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Frequently Asked Questions

As you learn more about the undergraduate programs and opportunities offered by the School of Public Affairs, we have put together this FAQ site to help provide answers to the questions you have. If you have a question not listed please contact


Special Academic Program Questions

Unfortunately, the Lincoln Scholars Program and SPA Leadership Program cannot be joined in the spring semester. This is because of the sequential nature of the required courses and cohort-based experience of each program. Other certificate programs can be joined at different times during your time at AU -- you will just need to read up on those specific programs. 

The percentage varies each year based on the number of completed applications the program receives. The SPA Leadership program takes about 40-42 students each year (due to size of the courses).

Yes, students can apply to whatever program(s) they are most interested in. There is no rule that limits students from the number of programs they can apply for. However, students who may get admitted to multiple programs may need to decide on what one to accept and decline if they are not able to complete each program’s requirements. 

No. The SPA Leadership Program and the Lincoln Scholars Program are not living-learning communities therefore students are not required to live together. Students in these programs are together in the required cohort courses as well as community building events outside of the classroom so we find there is no need to require them to live together.

This is the second year of the Lincoln Scholars Program so it is a small program as it develops and gets off the ground. It will take no more than 30 students due to the required cohort courses.

Yes, you must be a deposited student in order to be considered for any of these programs. We let the deadline for applications go a few days past the national deadline so students who decide later they are coming to AU can still apply if they are interested. 

Yes, you should be able to do both programs. Again, you will need to check on the specific course requirements for each program to ensure this is feasible.

This will be the second year of the Lincoln Scholars program so this is hard to answer. Last year we had between 70-75 applications for the 19 spots. We are not sure if this will be the case this year since it is still so new.

The SPA Leadership Program and the Lincoln Scholars Program are open to all incoming First-Year students at AU regardless of major/school affiliation. Both programs work with any major offered by AU. 

There are currently 72 students in the program total. The target cohort size for each year is about 25. As for the number admitted, we do not have that number.

Yes, PPL Scholars are able to apply to either program. 

You can do as many as you like and that you can complete during your time at AU. You will need to check to each program’s requirements to ensure you can complete them.

Student Organizations Information

It is becoming more and more competitive to make it on a team. Mock Trial will hold info sessions followed by auditions at the start of the school year for any students interested in joining. These are open to all students regardless of year and or major. In total there are about 30-40 total spots between the A, B, & C, teams. The number of people who follow through and make it on the team varies based on how many people audition. A couple of years ago 85 students auditioned for about 10 spots as an example. There are First-Year students who have made the team so you are encouraged to audition if you are really interested. You can also audition in a later year if you do not make it initially. 

No. Student Government is an organization open to all students across campus regardless of their major/school affiliation. It falls under the Center for Student Involvement. SPA students do tend to take a strong interest in Student Government but that is more about the personal choices of the student and not because they are in SPA. 

Studying Abroad

No, students can choose to study abroad in a later semester. It will depend on what your major is, the semester you want to study abroad (there are fall, spring, and even summer options), and where you want to go. You will be able to work with your school-based advisor to plan this out starting in your second year. You can also attend info sessions held throughout the year by the AU Abroad office to help you learn more and make more informed decisions. 

Yes, they could, and some students have done this. It will depend on many factors like your major, when you want to study abroad, the places you want to study abroad, and how the courses you take will come back and help you make progress with your degree. This is something you can learn more about by speaking with your school-based advisor, attending info sessions hosted by AU Abroad throughout the school year, and checking out their website. 

Advising & Course Registration

AU holds classes all day into the evening. The first class period starts at 8:10am and the last class period starts at 8:20pm. Classes are typically taught twice a week Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday for an hour and fifteen minutes each. Wednesdays we have block classes, which means the class meets once a week for two and a half hours. We also have evening classes which meet once a week for two and half hours like the Wednesday block classes. 

New First-Year students who have paid their enrollment deposit will be contacted by their First Year Advisor to begin the pre-registration process in late May. New First-Year students do not register for classes until June. 


SPA only has a limited number of donor-funded undergraduate scholarships available to current students not for incoming new students. This is because there are stipulations on the scholarships such as an established AU GPA, studying in a specific field, being a certain classification (junior, senior, etc.). Incoming new students receive their financial aid offer with their admissions decision. Questions about that offer should be directed towards the Financial Aid office and or your admissions representative. 

We can tell you that SPA students have opportunities to get to know the faculty and staff outside of the classroom to begin building professional relationships that can span past graduation; students have access to engage in research opportunities at the undergraduate level regardless of their major in SPA; being in DC provides unparalleled access to internship opportunities you probably won’t be able to get elsewhere and also will give you an advantage by living in DC during the fall and spring (DC runs on interns year round but if you go to school elsewhere you probably can only come in the summer); and you have the opportunity to take what you are studying in the classroom and put it into practice the next day so you get that real life hands on experience employers are looking for. We strongly encourage everyone (students & family members) to check out what our graduates are doing six months after graduating through our WEKNOWSUCCESS site

We are going to reframe our reply to this as how AU helps students with their post-graduation plans whatever they may be. The University Career Center offers a lot of events and programs throughout the course of the school year to connect students with employers and alumni so students can hear directly from them about what they are looking for, things to take into consideration, and how to stand out as a potential applicant.

Events include info sessions, tabling, mock interviews, resume reviews, industry-based networking receptions, and the largest signature event is the Job & Internship Fair every semester. SPA hosts a few industry based networking receptions throughout the school year as well around industries like Intelligence Community, Non-Profits, Campaigns & Lobbying, and the Legal system. These are all free events open to any student, regardless of major/school affiliation, who is interested in learning more. 

AU offers all students, regardless of major/school affiliation, thinking about law school a combination of strategic advising between faculty who have gone to law school and the Career Center along with workshops throughout the year. Workshop topics have included a panel of law school admissions representatives talking about what they look for in an application, an overview of the financial costs associated with applying to law school, and personal statement writing workshops. 

In order to graduate from AU with a degree you need to complete three things: 120 credit hours, the AU Core, and a major. The university will not require you to do anything else.  If you want to add on double majors/minors/certificates or any special programs that is totally up to you. Most bachelor’s degrees will take a total of 8 semesters assuming 15-16 credit hours per semester/30 credits a year/120 credits over 4 years. If students bring in dual enrollment or credit earned from AP/IB exams that could help complete things sooner, but it will vary based on the individual student and what their plan is. Students will begin working with their First Year Advisor and tackling university degree requirements over the first year then transition to the school-based advisor to help them finish remaining university degree requirements and major requirements.