George Washington University
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George Washington University

The George Washington University
George Washington University seal.svg
Former names
Columbian College[1]
Columbian University[2]
MottoLatin: Deus Nobis Fiducia
Motto in English
God is Our Trust[3]
EstablishedFebruary 9, 1821
Academic affiliations
Endowment$1.799 billion (2018)[4]
PresidentThomas LeBlanc
ProvostForrest Maltzman
Academic staff
Students27,159 (2016)[5]
Undergraduates11,244 (2016)[5]
Postgraduates15,486 (2016)[5]
Other students
429 (2016)[5]
CampusUrban (Foggy Bottom)
Suburban (Mount Vernon and Virginia campuses)
ColorsBuff and Blue[6]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I - A-10
George Washington University wordmark.svg

The George Washington University (GW or GWU) is a private research university in Washington, D.C. It was chartered in 1821 by an act of the United States Congress.

The university is organized into 14 colleges and schools, including the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the Elliott School of International Affairs, the GW School of Business, the School of Media and Public Affairs, the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, the GW Law School and the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. George Washington's main Foggy Bottom Campus is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank located on campus and the White House and the U.S. Department of State within blocks of campus. GWU hosts numerous research centers and institutes, including the National Security Archive and the Institute for International Economic Policy. GWU has two satellite campuses: the Mount Vernon Campus, located in D.C.'s Foxhall neighborhood and the Virginia Science and Technology Campus. It is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia.

George Washington, the first President of the United States, advocated the establishment of a national university in the U.S. capital in his first State of the Union address in 1790 and continued to promote this idea throughout his career and until his death.[2][8] In his will, Washington left shares in the Potomac Company to endow the university. However, due to the company's financial difficulties, funds were raised independently.[9] On February 9, 1821, the university was founded by an Act of Congress, making it one of only five universities in the United States with a Congressional charter.[2][1]

George Washington offers degree programs in seventy-one disciplines, enrolling an average of 11,000 undergraduate and 15,500 post-graduate students from more than 130 countries.[10]The Princeton Review ranked GWU 1st for Top Colleges or Universities for Internship Opportunities.[11][12] As of 2015, George Washington had over 1,100 active alumni in the U.S. Foreign Service, one of the largest feeder schools for the diplomatic corps.[13] GWU is consistently ranked by The Princeton Review in the top "Most Politically Active" Schools.

George Washington is home to extensive student life programs, a strong Greek culture, and over 450 other student organizations. The school's athletic teams, the George Washington Colonials, play in the Atlantic 10 Conference. GW is known for the numerous prominent events it holds yearly, from hosting U.S. presidential debates and academic symposiums to the being the host of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund's Annual Meetings in DC, since 2013.[14]

George Washington alumni, faculty and affiliates include numerous prominent politicians, including 16 heads of state or government, current U.S. Cabinet members, Fortune 500 CEOs, Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows, Olympic athletes, Academy Award and Golden Globe winners, royalty, and Time 100 notables.


President George Washington, GW's namesake, left shares in his last will to endow the university.


The first President of the United States, George Washington, long favored the establishment of a university in the capital of the United States. He wrote to the U.S. Congress and others in favor of it, and included a bequest in his last will and testament.[15][16]

The Baptist missionary and leading minister Luther Rice raised funds to purchase a site in Washington, D.C. for a college to educate citizens from throughout the young nation. A large building was constructed on College Hill, which is now known as Meridian Hill, and on February 9, 1821, President James Monroe approved the congressional charter creating the non-denominational Columbian College.[17]

The first commencement in 1824 was considered an important event for the young city of Washington, D.C. In attendance were President Monroe, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Marquis de Lafayette and other dignitaries.

The George Washington University, like much of Washington, D.C., traces many of its origins back to the Freemasons. The Bible that the President of the George Washington University uses to swear an oath on upon inauguration is the Bible of Freemason George Washington. Freemasonry symbols are prominently displayed throughout the campus including the foundation stones of many of the university buildings.[18]

19th century

During the Civil War, many students left to join the Confederacy and the college's buildings were used as a Union Army military hospital and barracks. Walt Whitman was among many of the volunteers to work on the campus.

Following the war, in 1873, Columbian College became the Columbian University and moved to an urban downtown location centered on 15th and H streets, NW.[19]

20th century

In 1904, Columbian University changed its name to the George Washington University in an agreement with the George Washington Memorial Association to build a campus building in honor of the first U.S. President.[20] Neither the university nor the association were able to raise enough funds for the proposed building near the National Mall; however, the institution retained the name and the money that was raised went to the eventual construction of Lisner Auditorium.[21] The university moved its principal operations to the D.C. neighborhood of Foggy Bottom in 1912.[22]

A conversation between U.S. President Barack Obama and Stephen Colbert held at GWU's Lisner Auditorium; 2014.

Many of the Colleges of the George Washington University stand out for their age and history. The Law School is the oldest law school in the District of Columbia.[23] The School of Medicine and Health Sciences is the 11th oldest medical school in the nation.[24] The Columbian College was founded in 1821, and is the oldest unit of the university. The Elliott School of International Affairs was formalized in 1898.[25]

Historic F Street House is the President of GWU's official residence. Behind is the HQ of the International Monetary Fund.

The majority of the present infrastructure and financial stability at GW is due to the tenures of GW Presidents Cloyd Heck Marvin, Lloyd Hartman Elliott and Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. In the 1930s, the university was a major center for theoretical physics. The cosmologist George Gamow produced critical work on the Big Bang theory at GW in the 1930s and 1940s. In one of the most important moments in the 20th century, Niels Bohr announced that Otto Hahn had successfully split the atom on January 26, 1939, at the Fifth Washington Conference on theoretical physics in the Hall of Government.[26]

During the Vietnam War era, Thurston Hall, an undergraduate dormitory housing 1,116 students[27] was a staging ground for student anti-war Demonstrations. (At 1900 F Street NW, the building is 3 blocks from the White House.)

In 1996, the university purchased the Mount Vernon College for Women in the city's Palisades neighborhood that became the school's coeducational Mount Vernon Campus. The campus was first utilized in 1997 for women only, but became co-educational in a matter of years. The Mount Vernon campus is now totally integrated into the GW community, serving as a complement to the Foggy Bottom campus.

In 1999, GW hosted the Town Hall with President Clinton, the first presidential town hall to ever be webcast live.

21st century

In December 2006, the university named Johns Hopkins University provost Steven Knapp as the next President of the George Washington University. He began his presidency on August 1, 2007.[28] In 2017, Thomas LeBlanc, provost of the University of Miami, was named the current President of the George Washington University.


University Yard is GW's largest open space in Foggy Bottom.

The George Washington University has three fully integrated campuses in the D.C. area. These are the Foggy Bottom Campus, the Mount Vernon Campus, and the Virginia Science and Technology Campus. The Foggy Bottom Campus houses the vast majority of academic programming. Residence halls exist on the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses.

The George Washington University library system contains the Gelman Library,[29] the Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library,[30] the Burns Law Library,[31] the Eckles Memorial Library,[32] and the Virginia Science and Technology Library.[33] The GWU Library System is a constituent member of the Washington Research Library Consortium, which allows for resource sharing among the university libraries of the Washington metropolitan area.

Foggy Bottom

GWU's Corcoran School of the Arts & Design is housed in the Corcoran Gallery, D.C.'s oldest private cultural institution and a National Landmark, located on The Ellipse, facing the White House.

The main GW campus consists of 43 acres (170,000 m2) in historic Foggy Bottom and is located a few blocks from the White House, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, State Department and the National Mall. Barring a few outlying buildings, the boundaries of campus are delineated by (running clockwise from Washington Circle) Pennsylvania Avenue, 19th Street, E Street, Virginia Avenue, 24th Street, and New Hampshire Avenue. The university owns much of the property in Foggy Bottom and leases it to various tenants, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Other nearby institutions include the Harry S Truman Building (Department of State headquarters), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, United States Institute of Peace, Watergate complex and the embassies of Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The University Yard is the main open space and historic heart of the university. Along with George Washington's main library, Gelman Library, they constitute the hub of the main campus. The seven-story Gelman Library building contains over two million volumes and is constructed in the Brutalist architectural style of the 1970s. It features a concrete façade punctuated by windows that are divided by projecting vertical slabs. For most of the year, parts of the library are open 24 hours a day, seven days per week for use by students, faculty and staff. The seventh floor of the library includes the Special Collections Research Center, National Security Archives, Global Resources Center and Kiev Library.

"Trump's First Year", a 2017 event held with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the chief correspondents from The New York Times, CNN, Fox News, and the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, held by the School of Media and Public Affairs.
Foggy Bottom during Winter.

The National Security Archives (NSA) is a research institution that publishes declassified U.S. government files concerning selected topics of American foreign policy. It was a National Security Archive Freedom of Information Act request that eventually made the Central Intelligence Agency's so-called "Family Jewels" public.[34]

Close to the library is Lisner Auditorium and a large open area between them is known as Kogan Plaza. Southeast of the plaza and located near Monroe Hall and Hall of Government is the Monroe Court, a landscaped area with a large fountain. The Foggy Bottom-GWU Washington Metro station is located at the intersection of 23rd and I Streets NW due south of Washington Circle, and provides access to the Orange, Blue and Silver lines. The University Hospital is located next to the Metro station entrance.[35][36][37]

The Foggy Bottom campus contains most of the residence halls in which GW students live. The most notable include: Shenkman Hall, Thurston Hall, Madison Hall, Potomac House, Fulbright Hall, Mitchell Hall, Munson Hall, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis Hall, Phillip Amsterdam Hall, Guthridge Hall, Madison Hall, Townhouse Row, South Hall, and the newest, District House, which opened in 2016.

In late 2007, construction began on a large mixed-use residential, office and retail development located on the site of the old GW Hospital (Square 54) and just east of the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metrorail station. It was the second-largest undeveloped lot in the District of Columbia at the time of initial construction activity.[38] In 2014, the university assumed ownership of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the oldest private art museum in Washington D.C. and independent college of art and design. The college of art and design became The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design under the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. The National Gallery of Art will acquire many of the 17,000 pieces of art from the Corcoran and the rest will be donated to other museums around the country.[39] In May 2014, GW opened the Milken Institute School of Public Health, a nine-story building that received LEED certification for sustainability features including a green roof, rainwater collection system and special heating and air conditioning technologies that helps mass air displacement.[40]The Textile Museum reopened to the public in March 2015 after the institution merged with the university in 2011 and closed it for renovations two years later.[41]

Mount Vernon Campus

In 1996, the university purchased the Mount Vernon College for Women in the city's Palisades neighborhood that became the school's coeducational Mount Vernon Campus. Initially, the Mount Vernon Campus remained exclusively a women's college until 1999 when GW changed its operations to a co-ed facility.[42] Now known as the Mount Vernon campus, it is totally integrated into the GW community, serving as a complement to the Foggy Bottom campus.[43] The campus has transportation systems connecting the students to the GW campus in Foggy Bottom. It also includes Eckles Library, six residence halls, Lloyd Gymnasium, The GW-Mount Vernon Athletic Complex and other various campus facilities.[44]

Virginia Science and Technology Campus

The George Washington University also operates a research and graduate campus in Ashburn, Virginia (near Dulles International Airport) which was established in 1991. Starting with a donation of 50 acres from Robert H. Smith, the campus grew to 101 acres by 2010.[45]

Additionally, the university also operates several other graduate satellite education centers. These include the Alexandria Graduate Education Center in Alexandria, the Graduate Education Center in Arlington, and the Hampton Roads Center in Newport News. The Virginia Science and Technology Campus hosts research and educational partnerships with industry and government officials and offers more than 20 graduate degrees.[46]

The Virginia Science and Technology Campus is home to the first walkable solar-power sidewalk in the world. The project began in 2012 and was completed two years later, inaugurated in October 2014.[47]


The George Washington University is governed by the GW Board of Trustees, the President of the George Washington University, provost, vice presidents, deans, and department chairs. The university employs over 6,000 faculty members, administrators, and support staff.[48] In 2007, Steven Knapp had previously taught at the University of California, Berkeley and was later the provost at Johns Hopkins University, was named the university's sixteenth president.[49] The current President of the George Washington University is Thomas LeBlanc.

Schools and colleges

GW is organized into fourteen schools and colleges, each with a different dean and organization.[50] The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences was the original academic unit of the university.[51] The Medical School is the 11th oldest medical school in the nation and the first to open in the District of Columbia.[52] The Law School was also the first law school in the District of Columbia.[23] Each academic unit has a distinct identity within the broader university. The Graduate School of Political Management and the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design were organized outside of the university, later to join in 1987 and 2014, respectively.

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Rome, Phillips, and Smith Halls, home of the Columbian College.

The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) is the oldest and largest college in the university. It was founded in 1821; at the beginning of the university's history, there was no distinction between this college and the university. The School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration (SPPPA) belong to this college, although they are run separately. The Columbian College was among the first American institutions to grant a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), in 1888.[53] The Columbian College is notable for its academic diversity, and offers a wide range of majors and courses of study.[53] The Columbian College contains the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, the School of Media and Public Affairs, and the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. The Columbian College is primarily house in Philips Hall, Rome Hall, Smith Hall of Art, MPA Building, Monroe Hall, Hall of Government, 1922 F Street, Corcoran Hall, Bell Hall, Samson Hall, Lisner Hall, and many other places around campus. The college is also present on the Mount Vernon and Virginia Campuses.

Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration

The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration is a graduate school in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.[54] The Trachtenberg School offers Master of Public Policy, Master of Public Administration, and PhD degrees in Public Policy and Public Administration. The school works in partnership with the Elliott School of International Affairs, the School of Public Health and Health Services, and the Graduate School of Education & Human Development to offer a variety of concentrations for its graduates. For Public Affairs Schools, it is ranked 12th nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, and 10th in Public Management Administration.[55]

School of Media and Public Affairs

The School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), although run separately, belongs to the Columbian College of Arts in Sciences.[54] It offers two undergraduate degrees, Journalism and Mass Communication and Political Communication and a master's degree in Media and Public Affairs. It is housed in the same building as the Graduate School of Political Management.

The Public Affairs Project at GW, part of SMPA, is responsible for the creation and production of the PBS special, Planet Forward. School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) was the first in the nation to offer a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. The program boasts a faculty of retired and current professionals - including CNN correspondents, journalists, political analysts, and campaign professionals. The school is consistently ranked in the top 10 programs in the nation.

Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
The Corcoran School is housed in the former Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design is one of the oldest arts education institutions in the United States. It is a school of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.[54] It is housed in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the oldest private cultural institution in Washington, DC.

Formerly an independent institution, known as the Corcoran College of Art and Design, the institution later merged the college operations with the George Washington University. The school retained over 20 full-time faculty members, and the college will continue to function as a separate entity within the university. The school has a historic building facing the White House on 17th Street.

School of Business

The George Washington School of Business was established in 1928 with a $1 million gift by the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction.[56] On February 6, 2006, the Chairman and CEO of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith, opened a new complex for the school called Ric and Dawn Duquès Hall, which today houses the business school along with the Norma Lee and Morton Funger Hall.[57] As of January 2018, GW's undergraduate business program was ranked 42nd nationally and its International Business program was ranked 9th by U.S. News & World Report.[58]

School of Medicine and Health Sciences

GWU Hospital houses several medical programs at GWU and occasionally serves the U.S. President's medical needs.
Hillary Clinton presenting the 1993 health care plan at GWU Hospital. Her mother died at the hospital in 2011.

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) or simply the George Washington School of Medicine, the first in the nation's capital, was founded in 1824 due to the need for doctors in the District of Columbia.[59] In 1981, the Medical Center became the center of the national spotlight when President Ronald Reagan was rushed to the emergency room after an attempted assassination.

GW Hospital's emergency department was later renamed the Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine, and other politicians, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, come to GW for routine and emergency procedures.[60] Cheney and wife Lynne Cheney then helped to start the Richard B. and Lynne V. Cheney Cardiovascular Institute in 2006. Others include former First Lady Laura Bush who was treated for a pinched nerve a few years ago.

SMHS is primarily housed in the GW Hospital, Ross Hall, and many other centers along K Street and throughout the city.

School of Engineering and Applied Science

The School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) was founded on October 1, 1884 as the Corcoran Scientific School of Columbian University. The school separated from the Columbian College in 1962 and was one of the first to accept women for degree candidacy in engineering.[61] The bazooka was invented at the SEAS in 1942.[62] The school moved into the new Science and Engineering Hall in D.C. in March 2015.[63]

Elliott School of International Affairs

The Elliott School of International Affairs is one of the world's most prestigious school of international relations and the largest in the U.S.

The Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) was founded in 1898 as the School of Comparative Jurisprudence and Diplomacy. Under President Lloyd Elliott, the school separated from Columbian College. On September 3, 2003, alumnus Colin Powell opened a new complex for this school at 1957 E Street NW in front of the Department of State.[64] As of February 2015, its undergraduate program was ranked 8th globally by Foreign Policy magazine, while the graduate program is currently ranked 7th in the world.[65] ESIA is primarily housed in Elliott Hall at 1957 E St.

School of Nursing

The history of nursing education at GW spans more than 100 years. In 2002, Jean Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, then senior associate dean for Health Sciences, met with the nursing faculty to assess GW's capacity to create GW's own degree programs. The faculty moved forward to develop a MSN in the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences with programs in adult nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership and management, and clinical research administration. The first MSN class was admitted in 2004.[66]

Meanwhile, approval was also obtained to develop a Department of Nursing Education. As the first and only chair of the department, Ellen Dawson, PhD, RN, ANP, led the MSN program to accreditation in time for the graduation of the first class in 2006. In addition, she spearheaded the development of both the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program and the 15-month (four consecutive semesters) accelerated second degree bachelor of nursing science (ABSN) program located in Ashburn, VA. The first classes for these degrees were admitted in 2007 and 2009, respectively.[66]

In 2010 the GW School of Nursing was re-established and is now the university's 10th academic institution, with Drs. Jean Johnson and Ellen Dawson as the founding deans.[66]

Law School

The GW Law School is the oldest law school in the national capital.
Jean-Antoine Houdon's George Washington, in University Yard.

The George Washington University Law School was established in 1826 and is the oldest law school in the District of Columbia.[67] Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, William Strong, David J. Brewer, Willis Van Devanter and John Marshall Harlan were among those who served on its faculty.[68][69] Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Samuel Alito, and Justice Antonin Scalia presided over its moot court in 2006, 2007 and 2009, respectively.[70][71] The law school is located primarily on the east side of University Yard.

Graduate School of Education and Human Development

The Graduate School of Education & Human Development (GSEHD) officially started in 1909. The school is composed of five distinct academic departments, and it is one of the largest schools within GW.[72]

College of Professional Studies

The George Washington University College of Professional Studies (CPS) was founded during the Trachtenberg Presidency.[73]The Graduate School of Political Management is included within the college.[74] CPS offers courses on the Foggy Bottom and Virginia campuses.

Graduate School of Political Management

The Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) is an academic unit of the College of Professional Studies. GSPM offers graduate degrees in legislative affairs, political management, and other related disciplines. The current director is Lara Brown.[75]

Milken Institute School of Public Health

Established in July 1997, and renamed in March 2014, the Milken Institute School of Public Health[76] brought together three longstanding university programs in the schools of medicine, business, and education that have since expanded substantially. Today, more than 900 students from nearly every U.S. state and more than 35 nations pursue undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees in public health. Its student body is one of the most ethnically diverse among the nation's private schools of public health.

The School also offers an array of joint degree programs, allowing students to couple a law degree with the Master of Public Health (MPH), or to combine an MPH with a medical degree or an MA in International Affairs. An MPH/Physician Assistant program, the first in the world, is available at the Milken Institute SPH, as is the opportunity to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer while pursuing an MPH.

Jacobs Institute of Women's Health

The Milken Institute School of Public Health also houses a nonprofit organization, the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. It aims to improve the health care of women of all ages both nationally and internationally by creating spaces designed to encourage interdisciplinary discussions on women's health.[77]

The institute also produces an academic journal, Women's Health Issues. The institute's executive director is Susan Wood.[78]


Demographics of the Student Body (2015)[79][80]
Undergraduate Graduate U.S. (2010)
White 56.3% 47.1% 63.7%
Asian 10.2% 9.1% 4.7%
Hispanic 8.5% 5.6% 16.3%
Black 5.9% 11.0% 12.2%
Two or More Races 3.7% 1.7% 1.9%
American Indian 0.1% 0.3% 0.7%
Pacific Islander 0.1% 0.2% 0.2%
International 10.0% 17.7% N/A
Unknown 5.2% 7.3% N/A
Male 43.6% 41.5% 49.2%
Female 56.4% 58.5% 50.8%
Avard Fairbanks's Busts of George Washington are located at the borders of the Foggy Bottom Campus.


According to the self-provided data by George Washington University, as of the 2011-2012 academic year, the acceptance rate for the Medical School was 3%, receiving 10,588 applications. Also, the law school's acceptance was 23%, receiving 10,021 applications, and undergraduate studies was 32%, receiving 21,433 applications.[81] As of 2015, George Washington University no longer required the SAT and ACT test scores for applicants in order to boost the enrollment of disadvantaged students.[82]

There are approximately 10,000 full-time undergraduates studying at George Washington University, and 14,000 graduate students.[83] These students come from all 50 states and over 120 countries.[84] Nearly 900 students participate in GW's Study Abroad Programs each semester in 50 countries.[85] GW is the largest higher education institution in Washington D.C.[84]

At George Washington University, tuition is guaranteed to remain at the freshman rate for up to ten continuous (full-time) semesters of undergraduate attendance at the university. The 2015-2016 academic year tuition rate was $50,367.[86]

GW has a large financial aid budget. Overall students were awarded $240,398,207 during the 2012-2013 academic year.[87] For the FY2011 cohort of students, the student loan default rate was 1.4, one of the lowest in the nation.[88] For the 2010-2011 school year, the freshman retention rate was 94.3%.[89] GW requires that students live on campus for their first three years of enrollment as undergraduates.[90]

In September 2013, The GW Hatchet reported that the university had a need-aware admissions policy, despite the fact that it claimed to have a need-blind policy at the time. The university subsequently admitted that its admissions policy was in fact need-aware.[91]


View of Midcampus Walk and Professors' Gate on 21st Street.
Shenkman Hall, commonly known as Ivory Tower.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, there were 5,015 undergraduates enrolled in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, 2,005 in the Elliott School of International Affairs, 1,566 in the School of Business, 774 in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, 367 in the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 174 in the Milken Institute School of Public Health, and 153 in the School of Nursing.[92]

Students come from all 50 U.S. states. The top states include New York, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois and Connecticut.[93]

George Washington University has many international students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. During the 2013-2014 academic year, there were over 130 countries represented among the student body. The most represented countries represented were China, South Korea, India, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Turkey, France, Nigeria, Pakistan, Japan, Iran, Germany, Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam.[94]


GW is ranked as tied for 25th of the Top Universities for Producing Billionaires 2016-2017, by Times Higher Education's World University Rankings, which also ranks GW as 51st of the Top 100 Universities for Producing Millionaires in the world.[104][105]

Apart from its national ranking, Forbes ranks GW as 44th in Research Universities.[106]

GW is ranked as the 66th wealthiest university in the world.[107]

The Princeton Review consistently ranks George Washington University in the Top 10 for the following categories:[108]

  • Most Politically Active
  • Dorms Like Palaces
  • Great College Towns
  • Best in the Northeast
  • Best College Newspaper
  • Most Popular Study Abroad Program

In 2012, the university received national attention when GW officials announced that they had misreported admissions data on their student body for over a decade, overstating the number of students who had graduated from high school in the top ten percent of their classes.[109][110] Consequently, U.S. News & World Report removed the school from its rankings and altered the GW's entry to being unranked for the 2013, "based on a data reporting error."[111] The university was reinstated a year later in the 2014 rankings.[112][113][114]

Program rankings

U.S. News & World Report ranks GW's international business program as 8th best in the world, its MBA program as 51st best, and its undergraduate business program as 38th best.[115]The Financial Times ranks GWSB as the 47th best business school in the United States.[116]

Foreign Policy ranks the Elliott School's Masters in International Affairs as the 7th best in the world in its 2018 Inside the Ivory Tower annual report.[117]Foreign Policy ranks the Elliott School as being the 8th in the Top U.S. Undergraduate Institutions to Study International Relations 2018.[117]

The 2020 U.S. News & World Report ranks GW Law School as 5th best in the U.S. for its international law program, 5th best for intellectual law, 2nd best for part-time law, and as the 22nd best law school in the United States.[118] The National Law Journal ranked GW Law 21st for law schools that sent the highest percentage of new graduates to NLJ 250 law firms, the largest and most prominent law practices in the U.S.[119]

George Washington is ranked 61st for the Best Global Universities for Social Sciences and Public Health 2018 by U.S. News & World Report.[120]

The Times Higher Education ranks GW as having the 64th best law program in the world, in 2019.[121]


The George Washington University is the largest research university in Washington, DC and one of the largest research outputs in the country. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education classifies GWU as the highest possible tier of institution in the classification system, under "R1: Doctoral University - Very High Research Activity".

The George Washington University is consistently ranked among the top research universities in the nation for total expenditures.[122]

Centers and institutes

The Burns Building houses different medical research centers.

The George Washington University has many research centers including (non-exhaustive):[123]

  • Institute for International Economic Policy
  • Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication
  • Institute for Security and Conflict Studies
  • Institute for International Science and Technology Policy
  • Institute for Global and International Studies
  • Institute for Disaster and Fragility Resilience
  • Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
  • Institute for Middle East Studies
  • Institute for African Studies
  • Institute for Korean Studies
  • Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute
  • George Washington Institute for Neuroscience
  • George Washington Institute for Public Policy
  • GW Cancer Institute
  • GW Solar Institute
  • GW Institute for Biomedical Sciences
  • GW Institute for Biomedical Engineering
  • Rodham Institute
  • Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine
  • Space Policy Institute
  • Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet
  • Institute for Security and Conflict Studies
  • GW Institute for Massively Parallel Applications and Computing Technology (IMPACT)
  • Institute for Biomedical Engineering
  • Jacobs Institute of Women's Health
  • Washington Institute of Surgical Education (WISE)

Student life

GW's graduation ceremony, commencement, occurs on the National Mall in front of the Capitol.

The university is located in downtown D.C., near the Kennedy Center, embassies, and other cultural events. Students are known as highly politically active; Uni in the USA stated that "politics at George Washington is about as progressive as it gets".[124]

There are many student organizations at the university. GW has a Division I athletics program that includes men's baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, women's lacrosse, rowing, sailing, soccer, women's softball, squash, swimming, tennis, women's volleyball and water polo.[125] Colonials athletics teams compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Division II men's and women's Rugby Teams both compete in the Potomac Rugby Union.[126]

Student organizations

GW Student Association is GW's student government.

Most student organizations are run through the George Washington University Student Association (SA). The SA is fashioned after the federal government with an executive, legislative, and judicial branch.[127] There are over 500 registered student organizations on campus. The largest student organization on campus, the GW College Democrats have hosted speakers such as CNN contributor Donna Brazile and former DNC Chairman Howard Dean among many others. Likewise, the GW College Republicans, the largest CR chapter in the nation, have been visited by politicians like John Ashcroft former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former President George W. Bush.[128] The International Affairs Society (IAS) runs the university's internationally top-ranked Model United Nations team, in addition to hosting yearly high school and middle school Model UN conferences on campus. This organization also hosts various foreign dignitaries, US Government officials and subject matter experts to further inform and foster international understanding both in the university's student body and the greater D.C. community.

There are also several a cappella performance groups on campus. The university's school-sponsored a cappella group, the co-ed GW Troubadours, has been a presence on campus since the mid-1950s and regularly records studio albums and travels internationally with the Department of Music. The Sons of Pitch, GW's only male a cappella group, has been around since 2003, and the female group the GW Pitches was founded in 1996. All the groups are extremely committed to charity work, with the Troubadours holding an annual philanthropic concert in the fall entitled "Acappellapalooza," and the Sons of Pitch holding one in the spring named "The United States of A-Cappella." In the case of the former, groups from GWU are drawn for a concert, in the latter, groups from around the nation. The groups have raised tens of thousands of dollars for various charitable causes. Additionally, the university is home to the Voice gospel choir, a group that sings gospel music, the GW Vibes, a co-ed group focusing on soulful music. The GW Sirens, another all girls group, and the GW Motherfunkers, a coed top 40 group, were created in 2003 and 2012, respectively. Each year, the groups duke it out at the Battle of the A-Cappella groups, one of the biggest student events on GW's campus.

Another student group, the Emergency Medical Response Group (EMeRG) provides an all volunteer 24/7 ambulance service for the campus and the Foggy Bottom/West End community at no cost. EMeRG has been active on campus since 1994 and has advanced from bike response into a two ambulance system that is sanctioned by the District of Columbia Department of Health and DC Fire and EMS (DCFEMS). EMeRG also plays an active role in special events in around the DC area including the Marine Corps Marathon, National Marathon, Cherry Blossom Race, Commencement, Inauguration and other events in downtown D.C. and on the National Mall.[129]

Greek life

Townhouse Row, home of many fraternities and sororities.

GW has a large Greek community with over 3,000 students consisting of just under 27 percent of the undergraduate population.[134] Greek organizations are divided up between and governed by the Inter-Fraternity Council with 14 chapters, the Panhellenic Association with 11 chapters, and the Multicultural Greek Council with 13 chapters.[134] Other Greek-life, known as "Alternative Greek Life" or simply "Alt-Greek", exists on campus in the form of professional, community-serviced based and honor groups although not under the university's traditional Greek life governing structure but instead are considered separate student organizations

Scholarly societies

Rice Hall, 1922 F Street, houses various administrative offices.

There are chapters of many varied academic groups at the university. The local chapter of the Society of Physics Students was at one time under the auspices of world-renowned scientists like George Gamow, Ralph Asher Alpher, Mario Schoenberg and Edward Teller, who have all taught at the university. The Enosinian Society, founded in 1822, is one of the university's oldest student organizations. Invited speakers included Daniel Webster.[135]

Campus media

There are four major news sources on campus: the independent student-run newspaper The GW Hatchet, which publishes articles online daily and a print edition weekly; The Rival GW, an online-only student-run publication;[136] the online-only radio station, WRGW; and the university's official news source, GW Today. GW also publishes a peer-reviewed journal, The International Affairs Review, which is run by graduate students at the Elliott School.

Environmental sustainability

George Washington University was ranked number 12 on The Sierra Club's magazine "Cool Schools List" for 2014[137] and was included in the Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Schools for 2013. The campus has a campus-wide building energy efficiency program along with nine LEED-certified buildings[138] including the Milken Institute School of Public Health building. The school is reaching for a higher rating by updating facilities with energy efficient technologies.[139][140]


The university's athletics teams are collectively known as the GW Colonials.

George Washington University is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference and most of its teams play at the NCAA Division I level. All indoor sports play at the Smith Center on the Foggy Bottom campus. The outdoor events are held at the Mount Vernon campus Athletic Complex. The university's colors are buff and blue (buff being a color similar to tan, but sometimes represented as gold or yellow). The colors were taken from George Washington's uniform in the Revolutionary War. The teams have achieved great successes in recent years including a first round victory in the Men's NCAA Division I Soccer Tournament in 2004. The men's and women's varsity crew team rows out of Thompson's Boat Center on the Potomac River and competes in the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges. In the 2008-09 season, the men's crew team placed an all-time high national ranking of 12th in the country. The sailing team competes in the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association and in gymnastics in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League. In 2007 the GW Men's Water Polo team placed third at Eastern Championships, and was ranked 14th in the nation.


Fans storming the court after the GW Colonials defeated the Virginia Cavaliers in 2015.

Mike Jarvis coached GW in the 1990s, and led the team to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1993, where they were beaten by the Fab Five University of Michigan team (which later vacated its wins due to NCAA rule violations). Jarvis also coached former Colonials head coach Karl Hobbs in high school. Former NBA player Yinka Dare also played at George Washington for two years before being drafted in the first round by the New Jersey Nets.

Under former head coach Karl Hobbs, GW's basketball team returned to the national stage in 2004 after defeating No. 9 Michigan State and No. 12 Maryland in back to back games to win the 2004 BB&T Classic. That year, the men's basketball team went on to win the Atlantic 10 West Title and the Atlantic 10 Tournament Title, earning an automatic bid to the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The team received a No. 12 seed, losing to No. 5 seed Georgia Tech in the first round.

The team began the 2005-06 season ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll, reaching as high as sixth in the polls, and after some tournament success they closed out the year ranked 19th in the nation. They had a record of 26-2 going into the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The 2005-06 team achieved the school's highest ranking in the last 50 years, peaking at #6 in the nation,[141] had been one of the team's best ever, and received an #8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In the tournament, they came back from an 18-point second-half deficit to defeat #9 seed UNC-Wilmington, but lost to Duke University, the top overall seed, in the second round.

While only one Colonial from the 2005-06 team was drafted in the 2006 NBA Draft, J. R. Pinnock, two other Colonials from that team have played in the NBA. Pops Mensah-Bonsu played for the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors and Mike Hall played for the Washington Wizards.

The 2006-07 basketball season was considered by many[142][143] to be a rebuilding year for the Colonials after graduating their entire starting front court and losing Pinnock to the NBA. Coach Karl Hobbs and Senior guard Carl Elliott managed to lead the team to a 23-8 record, winning the 2007 Atlantic 10 Tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey, once again earning an auto-bid to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. The Colonials were placed as a #11 seed lost to #6 seed Vanderbilt University in Sacramento, CA 77-44.[144]

GW Women's Basketball, 1915.

Hobbs, a former player and coach under Jim Calhoun at the University of Connecticut coached the Colonials for 10 years. Known for his animated sideline personality[145][146] Hobbs had been considered one of the up-and-coming coaches in the NCAA. On April 25, 2011, the university released Hobbs from his contractual obligations, forcing him to resign as men's basketball coach[147][148][149]

The Charles E. Smith Center is the home of the GW Colonials.

In May 2011, Incoming Athletic Director Patrick Nero hired former University of Vermont head coach Mike Lonergan to take over the men's basketball program.[150] The Bowie, Md. native had a slow start to his GW tenure, finishing 10-21 in his first full year as coach, and improving to 13-17 in the second.[150] The 2013-14 season solidified his hiring,[151] as the team finished 24-9 on the year, tallying the second-most wins in a season in GW history; took third place in the Atlantic 10 standings and made it to the Atlantic 10 Championship semifinals; and earned the program's 11th bid to the NCAA Tournament, their first in seven years.[152]

The NCAA committee selected the Colonials as the #9 seed in the East Region for the tournament.[153] They faced #8 seed Memphis in the second round. The Tigers took a five-point lead over the Colonials into the half, but the Colonials almost came back to win. A late rally cut the Memphis lead to only one point with 25 seconds to go, but the Colonials could not hold on and lost, 71-66.[154]

Soon after the end of the Colonials' successful 2013-14 campaign, Lonergan signed a contract extension, keeping him with the program through the 2020-21 season.[152]

The Colonials won the 2016 National Invitation Tournament, defeating Hofstra, Monmouth, Florida, San Diego State and Valparaiso for the first postseason national title in their history. Prior to the 2016-107 season, Mike Lonergan was removed as head coach following allegations of verbal abuse from players and staff.[155] He was replaced by assistant coach Maurice Joseph who served as interim head coach before being signed fully following the 2016-2017 basketball season.[156]


GW's Lisner Auditorium is one of DC's premier venues.

The George Washington Colonials baseball team is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, which is part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I. George Washington's first baseball team was fielded in 1891. The team plays its home games at Barcroft Park in Arlington, Virginia. The Colonials are coached by Gregg Ritchie.


The school sponsored intercollegiate football from 1881 to 1966. The team played home games primarily at Griffith Stadium and later at RFK Stadium. In 1966, the football program was discontinued due to a number of factors, including the team's lack of adequate facilities and the desire by the university to develop an on-campus fieldhouse for basketball and other sports.[157] GW has one alumni in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Alphonse Leemans.

Spirit programs

The GW Spirit Program includes a co-ed Cheer Team, the First Ladies Dance team, and the university mascot.[158] The Colonials mascot is named George, and is portrayed by a student wearing an outfit inspired by a uniform worn by General Washington.[159] In 2012, George took 1st place at the National Cheerleaders Association Mascot Competition and is the university's first national champion.[160][161] The sports teams are called the Colonials, which was chosen by the student body in 1924. The spirit program also includes the Colonial Brass, directed by Professor Benno Fritz.[162]

The official fight song is Hail to the Buff and Blue, composed in 1924 by student Eugene F. Sweeney and re-written in 1989 by Patrick M. Jones.[163] The song is tolled twice-daily by bells atop Corcoran Hall, at 12:15pm and 6:00pm.

Club sports

The university also has various club sports, which are not varsity sports, but compete against other colleges. Examples include: boxing, basketball, volleyball, ice hockey, figure skating, fencing, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, triathlon, tennis, ultimate frisbee, cricket, water polo, equestrian and others.[164]

Notable people

Notable alumni

George Washington University alumni have included many current and past political figures, both in the United States and abroad. 16 GW alumni have served as foreign heads of state or government (4 currently serving as of 2019). Many alumni have held U.S. Cabinet positions, including current Attorney General William Barr, acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and current Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. GW is one of the schools with the most alumni that have served in the U.S. Congress.[165] Notable recent GW alumni members of congress include Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader for most of the Obama Presidency), Elizabeth Warren (2020 presidential candidate), Eric Cantor (House Majority Leader 2011-14), and Robert Byrd (President pro tempore of the Senate under President Bush and President Obama). Alumni have served as governors of 19 U.S. States, as well as the District of Columbia and Guam, among others. Some alumni serving in President Trump's White House include current White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp and White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley. Other prominent U.S. politicians include Senator J. William Fulbright, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, former CIA Director Allen Dulles and his brother, former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. In addition, current Premier of Bermuda Edward David Burt (youngest in history) and current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Bhutan Tshering Wangchuk are GW alumni.

Other notable alumni include Elizabeth Acevedo, Derek Bok (President of Harvard University), Prince Talal Arslan, Anwar al-Awlaki, Ralph Asher Alpher, Red Auerbach, Alec Baldwin, Dana Bash, Chris Burnham, Preston Cloud, Kellyanne Conway, Larry Craig, Jack Edmonds, Philip Emeagwali, Mary Anne Frey, Jason Filardi, John Flaherty, Ina Garten, Glenn Greenwald, Todd B. Hawley, Erica Hayden, Harold Hersey, David Holt, L. Ron Hubbard, Soh Jaipil, S. M. Krishna, Lee Kun-hee, Roy Lee, Theodore N. Lerner, Randy Levine, Carl Lutz, David McConnell, T. J. Miller, Billy Mitchell, Darla Moore, Jared Moskowitz. former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Syngman Rhee, Gregg Ritchie, Leslie Sanchez, Chuck Todd, Clay Travis, Margaret Truman, Kerry Washington, Kye Allums, Ashani Weeraratna, Sandiaga Uno, Scott Wolf, Irvin Yalom, and Rachel Zoe.

Notable faculty

Notable GW faculty include Tom Perez, current Chair of the Democratic National Committee; Clarence Thomas, current Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; George Gamow, developer of the Big Bang theory; Edward Teller, "father of the hydrogen bomb"; Vincent du Vigneaud, Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner; John Negroponte, 1st Director of National Intelligence; Thomas Buergenthal, former President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; Masatoshi Koshiba, Nobel Prize in Physics winner; Scott Pace, current Executive Secretary of the National Space Council; Amitai Etzioni, former President of the American Sociological Association; Marshall Warren Nirenberg, Nobel Prize in Medicine winner; Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner; Abba Eban, former Vice President of the United Nations General Assembly; Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary; and Ferid Murad, Nobel Prize in Medicine winner.

Other faculty have included Frank Sesno, CNN former Washington, DC Bureau Chief and Special Correspondent; James Carafano, Heritage Foundation national security and homeland security expert; Leon Fuerth, former national security adviser to Vice President Al Gore; James Rosenau, political theorist and former president of the International Studies Association; Steven V. Roberts, American journalist, writer and political commentator and former senior writer at U.S. News & World Report; Nancy E. Gary, former dean of Albany Medical College, Executive Vice President of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Dean of its F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Roy Richard Grinker, anthropologist specializing in autism and North-South Korean relations, Edward P. Jones, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2004, novelist Herman "H.G." Carrillo, Dagmar R. Henney, Mohammad Nahavandian (economics), chief of staff of the President of Iran since 2013, and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé (MBA), president of Togo since 2005.

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