Dean's Scholars Program

About the Program

All the Deans Scholars standing together outside at the front the Elliott School, surrounding the schools sign that reads "Elliott School of International Affairs"

Dean’s Scholars is a selective two-year program for Juniors and Seniors in the Elliott School interested in expanding their knowledge of the field of international affairs. Students pursue an independent research topic of their choosing, interact with a variety of actors in the field, and strengthen valuable research, writing, and presentation skills. Through mentorship and personalized guidance, Dean’s 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 selects a faculty mentor with whom they work throughout the two years to design and execute their project. Dean’s Scholars also enroll in a sequence of three required research courses taught by program faculty and receive support and mentorship from them. 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 2024-2026 Dean’s Scholars cohort open in the spring semester. Applicants must completely fill out the application form and attach all required documents before the deadline. As a reminder, in order to be eligible, applicants must be students at the Elliott School of International Affairs, be juniors when they begin the program (applying as a sophomore), and have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Application Requirements include:

  • A letter of recommendation submitted by a former or current professor to [email protected]. The letter of recommendation should speak to your ability to succeed in a rigorous 2-year research program. Please have your recommender submit the letter before the deadline.
  • An unofficial transcript with your name and all courses clearly visible. 
  • A personal statement (max. 750 words) which includes relevant background information (such as personal, academic, professional experience, campus involvement, and service/volunteer work) and why you are interested in participating in this program. Describe your specific areas of interest for possible research (such as particular countries/regions and/or topics) and what led you to become passionate about these areas. Describe your career goals and how the program would help you reach these goals.
  • A writing sample of 2-5 pages from any of your coursework at GW that showcases your writing abilities. If the original paper is longer, please cut it down to no more than 5 pages to meet the requirement. We expect your sample to put forward a clear argument and synthesize evidence that supports this argument. You will be assessed on the thoughtfulness of your argument, how well you organize the paper in support of it, and the overall clarity of your writing.

We host Research Opportunities Information Sessions twice a year with more information about the program.

  • Fall session: Thursday, October 26, 2023 4:00-5:00 pm, ESIA room B12
  • Spring session: Thursday, March 7, 2024 4:00-5:00 pm, room TBD

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Maryam Z. Deloffre 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 – Scholars take a specialized section of the 3-credit IAFF 2101 Research Methods in International Affairs course (which fulfills the research methods course requirement). This version of the course is specifically tailored to the Dean’s Scholars program and supports students in designing their research project.

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 will present their research at conferences, submit their revised papers to peer-reviewed journals, and finish any fellowship applications during this semester. 

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

"I learned so much about myself, my skills and my professional interests by being a part of the Dean's Scholars program. I learned the importance of strong research abilities in almost every part of my personal and professional life. I encourage all college students to become involved in research, even if you aren't interested in pursuing academia as a career."

Zach Slotkin
Class of 2019

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 Director: Dr. Maryam Z. Deloffre

Maryam Z. Deloffre headshot

Maryam Z. Deloffre is an Associate Professor of International Affairs, Director of Dean’s Scholars and Director of the Humanitarian Action Initiative at the Elliott School of International Affairs and a Mercator Fellow at the DFG Research Training Group – Standards of Global Governance (Germany), and an Associate Senior Fellow at Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Universität Duisburg-Essen. Dr. Deloffre teaches the required research methods and seminar courses for the junior cohort and graduate level courses on humanitarian governance and locally-led humanitarian assistance.

Dr. Deloffre’s research focuses broadly on the dynamics of global and humanitarian governance, humanitarian standard-setting, humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGOs) accountability, and NGO power, legitimacy and agency, and has been published in International Studies Review, Review of International Studies, Global Health Governance, PS: Political Science and Politics, and as chapters in edited volumes. Deloffre earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a M.A. in International Relations at l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) in Paris, France, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the George Washington University.

Any Questions?

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