Dean's Scholars Program

About the Program

Graphic: dean's scholars students pose outside the Elliott School building

Dean’s Scholars is a two-year program for Juniors and Seniors in the Elliott School interested in expanding their knowledge of the field of international affairs. It allows selected students to research a topic in which they are interested, to interact with a variety of actors in the field, and to strengthen valuable research, writing, and presentation skills. Through mentorship and personalized guidance, our scholars are offered the support and tools they need to build valuable professional connections, to pursue their passion for research, and to explore fellowship opportunities relevant to their interests.

Each student will select a faculty mentor and work with their mentor throughout the two years to design and execute their project. They will also attend a sequence of three required research courses taught by the Associate Director of the program and receive support and mentorship from him. Additionally, students in the program participate in exclusive Dean’s Scholars events and receive financial support to offset some of their research expenses.

Application Information

Applications for the 2022-2024 cohort of Dean's Scholars are now closed. The next round of applications for the following cohort of Dean's Scholars will open in January 2023. Research opportunities sessions with more information about the program take place in November and February every academic year. The Dean's Scholars also present their work every April in the Dean's Scholars Symposium, so this is a great opportunity to learn more about the program. If you have any questions, you can reach out to Dr. Alex Cromwell at [email protected].


We welcome applications from sophomore students with strong academic records. Previous experience conducting independent research is not required.

Applicants must:

  • Be students at the Elliott School of International Affairs,
  • Be a junior when they begin the program, 
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.

General Program Schedule

Junior Fall Semester – IAFF 2101: Research Methods in International Affairs – Scholars take a 3-credit research methods section specifically tailored to the Dean’s Scholars program where they will design their research project. Students also learn about fellowship opportunities and receive guidance on how to apply for them.

Junior Spring Semester – Scholars take a 1-credit seminar where they refine their project proposals, prepare data collection materials, and obtain approval through GW’s Institutional Review Board before conducting their research.

Junior Summer Semester – Scholars conduct their fieldwork and begin data analysis.

Senior Fall Semester – Scholars take a 3-credit WID course where they analyze their data and write-up their research papers. Most fellowship applications will be due during this semester.

Senior Spring Semester – Scholars present their research at conferences, submit their revised papers to peer-reviewed journals, and finish any fellowship applications.

For a more detailed breakdown of the program schedule, please visit the Dean’s Scholars Curriculum page.


"The Dean's Scholars program is Elliott's premier undergraduate research experience. Outstanding students will learn and apply state-of-the-art research methods and complete a piece of original research; this experience, together with the mentorship they receive along the way, will position them to be highly competitive in selective fellowship and graduate school applications."

Dr. Tobias Greiff 
Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

Program Benefits

Small group research class


Small group research class that allows collaborative and in-depth learning.

Customized curriculum


Customized curriculum that guides each student through the data collection and writing processes.

Financial Support


Financial support to be used for research travel, materials, and expenses.

publication guidance


Scholars will learn about various outlets for publishing their research and receive hands-on support in the publication process.

Academic Conferences


Presentation of research at academic conferences.

professional networking


Chance to meet practitioners, researchers, and professionals through an exclusive Dean’s Scholars event series.


Deans Scholars class - professor and the rest of the class listens as a student answers a question

Meet the Associate Director: Dr. Alexander Cromwell

Dr. Alexander Cromwell

Alexander Cromwell is a Professorial Lecturer and the Associate Director, Dean’s Scholars and Experiential Learning at the Elliott School. In this role, he teaches the three required research methods courses in the Dean’s Scholars sequence and the internship-for-credit professional development pilot course. He also teaches conflict resolution at the graduate and undergraduate level and a short-term abroad course to Southeast Asia.

Cromwell’s research focuses on education in conflict contexts, and he has conducted research on the impact of encounter-based peace education programs with Pakistani, Afghan, Indonesian, and US youth. His work has been published in the International Journal of Educational Development, the Journal of Peace Education, Action Research, and in an edited volume. He has over 10 years of experience with youth programming, and has worked with groups from the Middle East, South and Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States. For the past few years he has served as a peacebuilding facilitator for Project Common Bond, a camp that works with youth who lost a family member through war, terrorism, or violence. He previously taught courses at American University and George Mason University, where he received his PhD in Conflict Resolution.

Any Questions?

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Alexander Cromwell, Associate Director of the Dean’s Scholars Program, at [email protected].