International Graduate Applicants


GW International Student at Flags


Columbian College students and faculty are engaged in intellectual rigor that reaches beyond our classroom and labs to nations around the globe.

With international students comprising 15 percent of Columbian College’s total student enrollment, we take pride in the diversity of our campus and the degree to which our academic family participates in the worldwide circulation of ideas.


Application Requirements

In addition to general application requirements, international students may need to provide supporting documents and test scores to be considered for admission.

International Transcripts

  • If your transcript is not in English, a certified English language translation must be provided. The English translation alone is sufficient for the online application.
  • Official transcripts are only required if you are offered admission. International students who enroll at GW may need to submit additional official documentation.

Detailed information regarding transcript requirements is provided under the Application Requirements section.

English Language Proficiency 

Evidence of English language proficiency is required from all applicants who are citizens of countries where English is not the 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.

Most students who are not U.S. citizens are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency by submitting an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score. English language test scores may not be more than two years old from the time you apply. If you submit multiple scores, your most recent score will be used. When sending your TOEFL scores to us, please use the Institutional code 5246. An institutional code is not required to send us your IELTS score; instead, please have the testing center send the official scores to us directly.

The university's minimum scores are:

  • TOEFL: 80 on the internet-based test (ibt), 550 on the paper-based test (pbt)
  • IELTS: Overall band score no less than 6.0, no individual band score less than 5.0

Many of our programs have a higher minimum score. Please refer to the Graduate Program Finder page of the minimum scores for your program.

To be eligible for funding you must have certain minimum scores:

  • TOEFL: 100 on the internet-based test (ibt), 600 on the paper-based test (pbt)
  • IELTS: Overall band score no less than 7.0, no individual band score less than 6.0

Exceptions to the English language proficiency policy will be granted if you have:

  • A degree (or will complete one before starting at GW) that includes at least two years of full-time study in which English is the language of instruction AND the official language of the country in which the university is located; or
  • A degree (or will complete one before starting at GW) from an institution that is accredited by a U.S. regional accrediting agency.

You do not have to apply for either waiver. Simply submit your application without the required scores.

Documents Required for Form I-20

The application for admission provides you with the opportunity to upload supporting documents to apply for Form I-20, the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. These supporting documents are not required for your application for admission to GW; your application will still be reviewed without them.

However, your admission to GW may be slightly delayed if you have not uploaded the documents. If you are admitted and have not included adequate evidence of financial support then you will receive a letter notifying you that you have been accepted, but an official offer of admission will not be sent until you provide the necessary documentation.

The Form I-20 process takes two to three weeks from when you accept admission if we have your completed documents.

For additional insight into the visa process, you can review our Steps to Obtain your Visa (PDF) guide.

To apply for an I-20, all students must submit:

The form must be correctly completed. The table on page 2 must be completed for the duration of your program (not just the first year). It must also be signed by you and/or your sponsor (if applicable).

  • Evidence of financial support

Bank statements must be provided from you and/or your sponsor (as applicable). More information can be found on the Graduate Admissions site.

  • Copy of the biographical page of your current passport
  • Copy of the Dependent Information form (if you are bringing a dependent)

Students who are currently in F-1 or J-1 status, or who have studied in the U.S. in the last 12 month, must also submit:

  • Copy of your I-94, front and back (if you are currently in the U.S.)
  • Copy of your previous I-20s and/or DS-2019s (pages 1 and 3)
  • Copy of your U.S. Visa
  • Copy of your employment care if you are on Optional Practical Training
  • Completed SEVIS transfer form (PDF) (if you are currently in the U.S.)

You do not have to provide these documents at the time of your application. If you send them to us after you apply, please email them to [email protected]. Please note your full name and date of birth in the email subject line.

Students requesting an I-20 or DS-2019 must arrange for express delivery (via FedEx, DHL, or UPS) through University Express Mail Services. You must use the University Express Mail Services website – do not go through the DHL, FedEx, or UPS website directly. The student is responsible for the cost of shipping the I-20 orDS-2019.

To use this service, you will be required to create your own user account with University Express Mail Services. To request a shipment, you will need your mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, GW ID number, and credit card information. You may request a shipment either to your foreign address, or to a U.S. address. If your documents will be delivered to someone other than you (such as a parent or friend), please include that person's name on the shipping label. Pay close attention to the information submitted, because any errors in the credit card information or shipping address information will delay of the delivery of your documents. When your documents are shipped to you, you will receive the package tracking information from University Express Mail Services.

If you experience any difficulty in registering and processing the shipment, please use the “Help” link at the University Express Mail Services website for step-by-step instructions. If you have additional questions about how to use this service, please e-mail [email protected].

Health Insurance

All international students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are required to have adequate health insurance. As a result, all students will be automatically enrolled in the George Washington University plan. You may apply to opt-out of this plan providing you have your own insurance plan and it meets all the university's minimum requirements. More information can be found on the Colonial Health Center website.


Resources for International Students

GW graduate 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.

English for Academic Purposes

English for Academic Purposes (EAP)

The EAP program helps international students who speak English as an additional language develop their academic and professional written communications skills.

International Services Office GWU

International Services Office (ISO)

ISO is the first stop for the GW international community and strives to eliminate administrative challenges for international students studying in the U.S.


Frequently Asked Questions

If you have additional questions that are not addressed, please call the Columbian College Office of Graduate Studies at 202-994-6210 or send an email to [email protected].

If you do not live in the United States or are from another country but are currently attending another U.S. institution, you are considered an international applicant and may need to submit additional information to apply.

Yes. This will not delay the application review process. If the faculty recommends your admission, we will contact you to request that you submit the Financial Certificate.

However, because the issuance of student visas is often a time-consuming process, the Financial Certificate and supporting documents should be submitted as soon as possible. You should complete the Source of Funds section of the certificate to the best of your current knowledge and ability.

If you will be totally dependent on the university for funding, you should still complete the certificate (leaving the Source of Funds section blank) and submit the certificate along with the necessary supporting documents.

Submitting your Financial Certificate early in the admissions process will allow us to expedite the approval of your I-20.

To have your TOEFL scores reported to us, you must provide the Educational Testing Service (ETS) with the institutional code (5246) for Columbian College.

TOEFL scores are required of all applicants who are citizens of countries where English is not an official language. 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. No other exceptions are made.

International students who have earned a degree from a university in an English-speaking country are not required to submit TOEFL scores. If admitted, however, those students may be required to take an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course.

Similarly, international students who score lower than 600 on the paper-based TOEFL or 100 on the internet-based TOEFL are required to take either EAP 6110 or EAP 6111. The TOEFL/IELTS score will determine which EAP course they are placed into.

If you have earned (or will earn) a degree in a country where English is the official language (e.g., the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, etc.), you are not required to submit TOEFL scores. You should have studied in that country full-time for at least one year before you begin at GW for your TOEFL to be waived. If you are admitted, however, you may be required to take the English as a Foreign Language placement test prior to enrolling at GW.

The minimum TOEFL score for admission to GW graduate programs is 80 on the internet-based test (IBT) or 550 on the paper-based test (PBT). However, many of our programs, especially PhD programs, have a higher minimum standard. Please review the program’s page in the GW Graduate Program Finder for additional information on TOEFL/IELTS scores.

International students applying for a graduate teaching assistantship or fellowship should submit an IBT score of 100 or above or a PBT score of 600 or above.


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