Global Scholars Program at American University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A student paying attention to lecture in classroom.

Global Scholars Program at American University

Imagine being part of an exclusive group of 25 students from the School of International Service (SIS) who dive headfirst into an intensive experience. As a Global Scholar at American University, you’ll embark on an accelerated academic adventure, taking a full course load during the summers after your first and second years.

But it’s not just about textbooks and lectures; it’s about shaping you into a global change-maker.

You will have the chance to study abroad during the summer or academic year, expanding your horizons and embracing a global perspective that will stay with you for life!

What lies ahead is nothing short of extraordinary, filled with personal growth, boundless knowledge, and endless inspiration.

Buckle up, because we’re about to unveil an incredible opportunity to become a Global Scholar at American University that’s tailor-made for high-achieving first-year students with a passion for changing the world.

What is the Global Scholars Program at American University?

Picture this: you and your fellow Scholars tackling two foundational School of International Service (SIS) courses as a tight-knit team. Beyond the classroom walls, the world becomes your oyster. You’ll have the chance to study abroad during the summer or academic year, expanding your horizons and embracing a global perspective that will stay with you for life.

One of the program’s highlights is the unwavering support you’ll receive from our dedicated program faculty, staff, and accomplished SIS alumni.

They’re not just here to guide you academically; they will help you map out your career goals and secure internships that align with your passions.

But wait, there’s more! The American University is a big believer in the power of community and service. As a cohort, you’ll be actively involved in community service and a range of enriching extracurricular activities, building bonds that will last well beyond your time in the program.

An Opportunity to Summer Study Abroad

You have the chance to explore international horizons between the summer of your first and second year and/or during your second or third academic year!

As part of the Global Scholars Program, you can seize the opportunity to participate in a tailor-made six-week summer study abroad experience at American University’s prestigious Madrid and Brussels Centers.

Alternatively, you are welcome to choose from a variety of study abroad programs available through AU Abroad or SIS Abroad.

When you successfully complete the program at the Madrid and Brussels Centers, you’ll earn nine valuable AU credits that directly contribute to your SIS major.

During this enriching experience, you’ll spend three weeks in each city, including multiple exciting day trips. Guiding you through this transformative journey is Professor Anders Hardig, the Director of the Global Scholars Program.

Who Are Eligible for the Global Scholars Program at American University?

Here is a quick heads-up: the Global Scholars Program is exclusively designed for incoming first-year students. The institution is excited to welcome fresh perspectives and untapped potential into their vibrant community.

Plus, financial aid is on the table, including scholarships, to assist with expenses related to summer study abroad and summer classes, whether you choose to study online or on campus.

Your financial support extends throughout eight semesters, encompassing summer coursework after your first and second years. Achieving this program’s requirements means accumulating 120 credits, a significant milestone that opens doors to a world of possibilities.

Students outdoors

How Can I Apply?

American University boasts a diverse student body hailing from every corner of the United States and 123 different nations. A significant portion of their students come from other colleges, enriching our community of individuals dedicated to effecting positive change.

If you seek an institution that will stimulate your intellect and offer you the opportunity to immerse yourself in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, your search need go no further!

First Year Checklist

To apply to American University, they are eager to learn all about you, not just your academic interests but also your life outside of the classroom.

High school students interested in joining American University can conveniently apply online through the Common App.

However, please ensure that your application is complete, as incomplete submissions will not be reviewed.

Here’s a checklist to guide you through the application process:

Common Application: Make sure to include your essay.

Here are the Application Essay questions:

  • Question 1: In your view, what is the greatest challenge facing humanity today and how do you envision yourself being part of the solution?
  • Question 2: Describe a situation in which you had to work harder than you expected. When and how did you know that your current efforts were not enough? How did you adjust? (500 words maximum)

Application Fee: Submit the nonrefundable $75 application fee or request an application fee waiver.

High School Transcript(s): Provide your high school transcripts.

SAT and/or ACT Scores: If you’re not opting for the test-optional route, submit your SAT and/or ACT scores. You can self-report them on your application, but remember that official scores will be required if you’re admitted and choose to enroll.

Teacher Recommendation Letter: Ask your school counselor to complete the Secondary School Report and send your mid-year report and grades when they become available. A recommendation letter is optional but can strengthen your application.

The Minimum Admission Requirements

For freshman applicants from the U.S. educational system, completion of at least 16 college preparatory secondary school units is expected.

This includes 4 units in English, 3 units in academic mathematics (with 2 units in algebra and 1 unit of geometry), at least 2 units of laboratory science, 2 units of social science, and 2 units of foreign language.

Successful candidates often exceed these minimum requirements with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.

Diverse group of young people chatting in college library

What Is the Early Decision Plan?

American University’s Early Decision Plan is an application choice designed for first-year students who have identified American University as their top-choice institution.

This program comes with a binding commitment, meaning that when you apply as an Early Decision candidate, you are pledging to enroll at American University if you are admitted, and in return, you receive your admission decision ahead of the regular admission cycle.

Under the Early Decision Plan, there are two application deadline options:

  • November 15
  • January 15

Students who apply by the November 15 deadline will receive their admission decision by December 31, while those applying by the January 15 deadline will receive their decision by February 15.

Additionally, Early Decision applicants who meet the criteria will also receive information about their financial aid and merit scholarship status upon admission.

As an Early Decision applicant at AU, you can still apply to other colleges and universities while your application to AU is being reviewed.

However, if you are offered admission to AU, you are required to withdraw your applications from all other institutions at that point.

Why Should You Consider an Early Decision at American University?

Contemplating the merits of opting for an Early Decision at American University? Here are compelling reasons that might shed light on the advantages of this application choice:

  • Early notification of admissions and financial aid decisions alleviates the stress of your senior year.
  • Simultaneous notification of need-based and merit-based awards with the admissions decision.
  • Early access to AU’s Honors and Scholars programs for eligible students.

Furthermore, Early Decision admits enjoy early access to the AU community, including:

  • Early registration for courses.
  • Priority placement in University College and preferred UC community.
  • Participation in a webinar series focusing on first-year success and the next steps in the enrollment process.
  • Interaction with the First Year Advising team.
  • Opportunities to meet with deans and faculty in your chosen school or college.
  • Early engagement with your summer Orientation Leader and access to new student orientation resources.
  • Guaranteed priority selection for your preferred campus move-in date during the designated period.
  • The Early Decision Plan at American University offers numerous benefits, making it an enticing option for students who are committed to American University as their first-choice destination for higher education.

student in glasses sits on floor

Can I apply to AU without including standardized test scores?

Yes. Prospective students have the option to apply to American University through either the Early or Regular Decision Plan without the requirement of submitting standardized test scores.

Although these tests are useful in predicting your potential for success in college, the institution places the utmost importance on your academic performance in the classroom when evaluating your application.

In addition, they consider qualitative factors such as your essay, letters of recommendation, and involvement in extracurricular activities.

It’s important to note that choosing to apply to American University without submitting standardized test scores will not impact your eligibility for merit-based awards or your admission into the AU Honors Program.

For international students graduating from secondary schools located outside the United States, please be aware that neither the SAT nor ACT is mandatory for admission.

For students graduating from U.S. secondary schools who wish to omit standardized test scores from their application, you can do so by selecting the option “No, do not consider my SAT/ACT score for admission to AU” when responding to the “Preferred testing plan” question in the General section of the Common App.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Your admissions application automatically qualifies you for merit scholarships. No separate scholarship application is needed, except for the United Methodist Scholarship and Tuition Exchange.

If you’re interested in financial aid, complete both the CSS Profile and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What scholarships are accessible to incoming first-year students?

All accepted students, regardless of their nationality, are automatically considered for academic/merit scholarships for which they meet the criteria.

Generally, students who are granted scholarships demonstrate outstanding academic achievements and exhibit remarkable leadership qualities.

Most merit-based scholarships do not require a separate application for financial aid.

Nevertheless, the American University strongly encourages applicants for merit awards to complete the necessary forms for need-based aid if they anticipate requiring financial assistance in addition to their merit award.

Those with merit awards who also apply for need-based financial aid will be evaluated for any additional need-based aid for which they qualify, beyond the amount of the merit award.

The Freshman Merit Awards at American University

Let’s delve into the details of first-year (freshman) merit awards.

AU Presidential Scholarship


Candidates demonstrating academic excellence, ranking within the top 10 to 15 percent of American University’s admitted students.

Award Range

Scholarships range from $6,000 to $22,000.

Application Process

All students are evaluated based on their admissions application; a separate application is only required for the United Methodist scholarship.


Scholarships are renewable for up to eight semesters of undergraduate study, contingent upon full-time enrollment and meeting the annual Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) criteria for merit scholarship renewal.


Freshmen receive notification at the time of admission.

Cheerful multicultural students posing together

Additional Scholarships at American University

Here are additional scholarships provided by American University that you may want to explore.

American University District Scholars Award

This award is dedicated to high-achieving, low-income students from District of Columbia Public High School and District of Columbia Public Charter Schools. It covers full tuition, room, and board at AU, with additional resources provided based on financial need.

United Methodist Scholarship

AU offers a 50% United Methodist Ministerial Tuition Remission scholarship to dependent children of clergy serving full-time in specific churches. The scholarship is competitive, limited to 16 students, and applications occur on a rolling basis.

American University National Merit Scholarships

To be considered for these scholarships, students must be National Merit Finalists and list American University as their first choice school. All finalists receive $2,000 annually, renewable for up to eight semesters with satisfactory academic progress.

Athletic Scholarships

Outstanding freshman and transfer athletes are eligible for athletic scholarships.

Tuition Exchange Scholarships

Tuition Exchange, Inc. offers tuition benefits to employees of over 600 member schools. AU’s Tuition Exchange scholarship is merit-based and requires parents of applicants to contact their university’s Tuition Exchange Liaison Officer (TELO).

Restricted/Endowed Awards

AU has various scholarships funded by generous donors. These scholarships vary by school and may be based on merit, academic program, need, or other criteria specified by the donor.

Remember that scholarship opportunities abound at American University, so explore your options and make the most of your academic journey. Financial support is available to help you pursue your educational goals and dreams.

How Do I Apply for Financial Aid at Americal University?

To be considered for need-based aid, applicants must adhere to federal aid eligibility criteria and complete and submit both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Profile.

CSS Profile

The CSS Profile is a comprehensive application tailored to you based on your provided information during registration. American University uses the data collected in the CSS Profile to determine eligibility for institutional grant funding.

You can complete the CSS Profile online through the College Board, and remember to use AU’s CSS Profile code, which is 5007.

Please take note: If your biological or adoptive parents are divorced, separated, never married, or living separately, each parent will need to submit a CSS Profile Application.

When completing your own application, you can provide your non-custodial parent’s email address, and the College Board will inform them of this requirement.

Laptop on a desk with fafsa concept on the screen

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The FAFSA is utilized to assess your eligibility for federal and state need-based aid. To expedite the application process, it’s recommended to complete your FAFSA online.

Be sure to include American University’s FAFSA code, which is 001434, in the college release section. (Paper FAFSA forms are available through your high school.)

Required Applications

For AU’s consideration of need-based aid, both the CSS Profile and FAFSA should be submitted by the priority deadline of January 15. There’s no need to wait until you’re admitted before filing your PROFILE and FAFSA.

Late CSS Profile applications will only be considered for institutional aid as long as funds are available.

Tips for Completing Your Financial Aid Applications

  • Accuracy is crucial; the information on the CSS Profile and FAFSA determines your financial aid offer.
  • Consider completing the CSS Profile first and utilize the College Board’s pre-populated FAFSA Worksheet to assist with the FAFSA.  After finishing the CSS Profile, you can print the College Board FAFSA Worksheet, which will contain most of the necessary information for filing your FAFSA.
  • Ensure that you use your full legal name as it appears on your Social Security Card when filing your CSS Profile and FAFSA. Nicknames or any other names won’t be accepted.
  • Electronically sign your FAFSA. Both you and a parent (for dependent students) can obtain unique Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) through the Department of Education.  Using a PIN to sign the FAFSA will expedite processing.

Offer Timeline

Applicants who meet the application deadline will receive a financial aid offer letter in their admissions packet in late March.

Early Decision Applicants

For Early Decision I and Early Decision II, the CSS Profile is available starting October 1 and must be received by November 15 and January 15, respectively. Don’t delay filing your CSS Profile until you’re admitted, as late applications will only be considered for aid if funds are available.

Applicants who complete their application on time and are eligible for need-based aid will receive a financial aid notification letter in their admissions packet.

For Undocumented Students

Qualified students are eligible for scholarship funds based on academic merit, ranging from $6,000 to $20,000. No separate application is necessary.

Additional scholarship funds are available to students who qualify for admission to the AU Honors Program. An application separate from the general scholarship application is required for the AU Honors Program.

Final Thoughts

The Global Scholars Program at American University is a profound invitation to become a global citizen, a visionary leader, and a catalyst for positive change in our interconnected world. As you contemplate your future path, remember that within the embrace of this program lies the power to transcend borders, cultivate empathy, and ignite the flames of innovation.

It is an opportunity to grow, learn, and discover what it truly means to be part of a global community dedicated to creating a better future for all.

So, high school students, seize this extraordinary chance to be a part of something bigger, to explore, and to become the changemakers the world so desperately needs.

To delve deeper into the college admissions process, consider tapping into the wisdom of college admissions professionals, like those you’ll find here at AdmissionSight. With more than ten years of expertise in assisting students in navigating the rigorous admissions journey and securing spots in some of the globe’s top-tier universities, we offer an invaluable resource. Feel free to arrange your initial consultation whenever it suits you.

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