Application FAQs

Application and Admission

What is the application review process like?

Once you submit your application, it takes our office 1-2 weeks to process your application and materials. Once your application has been processed and completed, it is sent for review.

Your application will be reviewed holistically, so all of your materials (i.e., resume, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores if applicable) will be considered in evaluating you for both admission and fellowships.

How do I check the status of my application materials?

You can check to see the status of your application by logging into your portal. If you’re logging in on a mobile device, you’ll need to scroll down to see your checklist. If you’re on a computer, your checklist should appear on the side of your screen.

As your application is processed and materials are received, we will update your checklist so that you can see which items have been received and which are still outstanding. A status of 100% complete does not indicate that all materials have been received, but that your application has been submitted.

Please note that “unknown school” or “high school transcripts” checklist items are a technical glitch, so if those are populating in your checklist, there’s nothing you need to worry about.

How do I submit documents once my application is submitted?

You can email the documents to us at [email protected]. Make sure they are in pdf format.

Do you offer application fee waivers?

There are a variety of reasons that we offer application fee waivers. You can scroll down to the Application/Fee tab on this website for a list.

To request a fee waiver, wait until you’re ready to submit your application. Hit the “Submit and Pay” button, select “Fee Waiver” as your method of payment, and write in the reason for your request. Fee waiver requests typically take 1-2 business days to be reviewed. You’ll receive an email letting you know whether or not the waiver has been approved.

Can I defer admission?

We suggest that you apply for the semester in which you intend to enroll. We do have a deferral process that you can follow (below) if certain unforeseen circumstances arise, though you’ll need to formally request a deferral, and approval is not guaranteed.

You can only request to defer admission if you’ve been admitted to a program, but if you apply and need to change the start term on your application for any reason, just email [email protected].

The granting of deferrals is rare, but may be granted for a limited number of reasons such as the following:

1. Unique employment opportunity (including military orders)

2. Special fellowship program (Boren, Fulbright, etc.)

3. Family or medical emergency.

4. International students unable to obtain an F-1 visa, as long as they submitted all I-20 documents by the stated Elliott School deadlines (maximum of 1 semester deferral)

Deferral requests should be made in writing, to [email protected]. Please be aware, documentation will be required to support any request for a deferral and should be included in this email request. Students who cannot attend for reasons outside of the reasons above are encouraged to decline their offer of admission and reapply for a future semester.

Deferral requests should be made no later than May 1st for those admitted to a fall semester and no later than December 1st for those admitted to a spring semester. Deferral requests after these dates will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Students admitted to any of our degree programs (M.A., M.I.P.P., M.I.S.) may only request a one-semester or a one-year deferral. Deferrals will not be approved for more than one year.

If a deferral is granted, in addition to the nonrefundable $500 enrollment deposit, students granted a one-year deferral must submit an additional nonrefundable $500 deposit. This deposit for those deferring to a fall semester will need to be made no later than May 30th, and for those deferring to a spring semester, the deposit should be made no later than December 30th. Active duty U.S. military personnel and veterans are not required to submit a deposit.

A student's original Elliott School Fellowship decision will apply to the semester they defer to. This only applies to Elliott School Fellowships and America 2050 Fellowships; any other fellowships awarded will not defer with the student. Students who were not awarded an Elliott School Fellowship with their original admission will not be reconsidered for fellowships after deferring, and are encouraged to look for external sources of funding.

The deposit will be credited toward the student's first-semester tuition bill. However, should plans change and a student decides not to attend the Elliott School, they forfeit their deposit.

Please be aware that students admitted off the waitlist do not qualify for deferral approval.

Can I reapply to the Elliott School?

Yes. You will need to submit a new application, but you may be able to use letters of recommendation and transcripts that you’ve already submitted from your previous Elliott School application. 

Once you’ve created your new application, you can email [email protected] letting us know which materials you would like moved over.

Do you offer spring admission?

Yes. We have both fall and spring application cycles for all programs*. The spring semester fellowship deadline is October 1st, and the spring semester begins in mid-January.

*Please note that spring applicants to the M.A. in International Development Studies, M.A. in International Science and Technology Policy Studies, and M.A. in Middle East Studies programs must agree to complete the program over five semesters instead of four. This excludes summer sessions.

Who are Elliott School students?

Elliott School students come from a wide variety of backgrounds. To view some of our current student profiles, you can check out our blog. Additionally, if you’d like to get in touch with current students and alumni, you can fill out this form.

Do you admit undocumented applicants?

Citizenship is not required for admission to Elliott School programs. Please visit our applying as an undocumented student page.

What if I have personal life events or circumstances that have negatively impacted parts my application, such as past academic performance?

If you feel that personal life events or circumstances have negatively impacted parts of your application, feel free to include a Supplemental Statement (no more than one page) to explain the impact of the event or circumstances. The Supplemental Statement will be shared with our admissions committee to give context as part of our holistic admissions process.
Students submitting a Supplemental Statement should include the statement in the same PDF document as their Statement of Purpose, separating both documents by the title - Statement of Purpose and Supplemental Statement.

Should I consider taking the GRE or GMAT even if it is not required for the Elliott School?

The GRE is not required for any Elliott School programs. Not sending scores won't negatively impact your application in any way.

The following Elliott School programs are test-blind, meaning that GRE/GMAT scores are not accepted and will not be considered in the review process. Please do not submit scores if you are applying for a test-blind program:

  • M.A. in Asian Studies
  • M.A. in Global Communication
  • M.A. in International Affairs
  • M.A. in International Development Studies
  • M.A. in International Economic Policy
  • M.A. in Middle East Studies
  • Master of International Policy and Practice (MIPP)
  • Master of International Studies (MIS)
  • Graduate Certificate in Global Gender Policy
  • Graduate Certificate in International Science and Technology Policy
  • Graduate Certificate in Nuclear Policy

The following Elliott School programs are test-optional, meaning that we accept GRE/GMAT scores if you choose to send them:

  • M.A. in International Science and Technology Policy
  • M.A. in Security Policy Studies

Most students choose not to send scores unless they're looking to offset weaker portions of the application or unless the had to take the exam already for another program and performed well. Your application will be evaluated holistically with or without GRE/GMAT scores.

What is the average GPA for Elliott School students?

The average GPA of our most recent incoming class is 3.51. Please note that the Elliott School does not have a GPA requirement and that though 3.51 represents the average, students were admitted above and below it.

Do you require a writing sample?

We do not require a writing sample. We require a 500-word statement of purpose (and for MIPP applicants, a second 500-word essay), and you can find the requirements under the Statement of Purpose tab on our prerequisites & materials page.

What is your application process for transfer applicants?

Our application process is the same for all applicants and we do not have a separate application process for transfer applicants.  Please refer to our Prerequisites & Materials page for information about our application requirements.

Students are able to transfer up to 9 credits into Elliott School programs. Credits must not have been applied to other earned degrees. 

If you’re admitted and choose to enroll, you can work with your academic advisor to figure out which credits will transfer.

Can I obtain copies of my application materials, such as transcripts, statements of purpose, and recommendation letters?

We are unable to provide copies of application materials submitted to the Elliott School.  All application materials become the property of the George Washington University once they have been submitted and will not be returned to the student.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of students' education records. Admissions records, including application materials and decision information, fall under the category of education records covered by FERPA. 

Eligible students that wish to view application materials should submit to the University Registrar, Dean, Head of the academic department, or other appropriate official written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. 

To learn more about FERPA policies at GWU, you can visit the Office of the Registrar.


Do you offer full-tuition scholarships?

The Elliott School does not offer full-tuition fellowships.

Applicants who apply by our deadlines (October 1st for Spring and November 1/January 7th for Fall) are automatically considered. If you’re looking for additional funding, we would encourage you to apply for external fellowships as well, and we have a list of resources on our website that you can look through to start your search. This list is extensive but not exhaustive, as any external funding you apply for and receive can be used here.

It is highly recommended to start looking for funding at around the same time you’re applying for graduate school- if you wait until you receive an admissions decision, it may be too late as many fellowship application deadlines are far in advance.

Who is eligible for merit-based Elliott School Fellowships?

If you apply by our October 1st deadline for Spring or our November 1/January 7th deadline for Fall and indicate on the application that you wish to be considered for merit awards, you’ll be automatically considered for merit-based funding along with your application for admission.

The materials you submit for your application will be used to evaluate you both for admission and for funding, and review for both admission and funding is holistic.

What is the cost of graduate tuition?

Tuition is charged per credit hour rather than per program. This is because tuition goes up each year, and our programs can be completed either full or part-time, which means students pay different amounts each semester depending on both the cost per credit hour and the number of credits they are enrolled in.

Visit our Tuition and Fees page for more information. If you’re an international student looking to see how much funding you would need to show in order to request a visa, you can look under the Visa Information tab on our International Applicants page.

Will students admitted off of the waitlist be considered for Elliott School fellowships?

Students admitted off of the waitlist are not eligible for Elliott School graduate fellowships. If you are admitted off of the waitlist, we encourage you to explore other funding opportunities available on our Funding Graduate Studies page.

International Applicants

Do I need to take an English language proficiency test?

All international applicants who do not meet the exemption criteria outlined under our English Language Test Exemptions tab on the International Applicants page need to submit TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or Duolingo scores. Test scores cannot be more than 2 years old.

We unfortunately are unable to make any exceptions to this policy, even if you don’t meet the exemption criteria but extensively studied or worked using the English language. Our list of exemptions is based on a wide variety of factors, so having taken coursework in English won’t necessarily exempt you from having to take a proficiency test.

What are the institution codes for TOFEL and the GRE?


Can I work in the US while I am attending school?

International students are able to work on campus, but cannot work off-campus during their first year.

Letters of Recommendation

Who should submit my letters of recommendation?

Letters should come from faculty, supervisors, and others who know you well in an academic or professional setting. At least one letter should come from a faculty member who taught you in a class and can speak to your potential for rigorous graduate study. Recommendations submitted by the applicant are unofficial and will not be accepted.

Do my letters of recommendation have to come from two academic sources even if I have been out of school for a number of years?

We typically ask that at least one letter of recommendation come from an academic source. If you have two professional references, you can submit them and we’ll push them on for review, though there’s a possibility you’ll be asked for an academic reference later on. If that happens, we’ll reach out to you and assist you with changing your recommenders in your application. M.I.P.P. applicants are not required to submit an academic letter.

Can I submit additional letters of recommendation?

The committee will read two letters of recommendation only, so we would encourage you to pick the two references who you feel would best speak to your academic and professional abilities.

Can my recommenders send their letters electronically?

Yes. When you input your recommenders’ names and email addresses in your application, emails will automatically be sent to them with links to where they can upload their letters.

If your recommenders are having trouble using the links or are not receiving them, they can email their letters to us at [email protected].


I haven’t taken macro/micro economics yet and the program I’m interested in has an economics prerequisite. What are my options?

If you’re applying for spring admission, you’ll need to have completed the economics prerequisite coursework by the time you apply and submit documentation along with your application. If you haven’t taken macro and microeconomics yet, you’ll want to plan to complete the courses before applying. 

If you’re applying for fall, you can apply without having completed the economics courses and complete them over the summer if you’re admitted and choose to enroll. GW offers online summer economics courses so that’s an option you would have, but you can take the courses at any regionally accredited institution.

Please note that students applying for the M.A. in International Economic Policy (MIEP) program must have completed both introductory microeconomics and introductory macroeconomics courses at the time of application, regardless of the semester for which they are applying. More information about prerequisites for the MIEP program can be found on our Prerequisites and Materials page.

Does my International Political Economy or International Economics course meet the economics prerequisite?

Typically, any courses not specifically titled “Principles of (Micro/Macro) Economics,” “Introductory (Micro/Macro) Economics,” or “Introductory (Micro/Macro) Economic Theory” don’t meet our prerequisite. This is because courses that are related to economics but that don’t specifically cover macro and micro don’t go far enough in-depth when it comes to the basic macro and microeconomics concepts.

Here is a syllabus (PDF) from GW’s online Principles of Economics course that lists all of the topics you’ll need to know as an incoming student. If your “International Political Economy” or “International Economics” course covers these topics, you can send your syllabus to [email protected] and we can verify whether or not it meets our requirements.

Will a micro or macroeconomics course completed through Coursera or EdX meet the prerequisite?

No. You’ll need to enroll directly through a regionally accredited institution.

Local community colleges and universities would be acceptable and the courses can be taken in person or online, but you would need to enroll through the institution itself, not through Coursera or another online course platform.

Click here to view the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to see if the institution or program you plan to enroll in is regionally accredited or not.

Can I use AP Economics credit to meet the economics prerequisite?

No, AP credit cannot be used to meet the economics prerequisites. Combined Bachelor's/Master's applicants can contact [email protected] for more information.

Can I still be considered for a program if I don't meet the foreign language prerequisite?

If you don't have the prerequisite coursework or meet the prerequisite in another way, you can either apply to another program that doesn't require a language or wait to apply until you meet the prerequisite. You can find a list of our programs and prerequisites on our Prerequisites & Materials page.

Our programs that require a language prerequisite have a language exit exam that you’ll be required to pass prior to graduation.

I applied for a program but was notified that I didn’t meet the prerequisites. What are my options?

If you applied for a program and you don’t meet the prerequisites but you’re still interested in the Elliott School, you can switch your application to a new program or to a future semester. Just let us know by emailing  [email protected].

Programs and Courses

What is the difference between full-time and part-time graduate study and how long do I have to complete my program?

All Elliott School programs can be completed full or part-time.

Full-time study is 9 or more credits per semester (about 3-4 classes), and part-time study is anything less than that. If you study full time, the program will take a minimum of 2 years to complete. If you study part-time, you’ll have up to 5 years to complete the program.

What are the program options?

We offer a variety of master programs including 6 thematic programs, 2 regional programs, an accelerated mid-career program, a specialized degree for students who have attended one of our international partner schools, joint and dual degree programs, a combined Bachelor's/Master's program, and 3 certificate programs. 

Visit our master's programs page to find more information about our program offerings.

Do you offer evening courses?

All Elliott School courses are held after 5 PM ET. They typically meet once a week for about 2 hours.

Does the Elliott School offer opportunities to study abroad?

Study abroad opportunities can range from a few weeks to a full semester.

The Elliott School has a number of partner institutions, and up to 10 credits taken at a partner institution can transfer back directly into your Elliott School degree program. Students may also have opportunities to do research abroad as part of their Global Capstone project.

What are the opportunities for language learning while at the Elliott School?

There are a number of ways to keep up your language study while at the Elliott School.

First, any of the 3 professional skills credits built into our M.A. programs can be replaced with a 1-credit language course. You could also take extracurricular language courses through a DC-area nonprofit. The Global Language Network is a popular one started by a GW alum, and the courses are fairly low cost.

Additionally, Graduate Student Services, the central student hub at the Elliott School, hosts biweekly language lunches where you could practice your language with other students who are learning the same language as you.

If studying abroad is something you're interested in as a form of language study, you can incorporate study abroad into your curriculum as well.

Will the Elliott School help me find an internship?

Internships are not built into Elliott School degree programs, but if you’re admitted and choose to enroll, you will be assigned to a career coach who can help you through the career development process. Your career coach can help you edit your resume, locate employment and internship opportunities, and work toward your professional goals.

What are my career opportunities after I graduate?

Elliott School programs are very interdisciplinary, so each program could lead to a number of different career paths. You can check out our most recent graduate student employment data for a breakdown of where Elliott School alumni ended up by program and by sector.

Does the Elliott School offer online or hybrid course options?

The M.A. in Security Policy Studies program is available fully online for the U.S. National Security concentration only. Security Policy Studies students in other concentrations or completing their degree on-campus have the option to take some online classes if they are available.

The Master of International Policy and Practice program is available fully online, fully on-campus, or hybrid. 

All other programs are fully on-campus.


What is the difference between an official and unofficial transcript?

Official transcripts are transcripts sent to us directly from your university’s registrar. Anything you upload or send us yourself is considered unofficial.

Please check out our blog post on official vs. unofficial transcripts.

I studied abroad for a semester or two, do I need to submit a transcript from that institution?

We require that you submit transcripts from all institutions you've attended, including study abroad institutions. Transcripts in a language other than English must be translated to English prior to submission through a certified translation service. If the grades (not just credits) that you received from these courses appear on your degree transcript, you may qualify for a transcript waiver; however, we reserve the right to request a transcript from any institution you have attended. Costs for obtaining transcripts and translations (if applicable) are the responsibility of the applicant. Please review the "Transcripts" section of our Prerequisites & Materials page for our full transcript policy.

I transferred between one or more schools, do I need to submit transcripts from every institution?

We require that you submit transcripts from all institutions you've attended, including community colleges, non-degree courses, military training, and study abroad institutions. Transcripts in a language other than English must be translated to English prior to submission through a certified translation service. If the grades (not just credits) that you received from these courses appear on your degree transcript, you may qualify for a transcript waiver; however, we reserve the right to request a transcript from any institution you've attended. Costs for obtaining transcripts and translations (if applicable) are the responsibility of the applicant.  Please review the "Transcripts" section of our Prerequisites & Materials page for our full transcript policy.

Do you accept transfer credit?

Students are able to transfer up to 9 credits into Elliott School programs. Credits must not have been applied to other earned degrees. 

If you’re admitted and choose to enroll, you can work with your academic advisor to figure out which credits will transfer.

Do military or veteran applicants have to submit special transcripts?

Yes. All military and veteran applicants not in the Air Force are required to submit a Joint Services Transcript. The Air Force uses the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) transcript for documenting all college credit-worthy training received.

Air Force personnel should complete AF Form 2099, which is a request for a Community College of the Air Force transcript, at the base education office.

I took dual enrollment courses in high school. Do I need to submit a transcript from that institution?

Yes. You must submit transcripts from any institutions at which you took dual enrollment courses. Please review the "Transcripts" section of our Prerequisites & Materials page for our full transcript policy.

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