Admission deadlines: Fall – April 1 (February 1 for fellowship consideration)
Spring – October 1
Standardized test scores: GRE not required.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the PTE Academic is required of all applicants except those who hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university in the United States or from an institution located in a country in which English is the official language, provided English was the language of instruction.
Minimum scores for the program are:
- Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 6.0 with no individual score below 5.0; or
- TOEFL: 550 on paper-based or 80 on Internet-based; or
- PTE Academic: 53
Applicants who do not meet minimum English language requirements may be eligible for our full-time Applied English Language program.
Recommendations required: Two (2) recommendations
Prior academic records: Transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be uploaded to your online application. Official transcripts are required only of applicants who are offered admission.
If transcripts are in a language other than English, English language translations must be provided. The English translation alone should be uploaded into your application.
Statement of purpose: In an essay of 250 – 500 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in your chosen field. Include your academic objectives, research interests, and career plans. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application.
Additional requirement: Recent writing sample is required.
Interview: An interview may be required.
International applicants only: Please review International Applicant Information ( carefully for details on required documents, earlier deadlines for applicants requiring an I-20 or DS-2019 from GW, and English language requirements.

Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences - Office of Graduate Studies
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW, Phillips Hall 107
Washington DC 20052

For additional information about the admissions process visit the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Frequently Asked Questions page.

202-994-6210 (phone)

Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

36 credits, including 18 credits in required core courses and 18 credits in pre-approved elective courses; students pursuing the degree with a concentration in Shi'ism take 18 credits in required core courses, 12 credits in required courses in the concentration, and 6 credits in pre-approved elective courses.

Language requirement

All students must complete at least four semesters of Arabic, which do not count toward the 36 credits required for the program. Alternatively, students may demonstrate competence in Arabic through examination. Depending on their focus of study, students also may be asked to take courses in other languages, which do not count toward the degree. In rare instances, students may substitute another language for Arabic, such as Persian, Turkish, or Urdu, if their research focuses on texts composed in one of these languages.

Required core courses
REL 6401Islamic Historiographies
REL 6402Qur'an and Hadith
REL 6441Islamic Law
REL 6460Topics in the Study of Islam
REL 6999Thesis Research (for a total of 6 credits)
Six courses (18 credits) selected from a pre-approved list in consultation with the graduate program advisor(s). Most of the selected courses should focus on Islam in the contemporary world.
Shi'ism Concentration
In addition to the required core curriculum, students pursing the concentration in Shi'ism take the following:
REL 6412Shi'i Thought
REL 6413Philosophy and Mysticism in the Shi'i World
REL 6420Shi'i Political Thought
REL 6442Principles of Shi'i Jurisprudence
Two courses (6 credits) selected from a pre-approved list in consultation with the graduate program advisor(s). Selected courses should focus on Islam in the contemporary world.