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2121 Eye Street NW, Washington, DC 20052

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George Washington University

George Washington University

The George Washington University was created in 1821 through an Act of Congress, fulfilling George Washington’s vision of an institution in the nation’s capital dedicated to educating and preparing future leaders.

An Undergraduate Experience Like No Other

Today’s undergraduates come to GW expecting a high level of intellectual challenge. To meet these expectations, GW offers a wide range of undergraduate academic offerings in addition to research opportunities, special lecture series, experiential learning, and workshops that directly involve students in the intellectual life of the institution. In the classroom, expectations run high. Professors demand a lot from their students, and GW students demand equal rigor from their coursework and professors. You’ll also find a high level of student-faculty interaction, through a mix of large lectures and small classes, seminars and service-learning initiatives. And you can expect top-tier academic facilities, including many high-tech classrooms, an extensive library collection, cutting-edge technology resources and business and service operations to support excellence in the academic enterprise.

At GW, students’ academic life is rich. They have opportunities to engage in research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and their interaction with professors is lively and thoughtful. Our professors, often world-renowned experts in their fields, teach against the backdrop of our nation’s capital, a city rich in intellectual resources, as they empower the next generation of leaders. Courses unfold in large lecture halls, small classes, seminars and experiential learning initiatives. 


The George Washington University, an independent academic institution chartered by the Congress of the United States in 1821, dedicates itself to furthering human well-being. The University values a dynamic, student-focused community stimulated by cultural and intellectual diversity and built upon a foundation of integrity, creativity, and openness to the exploration of new ideas.

The George Washington University, centered in the national and international crossroads of Washington, D.C., commits itself to excellence in the creation, dissemination, and application of knowledge.

To promote the process of lifelong learning from both global and integrative perspectives, the University provides a stimulating intellectual environment for its diverse students and faculty. By fostering excellence in teaching, the University offers outstanding learning experiences for full-time and part-time students in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in Washington, D.C., the nation, and abroad. As a center for intellectual inquiry and research, the University emphasizes the linkage between basic and applied scholarship, insisting that the practical be grounded in knowledge and theory. The University acts as a catalyst for creativity in the arts, the sciences, and the professions by encouraging interaction among its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the communities it serves.

The George Washington University draws upon the rich array of resources from the National Capital Area to enhance its educational endeavors. In return, the University, through its students, faculty, and staff, and alumni, contributes talent and knowledge to improve the quality of life in metropolitan Washington, D.C.


Colonial Inauguration (CI): Colonial Inauguration, GW’s award-winning undergraduate orientation program welcomes incoming freshmen and transfer students to the GW family. It acquaints them with our academics, campus services, opportunities and community – in short, to life at GW. CI is an experience the whole family can enjoy, with age-appropriate activities tailored for students, their parents and even younger siblings.

Freshman Convocation: Led by the GW’s president and faculty, this event is the official kick-off for new students beginning their university adventure in the nation’s capital. This annual tradition marks the official start of the academic year.

Welcome Week: Welcome Week is a series of social, recreational, cultural and artistic programs offered during the first week of fall semester. Winter Welcome Week marks the beginning of the spring semester.

Colonials Weekend: In October each year, this celebration for students, alumni, family and friends features a weekend of events and world-class entertainment. Past performers include Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and the Beach Boys. Colonials Weekend participants can see shows, take part in campus activities, attend lectures, explore the city and visit with their student in their new home away from home.

Latino Heritage Celebration: This month-long celebration honors the diversity within the Latino community. People of all races and ethnicities have an opportunity immerse themselves in Hispanic cultural events, food, dancing, music and lectures. The celebration runs from mid-September to mid-October.

Spirit Week and Colonials Invasion: In mid-October, the campus community unites to celebrate the start of the men’s and women’s basketball season. A series of special events marks the Colonials Invasion, culminating with a special-effects show that introduces our students to their teams. Spirit Week and Colonials Invasion also give coaches a chance to rally fan support for the upcoming season.

Fall Fest: The GW Program Board sponsors this student-run weekend event in September. Outdoor games, a barbecue and live music are part of the festivities.

Martin Luther King Jr., Celebration (MLK) and Black History Month: Martin Luther King Jr., Day of Service (“a day on rather than a day off”) is a nationally recognized community-service event that coincides with the King holiday. It is an important occasion at GW, where some 250 students are involved in projects that serve our neighbors and the D.C. community. The MLK Award is the highest honor a student can achieve for humanitarian service. The celebration of King’s life and a ceremony in his honor take place in late January.

Arts Fest and Chalk-In: Students’ artistic talents are on display at this April celebration. Some students dance, sing and perform while others take part in additional creative activities. H Street is closed to traffic during the fest, opening the way for students to draw on the street and sidewalks with chalk – a great stress reliever as exams approach!

Grad Week: For a week leading up to graduation, seniors participate in a series of special events. Past Grad Week activities have included excursions to Atlantic City, trips to a Baltimore Orioles game, and the Senior Toast.

Commencement: Commencement is a signal event for members of the GW community. While each school holds its own ceremony, an all-GW graduation ceremony unfolds on the National Mall within sight of the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol.

Alumni Weekend: Alumni Weekend, a three-day weekend event keeps GW alumni informed about the University and involved in its activities. The GW Alumni Association sponsors the weekend, which is enlivened by entertainment, speakers, social gatherings and class reunions. Alumni reconnect with friends, participate in campus activities, revisit old haunts and marvel over GW’s changes and growth. Alumni Weekend is unequaled when comes to strengthening alumni bonds.

George Washington’s Birthday Celebration: This event to mark the birth of GW’s namesake began in 1999. The rousing celebration kicks off with a march to the Quad, followed by Colonial refreshments, speeches and a bonfire – rain or shine.

White Coat Ceremony: At the School of Medicine’s fall convocation, first-year medical students are given a white coat, a symbol of their new status and a tangible recognition of the challenging academic journey they have embraced.

Midnight Breakfast: During final exams in the fall, faculty and administrators serve a midnight breakfast to students as a reward for their hard work. This GW tradition also includes games and activities for students taking study breaks.

Octoberfest: This annual family event on the Mount Vernon campus coincides with Colonials Weekend. Named for the traditional German fall festival, Octoberfest features music, pumpkin carving, arts and crafts, games, fall desserts, family competitions, photo opportunities, contests and much more.

Spring Fling: A nationally known performer is one of the big draws to this end-of-academic-year celebration sponsored by the Mount Vernon campus. Great food, amusements and tie dying also keep the crowds busy.

Jumpstart for a Day: Local preschoolers turn out for a day of fun and games during this annual community event. GW student organizations, fraternities and sororities play a big part in the day, which is designed to encourage a love of learning.

Mount Vernon Community Day: This is a day when students and their neighbors in the community come together. They celebrate fall with trick-or-treating in the residence halls, they cheer on the Colonials soccer team and they catch a film in Eckles Auditorium.

Films on the Vern: Every summer, films are shown on the big outdoor screen at the Quad on the Mount Vernon campus. This movie tradition gives members of the GW community and neighbors of the GW campuses a weekly opportunity to meet while enjoying classic cinema.

Senior Prom: Hosted by students in the Neighbors Project, the university student community sponsors a night of dinner and dancing for Washington, D.C., senior citizens.

GW Inaugural Ball: Every four years, GW marks the Jan. 20 inauguration of a new U.S. president and vice president by hosting a black-tie event. The ball is a University highlight for students and a “uniquely GW” celebration.

Student Life:

Students are encouraged to explore their academic and creative interests in the arts. They can use university studios and practice spaces; work one-on-one with innovative and distinguished faculty members, many of whom are artists themselves; and join in D.C.’s artistic life. 

The University’s lively athletics program, with teams often in the NCAA spotlight, contributes immeasurably to the GW experience, school spirit and community pride. It also raises GW’s national profile. To join one of our 23 varsity sports as an athlete or student team manager is a special opportunity. Many GW students want to stay active while in college, but without the commitment to participation in a varsity sport. Club and intramural sports enable students to reap the health and wellness benefits of athletic competition (not to mention the fun), while remaining focused on academics and other aspects of life at GW.

GW’s 48 distinctive residence options range from traditional coed halls and apartment-style halls with private bathrooms, to Scholars' Village townhouses for upperclassmen and independent-living high-rises. The University offers on-campus housing to all undergraduate students who want to live within the residence hall system. Freshmen and sophomore students are required to live in University housing. 

Every day there are dozens of on-campus events for students, such as concerts, athletics events, speakers, debates, and social activities. They include comedy nights – which have included performances by Jimmy Fallon, Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, and Robin Williams – and well-known musical acts like Girl Talk, Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, Maroon 5, Sheryl Crow and Train.

With over 155 years of tradition, 38 active Greek-letter men's and women's organizations, and just over 3,000 members, the Greek Community at GW is one of the strongest, healthiest, and largest (for an urban institution) communities in the country!

There are more than 400 student-launched and student-run organizations at the George Washington University. With oversight provided by the Center for Student Engagement, these organizations span a spectrum: from academic to cultural, spiritual to recreational, and political to performing arts.



George, the Colonial
George (formerly known as George 1) is the namesake mascot of the George Washington University. This mascot wears a buff and blue military uniform with “George Washington” across his back. A powdered wig sits beneath George’s large tri-cornered hat, and a pale blue sash drapes across his chest. George turns up at athletic events, waving his powerful golden hatchet. He also makes appearances at other events, both on campus and off, to rally the school spirit, unity and pride that mark life at GW.

George Washington University today:

Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. We have more than 26,000 students—from all 50 states, the District and 130 countries—studying a rich range of disciplines: from forensic science and creative writing to international affairs and computer engineering, as well as medicine, public health, the law and public policy.

GW comprises three campuses—Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon in Washington, D.C., and the GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, Va.—as well as several graduate education centers in the metropolitan area and Hampton Roads, Va.


Across its three campuses, The George Washington University enrolls approximately 11,000 undergraduate students, 14,500 graduate students, and 500 non-degree students, totalling around 26,000 students. It has a full time faculty of around 2,300.

Famous graduates:

Brian Williams (born May 5, 1959) began his broadcasting career in Kansas before eventually getting hired by WCBS-TV in New York City. While at WCBS, Williams won his first of many Emmy Awards, for his report on the stock market collapse. Soon after, he earned a spot at NBC News, where he climbed the ranks to serve as anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, the network's flagship evening-news program. He has earned an array of journalism awards and has branched out into mainstream entertainment as well.

Kerry Washington (born January 31, 1977) started performing during her school years. She earned a degree in performance studies from George Washington University. After making her film debut in 2000's Our Song, Washington starred in such films as Save the Last Dance and Bad Company. She later earned wide acclaim for her work in Ray and The Last King of Scotland. In 2012, she began her run on the TV drama Scandal, receiving Emmy nominations for her portrayal of main character Olivia Pope. She also portrayed lawyer/academic Anita Hill in the 2016 HBO film Confirmation.

Interesting facts about George Washington University:

One of GWU's residence halls (which is rumored to be put on the market for sale soon), called the Hall on Virginia Ave (HOVA), was the Howard Johnson's hotel from which the Watergate burglary was planned and executed.  Several of the "Watergate burglars" monitored the break-in from rooms at the Howard Johnson's across the street from the office complex which was then home to the Democratic National Committee.  Prior to committing the burglary its perpetrators famously ate shrimp scampi in the hotel's dining room.

GWU recently completed a building housing both the Textile Museum and a large collection of Washingtoniana (historical items about the city).