Graduate Admission Requirements

Admission into the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences is highly selective. To be considered for admission to graduate studies in the Columbian College, you must have demonstrated academic excellence and hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning. Normally, a minimum of a B average is required.

Please ensure you follow the application instructions closely and submit your complete application before the application deadline. We must receive your online application and all supporting test scores and documents for your application to be complete. You may check the status at any time by logging on to the application center. All documents must be uploaded to your online application.

Below are the minimum requirements for all Columbian College programs. Some programs may require additional materials such as a portfolio or writing sample. Please check the graduate program finder page for the exact requirements for each program. Additionally, visit the department website to check the minimum prerequisite requirements for your program.

Application Form

You can complete the application form on the GW Graduate Application Center. You will need to submit an application for each program you are applying for. Once you submit your application, you will not be able to make any adjustments.


A transcript is required from each college and university attended, regardless of whether or not a degree program was completed. Ensure that the uploaded copy is legible. Click here for guidelines on how to upload a legible copy of your transcript(s) and what types of transcripts are acceptable. Your application may be delayed if you do not upload a legible copy of your transcript(s). Please do not mail us a copy of your transcript unless it is requested.

If your transcripts are in a language other than English, a certified English language translation must be provided. The English translation alone can be uploaded into the online application.

Official copies of each transcript sent directly from the institution (and certified English translations if applicable) will be required only if you enroll at GW.


All doctoral programs and most master's degree programs require a current general GRE test score. Some of our departments will waive the GRE requirement for students with a prior, earned JD, MD or PhD. If you hold one of these degrees, please check the program finder page to see if this requirement is waived. Your GRE must not be more than five years old from the time you apply. You must send your GRE scores to us through ETS (GW code is 5246). Allow ETS approximately 10 days to send us your scores, so ensure you request they be sent to us at least two weeks before the deadline.

Some programs recommend the GRE subject test. These are: English, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.

The only Columbian College program that has a minimum GRE score is the PhD in Clinical Psychology.

More information on the GRE is available on their website.

English Language Proficiency

Evidence of English language proficiency is required from all applicants who are citizens of countries where English is not an official language, including U.S. permanent residents. Exceptions may be made for applicants who hold a degree from a college or university in a country where English is the official language and the medium of instruction. GW accepts the TOEFL and IELTS tests.

Standardized tests should be taken early enough to allow scores to reach the admissions office before the application deadline. The ETS reporting code for GW's Arts and Sciences is 5246.

TOEFL: The minimum TOEFL score for admission to any graduate degree program is 80 on the Internet-based test or 550 on the paper-based test. Many programs require a higher score, especially PhD programs. Check the program finder page to see the minimum requirements for your program. Those applying for graduate teaching assistantships must achieve at least a score of 100 on the Internet-based test or 600 on the paper-based test.

Information regarding the TOEFL is available on their website.

IELTS: The minimum for the academic IELTS is an overall band score of 6.0, with no individual band score below 5.0. Many programs require a higher score, especially PhD programs. Check the program finder page to see the minimum requirements for your program. Those applying for graduate teaching assistantships must achieve an overall band score of 7.0, with no individual band score below 6.0. As with the TOEFL, some departments may set higher standards.

Information regarding the IELTS is available on their website.


Ensure your resume is current and includes all previous education and employment.

Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose should be an essay of approximately 250-500 words in which you state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in your chosen field. Include your academic objectives, research interests and career plans. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional and community activities and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application form. (If you are applying for a graduate teaching assistantship, you should include information on any teaching experience that you have had.) Check the graduate program finder page as your program may require additional information.

Letters of Recommendation

The number of recommendation letters required depends on the program in which you are applying; however, generally the numbers required are:

Doctoral applicants must submit three recommendations. If you have completed a significant amount of graduate work, at least two references should be from professors in your major program.

MFA applicants must submit two letters of recommendation.

Master's applicants must submit at least one letter of recommendation. To determine if your program requires more than one recommendation, please check your program's profile page by visiting it from the departments and programs page.

Certificate applicants must submit one letter of recommendation.

Recommendations may be submitted online through the online application process. We encourage applicants and their recommenders to use the online recommendation process whenever possible. Recommendations not submitted online must be mailed to our office in signed, sealed envelopes. Access our paper recommendation form online.

Application Fee

You can choose to pay the $80 application fee by credit card or check. Please note you may not change the method of payment once you submit your application. If you are eligible for a fee waiver, you may submit a request to have the fee waived at the end of the application submission process.

The application fee is waived for the following applicants:

  • GW alumni (those holding a GW degree or certificate);
  • Current GW degree or certificate students;
  • U.S. military personnel who have been on active duty within three years of submitting their application for admission;
  • Current McNair Program Scholars (a completed Certification of McNair Program Participation and Application Fee Waiver form must be scanned and attached to your online application or submitted directly to us);
  • Alumni of PPIA applying for the MPP or MPA;
  • Current AmeriCorps or Peace Corps members; and
  • Applicants from an eligible Minority-Serving Institution.

You will receive notification within 1-2 business days of submitting the fee waiver request of the approval status. At that time, you may finalize submission of the application.