Undergraduate Education at GW

 An undergraduate education at GW provides students with a wide range of opportunities to pursue both professional and liberal arts degrees. These degrees ensure that students leave the University with a body of knowledge that shows a depth of understanding in at least one field. In addition, the General Education Requirement that is common to the education of students in all schools of the University, ensure that students develop key analytical abilities that transcend disciplinary boundaries. These analytical abilities provide students with cornerstones for their personal development, civic consciousness, and successful careers.

To earn an undergraduate degree, students must:

  • Complete at least 120 credits,
  • Fulfill the University General Education Requirement (Tier One),
  • Fulfill school-specific general education and distribution requirements (Tier Two), and
  • Fulfill the requirements of at least one major in their home school (Tier Three).

Tier One: General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at GW are required to fulfill Tier One of the University’s General Education Requirement. The General Education curriculum trains students to engage in active intellectual inquiry across a variety of disciplines by developing a range of analytical skills, including critical thinking, creative thinking, quantitative reasoning, and scientific reasoning.

  • Critical thinking refers to the analysis and evaluation of complex information (systems of theory or thought) as well as the formulation of logical arguments based on that analysis.
  • Creative thinking refers to the creation of new or original work, whether it be the creation of new scientific work, an artistic creation, or a new scholarly argument based on a set of findings.
  • Quantitative reasoning refers to the process of modeling problems of the real world within a formal abstract system, solving those problems using systematic numerical methods of analysis, and interpreting the results.
  • Scientific reasoning refers to consistent, logical thought patterns that are employed during the process of scientific inquiry that enables individuals to propose relationships between observed phenomena, design experiments to assess the validity of these relationships, and evaluate the results of these experiments, all using the tools, skills, and techniques of quantitative reasoning.

In addition to these elements of inquiry, students are trained to communicate effectively in both written and oral formats, not only in their general education course sequence, but in their majors.

  • The written communication requirement trains students in the effective use of language to express critical thinking that evaluates rhetorical situations, identifies significant lines of inquiry, investigates and analyzes available knowledge, and develops rigorous arguments appropriate to the intended audience.
  • The oral communication requirement trains students in the effective interpretation, composition, and presentation of information, ideas, and values to a specific audience.

Only those courses that are designed specifically to meet the objectives outlined above, and that are assessed for their outcomes in these areas, count for general education credit.

While students learn these analytical and communicative skills in a range of disciplines, not all courses in each discipline are designed to teach these skills. Many courses are focused more on content or on other intellectual goals. It is expected that students will not only learn these skills in their general education courses, but also will employ them in their pursuit of their majors and, when they leave the University, their pursuit of their professions and participation in the world around them.

All students are required to take five Tier One courses (for a total of 15 to 16 credits) in a range of disciplines drawn from the social sciences, humanities, natural or physical sciences with a laboratory component, and mathematics or statistics.

  • In some cases, these courses may be used to satisfy school-specific requirements and/or major requirements. Students should check with their schools and/or departments to determine which courses may be double counted.
  • Students who are contemplating transferring from one school to another should carefully consult the Tier One requirements for the school of origin and the school of transfer to ensure that the general education courses selected for one school also count for the other school.

For their writing requirement, all students are required to take three courses: UW 1020 University Writing and two Writing in the Disciplines (WID) courses. WID courses are designated with a ‘W’ appended to the course number. WID courses may also fulfill general education, distribution, school-specific, or major requirements, if the courses are designated for that purpose. Students should check with their schools and/or departments to determine which courses may be double counted.

Tier Two: School-Specific General Education and Distribution Requirements

In each school, students must fulfill additional general education or distribution requirements. These Tier Two requirements differ by school. Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) provides a liberal arts education, and as such, requires additional general education courses that lead students to deepen the skills developed in Tier One courses. GW School of Business (GWSB), the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA), and School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are professional schools. As such, they require different courses in Tier Two from those of a general liberal arts education, focusing their requirements on courses appropriate to the professional development of their students as outlined in Tier Three. The Milken Institute School of Public Health (GWSPH) is a hybrid school, offering both liberal arts and professional majors. As a result, GWSPH has limited Tier Two courses and, instead, differentiates additional requirements at the major-level (Tier Three).

CCAS requires additional general education courses at the Tier-Two level. Students continue to develop their skills in critical and creative thinking as well as quantitative and scientific reasoning. They also continue to develop skills in written communication and incorporate global and cross-cultural perspectives as well as civic engagement into some of their learning. Students take approximately 9 to18 credits to satisfy remaining General Education Requirement in a variety of disciplines and with respect to global perspectives, civic engagement, and oral communication. The courses that satisfy this requirement can be found here.

GWSB requires that all students take BADM 1001 First Year Development Course I and BADM 1002 First Year Development Course II. Students take one additional course from the sciences. In addition, students must complete a minor program (or in the case of Finance, a second major) in a subject outside of GWSB. Minors are usually 18 credits, and majors are generally at least 30 credits. This requirement helps to ensure that GWSB students have a breadth of knowledge and creativity to complement their professional training.

ESIA requires a minimum of 19 credits at the Tier-Two level. These credits are included within the school’s introduction to the major requirement. These courses, which are required for students in all five of ESIA’s undergraduate programs, ensure that students are provided with foundational training in disciplines central to international affairs, including economics, history, political science, and anthropology or geography. introduction to the major requirements also include the Elliott School’s signature course, IAFF 1001 First-Year Experience.

ESIA also requires all students to fulfill 25 to 26 credits in the school’s supporting courses in the liberal arts requirement. Many course options that fulfill these credits can be applied simultaneously to University-wide Tier One requirements, but technically are unique requirements within ESIA.

Specific information regarding introduction to the major and supporting courses in the liberal arts requirement can be found here. Students should consult their program’s major requirements page here for information about program-specific foreign language requirements

SEAS requires the course SEAS 1001 (Engineering Orientation) as well as three additional social science and humanities courses at the Tier-Two level to provide intellectual breadth for students. The courses that satisfy this distribution requirement can be found here. Students are also required to take two additional mathematics courses and two additional science courses to provide adequate grounding for their engineering and computer science training. Depending on the major, bachelor of science (BS) students have additional requirements in mathematics and science.

GWSPH requires all students to take PUBH 1101 Introduction to Public Health and Health Services.

Tier Three: Major Requirements for the Degree

Each school requires students to take the required courses for a major.

CCAS: Students are required to select a major and to successfully complete the courses needed to fulfill degree requirements for that major. BS and BA requirements vary by major. Information about program-specific Tier Three requirements can be found by visiting individual program major requirements pages here.

GWSB: Students are required to select a major and to successfully complete courses needed to fulfil degree requirements for that major. Information about program-specific Tier Three requirements can be found by visiting individual program major requirements pages here.

ESIA: All ESIA students must demonstrate third-year proficiency in a foreign language and to take school-specific regional foundations courses to develop an understanding of diverse international cultures. The specific means of fulfilling language and regional foundations requirements differ across regional and non-regional programs (e.g., BA and BS in International Affairs students need to fulfill ESIA advanced fundamentals requirements while others do not). All students are required to select a major and to successfully complete the courses needed to fulfill degree requirements for that major. The Elliott School’s BS degree, as opposed to its BA degrees, generally requires completion of an additional 18 credits in approved upper-level (2000-level or above) STEM coursework. Information about program-specific Tier Three requirements can be found by visiting individual program major requirements pages here.

SEAS: Students are required to select a major and to successfully complete courses needed to fulfill degree requirement for that major. All students are required to complete a capstone project. Information about program-specific Tier Three requirements and recommended program of study for each major can be found by visiting individual program major requirements pages here.

GWSPH: Students are required to select a major and to successfully complete the courses needed to fulfill degree requirements for that major. Exercise science students also have the option to select a concentration. Requirements differ across majors and concentrations. In addition, students may have non-GWSPH prerequisites attached to courses required for their major or concentration. Information about program-specific Tier Three requirements can be found on individual program major requirements pages here.

All students are required to take five Tier One courses (for a total of 15 to 16 credits) in a range of disciplines drawn from the social sciences, humanities, natural or physical sciences with a laboratory component, and mathematics or statistics.

  • In some cases, these courses may be used to satisfy school-specific requirements and/or major requirements. Students should check with their schools and/or departments to determine which courses may be double counted.
  • Students who are contemplating transferring from one school to another should carefully consult the Tier One requirements for the school of origin and the school of transfer to ensure that the general education courses selected for one school also count for the other school.

For their writing requirement, all students are required to take three courses: UW 1020 University Writing and two Writing in the Disciplines (WID) courses, for a total of 10 credits. WID courses are designated with a ‘W’ appended to the course number. WID courses may also fulfill general education, distribution, school-specific, or major requirements, if the courses are designated for that purpose. Students should check with their schools and/or departments to determine which courses may be double counted.

Written communication

UW 1020University Writing
or HONR 1015 Honors Seminar: UW 1020: Origins and Evolution of Modern Thought

Critical, creative, or quantitative analysis in the social sciences

ANTH 1002Sociocultural Anthropology
or ANTH 1002W Sociocultural Anthropology
ANTH 1003Archaeology
ANTH 1004Language in Culture and Society
ANTH 2008Foundations of Anthropological Thought
or ANTH 2008W Foundations of Anthropology
ANTH 2502Anthropology of Science and Technology: Twenty-First-Century Brave New Worlds
ANTH 3502Cultural Ecology
ANTH 3704Cultures of Southeast Asia
ANTH 3838Theory and Practice in Archaeology
or ANTH 3838W Theory and Practice in Archaeology
COMM 1025Introduction to Communication Studies
COMM 1040Public Communication
COMM 1041Interpersonal Communication
ECON 1011Principles of Economics I
ECON 1012Principles of Economics II
GEOG 1001Introduction to Human Geography
GEOG 1003Society and Environment
HONR 2043Honors Microeconomics
HONR 2044Honors Macroeconomics
HONR 2047Self and Society Seminar
or HONR 2047W Self and Society Seminar
PSC 1001Introduction to Comparative Politics
or PSC 1001W Introduction to Comparative Politics
PSC 1002Introduction to American Politics and Government
or PSC 1002W Introduction to American Politics and Government
PSC 1011Introduction to Politics I
PSC 1012WIntroduction to Politics II
PSYC 2011Abnormal Psychology *
or PSYC 2011W Abnormal Psychology
PSYC 2012Social Psychology *
PSYC 2012Social Psychology *
PSYC 2013Developmental Psychology *
PSYC 2014Cognitive Psychology *
PSYC 2015Biological Psychology *
SMPA 1050Media in a Free Society
SMPA 2101Journalism: Theory & Practice
SMPA 2102Introduction to Political Communication
SOC 1002The Sociological Imagination
SOC 2101Social Research Methods
SOC 2102Techniques of Data Analysis
SOC 2104Contemporary Sociological Theory
or SOC 2104W Contemporary Sociological Theory
SPHR 1071Foundations of Human Communication
or SPHR 1071W Foundations of Human Communication
SPHR 1072Multicultural Issues in Human Communication
SPHR 1084Perspectives in Deaf Culture
SUST 1001Introduction to Sustainability
UNIV 1005

* PSYC 1001 is a prerequisite for all psychology (PSYC) courses.

Scientific reasoning

ANTH 1001Biological Anthropology
ANTH 3412Hominin Evolution
ASTR 1001Stars, Planets, and Life in the Universe
ASTR 1002Origins of the Cosmos
BISC 1005The Biology of Nutrition and Health 1
BISC 1006The Ecology and Evolution of Organisms 1
BISC 1007Food, Nutrition, and Service 1
BISC 1008Understanding Organisms through Service Learning 1
BISC 1111
BISC 1112
Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules
and Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms
BISC 1115
BISC 1125
Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules
and Introduction to Cells and Molecules Laboratory
BISC 1116
BISC 1126
Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms
and Introduction to Organisms Laboratory
BISC 1120Laboratory Introduction to Biomolecular Research
CHEM 1003Contemporary Science for Nonscience Majors
CHEM 1004Contemporary Science for Nonscience Majors
CHEM 1111General Chemistry I
CHEM 1112General Chemistry II
GEOG 1002Introduction to Physical Geography
GEOL 1001Physical Geology 2
GEOL 1002Historical Geology
GEOL 1005Environmental Geology 2
HONR 1033Honors Seminar: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery
HONR 1034Honors Seminar: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery
PHYS 1003Physics for Future Presidents
PHYS 1007Music and Physics
PHYS 1011General Physics I
PHYS 1012General Physics II
PHYS 1021University Physics I
PHYS 1022University Physics II
PHYS 1025University Physics I with Biological Applications
PHYS 1026University Physics II with Biological Applications

1 BISC 1005 and BISC 1007 are equivalent courses and BISC 1006 and BISC 1008 are equivalent courses. Credit cannot be earned for both.
2GEOL 1001 and GEOL 1005 are equivalent courses. Credit cannot be earned for both.

Critical or creative analysis in the humanities

AMST 1050Explorations in American Culture
AMST 1160Race, Gender, and Law
AMST 1200The Sixties in America
AMST 2010Early American Cultural History
AMST 2011Modern American Cultural History
AMST 2020Washington, DC: History, Culture, and Politics
or AMST 2020W Washington, DC: History, Culture, and Politics
AMST 2120WFreedom in American Thought and Popular Culture
AMST 2210The African American Experience
AMST 2320U.S. Media and Cultural History
AMST 2350U.S. Religion and Politics
AMST 2380Sexuality in U.S. History
AMST 2385Sex and Citizenship
or AMST 2385W Sex and Citizenship
AMST 2410Twentieth Century U.S. Immigration
AMST 2430Capitalism and Culture
AMST 2440The American City
AMST 2520American Architecture I
AMST 2521American Architecture II
AMST 2600U.S. Popular Music and Culture
AMST 2610Science, Technology, and Politics in Modern America
or AMST 2610W Science, Technology, and Politics in Modern America
AMST 2620Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
AMST 2630Discovering the Mind
AMST 2710The United States in Global Context, 1898-Present
AMST 2730World War II in History and Memory
or AMST 2730W World War II in History and Memory
AMST 2750WLatinos in the United States
AMST 3352U.S. Women's History to 1865
or AMST 3352W U.S. Women's History to 1865
ANTH 2750Latinos in the United States
or ANTH 2750W Latinos in the United States
CHIN 3111Chinese Literature in Translation I
CHIN 3112Chinese Literature in Translation II
CHIN 3123Introduction to Chinese Linguistics
CHIN 3124Introduction to Chinese Linguistics
CHIN 3163Taiwanese Literature and Film
CHIN 3173Chinese Drama and Theatre
CLAS 1001Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations
CLAS 2107Families and Politics in Ancient Drama
EALL 3811Confucian Literature in East Asia
EALL 3814Religion and Philosophy in East Asia
or EALL 3814W Religion and Philosophy in East Asia
ENGL 1050Introduction to Literary Studies
ENGL 1300The Bible as Literature
ENGL 1315Literature and the Financial Imagination
ENGL 1320Literature of the Americas
or ENGL 1320W Literature of the Americas
ENGL 1330Myths of Britain
or ENGL 1330W Myths of Britain
ENGL 1340Essential Shakespeare
or ENGL 1340W Essential Shakespeare
ENGL 1351Shakespeare Seminar
ENGL 1360Fantasy and Speculative Fiction
ENGL 1365Literature and the Environment
ENGL 2100Introduction to Asian American Studies through Literature
ENGL 2410Introduction to English Literature I
or ENGL 2410W Introduction to English Literature I
ENGL 2411Introduction to English Literature II
or ENGL 2411W Introduction to English Literature II
ENGL 2510Introduction to American Literature I
or ENGL 2510W Introduction to American Literature I
ENGL 2511Introduction to American Literature II
or ENGL 2511W Introduction to American Literature II
ENGL 2610Introduction to Black Literature of America I
or ENGL 2610W Introduction to Black Literature of America I
ENGL 2611Introduction to Black Literature of America II
or ENGL 2611W Introduction to Black Literature of America II
ENGL 2710Postcolonialism, Race, and Gender in Global Anglophone Literature and Film
or ENGL 2710W Postcolonialism, Race, and Gender in Global Anglophone Literature and Film
ENGL 2711Postcolonialism and Migration in Global Anglophone Literature and Film
or ENGL 2711W Postcolonialism and Migration in Global Anglophone Literature and Film
ENGL 3400Topics in Literature and Finance
ENGL 3446Shakespearean London
ENGL 3621American Poetry II
ENGL 3730Topics in Global Postcolonial Literature and Film
or ENGL 3730W Topics in Global Postcolonial Literature and Film
ENGL 3910Disability Studies
ENGL 3918Literature and Medicine
FREN 2006Language, Culture, and Society II
FREN 2500Cultural Politics of Food in France
FREN 3500Race, Religion, and Identity in France
FREN 3700History of French Cinema
FREN 4540Nineteenth-Century French Literature and Culture
GER 2091Introduction to German Literature—in English I
GER 2092Introduction to German Literature—in English II
GER 2161German Culture–in English I
GER 2162German Culture–in English II
GER 3182The Fairy Tale from the Grimms to Disney
GER 3187German Cinema after 1945
GREK 1001Beginning Classical Greek I
HEBR 1001Beginning Hebrew I
HIST 1011World History, 1500-Present
HIST 1020Approaches to Women's History
HIST 1110European Civilization in Its World Context
HIST 1120European Civilization in Its World Context
or HIST 1120W European Civilization in its World Context
HIST 1121The War of Ideas in European and International History, 1750-Present
HIST 1310Introduction to American History
HIST 1311Introduction to American History
HIST 2010Early American Cultural History
HIST 2011Modern American Cultural History
HIST 2020Washington, DC: History, Culture, and Politics
or HIST 2020W Washington, DC: History, Culture, and Politics
HIST 2050History of Jewish Civilization: From the Bible to Modernity
HIST 2060Modern Jewish History
HIST 2124Nineteenth-Century Europe
HIST 2125Twentieth-Century Europe
HIST 2131History of England Since 1689
HIST 2141History of France Since 1789
HIST 2160History of Germany
HIST 2312The American Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877
HIST 2313History of the American West
HIST 2320U.S. Media and Cultural History
HIST 2321U.S. History, 1890-1945
HIST 2322U.S. History since 1945
HIST 2350U.S. Religion and Politics
HIST 2380Sexuality in U.S. History
HIST 2410Twentieth-Century U.S. Immigration
HIST 2440The American City
or HIST 2440W The American City
HIST 2520Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World
HIST 2610Science, Technology, and Politics in Modern America
or HIST 2610W Science, Technology, and Politics in Modern America
HIST 2630History of Korea
HIST 2730World War II in History and Memory
or HIST 2730W World War II in History and Memory
HIST 2811The Formation of Islam to 1500
HIST 2850Modernization in Russia, Turkey, and Iran
HIST 3044WThe Price of Freedom: Normandy 1944
HIST 3352U.S. Women's History to 1865
or HIST 3352W U.S. Women's History to 1865
HIST 3353U.S. Women's History II
HIST 3360African American History to 1865
HIST 3361African American History Since 1865
HIST 3611History of Modern China
HIST 3811The Emergence of the Modern Middle East
or HIST 3811W The Middle East in the Twentieth-Century
HONR 1016Honors Seminar: Origins and Evolution of Modern Thought
HONR 2053Arts and Humanities Seminar
or HONR 2053W Arts and Humanities Seminar
ITAL 4100The Italian American Experience
ITAL 4184Contemporary Italian Cinema
ITAL 4380Italian Journeys Medieval to Postmodern
JAPN 3111Japanese Literature in Translation I
JAPN 3112Japanese Literature in Translation II
JSTD 2060Modern Jewish History
KOR 3111Korean Literature in Translation
KOR 3112Korean Literature in Translation
KOR 3123Introduction to Korean Linguistics
KOR 3124Introduction to Korean Linguistics
LATN 2001Intermediate Latin
LATN 3001Major Latin Authors I
or LATN 3001W Major Latin Authors I
LATN 3002Major Latin Authors II
or LATN 3002W Major Latin Authors II
PHIL 1051Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 1153The Meaning of Mind
PHIL 2124Philosophies of Disability
or PHIL 2124W Philosophies of Disability
PHIL 2125Philosophy of Race and Gender
or PHIL 2125W Philosophy of Race and Gender
PHIL 2131Ethics: Theory and Applications
PHIL 2132Social and Political Philosophy
or PHIL 2132W Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL 2133Philosophy and Nonviolence
PHIL 2134Philosophy of Human Rights
PHIL 2136Contemporary Issues in Ethics
PHIL 2140Philosophy of Love, Sex, and Friendship
PHIL 2281Philosophy of the Environment
PHIL 3142Philosophy of Law
or PHIL 3142W Philosophy of Law
PHIL 3151Philosophy of Science
PHIL 3153Mind, Brain, and Artificial Intelligence
PSC 2120WFreedom in American Thought and Popular Culture
PSTD 1010Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution
REL 1010The New Testament
or REL 1010W The New Testament
REL 2165The Gospels
REL 2169Lost Gospels
REL 2201Judaism
REL 2301Christianity
REL 2314Contemporary Philosophy of Religion
REL 2401Islam
REL 2501Hinduism
REL 2562Mythologies of India
REL 2811Confucian Literature in East Asia
REL 2814Religion and Philosophy in East Asia
REL 2981Women in Western Religion
REL 3149Biblical Issues
or REL 3149W Biblical Issues
REL 3151The Historical Jesus
or REL 3151W The Historical Jesus
REL 3161The Life and Thought of Paul
or REL 3161W The Life and Thought of Paul
REL 3405Shi'ite Islam
REL 3614Buddhist Philosophy
REL 3923Violence and Peace in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
SLAV 2310The Russian Media Since Communism
SPAN 2005Advanced Spanish I
SPAN 2006Advanced Spanish II
SPAN 2056Intensive Advanced Spanish
SPAN 3100Readings in Spanish and Latin American Literature
UNIV 1006
WGSS 1020Approaches to Women's History
WGSS 2225Philosophy of Race And Gender
WGSS 2380Sexuality in U.S. History
WGSS 2385Sex and Citizenship
or WGSS 2385W Sex and Citizenship
WGSS 3352U.S. Women's History to 1865
WGSS 3353U.S. Women's History II
WGSS 3981Women in Western Religion
WLP 1020Writing, Literature, and Society
Language courses require placement examinations.

Quantitative reasoning

MATH 1007Mathematics and Politics
MATH 1008History of Mathematics
MATH 1009Mathematical Ideas I
MATH 1010Mathematical Ideas II
MATH 1051Finite Mathematics for the Social and Management Sciences
MATH 1221Calculus with Precalculus II
MATH 1231Single-Variable Calculus I
MATH 1232Single-Variable Calculus II
MATH 1252Calculus for the Social and Management Sciences
MATH 2233Multivariable Calculus
STAT 1051Introduction to Business and Economic Statistics
STAT 1053Introduction to Statistics in Social Science
STAT 1111Business and Economic Statistics I
STAT 1127Statistics for the Biological Sciences

*MATH 1221, MATH 1231, and MATH 1252 are equivalent courses. STAT 1051, STAT 1053 STAT 1111, and  STAT 1127 are equivalent courses. Credit cannot be earned for more than one in either group.