AU Core Requirement Overview

The AU Core Curriculum is split into three parts: Foundations, Habits of Mind, and Integratives. Rather than a content-based approach, which prioritizes memorizing facts and information, our inquiry-based curriculum is built to foster critical, agile thinkers with transferrable skills. Use the drop downs below to explore the full list of AU Core requirements.

Curious what classes are available for each requirement? Check out our Courses page.
To see which requirements you've completed, consult your degree audit on Eagle Service or speak with your academic advisor.

The five Foundation requirements of the AU Core, typically taken in the first year, build the foundation for academic success at American University. Totaling 15-16 credit hours, these courses help develop critical skills while leaving you room to start exploring your major.

1. AU Experience I (1.5 credit hours)

Throughout AUx1, you will be introduced to various practices, including how to practice mindfulness, how to develop sustainable habits, and how to establish boundaries. You will also be introduced to dialogue and self-reflection as an introduction to anti-racist principles and a foundation for AUx2.

2. AU Experience II (1.5 credit hours)

AUx2 seeks to create a space for dialogue and learning about race, social identity, and structures of power. The course builds upon concepts introduced in AUx1, blending personal exploration of social identity formation with a multidisciplinary approach to race.

3. Complex Problems Seminars (3 credit hours)

Complex Problems Seminars, taken in the fall or spring of your first year at American University, use real-world problems or enduring questions to cultivate your intellectual flexibility for future work at the university and beyond.

4. Quantitative Literacy I (3-4 credit hours)

Quantitative Literacy I (Q1) aims to prepare you for an increasingly quantitative and data-dense world. Students in Q1 will have the opportunity to strengthen their mathematical or statistical skills at a college level.

5. Written Communication and Information Literacy I (6 credit hours)

Students in Written Communication and Information Literacy I (W1) have opportunities to pursue topics they are curious about, engage authentically with writing and research, develop rhetorical awareness and flexibility, and gain knowledge and skills that can transfer to your other courses.

The five Habits of Mind help you broaden your knowledge base and prepare you to draw connections between your Core experience, classes in your majors/minors, and life after AU. These requirements, totaling 16 credits, may be completed at any time in the degree program. You can apply one Habit of Mind to each of your major(s) or minor(s), and up to two Habits of Mind may be completed while studying abroad.

1. Creative-Aesthetic Inquiry (3 credit hours)

2. Cultural Inquiry (3 credit hours)

3. Ethical Reasoning (3 credit hours)

4. Natural-Scientific Inquiry (4 credit hours)

5. Socio-Historical Inquiry (3 credit hours)


The four Integrative requirements bring together the skills built throughout the AU Core with major-related work. Courses that satisfy these requirements (totaling 12 credits) are typically taken in the major, although any appropriately designated course may satisfy the relevant integrative requirement. All students complete a capstone project that showcases their academic accomplishments at American University.

1. Diversity & Equity (3 credit hours)

Diversity & Equity (DIV) courses build on the foundations of AU Experience II. These classes attend to issues of power, privilege and inequality that are embedded in social, cultural or economic hierarchies, including (but not limited to) those around race, ethnicity, class, ability, gender, and sexuality.

2. Quantitative Literacy II (3 credit hours)

Quantitative Literacy II (Q2) courses build on the skills developed in Q1, stressing quantitative reasoning skills and their application specific disciplines.

3. Written Communication and Information Literacy II (3 credit hours)

Written Communication and Information Literacy II (W2) courses expand on the work of W1, refining writing and information literacy skills in the context of a specific discipline.

4. Capstone (3 credit hours)

The Capstone course provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions gained through coursework in the Core, coursework in the major, and other experiences at AU.

AU Core Explained


At American University, our Core Curriculum is new and different. Rather than just telling you what to learn, we want you to re-evaluate how to learn.