With 53 majors and 61 minors to choose from, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences is the intellectual and creative backbone of GW. Yet perhaps few majors are as popular or celebrated as political science. Students who have interests in politics and government will love the combination of rigorous academics, real-world expertise, and location by the United States government. As one student told us, “What political science major would pass up the chance to go toe to toe with protesters every week at the rallies outside the White House and Congress?” The political science department has over forty full-time professors. According to the school, “The majority of political science majors take advantage of being located in the nation’s capital: Many students intern with members of Congress, the White House, NGOs, embassies, lobbying groups, and federal agencies. The department also offers five combined bachelor’s/master’s programs in political science, legislative affairs, public administration, public policy, and political management.” If politics is your passion, there may be no better school than GW.
Students come to GW to get involved, and there is no better way to do that than getting an internship in D.C. In fact, GW comes in at number one on The Princeton Review’s 2015 ranking list for Best Schools for Internships, which was reported in the 2015 edition of our book Colleges That Pay You Back. No matter what your major, the city provides near-endless internship opportunities. From technology and health to the arts, non-profits and, yes, politics, GW students have literally thousands of options, and have landed coveted gigs with hundreds of illustrious organizations, including Discovery Communications, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NASA, Google, and The New Yorker. Plus, through GW’s Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund (KACIF), students can earn grants up to $3,000 to offset an unpaid internship. A recent alumna, Elizabeth Edwards, explained what her own internship meant to her: “I had an incredible internship with the Victory Fund my sophomore year, which ultimately led to a staff position working on the Presidential Appointments Project, which helped give members of the LGBT community a voice in the government through the identification of LGBT professionals for presidential appointments by the Obama administration.” Students regularly cite “opportunities for internships” as a major strength of the school. Professor Isabelle G. Bajeux-Besnainou, associate dean of undergraduate programs and professor of finance, said, “One of the many strengths of GW is the engagement of students in their community and their ability to leverage GW’s location for internship opportunities in particular.” With so many government agencies, major non-profits, and global institutions situated in D.C., students here can train for the future alongside the leaders of today.
Given its location, it’s no surprise that GW is the kind of college that attracts students who want to change the world. Service and real-world engagement are a major part of GW’s student culture—right from the very beginning. Each year GW hosts its annual Freshman Day of Service and Convocation event officially welcoming the incoming class in a day filled with engaging speakers and service projects throughout D.C. And this commitment to service grows during students’ four years: Last year, students, faculty and staff logged a record 403,146 hours of community service. But it’s not all work, all the time at GW: The university has several programs to engage students in events in and around Washington, D.C., including cultural and performing arts, professional sporting events, D.C. cook-offs, cultural celebrations on the National Mall, and D.C. neighborhood festivals and street markets. Freshmen are introduced to all this and more at Colonial Inauguration or CI, as it’s called. Students and, if desired, their families gather on campus to meet with professors and other staff to get oriented and gain a jump-start on their social networks and relations to faculty. CI ensures that students will be prepared for the challenges and opportunities in the years ahead.
George Washington has a student to faculty ratio of 13:1, and boasts 2,226 faculty members, including 942 full-time and 1,284 part-time faculty members. Approximately 92 percent of full-time faculty members have the highest degree in their field. A little over 40 percent of professors are female and just under 20 percent of faculty members self-identify as minorities. According to the school, “GW’s mission of educating citizen leaders is embodied by its renowned faculty, spread throughout ten colleges and schools, who can seamlessly blend theory and practice.” The D.C. location gives students access not only to highly qualified professors, but also guest speakers of the highest caliber. One political science major gave a telling example: “I not only took a class on globalization and comparative politics, but then was able to go to a university event which featured Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates as the speakers which gave further perspective to the issues I was studying.” Professors here are passionate about both teaching and their fields in the real world. The university points out that the faculty here “is conducting groundbreaking research that not only creates new knowledge but also transforms policy that affects people in their daily lives. From Professor James Foster developing groundbreaking theories on global poverty and Dr. Akos Vertes’s research efforts to thwart biochemical terror attacks to Dr. Sara Rosenbaum, who has literally written the book on the American health care system, GW often works directly with the world’s top academic, industry and policy leaders at the forefront of discovery.”
When it comes to STEM-related fields and the arts, GW has been literally breaking new ground. Just opened in the beginning of 2015, GW’s Science and Engineering Hall (SEH)—now the largest academic building dedicated to these fields in the nation’s capital—is a brand-new, 500,000 square-foot complex that houses four specialized labs and many other spaces that will serve as the academic home for thousands of students. Working with some of the nation’s most influential scientific organizations on discoveries and breakthroughs that impact everyone’s lives, GW students and professors conduct original research in animal behavior, environmental engineering, nanotechnology and more. GW also recently expanded its arts education portfolio, becoming the new home of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, the only professional college of art and design in Washington, D.C. Plus, the brand new George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum houses 20,000-plus artifacts from its collections, linking audiences, scholars and other cultural organizations, as well as creating numerous opportunities for learning and research.