Undergraduate Programs

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences offers undergraduate programs leading to the degrees of associate of arts, bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of fine arts. In cooperation with the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Columbian College offers a seven-year integrated bachelor of arts/doctor of medicine.

One hundred and twenty hours of academic coursework must be passed with a cumulative grade-point average of at least 2.0. Note that some courses outside Columbian College do not count toward the 120-credit requirement. General education, major, and other requirements described below must be met.

Each student must declare a major during the sophomore year, no later than the registration period during the fourth full-time semester or the semester following completion of 45 credits, whichever comes first. A student may change the major with the consent of the Dean and of the department or committee concerned; the student must meet the requirements for the new major in effect at the time the change is approved. 

General Education Curriculum Requirement 

In addition to the University General Education Requirement, undergraduate students in Columbian College must complete a further, College-specific general education curriculum—Perspective, Analysis, Communication, or G-PAC. Together with the University General Education Requirement, G-PAC engages students in active intellectual inquiry across the liberal arts. Students achieve a set of learning outcomes that enhance their analytical skills, develop their communication competencies, and invite them to participate as responsible citizens who are attentive to issues of culture, diversity, and privilege.

Coursework for the University General Education Requirement is distributed as follows:

  • Writing—one course in university writing and two writing-in-the-disciplines (WID) courses.
  • Humanities—one approved humanities course that involves critical thinking skills.
  • Mathematics or Statistics—one approved course in either mathematics or statistics.
  • Natural or Physical Science—one approved laboratory course that employs the process of scientific inquiry.
  • Social Sciences—two approved courses in the social sciences.

Coursework for G-PAC is distributed as follows:

  • Arts—one approved arts course that involves the study or creation of artwork based on an understanding or interpretation of artistic traditions or knowledge of art in a contemporary context.
  • Global or Cross-Cultural Perspective—one approved course that analyzes the ways in which institutions, practices, and problems transcend national and regional boundaries.
  • Local or Civic Engagement—one approved course that develops the values, ethics, disciplines, and commitment to pursue responsible public action.
  • Oral Communication—one approved course in oral communication.
  • Natural or Physical Science—one additional approved laboratory course that employs the process of scientific inquiry (in addition to the one course in this category required by the University General Education Requirement).
  • Humanities—one additional approved humanities course that involves critical thinking skills (in addition to the one course in this category required by the University General Education Requirement).

Certain courses are approved to fulfill the requirement in more than one of these categories.

Courses taken in fulfillment of G-PAC requirements may also be counted toward majors or minors. Transfer courses taken prior to, but not after, admission to George Washington University may count toward the University General Education Requirement and G-PAC, if those transfer courses are equivalent to GW courses that have been approved by the University and the College.

Lists of approved courses in the above categories are included on each undergraduate major's Bulletin page. 

Majors

Each student must declare a major during the sophomore year, no later than the registration period during the fourth full-time semester or the semester following completion of 45 credits, whichever comes first. Students must complete the major requirements in effect at the time of declaration. Students may change their major with the consent of the College and of the department or committee concerned; the student must meet the requirements for the new major in effect at the time the change is approved. Students may pursue at most two majors per degree. 

Scholarship Performance in the Major

Major fields are defined by a set of required courses. The required curricula for majors are outlined under each department’s heading in this Bulletin. A minimum grade of C− must be attained in all courses numbered 2000 or above that are required for the major. If a student receives a grade of D+, D, or D− the student may either repeat the course until a satisfactory grade (C− or above) is attained, or with the permission of the department, substitute another course numbered 2000 or above.  

Minors

Students who wish to familiarize themselves with a field outside their major may graduate with a minor in addition to the major. Not all Columbian College departments offer undergraduate minors; the requirements prescribed by those that do are listed under the applicable department. Columbian College students may pursue minors in other schools of the University, as well as those in naval science and in sustainability. Students interested in a minor should consult a faculty mentor in the applicable department and declare through the Office of Undergraduate Studies. Students may pursue at most two minors per degree.

Scholarship Performance in the Minor

Courses numbered 2000 or above passed with a grade below C− may be used to fulfill a minor field curricular requirement but may not be counted toward the total number of credits required for the minor.

Micro-Minors

Micro-minors are three-course (9-credit) programs designed to broaden a student’s understanding of a problem, topic, or theme through different disciplinary perspectives. Up to two micro-minors may be noted on a student’s official transcript.

All prerequisites for courses taken to fulfill requirements for a micro-minor must be completed before beginning the program. These prerequisites cannot be waived. Micro-minors can overlap with major or minor requirements. However, only two courses (6 credits) may count toward both the micro-minor and a student’s declared major or minor.

Scholarship Performance in the Micro-Minor

For all micro-minors, a minimum grade of C− must be attained in all courses. A course in which a student receives a grade of D+, D, or D- will not count toward the minimum number of credits required for the micro-minor until the course is repeated and a satisfactory grade (C− or above) is attained.

Advising

Students entering Columbian College are assigned an advising team, or “POD,” that advises them from first arrival on campus through graduation. Students engage with advisors to successfully navigate their academic experience, through conversations about understanding University and College requirements, exploring major options, overcoming academic challenges, and setting goals. Students are empowered to take ownership of, and responsibility for, their educational experiences. Specialized advising is provided to students interested in health professions or law.

Students who have not declared a major should consult with their advising POD before registering for classes. Once students declare their major, they also are advised by a faculty mentor in their major department.

Students need to build a support system that ensures academic success. Professors, faculty mentors, professional advisors, tutors, and/or counselors should be part of that support system. Assistance is available through the Division of Student Affairs, Mental Health Services, Multicultural Student Services Center, International Services Office, and Writing Center.

Preparation for Medical/Dental School

Students who plan to apply to medical school fulfill both the University General Education Requirement and the Columbian College general education curriculum. They may select any major at GW. Advice about academic preparation for medical school is provided by the health professions advisors in the Pre-Health Advising Office. For admission to most medical schools, students must earn a bachelor’s degree that includes the following coursework:

  • Biology—8 credits of introductory biology, including laboratory. Students who receive credit for AP biology must complete 8 credits of upper-level biology coursework, including laboratory.
  • Chemistry—8 credits of general inorganic chemistry, including laboratory.
  • Organic Chemistry—8 credits, including laboratory.
  • Biochemistry—3 credits.
  • Physics—8 credits, including laboratory.
  • English—6 credits in introductory English composition courses (fulfilled by the University Writing Program).
  • Social Sciences—6 credits (courses in psychology and sociology are highly recommended).

Many medical schools have additional entrance requirements, which might include courses in genetics, statistics, and mathematics; even when such courses are not required, they are strongly recommended. Beyond the specified requirements, applicants are urged to follow their personal interests in developing their course of study.

Students interested in applying to another health program should refer to the Pre-Health Advising and Undergraduate Admissions websites for required and recommended courses for their program of interest.

Preparation for Law School

A broad liberal arts education is the best undergraduate preparation for law school. Advice about academic preparation for law school is provided by Pre-Law Advising.

Seven-Year Integrated Bachelor of Arts/Doctor of Medicine

The BA/MD program is a seven-year integrated program for students of high ability and maturity who have decided, prior to applying to college, that they wish to become physicians and want to accomplish that goal in a shorter time period. Students who are accepted into this program are expected to fully participate in the undergraduate life of the University during their first three years in the program. Students in an undergraduate program in Columbian College must complete all G-PAC requirements. Regardless of the chosen major field, students in this program also must complete the School of Medicine requirement of 8 credits, including 2 credits in a lab, in each of the following areas:

Students planning to register for science courses during the summer and/or at other institutions must receive advance permission to be accepted for transfer and for the program. 

Students are permitted to transfer in AP credits to apply towards their degree requirements as permitted by CCAS with no cap on the number of credits that they may transfer. Students must declare a major in one of the arts and sciences disciplines and work towards completion of the major. A three-year course plan must be presented to the associate dean of admissions in the School of Medicine during the first semester of the freshman year. All major requirements must be determined by the department. Minors are permitted, but must be completed in full if they are to appear on a transcript. 

Students in this full-time program must maintain a 3.6 cumulative GPA and may not earn a grade below B- in any science course. Students have the option of participating in the University Honors Program. Students in the program are required to become involved in community service and health-care related experiences each academic year. Before matriculation in the MD portion of the program, all students must have recent patient-related experiences. Students are required to graduate with an undergraduate degree at the end of the third year of the seven-year program. All requirements must be completed for the BA or BS degree, including those for the major field as well as the University General Education Requirement. Students interested in enhancing their academics with a study abroad program may do so, but it is not required. As a part of this program, students are required to complete a practice MCAT and receive a satisfactory score as determined by the program. 

Students must understand that any warnings of disciplinary or institutional actions, or convictions of a legal violation must be reported immediately to the associate dean of admissions in the School of Medicine. Students must maintain good academic standing following the academic regulations stated in the University Bulletin as well as the Academic Regulations for the BA/MD and professional comportment as listed the MD Honor Code. A criminal background check will be conducted at the time the student receives the contract to the MD program. All students will have an undergraduate experience performance review by the admissions office of GW's School of Medicine and Health Sciences, must submit all requested application materials, and must meet all requirements before the seat in the MD program is tendered. 

The GW Early College Program—School Without Walls

The GW Early College Program (GWECP) was created in order to provide opportunities to DC high school students to complete an associate's degree in general studies within the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences concurrently with their high school degree. Students admitted to the program are required to complete 60 credits in residence, which include the following in accordance with the University General Education Requirement and the college's G-PAC Requirements:

  • UW 1015 Writing Seminar Summer Scholars
  • UW 1020 University Writing
  • One writing in the discipline (WID) course
  • One approved mathematics of statistics course
  • Two approved natural/physical science courses
  • Two approved social science courses
  • Two approved humanities courses
  • One approved arts course
  • One approved global/cross-cultural course
  • One approved local/civic engagement course

Students must meet the college's academic standing requirement, whereby a 2.0 cumulative GPA is required for completion of the associate's degree. Students also must adhere to the GWECP Academic Performance Policy. In accordance with this policy, failure of one core course (any course identified to meet a District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) graduation requirement) will result in being placed on academic alert for the following semester. The student will be required to retake the course. Any subsequent core course failures may result in a student returning to the School Without Walls (SWW) for completion of high school requirements. Failure of two or more courses (core or otherwise) in a single semester will result in automatic withdrawal from the program and returning to SWW.

Academic suspension by the University will result in automatic withdrawal from the program. Second-year students may appeal an academic suspension and seek approval from the University to complete any outstanding core courses required to meet the DCPS graduation requirements.

Students in the GWECP program are assigned an academic advisor within CCAS with whom they work for the duration of the program. GWECP students interested in continuing on to a bachelor's degree program at the University must complete the Common Application as well as a separate Continuing to BA Application through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions

General CCAS Policies

Academic Workload—Undergraduate students may register for up to 18 credits through the normal registration process. After a student's first semester, a full-time student may request to register for more than 18 credits. To encourage academic performance of high quality, the College asks undergraduate students to reflect on their prior academic performance and make intentional, informed decisions when requesting a course overload. All students who meet the requirements may request a course overload but note that no request is guaranteed approval. Students should also be aware that registering for more than 18 credits in a semester will incur additional tuition charges at the per-credit rate established by the University. Students who wish to register for a 19th credit or more must be in good academic standing; have earned a 3.5 semester GPA, having taken at least 12 credits in the prior semester or have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.3; have no pending Incompletes and have no grades of F, W, Z, or NP from the previous semester. Students can apply for a course overload online through the CCAS Office of Undergraduate Advising.

Pass/No Pass Option—A junior or senior student in Columbian College who is in good academic standing may, with the approval of the instructor and the Office of Undergraduate Studies, take one course per semester that is usually graded on a letter-grade basis for a grade of P, Pass, or NP, No Pass. Students may not elect to take more than four P/NP courses under this regulation. Students may, however, also receive grades of P/NP in courses that are graded on a P/NP basis only. Courses taken under the P/NP option are not counted toward the University General Education or G-PAC requirements or the requirements for any major or minor program. Transfer students may not elect this option until the second semester of enrollment in the University. Under no circumstances may a student change from P/NP status to graded status, or vice versa, after the end of the eighth week of class.

Preliminary Placement Examinations — All foreign language departments require students to take placement tests to determine their level of proficiency in languages studied prior to enrollment at the University. The student is placed in an appropriate course on the basis of these tests. Students may not register for a course other than that determined by the placement test without written permission of the language department. There is no charge to the student for placement tests, and no credit (advanced standing) is awarded for courses waived as a result of these tests. Students who wish to register for ECON 1011, MATH 1051, MATH 1220, MATH 1231, or MATH 1252 are required to take the placement test administered by the Department of Mathematics to determine eligibility based on their achieved score. In some cases, AP test scores or SAT II scores may be substituted for the placement test. See Interpreting Your Placement Score for more information.

Courses Outside of Columbian College—No more than 3 credits of Health and Wellness (HLWL) courses and 3 credits of Lifestyle, Sport, and Physical Activity (LSPA) courses may count toward the 120 credits required for the bachelor's degree in Columbian College.

Earning an Additional Credit—In exceptional circumstances and with the prior approval of the instructor and Office of Undergraduate Advising, a student may register for and earn an additional credit in upper-division courses within the College by doing a significant amount of extra work as assigned and supervised by the instructor of record and by submitting a completed/signed Add a Credit form to the Office of Undergraduate Advising.


Graduate Programs

CCAS Regulations

CCAS provides an online Graduate Student Handbook that contains additional updated information on policies, regulations, and other matters of concern to enrolled and admitted students. It is the responsibility of the student to be aware of the information contained in both this Bulletin and the Handbook. Students should also consult departmental/program handbooks and guidelines.

Admission Requirements

A detailed description of the policies that follow is available at the Columbian College website. Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. Applicants should have a strong academic background, usually with a major, or equivalent, in the field in which they intend to study for an advanced degree. Normally, a B average or equivalent from an accredited college is required. With evidence of special promise, such as high Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, an applicant whose academic record falls short of a B average may be accepted on a conditional basis. Meeting the minimum requirements does not assure acceptance. The departments/programs may, and often do, set higher admission standards. Students who apply in their senior year must provide evidence of the completion of their baccalaureate work before registration is permitted. 

Many programs require applicants to submit scores on the GRE general test. In addition, some programs require scores on a GRE subject test. The applicant must have the Educational Testing Service send the required score reports directly to George Washington University. GRE scores are valid for five years.

Some programs require students to take prerequisite or deficiency courses within the first year of starting the degree program; such courses do not count toward degree requirements or the degree GPA. Prerequisite and/or deficiency courses are listed in the applicant's letter of admission.

English Language Requirements for International Students

Graduate applicants who have not completed a post-secondary degree from a US institution are required to submit TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) or PTE (Pearson Test of English Academic) scores. Applicants applying to graduate programs may have their English Language Proficiency requirement waived if the applicant has earned (or will earn before matriculation) a post-secondary degree from an institution located in a country where English is the sole language of instruction. Applicants who wish to be considered for an English Proficiency waiver may be asked to complete an English for Academic Purposes course, which may increase the length and cost of their studies.

The George Washington University reserves the right to request proof of English proficiency from any applicant.

Readmission

A student who wishes to resume a graduate program that has been interrupted for a period of two years or more must file a new application for admission and provide supporting documentation to be considered for readmission. Readmission and transfer of credits are not guaranteed, and the application is subject to review by the department concerned and/or the associate dean for graduate studies. The student may be required to take additional coursework and qualifying examinations on the coursework completed. A student who wishes to resume a graduate program that has been interrupted for a period of less than two years must petition the department and the associate dean. Readmission and transfer of credits are not guaranteed, and back-registration may be required.

Grades

Information on grades and computing the grade-point average is found under University Regulations.

The symbol IPG (In Progress) is given for all thesis and dissertation research courses until the thesis or dissertation is completed. Upon the satisfactory completion of the thesis or dissertation, the symbol IPG is changed by the Columbian College to CR (Credit). IPG may also be used in other courses, including advanced reading and research courses, externships, independent research courses, internships, and practicums, if the required coursework is not ordinarily completed within a single semester; in such cases, the department must submit a grade change upon completion of the coursework. CR may be indicated for advanced reading and research courses and independent research courses.

Incompletes

The symbol I (Incomplete) indicates that only a small portion of the required coursework remains to be completed and that a satisfactory explanation has been given to the instructor for the student’s failure to complete the required work for a course. The conditions of the Incomplete must be detailed in a formal contract signed by the student and instructor and submitted to the department prior to recording the I. A student who receives an Incomplete will have one additional semester to complete the required coursework, unless the instructor sets a shorter deadline. An instructor who wishes to grant a student more than one semester to complete the required coursework may do so by submitting a signed, formal contract to the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies and the department, but all coursework must be completed no more than one calendar year from the end of the semester in which the course was taken. Failure to follow the conditions of the incomplete contract will result in a grade of F. All other policies governing Incompletes are indicated under University Regulations.

Academic Standing Requirements

Graduate students are required to maintain a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 (B) in all coursework taken following admission to a graduate program in the Columbian College. This includes credit taken for dual and joint degrees but excludes prerequisite and deficiency coursework. A cumulative GPA below 3.0 results in academic dismissal from the program unless the department successfully petitions the associate dean for graduate studies for academic probation rather than dismissal. If, after one semester of probation, a student's cumulative GPA remains below 3.0, they are subject to academic dismissal. Individual departments/programs may require a higher average. Once a student has matriculated at GW, graduate coursework that is taken at the University or through the Consortium and forms part of the student’s departmentally-approved program of studies will be included in the cumulative GPA. When a grade of F is received for a course, the grade is included in the student’s cumulative GPA whether or not the course is repeated. Receiving a grade of F in a graduate course may be grounds for probationary status or academic dismissal from the program.

Graduate students who have completed all required, graded coursework with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher must continue to make satisfactory progress toward the completion of all remaining degree requirements. Failure to make satisfactory progress toward the completion of the degree may be grounds for probationary status or academic dismissal from the program.

Repeating Courses

A student may repeat a course in which a grade of C- or above was received only when permitted to do so by the associate dean for graduate studies and the department concerned, unless the course description states that the course may be repeated for credit. A written statement of permission must be submitted for approval to the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies by the program’s director of graduate studies. If such a course is repeated, both grades received remain on the student’s record and are included in the student’s cumulative GPA. The second taking of the course does not count toward degree requirements.

Graduate Credit for Undergraduate Courses

A graduate student may take an advanced (2000-level or higher) undergraduate course for graduate credit only upon the approval of the student’s graduate program at the time of registration. Such approval is granted only with the provision that the student complete additional work in order to receive graduate credit. Advanced undergraduate courses taken for graduate credit may be used to fulfill no more than 25 percent of credits required for any graduate program. No 1000-level undergraduate courses (including language courses) will be considered for graduate credit.

Program of Studies

The program of studies is a formal agreement between a student and a department/program of the requirements to be met in completing a specific degree program as well as the dates by which each requirement must be completed. Students should consult their program’s director of graduate studies to outline their program of studies as soon as they begin graduate work.

Students must ensure that they are fully informed of the requirements of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences as well as the requirements of their department or program. Students who must complete additional requirements as specified in their letter of admission must consult their program’s director of graduate studies early in their first semester.

Academic Workload

All graduate degree candidates must be registered for a minimum of 3 credits in the spring and fall semesters unless they are eligible for continuing research. Students finishing in the summer may contact the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies to register for 0 credits of continuous enrollment; continuous enrollment is not an option during the fall and spring semesters. Full-time students register for 9 to 12 credits each fall and spring semester; half-time students, for 5 to 8 credits; and part-time students, for 3 or 4 credits. In the summer, full-time status requires 6 credits and half-time status requires 3 credits. These enrollment requirements do not apply to students who have fewer than the stated number of credits remaining to complete their programs. No more than 15 credits may be taken during any one semester without permission of the department and the associate dean for graduate studies. Students who are employed more than 20 hours per week should not register for more than 6 credits in any semester.

Continuous Enrollment

All students must be continuously enrolled while working toward a degree, except during the summer sessions (unless required by the program or if the student intends to graduate in the summer). Students who have completed all coursework and thesis or dissertation research requirements and are within CCAS deadlines must register for 1 credit of continuing research (CCAS 0920 for master’s students, CCAS 0940 for doctoral students) each semester until completion of the program; the course reference numbers are found in the Schedule of Classes under Columbian College. If continuous registration is not maintained, the student is dropped from the degree program unless they are registered for an approved leave of absence by the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies.

Leave of Absence

A student who is temporarily unable to continue their program of studies may request leave of absence for a specific period of time, not to exceed two semesters during the total period of degree candidacy. If the request is approved by the program and the associate dean for graduate studies, CCAS will register the student for a leave of absence for each semester. Leaves of absence are normally granted for medical or family reasons and may be granted for other reasons at the discretion of the department and associate dean.

Special Program Requirements

Certain programs require degree candidates to demonstrate a reading knowledge of an appropriate foreign language or languages, a competence in quantitative methods, or some other special subject requirement. Courses taken at the undergraduate level to fulfill these requirements may not be counted in the number of graduate credits required for these programs.

Graduation Requirements

All students must submit an online Application for Graduation early in the semester or summer session in which they intend to graduate. Students must be registered in active status in the College during the semester or summer session in which they plan to graduate. Degrees are conferred in January, May, and August. Students who have completed the requirements for a degree but have not yet been awarded the degree are issued a letter to this effect upon request to the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies. A commencement ceremony is held annually in May.

Fellowships and Financial Aid

Many departments offer merit-based graduate assistantships and fellowships; students should consult their department/program concerning funding opportunities. Graduate assistants and University Fellows are appointed by the associate dean for graduate studies. Other kinds of sponsored and University awards are available. Awards are based on academic excellence, and only full-time graduate degree candidates in Columbian College are eligible to be considered. Doctoral candidates may be funded for a maximum of five years, MA and MS candidates for a maximum of two years, and MFA candidates for a maximum of three years.

Students applying for admission who also wish to apply for an assistantship/fellowship should submit a completed application for admission before the funding admission deadline. Currently enrolled students who wish to apply for graduate student support should consult their departmental requirements. 

International students applying for graduate assistantships/fellowships should refer to the International Student Financial Aid section of this Bulletin for regulations governing the appointment of international graduate assistants.

Students who wish to apply for loans should indicate their intent to do so on the application for admission. An overview of funding opportunities is available from the University’s Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships.

Partnerships

CCAS graduate programs have long-term partnerships with important Washington-area institutions that include the Smithsonian Institution; the National Institute of Standards and Technology and other federal agencies; the Folger Shakespeare Library; the Shakespeare Theatre; the Phillips Collection, the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum.

Undergraduate majors

Except where indicated, the fields listed below lead to the bachelor of arts degree.

Scholarship Performance in the Major

Major programs are defined by a set of required courses that can be internal to the home department or external to that department but still required in the major program. The prescribed curricula and minimum specific requirements for majors are outlined under each department’s heading in this Bulletin. For all majors in all departments, a minimum grade of C− must be attained in all upper-level courses numbered in the 2000s through 4000s that are required for the major, regardless of whether those courses are internal or external to the home department.

If a student receives a grade of D+, D, or D− in such a course, the major department may permit that course to satisfy a curricular requirement (such as a prerequisite), but it will not count toward the minimum number of credits required for the major until the course is repeated and a satisfactory grade (C− or better) is attained. Once the student has completed the course with a satisfactory grade, credits earned the first time the course was taken will count toward the minimum number of credits required in the major program. Credit earned for the repetition does not count toward the degree.

This condition of C− or better does not apply to introductory-level courses (numbered in the 1000s) that may apply to the major, although a department may choose to implement such a restriction based on its own discretion.

Double Majors

Students who complete the requirements of two majors in Columbian College (such as mathematics and physics or history and economics) may graduate with a double major. Students must consult with advisors in the two departments concerned before officially declaring both majors with Columbian Undergraduate Academic Advising.

A Columbian College student may declare a second major in the School of Business, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Elliott School of International Affairs, or Milken Institute School of Public Health. Students in other schools may declare a second major in Columbian College. Students wishing to pursue one of these options must request approval through the appropriate department and Columbian Undergraduate Academic Advising. In all cases, students must complete the general education requirements and a major in their home school in order to graduate.

Double majors do not result in two degrees. See Double Majors and Double Degrees under University Regulations.

Special Interdisciplinary Majors

A student may propose a special interdisciplinary major, in consultation with appropriate academic advisors. The proposed major must have valid and clearly defined academic goals to be considered for approval. Only students with a 3.0 or better cumulative grade-point average are eligible to propose a special interdisciplinary major. The proposal must be submitted for approval by the end of the fourth semester or the semester following completion of 45 credits, whichever comes first.

Approval of the proposed major rests with the Committee on Undergraduate Studies, which must also approve the proposed name of the major and the composition of the committee that will oversee it. At least 45 credits of the major must be completed in Columbian College. Because of the broad scope of an interdisciplinary program, it may not be part of a double major although students are allowed to declare a minor with approval of the Committee on Undergraduate Studies.

At the discretion of the committee overseeing the major, the student must either write an acceptable senior thesis or pass a comprehensive examination in the last semester of study toward the degree. To be eligible, students must meet the requirements for Special Honors stated under University Regulations, must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.5, and must receive a Pass With Distinction from all members of the major committee on the final project or thesis through the required CCAS 4191 Special Interdisciplinary Major Capstone course.

Minors

Students who wish to familiarize themselves with a field outside their major may graduate with a minor in addition to the major. Not all Columbian College (CCAS) departments offer undergraduate minors; the requirements prescribed by those that do are listed under the department concerned. A student interested in a minor should consult a faculty advisor in the applicable department and declare both major and minor programs through the CCAS Undergraduate Advising Office. Students may pursue at most two minors.

At least one-half of the coursework required for a minor must be done in residence. Grades of C− or better must be earned in upper-division courses, including such courses transferred as advanced standing from another institution. Courses passed with a grade below C− may be used to fulfill a minor field curricular requirement but may not be counted toward the total number of credits required for the minor.

Columbian College students can pursue minors in other schools of the University, as well as those in naval science and in sustainability

Minors programs offered by Columbian College:

About Micro-Minors

A micro-minor is a group of three courses that address a shared problem, topic, or theme from different disciplinary perspectives, thus bridging courses in the humanities, social sciences, STEM, and other disciplinary areas. 

Micro-minors have two objectives. They broaden student’s understanding of a topic, problem, or theme through different disciplinary perspectives. At the same time, micro-minors deepen student’s understanding of a topic, theme, or problem by allowing them to focus on it in at least three courses.

Up to two micro-minors may be noted on a student’s official transcript.

See Columbian College Regulations governing micro-minors.

Micro-minor programs

Master's programs

See Requirements, below.

Unless otherwise specified, the requirements listed below are applicable to candidates for all master’s degrees offered by the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

General Requirements

Minimum credit requirements follow, but it should be noted that many departments set credit requirements well above the number of credits stated here. Specific requirements appear under the name of the department or program concerned in this Bulletin. For a master’s degree program that includes a thesis, satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 credits of approved graduate coursework is required. For a master’s degree program that does not include a thesis, the number of credits of approved graduate coursework is determined by the department. Some departments offer a choice between a thesis option and a non-thesis option. Undergraduate courses taken without additional graduate-level work, deficiency coursework, and EAP courses are not counted toward program requirements or the cumulative degree GPA.

Upon approval, up to one-half of the required graduate work may be taken in courses offered by another degree-granting division of this University. With approval, up to one-quarter of work toward a master’s degree may be taken in courses offered by the other affiliated institutions of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. In all cases, at least one-half of the credits counting toward the master’s degree must be taken after entering the program, in graduate courses offered by the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Master’s students have an overall four-year time limit for completion of all degree requirements. An approved leave of absence is not counted towards the time limit requirement. Students must apply and be approved for an extension of time by the associate dean for graduate studies if they wish to study beyond the time limit.

Transfer of Credit

A maximum of one-quarter of the credits of graduate coursework required for a degree may be approved for transfer to a graduate program in the Columbian College from enrollment in non-degree status at GW or from another degree-granting school of this University or another accredited college or university. For a transfer of credit to be approved, all of the following conditions must be met:

  1. The coursework must be from an accredited institution and must have been taken within the five years prior to matriculation;
  2. The transfer requests must be approved by the department as part of the student’s program of studies;
  3. The credits must not have been applied to the completion of requirements for another degree;
  4. The credits must be post-baccalaureate graduate-level coursework; and
  5. All coursework must have received a minimum grade of B.

Requests for transfer credit must be submitted in writing and approved by the department’s director of graduate studies and the associate dean for graduate studies during the student’s first year in the program. An official transcript of the coursework must be on file before the request can be considered. Grades from transfer credit will not be counted toward the graduate degree GPA, except in the case of approved non-degree GW credits.

Once enrolled in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, students are not permitted to enroll in another university, except under extraordinary circumstances; permission must be sought from the department and the associate dean in advance.

Master’s Comprehensive Examination

Many programs require degree candidates to pass a master’s comprehensive examination in the major subject. The nature and form of the examination are the responsibility of the department or program. A student who fails to pass the master’s comprehensive examination may, with the approval of the department, repeat the examination at the next scheduled examination date. If the student fails a second time, no further opportunity to take the examination is permitted, and the student’s degree candidacy is terminated.

The Thesis

The main purposes of a master’s thesis are to demonstrate the student’s ability to make independent use of information and training and to furnish objective evidence of constructive powers in a chosen field. The student normally registers for 3 to 6 credits of thesis research supervised by a director and a reader. Registration for thesis research entitles the student to the advice and direction of the member of the faculty under whom the thesis is to be written. If a student has completed the credits required for the degree but has not yet completed their thesis, they may register for one credit of Continuing Research (CCAS 0920). The thesis subject must be approved by the faculty members who will direct the thesis. All theses must be submitted electronically by the stated deadlines and meet the formatting and other requirements set forth on the Electronic Theses and Dissertation webpage.

Doctoral programs


Doctor of Philosophy programs

The doctor of philosophy program is divided into two parts: pre-candidacy and candidacy. During pre-candidacy, a student completes the general requirements and the general examination. Once admitted to candidacy, the student prepares, submits, and defends the dissertation.

General requirements

The programs leading to the degree of doctor of philosophy require the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 72 credits of approved graduate coursework, including at least 6 and at most 27 credits of dissertation research. Students must receive the permission of the associate dean for graduate studies to complete fewer than 6 credits of dissertation research. A minimum of 45 of the 72 credits must be taken in the pre-candidacy stage, in preparation for the general examination. A maximum of 12 of these credits may be taken in courses offered by the other affiliated members of the Consortium of Washington Area Universities. The exact number of credits required for any part of the total program is assigned by each department and may exceed the minimum required by the Columbian College.

PhD students have an overall eight-year time limit for completion of all degree requirements. An approved leave of absence is not counted toward the time limit requirement. Students must apply and be approved for an extension of time by the associate dean for graduate studies if they wish to study beyond the time limit.

Transfer of credit

Entering students who hold a master’s degree from an accredited institution and in a field relevant to the proposed doctoral field of study may request transfer of up to 30 credits toward a doctoral degree. For those who do not hold a master’s degree, a maximum of 30 credits may be transferred, provided the conditions below are met:

  1. The coursework must be from an accredited institution and must have been taken within five years prior to matriculation.
  2. The transfer requests must be approved by the department as part of the student’s program of studies.
  3. The credits must not have been applied to the completion of requirements for another degree.
  4. The credits must be in post-baccalaureate, graduate-level coursework.
  5. All coursework must have received a minimum grade of B.

Requests for transfer credit must be submitted in writing and approved by the department and the associate dean for graduate studies during the student’s first year at GW. An official transcript of the coursework must be on file before the request can be considered. Grades from transfer credit will not be counted toward the graduate degree GPA, except in the case of approved non-degree GW credits.

The general examination

The general examination is composed of an examination in each of the areas of study comprising the student’s program. A student who fails to pass any part of the general examination may, with the approval of the department, repeat the examination at the next scheduled examination date. If the student fails a second time, no further opportunity to take the examination is permitted, and the student’s degree candidacy is terminated.

Satisfactory performance on the general examination is required for admission to candidacy but does not guarantee it. A department recommends advancement to candidacy only if satisfied with the student’s performance in every aspect of the program, only after a dissertation advisor has been selected and a dissertation area determined, and only if the department is confident of the student’s ability to complete the dissertation within the allotted time.

Master of philosophy degree

Upon departmental recommendation and approval of the associate dean for graduate studies, the degree of master of philosophy may be awarded to students who have been advanced to candidacy and successfully completed all requirements for the doctor of philosophy degree up to and including the general examination. Not all departments recommend students for this degree. Students requesting the MPhil must contact the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies and submit an online application for graduation. The degree is not automatically conferred upon advancing to candidacy. Students must have completed at least 18 credits of coursework at GW to be eligible for the master of philosophy degree.

Dissertation and final examination

A dissertation directed or co-directed by a member of the GW faculty is required of each doctoral candidate as evidence of ability to perform scholarly research and interpret its results. The student's core research committee is composed of a director and two readers who advise the student during the dissertation research process. It is permissible for the dissertation director to be drawn from outside of the academic unit in which the student is enrolled. If the director is from outside the academic unit, then the committee must also have a co-director from inside the unit.

The student normally enrolls for 6 to 27 credits of dissertation research after admission to candidacy. Dissertation Research must be taken in units of no fewer than 3 credits per semester. When the dissertation has been approved by the director and the members of the Dissertation Research Committee, the candidate takes the Final Examination (the defense). A committee of examiners composed of Columbian College faculty and outside scholars conducts the examination. This examination committee consists of the director (and co-director, if applicable) and the two readers who made up the research committee, as well as two additional examiners and a chair. The examiners cannot have had a direct role in the dissertation research process. One examiner must be from within the academic unit, with the other examiner coming from outside the academic unit. The chair of the examination cannot be drawn from the research committee or examiners. If the candidate passes, they are recommended to Columbian College for the degree of doctor of philosophy. The dissertation must be submitted electronically by the stated deadline and meet the formatting and other requirements set forth on the Electronic Theses and Dissertations website.

Dual doctor of medicine/doctor of philosophy degree program

A dual degree program is available to qualified students who seek both the doctor of medicine and doctor of philosophy degrees. The requirements that must be fulfilled for both degrees are identical to those currently and separately established in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. A student working toward these degrees may apply a maximum of 24 credits of approved coursework in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences toward the doctor of philosophy degree. The estimated time for the completion of this dual program is six years. In order to enter the dual degree program, a prospective student must apply for and gain admission both to the Columbian College and to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences separately through established procedures. Upon admission to both schools, the student may then apply for affiliation with the dual degree program.


Doctor of Psychology program

General requirements

The program leading to the degree of doctor of psychology requires the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 83 credits of approved graduate work. A maximum of 12 credits may be taken in courses offered by the other affiliated members of the Consortium of Universities. Doctor of psychology students have an overall five-year time limit for completion of all degree requirements. An approved leave of absence is not counted toward the time limit requirement. Students must apply and be approved for an extension of time by the associate dean for graduate studies if they wish to study beyond the time limit.

Transfer of credit

Provisions are the same as those of the doctor of philosophy program, above.

General examination

Each student is required to complete the general examination no later than the beginning of the final semester of the program. A student who fails to pass any part of the general examination may, in exceptional circumstances, and with the approval of the program, repeat the examination at the next scheduled examination date. If the student fails a second time, no further opportunity to take the examination is permitted, and the student’s degree candidacy is terminated.

The master of psychology degree

Students who have earned 53 credits toward the PsyD may receive the MPsy degree. Further information on the requirements of the doctor of psychology degree appears under Professional Psychology. Students requesting the MPsy degree must contact the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies and submit an online application for graduation. The degree is not automatically conferred after completion of 53 credits

Certificate Programs

The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences offers a range of graduate certificate programs. Departments and programs offering graduate certificates are indicated in italics.

Graduate certificate programs

Admission

Certificate students are not automatically admitted to a master's or doctoral program; they must submit an application for admission, meet the admission requirements, and be admitted to the degree program.

With departmental and Columbian College approval, students may concurrently register for a certificate and another Columbian College degree. If the certificate is conferred by another school, students must secure permission from both schools and apply and be admitted to both schools.

Certificate Completion

The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences requires all certificate candidates, both full-time and part-time, to complete all academic requirements within a maximum of three calendar years from admission. An approved leave of absence is not counted towards the time limit requirement. Students must apply and be approved for an extension of time by the associate dean for graduate studies if they wish to study beyond the time limit.

To be eligible for a graduate certificate, students must complete all course requirements with a minimum GPA of 3.0, with no grades of F.

Transfer of Credit

Requests for transfer credit must be submitted in writing and approved by the department’s director of graduate studies and the associate dean for graduate studies during the student’s first year in the program. An official transcript of the coursework must be on file before the request can be considered. Grades from transfer credit are not part of the graduate GPA.

Once enrolled in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, students are not permitted to transfer coursework taken outside the University, except under extraordinary circumstances; permission must be sought from the associate dean for graduate studies in advance.

Transfer of credit to the certificate

All courses transferred in to a graduate certificate program must meet the following conditions:

  1. The coursework must be from an accredited institution and must have been taken within the five years prior to matriculation.
  2. The transfer requests must be approved by the department as part of the student’s program of studies.
  3. The credits must be from post-baccalaureate, graduate-level coursework.
  4. All coursework must have received a minimum grade of B.

In addition, the following restrictions apply:

  1. A maximum of one course from outside GW can be transferred in.
  2. A maximum of two courses that have been used toward a previously completed CCAS program can be transferred in.
  3. No course may count toward more than one graduate certificate.

Transfer of credit from certificate to degree programs

Students may transfer up to 100 percent of coursework (maximum of 18 credits) from a CCAS certificate program to a CCAS degree program if the curriculum for the certificate is wholly a subset of the degree, providing the conditions below are met:

  1. The coursework must have been taken within the five years prior to matriculation.
  2. The course must have received a minimum grade of B.

Explanation of Course Numbers

  • Courses in the 1000s are primarily introductory undergraduate courses
  • Those in the 2000s to 4000s are upper-division undergraduate courses that also may be taken for graduate credit with permission and additional work assigned
  • Those in the 6000s and 8000s are for master’s, doctoral, and professional-level students
  • The 6000s are open to advanced undergraduate students with approval of the instructor and the dean or advising office