New Student Orientation

Your tenure as a graduate student at The George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) will soon begin. We want you to know one thing: You Got This! You have earned your place at this prestigious institution, and when you complete your degree, you will enter into a network of more than 310,000 alumni living and working in Washington D.C., all 50 states, and over 150 countries throughout the world.

Our orientation program is a series of "information bulletins" sent via email every week, containing all the information you need to prepare for your first semester at GW. Designed to provide the right information when you need it, our graduate student orientation series also encompasses tips from current students, live information sessions, chats with our student services staff, and reminders on academic policy and university processes.

Welcome from the Dean

To kick things off, please view the Dean of CCAS, Paul Wahlbeck’s welcome message to all new CCAS graduate students. 




Orientation Series Information

This series is designed to help you prepare for your arrival in D.C. and GW. We will be releasing timely and detailed information so you can begin the semester comfortably knowing that "You Got This!" You can view CCAS Dean Paul Wahlbeck's welcome message for all new graduate students through our Graduate Student Orientation Showcase.

Topic 1: Intro GSOS and Housing 

To kick off this series we have some resources on Housing. Many of you are relocating to Washington D.C. so we want to ensure you have all the information you need to find housing. GW offers plenty of resources to assist with finding off-campus housing for graduate students.

Check out the Off-Campus Student Affairs website for detailed information on how to find housing, local neighborhood information, tenant responsibilities, and safety. Visit the Off-Campus housing website for apartment listings as well as roommate searches. Watch this introductory housing video by one of our students, Mac Russ on our Graduate Student Orientation Showcase. The UPass program provides full-time students with unlimited use of Metrorail and Metrobus for a discounted, flat fee. More information can be found on the UPass website. If you haven't already, connect with other new students through our CCAS Graduate Admitted Students 2024-2025 Facebook page. Many students post helpful tips on finding housing in the D.C. area, or are looking for roommates themselves! Watch a recording of our Navigating DC: Living and Thriving in the Nation's Capital webinar. If you have any questions on housing, feel free to bring them to our webinar (more details below).

Topic 2: Don't Forget to Register! 

Now that you are committed to coming to GW, it's time to learn how to register for classes. To understand what classes are required for your degree program, please visit the GW Bulletin, which lists all required classes and electives. If you are not sure on which classes to take each semester, please discuss this with your program director (Director of Graduate Studies). For a full list of GW classes, please visit the schedule of classes.

Course Registration

Course registration is primarily completed through GWeb. Watch the How to Register video on our orientation showcase for directions on how to use GWeb to register for courses. There may be some instances in which you must register via a paper form. GW has two different paper registration forms; the RTF-EZ and RTF-Classic. For more detailed information on when you should use a paper registration form and which form you should use, please refer to our Registration web page.

There are some academic policies governing registration. The main policies you should be aware of are below:

  • All CCAS graduate students must be registered in at least 3 credits each Fall and Spring semester until all required credits have been taken for the degree program or you are on an approved Leave of Absence.
  • All CCAS graduate students must be continuously registered each Fall and Spring semester throughout their degree program. Students who are unable to attend during a Fall or Spring semester must apply for a Leave of Absence

Don't forget, in order to register you must have claimed your GW UserID


DegreeMAP is our online advising and degree auditing system. It will display the degree requirements for your program and apply your individual academic history, such as completed courses and transfer credits, to your degree requirements. DegreeMAP is your tool for monitoring and tracking your progress towards degree completion. You may access DegreeMAP through GWeb. We have also prepared a short Using DegreeMAP video to help you navigate DegreeMAP.

Student Tuition Bill

GW bills tuition by semester and statements are available approximately 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the semester (3-4 weeks for Summer). You will receive an email when your statement is ready and it is accessible through GWeb.

Payment for tuition is due no later than the first day of the semester and tuition is charged by credit hour at the tuition rate for your program. Tuition rates for the 2023-2024 year can be found on our Tuition and Living expenses page. You can watch a video walkthrough of your student bill on our orientation showcase.

Payment Methods

There are many different ways to pay your student account. Please visit the Student Accounts website for detailed information on payment options such as online and international payments. GW also offers a monthly payment plan, allowing you to spread your tuition payments out over the semester. Please visit the monthly payment plan website for more information. Enrollment in the monthly payment plan is open now. To take full advantage you should enroll before mid December.

Role of Your Academic Advisor

Every student has two academic advisors to help you navigate your graduate degree. The Student Services Coordinator is a staff member located within the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) is a faculty member located within your department. See the separation of duties below so you know who to reach out to with questions.

Student Services Coordinator

  • Processes restricted registration requests
  • Provides guidance on CCAS and GW academic policy
  • Audits academic progress
  • Processes CCAS and GW forms
  • Processes graduation clearances

Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)

  • Serves as your Academic Advisor and answers questions on curriculum and program requirements
  • Provides guidance on CCAS and GW academic policy
  • Creates your plan of study and assists with registration
  • Evaluates academic progress
  • Consults with student services coordinator on academic issues
  • Serves as main contact for program and department specific questions
Topic 3: Academic and Social Support Services

GW has a wide array of academic and social services to support your graduate school experience.

GW Bulletin and CCAS Website

The GW Bulletin is the official publication of all GW program offerings, academic policies, and university procedures. It is revised on an annual basis.

The CCAS Graduate Student page contains more in depth explanations of GW and CCAS academic policies and procedures. You can also download student forms, access our monthly Student Newsletter, and look for funding opportunities through this website.

The Academic Resources video on our orientation showcase shows you how to access these resources. If you need assistance with navigating GW and CCAS academic policies, you can schedule an appointment with your dedicated Student Services Coordinator.

GW Libraries and Academic Innovation

GW has 3 main libraries, the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library on the Foggy Bottom Campus, Eckles Library on the Mount Vernon Campus in Northwest DC, and the Virginia Science and Technology Library on the Ashburn campus in Virginia. Additionally GW is a member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Washington Research Libraries Consortium (WRLC).

GW Libraries also has the Academic Commons, a one-stop-shop for academic resources and services across the university. It offers a wide range of support such as tutoring, workshops, research positions, language support, academic software and technology and so much more!

Check out our library tour on our orientation showcase!

Writing Center

Gelman Library is also the location of GW's Writing Center. Writing Center staff can assist with all your writing needs and can work with you on writing papers, grant proposals, research reports, and more. You can find more information on services they provide on the Writing Center website.

CCAS Graduate Student Services Team

The CCAS Graduate Student Services Team is made up of dedicated Student Services Coordinators and Career Counselors. We are here to advise, guide, and provide you with resources to aid in your academic and career success, as well as help you navigate university policies and procedures. Watch the Student Services Team welcome video for new CCAS graduate students, or feel free to schedule an appointment with your Student Services Coordinator. You can also send us your questions to [email protected]. We look forward to seeing you on campus!

Career Services

GW and CCAS offer a wide range of tools to help graduate students on the path to their future careers. The CCAS Office of Graduate Studies has dedicated Career Counselors to assist with your career goals. All CCAS graduate students have access to resources, tools, and services that support all aspects of their career development. Graduate students also have access to Handshake, an online career management platform that offers an intuitive internship and job search system, listings of hundreds of career-enhancing events, and an extensive resource library. Group workshops and one-on-one career coaching sessions are also available.

View the introductory video on CCAS Career Services on our orientation showcase, or visit our Graduate Student Career Services website for more information!

International Services Office

The International Services Office (ISO) supports our international student community. ISO advisors can assist with immigration requirements, such as your I-20, DS-2019, OPT, and CPT. The ISO has a mandatory orientation for all new students on Tuesday, January 9, 2024. More information can be found on the ISO website.

Student Organizations

Student organizations are one of the best ways to get involved on campus. GW has more than 500 active student organizations! Can't find what you are looking for, then you can form your own organization. Visit the Student Organizations website for more information.

Sustainable GW

The George Washington University envisions a future with healthy and thriving resource systems for all. In an effort to enhance our campus, the nation's capital, and the world at large, GW is building a greener campus, providing research and intellectual discourse on policies and technologies for sustainable systems, and equipping students with the skills and knowledge to contribute to a sustainable future. As part of these efforts, the GW Office of Sustainability supports a number of programs for students, including sustainability-focused student organizations, courses related to sustainability, campus compost collection, the GroW Community Garden, and various events throughout the year. Find out more by visiting the Sustainable GW website.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Columbian College is committed to creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for its students, faculty, staff and other members of our community. Watch the introductory video to learn more about the Columbian College Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Meet a Graduate Student Ambassador

Want to know what it's like to be a graduate student at GW? You can ask a Graduate Student Ambassador! Watch an Ambassador's introduction video to get to know her a bit better, and feel free to reach out to [email protected] with any questions you might have about life as a GW graduate student.

What else should I be thinking about right now?

GWorld Card

Your GWorld Card is your university student identification card but is also used to access on-campus buildings, print documents at the printing stations, access the library etc. You must be registered in at least one course to obtain your GWorld card. You can visit the GWorld office on the Foggy Bottom campus to obtain your card or you can upload a photo online and have your card ready to pick up. You must provide an acceptable photo ID for both options. We strongly recommend you obtain your Student ID before the first week of class.


Topic 4: Navigating DC and Campus Security

If you are new to the Washington D.C. area, we have some tips below on navigating the city. It is also a good time to sign up for Campus Advisors, GW's alert system, so you are kept up to date with incident and non-incident related information for the GW community.


GW's Foggy Bottom Campus is conveniently located in the heart of Washington, D.C., close to three major airports, including Ronald Reagan Washington National, Washington Dulles International and Baltimore Washington International, as well as to Union Station where you can take the bus or train. Public transportation is at your doorstep with the Foggy Bottom/GWU Metrorail stop on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines located right on campus.

Check out our Getting Around D.C. video on our orientation showcase.

Mt. Vernon Campus Shuttle

If you are taking classes at our Mt Vernon campus, GW has a free shuttle service from the Foggy Bottom campus to the Mt Vernon campus. Affectionately known as The Vern Express, shuttles are available 24/7 leaving every 15 minutes during the day.

Metro UPass

GW has joined the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's UPass program, providing full-time students with unlimited use of Metrorail and Metrobus for a discounted, flat fee. More information on the UPass program can be found on the UPass website.

Campus Tours

If you haven't taken a tour of campus, In-person tours are available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Virtual tours are also available on each of our campuses.


While students are encouraged to use public transport, student parking is available on campus. Graduate Assistants are eligible for a discounted monthly parking pass. More information on parking fees and garage locations can be found on the Parking website.


GW utilizes a number of tools to keep the GW community informed of emergency situation and safety-related information. A list of these tools are below. We strongly encourage you to sign up if you have not done so already.

Campus Advisories, GW's Alert System

The Campus Advisories website is used for communicating emergency preparedness and incident-related information. You can visit this site for updates on the university status, adverse weather conditions, important issues concerning safety, and anything else that may disrupt normal university operations.

GW Alert

GW Alert is the university notification system which sends emergency alerts via email and text messages. Please ensure you keep your contact information up-to-date so you receive these alerts. Instructions and FAQs on the GW Alert system can be found on the Safety website.

GW Guardian

GW Guardian is a smart phone app that supports the GW Alert systems. The app enables users to receive targeted advisories even when off campus. You can also connect with GW Police and EMeRG, access a directory of key phone numbers and websites, set safety times, and other features.. Find more information on the GW Guardian website.

For more information on GW Safety, including information on creating emergency plans, building an emergency kit, and GW's emergency response handbook, check out the GW Safety and Facilities website. You will also find information on safety tips from GW Police, the Office of Advocacy and Support, and training opportunities.


EMeRG is GW's emergency medical response group. It is student run and operated by volunteers.

Check out the EMeRG website for more information including CPR classes and joining their team.


Topic 5: Student Health and Well-being

If you are new to the Washington D.C. area, we have some tips below on navigating the city. It is also a good time to sign up for Campus Advisors, GW's alert system, so you are kept up to date with incident and non-incident related information for the GW community.

Lerner Health and Wellness Center

The Lerner Health and Wellness Center is GW's campus recreation center. and provides students with access to various programs that promote health and fitness. Work out in our state-of-the-art fitness center, take a group fitness class, or weight train with a personal trainer. Most importantly, students are encouraged to have fun and build sustainable and positive health habits that will stay with them for a lifetime. The Lerner Health and Wellness Center is open for students whose programs are at the foggy bottom campus.

Check out a quick tour of the Learner Health and Wellness Center on our Orientation showcase.

Student Health Center (SHC) 

The Student Health Center assists students who are seeking medical, psychiatric, counseling, and psychological services. The staff of the Student Health Center, consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and registered nurses, is dedicated to providing accessible, high quality medical care to you during your time at GW. This includes preventive services, evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic medical illnesses, and health education. In-person and telehealth appointments are available.

Counseling and Psychological Services

CAPS serves GW students and engages the entire GW community, working to build a culture of support and connection with student well-being. They support mental health and personal development by collaborating directly with students to overcome challenges and difficulties that may interfere with academic, emotional, and personal success. More information on services available can be found on the CAPS website.

Immunization Requirements

The District of Columbia requires all students under the age of 26 to provide proof of certain immunizations prior to registration. The cut-off date for Spring 2024 was December 1, 2023. Therefore, if you turned 26 after December 1, 2023, then you MUST submit proof of your immunizations. More information on the type of immunizations required and the process of submission can be found on the Student Health Center Immunization website.

Student Health Insurance (GW SHIP)

GW offers a comprehensive Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) with Aetna Student Health. Effective Fall 2023, all students will automatically be enrolled in GW SHIP for the 2023-2024 academic year. If you already have an acceptable health insurance plan, you have the option to waive out of GW SHIP.

More information can be found on the GW SHIP website and the University Health Plans website.  

Watch Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) Webinar

Disability Support Services (DSS)

GW is committed to providing equal access for all students. That access is often facilitated through the implementation of formal disability accommodations. Please register with DSS to ensure that your accommodations are appropriately and efficiently communicated to the faculty and other necessary parties. More information can be found on the Disability Support Services website.

Other Services

Additional health and wellness resources available at GW include the CARE TeamThe Title IX Office, and The Store. More information on other initiatives can be found on the Student Life website.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at [email protected] or call 202-994-6210


Topic 6: You Got This! - Almost There

GWorld Card

You must have a GWorld card to access certain GW buildings. You can obtain your GWorld card from the GWorld Card Office, located in the University Student Center, which is open to the public. You must be registered in at least one course to obtain a GWorld card. There can be long lines to obtain your card during the week prior to the start of classes so we strongly recommend you obtain it sooner, if possible.


Don't forget to register for class! If you aren't sure on what classes to register for, please reach out to your program's Director of Graduate Studies. Watch the How to Register video on our orientation showcase for directions on how to use GWeb to register for courses.

Counseling and Psychological Services

CAPS serves GW students and engages the entire GW community, working to build a culture of support and connection with student well-being. They support mental health and personal development by collaborating directly with students to overcome challenges and difficulties that may interfere with academic, emotional, and personal success. More information on services available can be found on the CAPS website.

Helpful Tips Videos

Our student ambassadors have some tips for what to do when you get to campus and how to navigate the first week of classes. View their videos on our orientation showcase.

GW Bookstore

Visit the GW Bookstore to find required textbooks for your courses. If textbooks are required, you may choose to purchase or rent them online from the bookstore. Note that you cannot purchase textbooks directly at the bookstore, you must order them online first.

Many textbooks are also available to checkout from GW Libraries.

Updating Personal Details

Don't forget to update your personal information, especially your current address, before the start of the semester.

You can use the Biographical Updates Form to update your legal name, SSN, date of birth, address and legal sex. If you have relocated to Washington, D.C., please ensure that you update your current address.

You also have the opportunity to use a chosen name within the GW platform. Instructions on entering a preferred name, as well as pronouns, can be found on the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement website. Please note some university documents must use your legal name including official transcripts, payroll and tax documents etc. Updating your legal name can be done through the Biographical Updates Form.

GWorld Card Account

You may add cash to your GWorld card account for convenient purchasing and discounts on and off campus. You may use cash stored on your account to pay for vending machines, on-campus parking, meals at over 90 campus dining partners, books, event tickets and more. More information on GWorld card accounts can be found on the GWorld Card Office website.

GW Printing

All students are provided with a $30 printing credit at the start of the semester. You can use these credits at any printing kiosk on campus. Visit the Printing website for more information, including all kiosk locations.

FREE Microsoft Office 365

As a GW student you may download Microsoft Office 365 for free! Visit the GW IT website for more information.

Outstanding Official Transcripts

If you have received an email that you have outstanding official transcripts, please ensure you either have them emailed directly through your institution to [email protected] or bring them into the office (in a sealed envelope) when you are on campus. More information can be found on our Official Transcript Requirements website.

Orientation Events


In this webinar, we go over the new student checklist and CCAS Graduate Student Handbook to ensure you are prepared for the start of the semester. There is also a question and answer session with members of our Student Services Team.

Watch Webinar Recording

Frequently Asked Questions

The CCAS Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) understands that you have questions about beginning your studies and that you require information to make informed decisions about your personal and academic plans. We hope this FAQ will help. For more information, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page

Academic and Campus Life

How do we get access to Handshake?

Access will be granted by Career Services. You must be registered in at least one class to gain access.

How many years do Master's students have to complete their degree?

All students, regardless of their program, have a time limit to complete degree requirements.  All Master's programs have 4 years.  More information on time limits can be access on our Time to Degree website

How do I know who my academic advisor is?

A list of academic advisors or DGS's can be viewed on our contact us website.

Is DegreeMAP something that will pop up later, when school starts?

All students have access to DegreeMAP once you have created a NetID. Please visit the CCAS Orientation website to view a video for steps on how to access your DegreeMAP.

Do the libraries provide access to online journal and journal databases, like JStor, Sage Pubs, etc.?

Yes, GW libraries provide online journal databases.

How do I get a GWorld Card?

You may visit the GWorld Office during business hours to get your card. Students must be in compliance with GW's vaccine requirement prior to arriving on campus. More information can be found here.


Housing and Healthcare

Can I jump on a GW healthcare plan or something similar?

Any student can participate in the GW health plan. To enroll visit the Colonial Health website.

What are some suggestions you have if we are struggling to find affordable housing?

The Office of Off Campus Student Affairs is a great resource for finding housing.


Transportation and Parking

Can GW students access a metro/bus pass at a reduced price?

The George Washington University has joined the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) U-Pass program, providing full-time students with unlimited use of Metrorail and Metrobus for a discounted, flat fee. More information is available here

Is there student parking available at the Corcoran?

No parking is available at the Corcoran building, however, parking is available nearby.  More information can be found on the GW Parking website.

Are there shuttles to the Mt. Vernon campus?

Yes. More information can be found on The Mount Vernon Express website.



When will student tuition bills be released and when are they due?

Student accounts will release Spring bills in late November. Payment is due before the start of the semester (January 11).

Fall bills will be released in late July. Charges Due the first day of classes (Monday, August 30, 2021)

Does GW have a monthly payment plan?

Yes.  Student accounts offers a monthly payment plan.  More information can be found on the Student Accounts website.

How are consortium classes billed?

All consortium classes are billed by the home school and will be charged per the home school rates.  Therefore as a GW student you will be billed by GW at the GW credit hour rate.

Is there an enrollment deposit?

Yes. You must submit a non-refundable $250 enrollment deposit. The deposit will be credited to your student account and applied toward your tuition for the first semester. PhD, Combined Degree, and Classical Acting MFA students are not required to submit a deposit. See instructions for paying your tuition deposit.

If I drop out after the first day of the semester will I still have to pay for those classes?

Courses dropped prior to the first day of the semester will result in a 100% refund. Courses dropped on or after the first day are subject to the refund schedule. The schedule details the way in which the tuition and fees will be prorated should a student drop courses or withdraw completely. Drop penalties are non-refundable.