Collage of: left: a student giving a speech, middle: a group of students posing in front of Chichen Itza, and right: a road sign with different global destinations

We aspire to preeminence as a comprehensive 

Global research university

—GW President Thomas J. LeBlanc


Global Engagement

Columbian College encourages international and cross-cultural perspectives among our extensive community of distinguished scholars and diverse undergraduate and graduate students. A broad liberal arts education guides our students to use their knowledge to examine the critical issues that impact our region, nation and the world beyond. In addition, we are engaged in collaborative international research partnerships that are advancing a wide range of artistic, social and scientific imperatives.


Message from the Dean Regarding Student Visa Policy

Dear International Students:

This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced new guidelines for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester.

In the wake of these modifications, I write to assure you that the entire Columbian College community—our academic chairs and program directors, our faculty members and administrative staff—stand by our international students. You are a valued and important part of our community, and we welcome the diversity of experiences and depth of scholarship you bring to our campus. During the days and weeks ahead, we are committed to working with you and with the American Council on Education to find a way forward in the face of this modified policy.

The pursuit of new knowledge knows no borders. We are a global research university with a core mission to advance excellence and opportunity. We encourage international and cross-cultural perspectives because we understand how vital it is to the learning experience. Let me assure you that we are more steadfast than ever to removing obstacles to learning and helping each of you achieve your academic goals.


Dean Paul Wahlbeck


CCAS Interim International Travel Policy  


Image of a blue globe


Message from the Dean

Dear CCAS Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Based on GW's Interim International Travel Policy that was announced by GW Provost M. Brian Blake and Executive Vice President Mark Diaz on May 19, we would like to inform you of the approval process for requesting essential international travel in the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences (CCAS). 

All essential travel requests by CCAS faculty, staff, and students must be submitted through the CCAS Dean’s Office of Global Initiatives (CCAS Global) and are subject to approval by me. This process will assist us in facilitating, tracking, and making informed decisions around travel as we continue to navigate the evolving public health situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have any questions about the process for requesting essential international travel, please contact Ms. Taoran Sun, Executive Director of Global Initiatives, at [email protected] or the CCAS Global office at [email protected]. Questions about the interim policy as established for university-wide guidance can be directed to Donna Scarboro, Associate Provost for International Programs, via [email protected]. Thank you for your continued cooperation and understanding as we work together to promote the health and safety of our community.

Best regards,

Dean Paul Wahlbeck

What Qualifies as Essential Travel?

  • International travel may be considered essential if avoiding or delaying would cause harm to university operations, would result in loss of existing grant funding, or would result in failure to meet contractual obligations that cannot be renegotiated or postponed. 
  • For faculty, staff, and graduate students, essential travel for research is defined as travel that cannot be postponed or whose purpose cannot be fulfilled by alternative methods and is required to preserve the results of an ongoing research activity.  
  • All travel by and with undergraduate students is considered nonessential.

Important Things to Consider and Review Before Applying for Essential Travel

  • Any international travel by faculty and staff undertaken in connection with their GW responsibilities fall within the scope of this policy, regardless of funding source.
  • No costs incurred for international travel will be reimbursed without prior approval of the proposed travel. Prior purchase of any airfare or other expenditures associated with travel prior to approval is at the travelers own risk.
  • Additional costs that may occur as a result of preventative quarantines, travel restrictions and the like are the responsibility of the traveler. Please familiarize yourself with the Acknowledgement of Travel Responsibilities and Limitations of Support.
  • University assistance in the form of health, security, and legal support is not extended for unapproved trips by GW faculty, staff, or students.
  • For GW travelers returning to their “home” country or country of citizenship, please be aware that travel is not prohibited, but the traveler may not have access to GeoBlue or U.S. Department of State services.
  • Any program approvals would be contingent on updates to the interim policy and changing conditions worldwide. The Office for Study Abroad, the Office of International Programs, and the Office of CCAS Global will remain in communication with any travel organizers regarding updates to GW policy and next steps for proposed travel.

What is the Process for requesting Essential Travel Approval?

All proposals are reviewed by the Office of CCAS Global in the following process. Only after receiving the notification of Dean's Office's approval may the Requestor begin travel plans. 

Step 1: Complete the Essential International Travel - Approval Request Form.

CCAS will first determine if the travel request meets the essential travel guidelines. Please also be sure you have reviewed the Acknowledgement of Travel Responsibilities and Limitations of Support. Once the travel request is deemed as essential, the Requestor will be notified to proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Complete the Essential Travel Risk Awareness and Mitigation Questionnaire.

The Requestor will receive a link to complete the Essential Travel Risk Awareness and Mitigation Questionnaire. In this phase, the Requestor will provide information regarding Risk Awareness and Mitigation Plans to demonstrate the viability of this travel plan. If the risk mitigation plan is satisfactory, the Requestor will proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Register Travel in GW Passport.

CCAS Global will only approve the travel request if it is deemed both essential and viable. We will communicate any approval decisions made by the CCAS with the Office of International Programs (OIP). OIP will reach out to the Requestor directly to register their travel in the GW Passport system. Travel may NOT occur until the travel registration in the GW Passport system is complete.

Resources required to complete Request Forms can be found on GW Global.


International Visiting Scholars Program

Students conducting research



What We Do

The Columbian College of Arts & Sciences Global Initiatives Office's mission is to advance the College's international priorities through world-class education, education diplomacy, and engagement with the world. 

two students working at a table in a Chinese classroom

GW Global

With a student body representing more than 135 countries, dozens of internationally-focused research institutes, and partnerships with major international organizations, GW is a truly global institution.

GW Confucius Institute Columbian College

Office for Study Abroad

The Office for Study Abroad (OSA) provides and facilitates quality international educational opportunities at the George Washington University and promote students' academic, personal, professional, and intercultural development before, during, and after their study abroad experiences.

GW students in the Global Bachelor's Program abroad

Global Bachelor's Program

The GW Global Bachelor's Program provides students the competencies and confidence to work and learn anywhere in the world by challenging them to pursue their educational goals in multiple international settings.

GW Language Center

GW Language Center

The GWU Language Center facilitates and promotes foreign language studies at the university, providing a wide array of academic support for both faculty and students.

GW student and professor performing Jiangsu speech

Jiangsu Cup Chinese Speech Contest

This Chinese language speech contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students studying Chinese in colleges and universities in the greater Washington, D.C., area.

Student sitting on a bench on campus

International Graduate Funding Initiative

To stimulate the benefits of global exchange, international students from qualifying countries may be eligible for a tuition award of up to $20,000 per academic year.


Sarah Cassius

Sarah Cassius

BA '19, Geography

"I spent this summer in Medellin, interning for the [Colombian] Department of the Environment and Urban Planning. The municipality had just made the switch to LED lights for all of their public lighting, so one of my projects was to quantify the benefits of that change and present the economic, environmental, and public health benefits to the Mayor"

Global Engagement Highlights

In Muscat, GW students challenged local teenagers to a soccer game.

On Trip to Oman, Students Mix Business and Culture

A study abroad program tied to Mohssen Esseesy's Arabic business and language course allowed students to travel to Oman for a lesson in economics, linguistics and cultural connections.

Fulbright Logo

GW Recognized as a Top Producer of Fulbright Students

The university placed among the top research institutions for generating Fulbright students, with a total of 12 students accepting the award in the 2019-2020 year.