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 2023-2025 Dean’s Scholars cohort are now open! Applicants must completely fill out the application form and attach all required documents before Friday March 31, 2023 by 11:59 pm. 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 March 31st deadline.
  • An unofficial transcript with your name and all courses clearly visible. Further instructions for uploading an unofficial transcript can be found on the Google Form application above.
  • A personal statement (max. 750 words) describing yourself and your passion(s) related to International Affairs. This personal statement should include 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. Please also tell us your career goals and how the program would help you in working toward these goals.
  • A writing sample from any of your coursework at GW that showcases your writing abilities. The sample can be between 2-5 pages. 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 will have a Research Opportunities Information Session in February (exact date TBD) with more information 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 – 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. 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 will present their research at conferences, submit their revised papers to peer-reviewed journals, and finish any fellowship applications during this semester. Scholars can take an optional 1-credit course to support them in presenting and publishing their research.   

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 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 and optional publication course in the Dean’s Scholars sequence. Other courses he teaches include Conflict and Conflict Resolution at the undergraduate level and Global Inquiries and Global Insights for the Global Bachelor's Program. He has also previously taught the internship professional development seminar and short-term abroad courses traveling 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 International Studies Perspectives, the International Journal of Educational Development, Compare, the Journal of Peace Education, Action Research, and in edited volumes. 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].