Program Components Fall and Spring

Your semester in Graduate Professional Studies consists of 9-graduate credits earned through a seminar, elective course, and internship or research project in your field of interest.

Seminar3 credits

You will participate in a seminar designed to advance your knowledge in your chosen field, while also exposing you to the behind the scenes of Washington, DC. You will learn from guest speakers and site visits throughout the city, taking your educational experience beyond the classroom. The seminar is traditionally offered as a day course, one day per week, with a site visit or guest speaker in the morning and classroom lecture in the afternoon.

If you work full time and cannot participate in a day seminar, you may be interested in the Diplomacy, Defense, and Development program which offers an evening seminar once a week. This seminar consists of instructor led classroom lectures and skills sessions in intercultural management.

Students in the Biotechnology program do not have a seminar class. Instead students take two elective courses in the applied sciences.

Internship or Research Course 3 credits

As part of your GPS semester, you have the choice to participate in a 3-day per week internship or can enroll in an independent research project focused on a topic of your choice. 

As part of the internship component, you will have support through your internship search process, including internship advising, cover letter and resume reviews, and access to our Internship Database—the largest of its kind focusing on internships in the Washington, D.C. area. With over 3,000 internships in the database, many employers specifically turn to GPS for their semester interns.

Regardless of your choice to enroll in the internship or research project, all students have access to internship and career resources and professional development opportunities across AU and Washington, DC.

Elective Course3 credits

As a Graduate Professional Studies student, you will take an elective course, in addition to your seminar and internship/research components. The elective should take place in the evening and be a 500 or 600 level course graduate course, with pre-requisites or restrictions. To explore available elective courses, please reference the AU Schedule of Classes.

As you consider your elective class, it may be beneficial to reference the course requirements of degree programs that you may want to attend in the future. If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree at American University after completion of your GPS semester, please consult with the GPS Program office over recommended elective options to satisfy future degree requirements.


Examine purpose, create efficiencies, improve well-being, and ensure effective product development--all by studying Biotechnology, one of the fastest growing career fields. You will gain experience at the intersection of science, business, and policy, while laying a foundation for future graduate study.

Students in the Biotechnology concentration do not have a seminar class; instead, they take two (2) elective courses in the applied sciences.

If you are interested in or are currently working in the fields of diplomacy, security, or international development in Washington, DC, then the Diplomacy, Defense, & Development program is perfect for you. You will gain experience and applicable skills in negotiation, cultural competence, program development, grant writing, and more—all while studying policy and the U.S. role on the global stage.

Today's age of globalization brings with it new ways of doing business. In the Global Business and Trade program, you will study the political-economics of international policy making and learn about the importance of generating jobs, accelerating economic growth, and advancing standards of living throughout the developed and developing world.

What could be better than studying international affairs in one of the most important political and global cities in the world? Culture, economics, conflict, and power are all issues influencing international policy-making and this is your opportunity to be part of the conversation. In addition to analyzing shifts in global power, you will study cross-cultural communication, peace and conflict resolution, foreign policy, and the role of international law and organizations in international affairs.

You will be exposed to many facets of sports management and media, including business administration, sports marketing, media coverage and media relations, union representation and even team management and sponsorships. You will meet many of the professionals who make Washington a global sports center and who are doing innovative work in the field of sports.

Do you want to explore issues in politics and gain a first-hand look at how Washington, DC really works? Through the U.S. Politics & Policy program, you will learn the inside scoop from experienced lobbyists, journalists, and congressional staffers who can offer their insight on current issues. You also will take advantage of the city's wealth of opportunities for networking and learn about various career paths to further your academic and professional pursuits.