Frequently Asked Questions

Application and Admission

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.

You can check to see the status of your application by logging into your portal at 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.

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

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.

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.


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 US 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.

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 ESIA application. 

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

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.

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

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

The GRE is not required for any Elliott School programs. If you send scores we'll accept them, though not sending scores won't negatively impact your application in any way.

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

The average GPA of our most recent incoming class is 3.46. Please note that the Elliott School does not have a GPA requirement and that though 3.46 represents the average, students were admitted above and below it.

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.


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.

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.

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.

International Applicants

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.

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

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.

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. MIPP applicants are not required to submit an academic letter.

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.

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].


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.

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.

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.

What we're looking for with the foreign language prerequisite is coursework up through the upper-intermediate level. If you don’t have upper-intermediate level coursework prior to applying, you won't be eligible to be considered for the program.

If you don't have the prerequisite coursework, you can either apply to another program that doesn't require a foreign 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.

While you are able to keep up with language study while you’re enrolled, our programs that require a foreign language prerequisite have a foreign language exit exam that you’ll be required to pass prior to graduation.

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

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.

We offer a variety of master programs including 6 thematic programs, 4 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, and 3 certificate programs. 

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

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

About 58% of students study abroad during their time at the Elliott School. 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.

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 MA 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.

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.

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 report (PDF) for a breakdown of where Elliott School alumni ended up by program and by sector.


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.

If the course names, as well as the credit earned and the grade received in each course, appear on your bachelor’s transcript, then you don’t need to submit a transcript from your study abroad institution. If this information does not appear on your bachelor’s transcript, then we’ll need a separate transcript from your study abroad program.

If the course names, as well as the credit earned and the grade received in each course, appear on your bachelor’s transcript, then you don’t need to submit a transcript from your other institution(s). If this information does not appear on your bachelor’s transcript, then we’ll need separate transcripts.

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.

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.

Helpful Links!

Contact Graduate Admissions
Office of Graduate Admissions
1957 E Street NW, Suite 301
Washington, D.C. 20052
Phone: (202) 994-7050