The American University (AU or American) is a private research university in Washington, D.C. Its main campus spans 90 acres (36 ha) at the former site of Fort Gaines on Ward Circle, in the Spring Valley neighbourhood in the northwest of the District. AU was chartered by an Act of Congress in 1893 at the urging of Methodist bishop John Fletcher Hurst, who sought to create an institution that would promote public service, internationalism, and pragmatic idealism. AU broke ground in 1902, opened in 1914, and admitted its first undergraduates in 1925. Although affiliated with the United Methodist Church, religious affiliation is not a criterion for admission.
American University has eight schools and colleges: the School of International Service, College of Arts and Sciences, Kogod School of Business, School of Communication, School of Professional and Extended Studies, School of Public Affairs, School of Education, and the Washington College of Law (WCL). It has over 160 programs, including 71 bachelor’s degrees, 87 master’s degrees, and 10 doctoral degrees, as well as J.D., LL.M., and S.J.D programs. AU’s student body numbers over 13,000 and represents all 50 U.S. states and 141 countries; around a fifth of students are international. Its prominent alumni include numerous journalists, media personalities, ambassadors, and Congress members. American University is one of the top five feeder schools to the U.S. Foreign Service and their governmental agencies. In 2018, The Princeton Review ranked American University 1st for Top Colleges with the Most Politically Active Students.