International Affairs

The bachelor’s degree teaches students how to look beyond the events of the day and understand the basic forces that drives those events. It begins with the fundamental concepts that still will need to interact with the international community that surrounds the school, concepts that draw from political science and economics, from history and anthropology, from language and culture. Knowing how those forces operate, our students can engage the professional community of international leaders that live and work in the neighborhood of the school. Our neighborhood in Washington is the center but not the circumference of an Elliott School education. Our students refine their understanding of international affairs in international student organizations, in the global institutions that surround the school, in study abroad Over three quarters of our students spend at least a semester abroad, learning how to apply their knowledge in different cultural and political environments. The International Affairs degree can be as broad as the world is wide or as tightly focused as any issue that urgently challenges the international community. It is a program that draws from the past and looks to the future, a future that begins the first day that a student walks into the Elliott School building.

Related Majors, Minors, and Concentrations

Because the international affairs degree is broad, students can concentrate on a wide variety of topics. They focus on regions, such as Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America, or on the various topical areas of international affairs: foreign policy, trade, development, security, environment, conflict resolution, or science and technology policy. A number of our students take a second major in the Colombian College of Arts and Sciences, with history, economics, and languages being the most popular

What can I expect to learn in the International Affairs program at GW?

Our students leave the program with a broad understanding of the forces that shape the international arena. They will be able to recognize the political, economic, and historical ideas that lie behind global events. At the same time, our students are able to focus on issues and ideas that are of interest to them.


What is the International Affairs community like at GW?

It is based in Foggy Bottom but it circles the globe. Our students come to the Elliott School to be part of a global community. They live among the international institutions that surround the school — the World Bank, the State Department, the U. S. Institute for Peace, the Pentagon, the National Academies of Science. They attend events at these institutions, work as interns, and study with experts who have served in them.

What can I do in the International Affairs field?

Elliott School graduates go on to serve as senior policymakers and diplomats, international business executives and global nonprofit leaders.


  • Elliott School StudentsStudent standing in front of a Clinton Global Initiative banner

    Elliott School Students

    Students begin with a core curriculum in the humanities, social sciences, sciences and foreign languages. From there, they focus on an internationally oriented major.

  • Elliott School Communityline of prominent speakers on stage at a GW-CNN joint event

    Elliott School Community

    The Elliott School engages the policy community. Its faculty is made up of renowned scholars and former senior policymakers. The school is involved in more than 250 events each year.

  • Elliott School AlumniHeadshot of an Elliott School alumna in military attire

    Elliott School Alumni

    Some 70 percent of Elliott School undergraduates study abroad. They take advantage of more than 250 approved programs in over 50 countries.