As a community of students and scholars, GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences seeks to advance discovery, inquiry, creativity and innovation—preparing students of the liberal arts to be informed, engaged, and effective global citizens. We are guided by the vision of our nation’s founding father, President George Washington, who envisioned a university where young people would be “sent for the completion of their education in all the branches of polite literature, in arts and sciences, in acquiring knowledge in the principles of politics and good government.” 

Columbian College's breadth and depth is complemented by a focused mission: to create and impart new knowledge that will impact and inspire future generations and propel GW's reputation as a preeminent urban research university in the heart of the nation's capital.  

Supporting Message

At Columbian College, research thrives, critical thinking is endemic, collaboration is constant, and real world training go hand-in-hand with learning. The College is the intellectual and creative backbone of the University, a place where the arts, the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences come together to form a nexus of ideas and opportunity. Because of the College’s enviable location in the heart of the nation’s capital, active engagement begins in the classroom and continues within the halls of government, the galleries of museums, the laboratories of NIH, NASA, and DOE, the embassies of international diplomats, and the exhibits of the Smithsonian and other venerable institutions.

With an innovative curriculum that emphasizes perspectives, analyses, and communication, undergraduate students are equipped with the competencies needed to be effective and responsible citizens of the 21st Century. At the professional and doctoral level, students partner with a faculty of scholars who include Fulbright recipients, award-winning choreographers, critically acclaimed authors, and innovative researchers. Together, we are advancing a spectrum of knowledge on topics ranging from controlling greenhouse gas emissions to delving into autism’s causes, prevalence, and treatment.

Supporting Goals

  • Address the significant issues of our time, informed by a background of historical and scholarly perspectives
  • Encourage new and innovative research
  • Offer effective pedagogy in support of student learning and intellectual growth
  • Provide visible excellence in scholarship and creativity
  • Recruit and retain nationally and internationally renowned artists, scholars, and scientists
  • Create new knowledge and share it broadly with both internal and external communities
  • Engage alumni, donors, and other stakeholders
  • Promote collaboration to advance our status as a preeminent urban research university

Metrics for Assessing Success

  • Faculty research expenditures, awards, journal articles, books, display of creative endeavors, and impact on the disciplines and the world
  • Enrollment and retention of strong students
  • Challenging and engaging student experience
  • Alumni and donor commitment to GW
  • Recruitment and retention of top faculty
  • Awards, accomplishments, and successes of students and alumni

Meet Dean Ben Vinson III

Ben Vinson III, a renowned scholar and vice dean for Centers, Interdisciplinary Programs, and Graduate Education at Johns Hopkins University, has been named the new dean of Columbian College. Read more.


Columbian College Dean Peg Barratt, a GW alumna, is a scholar of many dimensions: runner, sea kayaker, and backpacker—to name just a few. Read more.


Columbian By the Numbers

499  Faculty

42  Departments and Programs

5,343 Undergraduate Students

2,663 Graduate Students

250,000 Living Alumni

53  Undergraduate Majors

60  Undergraduate Minors

27  Combined BA/MA Programs

43  Master's Programs

20  Doctoral Programs

27  Research Centers and Institutes

37  Service Learning Courses

Follow Columbian