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General Education

Welcome to AU’s General Education Program

Effective for undergraduate students who entered the university between Fall 1989–Spring 2018, the General Education Program was American University's liberal arts requirement (What some institutions call a core or distribution requirement). The General Education Program, or Gen Ed, was followed by the AU Core Curriculum in Fall 2018. As more students graduate and the need for Gen Ed courses gradually declines, a smaller number of courses and sections will be offered.


Schools with a core liberal arts program believe that there is a certain body of knowledge that all educated adults should possess. Those with distribution requirements think students should learn about subjects outside their main course of study. The General Education Program embodies both of those philosophies. We believe that our graduates should be equipped with certain intellectual skills and resources if they are to understand the complex dynamics of an increasingly connected global environment.


Beginning in Fall 2018, new degree-seeking students enrolled at American University will not complete the General Education curriculum as part of their undergraduate degree. Students will, instead, be expected to satisfy the AU Core curriculum. 

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Student Planning is the registration system students use to plan, register, add/drop, and waitlist Gen Ed courses. To access Student Planning, log into and click on the Eagle Service link in the Academics menu.

Go to the Portal


The university awards credit for some Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, CLEP and foreign academic qualification exams. Please note that a maximum of 4 out of the 10 General Education courses can be fulfilled through credit-by-exam.

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The American University Catalog, which includes the approved courses and undergraduate regulations, is published annually. Both the current catalog and the archived catalogs can be found online below and on PDFs, depending on the catalog year

View the catalog