American University – Acceptance Rate, GPA, and Requirements

American University was founded on a mission

Long after George Washington’s passing, his call that America should have a university that prepares public servants within the country’s capital had gone unrealized for nearly 100 years. 

When one sees American University today, it becomes clear that the mission to create a wonderful university in the heart of the nation’s capital is now fulfilled. 

From Alice Paul to Paul Ryan, American university has been the starting point for many public service and activism careers. 

It is no wonder, then, that American has one of the best international relations programs in the country. 

In the arts, American University artists have a tradition of using their artwork to change the world. 

American is the alma mater of renowned novelist Ann Beattie, activist, author, educator, and writer Brittany Packnett, and many more amazing artists

Thanks to its position in Washington D.C., one of the most international cities in the entire US, American University promises that students will arrive at American and leave with a global understanding of their subject of study regardless of the subject matter. 

Whether it’s the academic prestige, the focus on internationalism, the political and cultural hub of D.C., or its status as one of the most progressive campuses in the US, American University has endless appeal.

But before one can take advantage of its many affordances, they first have to be admitted. As such, this article breaks down everything students need to know to begin the road to joining American’s student body. 

By looking at acceptance rates, minimum requirements for admission, application tips, and more, this article will serve as a first step for those hoping to become an American University Eagle. 

American University Acceptance Rate

American University
Herrperry123, Katzen Arts Center, CC BY-SA 4.0

American University has a competitive acceptance rate at 31%.

When one examines the acceptance rate of early vs. regular decision applicants, one begins to see one of the best tips a student can know to increase their chance of getting into American. 

Although the general acceptance rate is around 31%, the early decision acceptance rate is about 83%

This is one of the top 10 largest discrepancies between early and late decision acceptance rates in the country. Early decision applicants are those who apply prior to November 15th. 

Related to the general acceptance rate is the rate at which students receive financial aid, as this is often a make-or-break aspect of one’s college decision. 

At American University, around 44% of first-year students receive some form of financial aid, with the average award sitting around $31,000.

American University Out-of-State Acceptance Rate

The majority of American University students come from outside D.C., and as such there is no meaningful difference between the out-of-state acceptance rate and the in-state acceptance rate.

79% of American’s students apply from out of state, and 11% apply internationally, meaning that only 10% of students apply from within D.C.

As well, with American University being private and the majority of its students applying from outside D.C., the tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students is the same. Therefore, the aforementioned financial aid statistics apply for out-of-state students as well. 

Many universities have policies regarding the amount of in-state versus out-of-state applicants, but because of American University’s status as a private university and the vast swath of locations from which American students hail, AU has no such policy. 

GPA for American University

American University School of International Service
Herrperry123, School of International Service Building, CC BY-SA 4.0

Although American University does not have a minimum GPA required for admission, students should expect that they will need to attain a 3.65 high school GPA in order to be considered competitive. 

In calculating this GPA, unlike many schools of similar competitiveness, American considers one’s weighted GPA as opposed to an unweighted GPA. Therefore, taking IB/AP classes will increase one’s admissions chances. 

The middle 50% of GPAs for admitted freshman ranged from 3.63-4.15. 

Because of the high GPAs of students admitted to American University, in order to be considered for scholarships or merit-based aid, one will have to have a fairly high GPA. 

Preference for first-year American University merit scholarships is generally given to students with a 3.8 high school GPA or higher. 

SAT & ACT Requirements for American University

Once again, although American University does not necessarily have a minimum ACT/SAT, students can assume that an SAT of 1310 and an ACT of 29 are necessary to be considered competitive. 

This estimation is based on the statistics from the American University admissions page. 

Here, American University states that the middle 50% of SAT scores range from 1310-1460. They state that the middle 50% of ACT scores range from 29-33. 

Luckily for those who plan to take the ACT multiple times, American superscores ACT scores. This means that they only take the highest score from each section from among multiple test attempts. 

Therefore, to determine the ACT score that Americans will consider, students can take the highest score from each section among every test attempt to form a new total score from them.

Other Requirements and Admission Tips 

American University Residence Hall
Herrperry123, East Campus Residence Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Alongside GPA and SAT/ACT, American University also requires students to have completed a standard array of high school coursework prior to admission. 

Furthermore, although it is not a strict requirement, American University states that admitted students tend to have completed college preparatory courses. 

As such, one can safely assume that, although not strictly required, the completion of college preparatory courses, such as IB/AP, will be vital for most applicants. 

Additionally, American states that admitted students tend to exceed the minimum coursework requirements. This could be achieved, for example, by taking 4 years of a foreign language as opposed to the minimum 2.

And, as previously noted, perhaps the most effective and simplest admissions tip to increase one’s chances of being accepted into American University is to take advantage of the early decision application deadline.

Applicants who take advantage of the early decision acceptance rate by applying prior to November 15th will have roughly a 45% greater chance of admittance than those who apply by the regular January 15th deadline.

Essays for American University

American University uses the Common Application and Coalition Application systems. As such, students may likely have to submit an essay in line with the prompts provided by the Common Application or Coalition Application.

On top of this, American University also requires one supplemental essay which they decide the prompt for independently. 

To begin with the Common Application and Coalition Application prompts, the questions asked of applicants for these essays tend to be designed to allow the admissions team to understand the applicant as an individual. 

As such, these prompts will likely address one’s personal struggles, perspectives, and aspirations to some extent.

Here is an example from this year’s Common Application. 

“Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

American University’s supplemental essay is meant to address the question of why American is a particularly good fit for the applicant. 

American asks students to answer this question: “Why are you interested in American University?”

In responding, specificity is key. By pointing out to the admissions team that there are specific programs, facilities, professors, and opportunities that only American University provides, applicants can convince the admissions team that American is the ideal choice for that particular student. 

Furthermore, students should be advised that certain programs, such as the Honors Program or the accelerated 3-year Public Health Scholars Program, may require additional essays at the time of application.

Is the American University Right for You?

And if all of these steps are followed, and one is granted admission into American, there is still one step remaining. Applicants must decide if American is the right choice for them. 

And although the answer to this question is entirely dependent on the needs of each particular applicant, certain aspects of American University are sure to be important deciding factors for a plurality of applicants. 

For one thing, regardless of one’s academic discipline, AU assures that students learn by doing. Roughly 95% of all AU students engage in some form of experiential learning, whether that be research, study abroad, internships or otherwise. 

When it comes to internships specifically, roughly 80% of American University students will have a fall internship at some point during their studies. 

And an internship in Washington D.C., with its environment of change-makers and its global influence, is sure to provide students with truly life-changing on-the-ground experiences.

Unsurprisingly, American University consistently ranks as one of, if not the, most politically active school in the country. Best Colleges, Unigo, and College Magazine put American University at either the number 1 or 2 spot for most politically active student populations.

American is a mecca for students wanting to transform their academic pursuits into meaningful, world-changing action. 

And, all the while, students will be making links all across the world at American, to a degree that is rare for private, medium-sized schools like AU. 

With a robust International Relations department, plenty of study abroad opportunities, and an international location and student body population, AU will leave students with a truly global outlook. 

For these reasons and more, American University will make it incredibly easy for many students to feel right at home as an Eagle.