American University

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#42, overall score 63.75/100

Fun Fact:

The Sierra Club has ranked AU as one of the greenest universities in the country. The entire campus is a designated arboretum.

Why should Jewish students attend AU? American University students are driven and engaged with the world: the university has repeatedly been ranked as the most politically active in the country, students intern at a higher rate than at any other university, and the vast majority of undergraduates study abroad. The beautiful campus, a designated arboretum, is just minutes from Washington’s globally recognized landmarks, museums, and more. AU is home to one of the largest Jewish communities of any private university in the nation, and Jewish life on campus has experienced a renaissance in recent years. AU Hillel offers students countless ways to be involved with Jewish life and community, to learn and lead, to travel, and to make an impact on the world. - Jason Benkendorf, executive director, American University Hillel


  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Region: Mid-Atlantic
  • Campus type: Big city
  • Public/Private: Private
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 7,901
  • Jewish undergraduate enrollment: 1,600
  • Jewish population share: 20%
  • Student origin: 18% in-state / 82% out-of-state
  • Student newspaper: The Eagle
  • NCAA Division: I
  • NCAA team: Eagles
  • Ultimate Frisbee team names: Stall 11 / Dirty Ladies

What Students Say:

“AU is a place where things happen and change. Students here never forfeit a chance to make their voices heard.”…“AU is a place where intense and deep reflection takes place. We are in the heart of D.C.; in a sense, in the middle of it all. Come prepared for students that have an incredible amount of drive while also knowing you are free to shape your own experience.”

COST & AID Score: 2.5/15

  • Score: 2.5/15
  • Tuition: $46,615
  • Room & board costs: $14,702
  • Average annual scholarship/grant package: $27,000
  • Average loan debt: $34,655

ACADEMICS Score: 10/20

  • Score: 10/20
  • Acceptance rate: 29%
  • Student/faculty ratio: 11:1
  • Median SAT range: 1180-1350
  • Jewish Studies program: Yes
  • Jewish Studies major: Yes
  • Hebrew major: No

What Students Say:

“It feels like almost everyone is both a student and a mini-professional, which is both inspiring and intimidating. Once you embrace the reasons why you came to D.C. and American, and find a healthy balance - it’s really amazing to see what college students are doing before turning 21.”

ISRAEL Score: 17.67/20

SAFETY Score: 5.67/11

  • Score: 5.67/11
  • Anti-Semitic incidents in 2017: 1
  • Campus crime rate: 3.37/1,000 students (medium low)
  • City crime rate: 57.8/1,000 people (high)
  • LGBT center: Yes

JEWISH LIFE Score: 27.92/34

  • Score: 27.92/34
  • Hillel: American University Hillel
  • Chabad: Chabad AU
  • OU-JLIC: No
  • Jewish fraternities: ΣAM, ZBT
  • Jewish sororities: AEPhi, SDT
  • Can you get kosher food on the school meal plan?: Yes
  • Is there a chicken soup hotline?: Yes
  • Active Hillel clubs: 10
  • Hillel Friday night services: 2
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Hillel: 50
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Chabad: 35
  • Synagogues within 10 miles: 32 (15 Orthodox, 10 Conservative, 7 Reform)
  • Eruv: No
  • Most famous Jewish alum: Judge Judy Sheindlin
  • Most unique/noteworthy club: Lilith, Hillel’s Jewish feminist fellowship, offers a group of students ongoing opportunities to explore Jewish texts and teachings around gender and sexuality and to examine the intersections of Jewish and feminist thought and identity.
  • Where do Jewish students come from?: All over the country
  • Kosher food details: Pre-prepared kosher meals are available in the dining hall, and kosher boxed sandwiches, wraps and salads are available in the campus convenience store. Hillel provides kosher Shabbat dinners and holiday meals.

What Students Say:

“Our Jewish community is large, but in many ways, very intimate. Since we have so many Jewish students from different backgrounds, our community is spread out, making it easy to find Jews in many places.”…“While many of our Jewish students are actively engaged, we need more programming that focuses on bringing Jews together to do non-Jewish things.”…“The Jewish community is vibrant and new - always changing, as AU does - but is deeply tied to some traditional roots.”…“I see how successful our LGBT group and feminist group are, and I think there are more ways to connect to the wider AU community if we dig deeper and continue having innovative events.”

Do you attend this school? Do you want to tell us more about what life there is like? Take our survey here, and your feedback could be featured in next year’s guide! And if you’re a student or campus professional, join our online community Jewish Campus Confidential, and apply to become a Forward Campus Ambassador.

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