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Multicultural Dimensions at GW


ocated just four blocks from the White House, The George Washington University (GW) is the largest institution of higher education in the nation’s capital. Founded in 1821 by an Act of Congress, GW is a private nonsectarian coeducational institution. One of GW’s greatest strengths is its broad range of multicultural and international identities, activities, and diversity.

The student population at GW consists of approximately 10,000 undergraduates and 14,000 graduates. Undergraduates hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and 125 countries. The undergraduate student body is 8 percent Asian American, 7 percent African American, 8 percent Hispanic American, and 7 percent international.

GW offers a wide range of undergraduate programs in six undergraduate schools: the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the Elliott School of International Affairs, the School of Media and Public Affairs, the School of Business, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Public Health and Health Services.

GW offers eighty-seven majors, more than 1,000 courses, and yet, the average class size is only 28. Students may earn an undergraduate degree in a single field of study, or they may choose to double major, major in one field and minor in another, participate in an interdisciplinary program, or create their own individualized field of study.

Both the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses are located in historical and prestigious D.C. neighborhoods. The Foggy Bottom campus is situated in the heart of downtown D.C., neighbored by the Kennedy Center, the Watergate complex, the State Department, and the White House. The 26-acre Mount Vernon campus is home to athletic facilities and is surrounded by embassy and diplomatic residences. Both campus communities offer vibrant and distinctive residential options to freshmen and continuing students.

There are over 350 student-created and student-run organizations at GW. These organizations run the spectrum from academic to cultural, spiritual to recreational, and political to artistic. In addition to these special-interest organizations, GW is home to 41 national sororities and fraternities, the Student Association, the Program Board, the Hatchet(GW’s independent newspaper), and WRGW (the campus radio station). The Student Activities Center plans large-scale events for students on campus, ranging from Welcome Week to Excellence in Student Life Awards to Fall Fest and Spring Fling. GW’s commitment to a cultural education is made evident through numerous events, speakers, and celebrations each year. Recent events have included visits from Kweisi Mfume, former President and CEO of the NAACP, and Nikki Giovanni, world renowned author, activist and poet, and our students have benefited in the classroom from the experiences of Professor Miguel Rodriguez, the former President of Costa Rica.

The RISE mentorship program sponsored by the Multicultural Student Services Office helps our freshmen to get integrated to life on campus in their first semester as well. GW’s Cultural Heritage series also allows us to celebrate the diversity within the GW community on a monthly basis, and included one of the nation’s first Multiracial Awareness Weeks in 2006. 

The ability to finance a GW education is a priority, so the Office of Student Financial Assistance seeks to assist students and their families in meeting the costs to attend the University. The University budgets more than $85 million for undergraduate financial assistance, which includes scholarships and need-based assistance. In addition, GW offers families the opportunity to participate in a number of payment plans. By applying for admission, students with outstanding academic credentials are automatically considered for Presidential Academic Scholarships. Additionally, students with artistic talent can audition for a Presidential Arts Scholarship. In 2010-11 approximately 50 percent of GW’s entering class received some form of financial aid. The average need-based assistance package was $38,579.

Our motto: Something Happens Here is also true of GW’s Multicultural Student Services Office and our chapters of the NAACP, Organization of Latin American Students, and Black Student Union. These efforts as well as many others have led Black Enterprise Magazine to name GW one of the top 25 colleges for multicultural students.

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