Living & Studying in Washington, D.C.




Living & Studying in Washington, D.C. 



As you research international affairs programs in Washington, D.C., it’s important to consider how location will enrich your experience. Outside the classroom, you’re going to spend a lot of time trying to meet influential leaders, connect with decision-makers, and practice skills that demonstrate the knowledge you’re building.  


Being in the right location can afford you top opportunities and give you a competitive edge. 


Whether you’re a D.C. expert or have never ridden the metro, as a student at the GW Elliott School of International Affairs, you’ll experience all the advantages of being located in the heart of D.C.’s power corridor.



Universities in Washington, D.C.: Understanding the Value of Location 

Working and studying can take up a lot of your time. You want to prioritize work-life balance,

minimize commuting between class, an internship, or work, and still have time to network and turn your ambitions into reality. With that in mind, consider these important factors in your graduate school search.


Campus proximity to policymakers and thought leaders

Although Washington has an abundance of professionals in international affairs, this doesn’t guarantee access. Look for an undergraduate or graduate school that is positioned to regularly invite world-shaping leaders and guest lecturers to its campus. At the Elliott School, we offer site visits to employers and info sessions with government agencies such as the CIA and the State Department. Plus, we host 300+ events annually so students can hear important speakers, ask questions, and be inspired. 

Examples of events you might attend, or speakers you might hear from include: 
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who delivered remarks on the Biden administration’s policy toward China. Afterwards, Blinken met with Elliott School students to discuss the policy as well as careers in the foreign service. 
  • A screening of the 9/11 documentary “Are We Safer Today,” followed by a panel discussion with members of the 9/11 Commission, including Elliott School faculty member and deputy director of the 9/11 Commission, Chris Kojm.
  • “Cracks in the Glass Ceiling: The Future of Women’s Leadership in International Affairs” — an event hosted by the Elliott School’s International Women of Elliott and moderated by Dean Alyssa Ayres. The event featured a panel of GW alumna, including Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent.

Cultural and intellectual experiences

From neoclassical monuments and buildings to impressive modern structures, you’ll be walking scenic streets and appreciating Washington, D.C.’s interesting architecture and historic neighborhoods. You’ll have daily access to edifying museums and emblematic memorials. Here you’ll find stimulating cultural and intellectual experiences at performing-arts venues, such as the Kennedy Center

Community engagement

It’s important to understand the depth of your university’s alumni network as you consider how you will interact with others in your field, outside of class. Many alumni of the Elliott School work in the district and regularly attendvolunteer at GW networking events, ready to connect motivated students with the right opportunities to engage with major players in the field. The Elliott School hosts 17 international affairs-related student organizations, offering more pathways to opportunities and a rich community experience.

Healthy Lifestyle

Washington, D.C.’s  temperate climate allows for outdoor activities year round. There are over 100 miles of bike lanes in the District — pretty impressive for a city that's only 68 square miles! Social sport leagues are plentiful and provide something for everyone, from kickball to cornhole.

Ease of transportation

How much of your day do you really want to spend commuting? And what is your preferred mode of transportation? Students attending the Elliott School typically:

  • Walk, bike, or scooter. GW students do it all — and you don’t even need to bring your own, with options like Capital Bikeshare and dockless scooters. Within a 5-10 minute walk from our campus are many of the key players in international affairs — USAID, World Bank, the White House, the Federal Reserve, Treasury, United States Institute of Peace, IMF, and the United Nations Foundation, just to name a few. 
  • Take the metro. The George Washington University has its own metro stop at Foggy Bottom-GWU, and is in easy walking distance to two other metro stops and dozens of bus stops. Full-time students can receive unlimited use of the metrorail and metrobus for a discounted, flat fee. 
  • Reserve a car. Of course, there are still plenty of car options available — from traditional taxis to mobile app-based alternatives, such as Uber or Lyft. 
  • Fly. We’re also conveniently located near both national and international airports, with a direct metro line to Reagan National and Washington Dulles International.




D.C.’s unique connection to the world 

When you pursue an international affairs degree in Washington, D.C., you’re doing more than just choosing a strong program. You’re choosing to live in one of the most important cities in the world for international relations. 

As an Elliott School student, you’ll be part of the action and in proximity to: 

  • Seat of the U.S. government, where you can observe and engage with history as its being made. 
  • Hub for international organizations, with opportunities for internships and work experiences doing things that matter. 
  • Center of think tanks and research institutions, including some of the world’s top think tanks that specialize in foreign policy and international affairs. 
  • Diplomatic community, being home to more than 175 embassies and ambassador residences.

A front-row seat: Why students choose international affairs programs in Washington, D.C. 

The Elliott School’s physical location is a major advantage for international affairs students. Here, you won’t have to worry about the cost of a rideshare to get across town — we’re just sidewalks away from key players and institutions. You’ll find many actors and initiatives, as well as cross-cutting issues in play. But you won’t just read or hear about what’s happening … you’ll be part of the action.


Internships and Job Opportunities

Most international affairs students pursue internships or work as a way of putting into practice the knowledge and skills they are learning in the classroom. In the afternoons and evenings, they enjoy a short walk or metro ride to campus, which is positioned close to some of the most sought-after opportunities in the district.  

Exposure to Diverse Perspectives

People from around the world come to live, work, and study in the District of Columbia. The result is a rich culture that is unique in its own right. You’ll have the chance to speak with individuals who will grow your worldview and perspective so that you can approach our world’s most complex issues with understanding and empathy. 

Quality of Life

While undergraduate and graduate students stay busy with work and study, many find value in balancing these pursuits with personal interests. Whether you consider yourself a foodie, outdoor enthusiast, music lover, or amateur historian, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Washington, D.C., as you recharge and live like a local. 


"I was drawn to the Elliott School because of its location, professors, and interdisciplinary style. In my first week of graduate studies, I walked past the Department of State and the Organization of American States in awe of the proximity between where I was studying international issues and where I could apply that knowledge"

Johanna Cajina
M.A. Latin American and Hemispheric Studies

Explore International Affairs Degrees in Washington, DC  


Learn more about the Elliott School’s undergraduate and graduate degrees and how our unique location in Washington, D.C. could advance your career in international affairs.