I requirement by presenting 6 credit hours of articulated composition credit from another institution or presenting 3 credit hours of coursework articulated as composition credit from another regionally accredited two or four year institution and completing WRTG-101 or WRTG-103 with a grade of “C” or better.

Quantitative Literacy I: Students with transfer credit may also satisfy the Quantitative Literacy I requirement by presenting 3 credit hours articulated as equivalent to a Quantitative Literacy I course from a regionally accredited two or four year institution.

Habits of Mind: Students who transfer 0-14 credits must satisfy all five Habits of Mind; those who transfer 15-29 credits must take courses from four Habits of Mind; those who transfer 30-44 credits must take courses from three Habits of Mind; those who transfer 45-59 credits must take courses from two Habits of Mind; those who bring 60+ credits must take one Habit of Mind course. Students with transfer credit may select, in consultation with an academic advisor, which Habits of Mind to complete

Integrative Courses: Transfer credit may be applied to specific degree program requirements at the academic unit’s discretion. If the equivalent AU course is considered to be part of the AU Core Curriculum, the transfer course may also be applied to the AU Core’s integrative requirement.

Because of the special nature of the program, after the student has been admitted to a degree program at American University no credit toward the AU Core Curriculum may be earned through transfer credit unless taken on an approved AU Abroad program. No more than six credits of AU Core courses may be taken abroad.

The AU Core has been flexibly designed so students can study abroad for a semester or a year. Students may apply up to two courses on an approved AU Abroad program towards Habits of Mind, Quantitative Reasoning II, Written Communication and Information Literacy II, and Diverse Experiences requirements. Please note, however, that course options at our international partner institutions are currently limited and students may not be able to register for courses that meet Core requirements. Students should consult with their academic advisors as they plan to study abroad. Learn more about AU Abroad.