Flex-Start Program

For Elliott School Graduate Students

Flex-Start, GW Elliott on a blue background

Starting Fall 2020, GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) will be offering all admitted graduate degree students across all MA, MIS and MIPP programs the ability to start their degree online through the Flex-Start program. The Flex-Start program is ideal for admitted students who were admitted to an in-person program and will now be taking courses online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who participate in the Flex-Start program will be able to take a regular full-time or part-time course-load online during the Fall 2021 semester and then continue their studies in-person in Washington, DC starting in the Spring 2022 semester (provided the public health situation permits, they complete their Fall 2021 courses in good academic standing, and in the case of international students, they receive a valid F-1 visa prior to the start of the spring semester).

These Flex courses are built on the high-quality tradition founded by our fully online graduate program for mid-career-level professionals, the Master of International Policy and Practice.  Students in this program value their online learning experience, rating its quality as equivalent to that of our face-to-face courses, and often even more highly.


“Weekly sync sessions are a great way to keep up the course and really allow sharing of knowledge and ideas. Enabling the students to virtually gather and discuss the material has been incredibly beneficial. The instructor does a great job of facilitating discussion as well.”



“Great professor, great weekly videos, great layout for the course.”



“I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this course. I was skeptical of the online component but the small group size allowed it to be very manageable and thoughtful. It was dynamic, engaging and I learned a great deal about very interesting subjects."


All graduate programs at the Elliott School will participate in our unique online-course building process, in which professors work with our in-house Instructional Design team to present cutting-edge course content through innovative pedagogical approaches that ensure the courses mirror the quality and content of on-campus courses.  Cornerstone and other core courses are designed in accordance with our Quality Matters rubric, which is fully integrated in our online programming. In addition, faculty are trained in individualized workshops to help identify nuances to be captured in each particular course. Students are not subjected to a “one-size-fits-all” approach; rather, the courses are produced with a view to maintaining the same student experience online as they would have in-person Elliott School classes. 

Below you will find samples of our studio-produced videos with our expert faculty, which supplement live-sync sessions and asynchronous assignments:

Who is eligible to participate in the Flex-Start Program? 

All admitted ESIA graduate students beginning their studies in Fall 2021 are eligible to participate in the Flex-Start Program.

The program is designed for students who have been admitted to the following on-campus master’s degree programs for the Fall 2021 semester, but who will now be taking online courses due to the school’s transition to online learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Master of International Policy and Practice
  • Master of International Studies
  • Master of Arts in Asian Studies
  • Master of Arts in European and Eurasian Studies
  • Master of Arts in Global Communication
  • Master of Arts in International Affairs
  • Master of Arts in International Development Studies
  • Master of Arts in International Economic Policy
  • Master of Arts in International Science and Tech Policy
  • Master of Arts in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies
  • Master of Arts of Middle East Studies
  • Master of Arts of Security Policy Studies

Students should review their admissions letter and contact the Office of Graduate Admissions and Student Services at [email protected] if they have any questions about the ability to complete any required prerequisite courses in the first semester.

Will I still receive an I-20 form for the Fall 2021 semester if I participate in Flex-Start?

Students who enroll in the Flex-Start program will receive an I-20 form from GW. Students will begin the I-20 request process in October 2021 and receive an I-20 to arrive to campus for the Spring 2022 semester by January 11, 2022. Students should contact [email protected] with any questions related to I-20’s and visas.

I’m interested in learning more about the Flex-Start Program option. Where can I find out more information?

If you have any additional questions about the Flex-Start program or would like to learn more about the program, please send an email to [email protected] and an administrator from the ESIA Office of Graduate Admissions will follow up with additional information. If you have any questions about specific courses and the online format, please reach out directly to the faculty member.

How (if at all) will the flex-start program impact the length of time it takes to complete my program?

Students taking part in the flex-start are still be able to complete their program within the standard timeline. You can still take nine credit hours, which is considered full-time, during the Fall semester. Some students may also choose to add additional credits in future semesters, which is quite common.

Is tuition the same for online and in person classes?

Yes, Elliott School online courses are designed to provide the same level of personal interaction as on-campus classes and are taught by the same acclaimed faculty. In addition, online students have the same access to the academic advising and career coaching from our Graduate Student Services.

Are online classes pre-recorded lectures or are they interactive?

Our online courses are designed to be highly interactive. During the regular weekly course time, professors will hold live synchronous sessions giving you an opportunity to interact with both the instructor and your classmates. Students should expect that courses may vary in terms of instruction and design.

What is the deadline to enroll in the flex program?

There is no separate enroll process for the flex-start program. Students looking to take classes online during their first semester should follow the same registration instructions.


“It has been a great experience and I hope this class offering is repeated for future students. It was great to have such a substantive course offered online."