A Curriculum That Prepares You For The 21st-Century Workplace

Research from the Association of American Colleges shows that employers are more likely to hire job candidates who have strong, field-specific understanding and skills, as well as broad-based knowledge that is applicable to a variety of fields.

The online graduate degree and certificate programs within American University's School of Professional & Extended Studies offer a professionally aligned curriculum, combining traditional learning with advanced, real-world training. This approach ensures students earn a graduate degree that develops the in-demand skill sets that employers seek and value.

What is the School of Professional & Extended Studies?

The School of Professional & Extended Studies is one of 7 schools at American University, celebrating its 125th year in 2018! Located in Washington, D.C., we prepare students for the 21st-century workplace by offering specialized, experiential, and data-driven programs that develop students into talented, highly skilled, and in-demand candidates.

Designed in response to a need among employers for highly trained individuals, our newly re-developed, 30-credit online curriculum prepares students for successful careers in the following specializations:

*Also offered as a 12-credit graduate certificate program that can be completed in 9-15 months.

At American University's innovative School of Professional & Extended Studies, students learn the cross-sector, translative skills that employers increasingly demand and that shape future workforces.

Fred Dust, partner
IDEO Innovation and Design Firm

How does American University prepare students for life after graduation?

The School of Professional & Extended Studies is built on a strategic curriculum method, called the Professional Studies Experience (PSE), that prepares students for a successful career. This curriculum model consists of courses offered in four phases: Core, Field Professional, Elective and Capstone, featuring both required and elective courses that are professionally aligned.

Each course was designed with the contributions of an advisory council and composed of industry experts and field practitioners to ensure proficiency in a wide array of areas, including communication, teamwork, ethical decision-making, critical thinking, problem solving, locating and evaluating information from multiple sources, as well as innovation and emerging technologies.

What are the required core courses?

Students in online programs attend as a cohort, providing opportunities to share ideas and connect across departments. Three core courses focus on topics chosen and designed based on the learning outcomes employers have deemed most important, which can apply to all industries.

SPEX 600: Innovation Through New Technologies

Explore the current and potential impacts of new, emerging, and rapidly evolving technologies on organizations and their operations, across a range of industries and sectors.

SPEX 610: Intercultural Communication for Professionals

Improve intercultural competencies and communication skills, with a focus on aspects of intercultural communication highly relevant to technical experts and managers.

SPEX 660: Data-Driven Decision-Making

Explore quantitative and qualitative tools and methods used to evaluate, present, and communicate data (big and small).

Upon completion of these courses, students will master the ability to:

  • Examine and demonstrate the use of analytic tools, both quantitative and qualitative, to provide descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive project data.
  • Assess emerging trends in the global workplace and the impacts of ever-changing technologies.
  • Value the importance of ethical, intercultural, and agency/client/stakeholder relationships.
  • Establish professional relationships with all stakeholders by demonstrating leadership skills and using appropriate correspondence channels.

How is this different from other master's degree programs?

American University's School of Professional & Extended Studies has long provided leading-edge, experiential learning that includes interdisciplinary and hands-on study. Because the rigorous coursework address employers' needs, students are prepared for a seat at the table with leaders and employers. Students graduate with knowledge and skills that can immediately be applied to real-world situations.

Upon graduation, students are ready to join the workforce equipped with these essential tools.


You will understand how to:

  • Identify and apply frameworks that define culture and intercultural communication
  • Evaluate standards of success, failure, cultural self-determination, and responsibility to protect, as they relate to different cultural systems
  • Evaluate the impact of technology on intercultural communications


You'll be able to:

  • Apply intercultural behavioral skills to foster intercultural understanding in others
  • Demonstrate reflective and critical thinking skills aimed at understanding one's own culture and positionality
  • Develop and apply verbal and nonverbal intercultural communication skills
  • Implement effective strategies to address cultural and ethical scenarios


You'll set yourself apart by being able to:

  • Appreciate the ethical considerations involved when intervening across intercultural/international contexts
  • Demonstrate cultural awareness, openness, and sensitivity toward others

The career-focused nature of American University's online programs means you'll develop flexibility, cross-cultural competence, and collaborative skills essential for success in the 21st-century global knowledge economy.


To learn more about how American University's online graduate degrees in the School of Professional & Extended Studies can help advance your career, call 855-725-7614 to speak with an admissions representative or request information.