George Washington University
#62 Overall Influence#76 Desirability Rank

George Washington University

University in Washington, D.C.

By James Barham, PhD

George Washington University (GWU) was founded in 1821, under the name of Columbian College, by an act of the US Congress, signed by President James Monroe.

In 1873, the university underwent an expansion, changing its name to Columbian University. In 1904, it assumed its present name, and in 1912 it moved its campus to its present location in the Washington neighborhood of Foggy Bottom.

Today, GWU consists of 14 colleges and schools, including the:

  • Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (considered to be the direct descendant of the original Columbian College founded in 1821)
  • Elliott School of International Affairs
  • Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration
  • George Washington University Law School
  • Corcoran School of the Arts and Design

Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank operate out of offices located on GWU’s main campus in Foggy Bottom, just blocks away from the White House and the US State Department.

With a student body topping 27,000, GWU is the largest university located in the United States’ capital city.

As might be expected, many GWU-connected students and faculty have been prominent in the public life of the United States and other countries.

For example, we may note the following well-known GWU alumni:

  • Current US Attorney General, William Barr
  • Political consultant, former US Presidential Counselor, Kellyanne Conway
  • Founding Director of the CIA, Allen Dulles
  • Former US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles
  • Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister and Ambasador to US, Abba Eban
  • Current US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper
  • Former US Senator, J. William Fulbright
  • Current President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé
  • Current President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
  • Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó
  • Founding Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover
  • Former US Senator, Daniel Inouye
  • Former President of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak
  • Former US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State, Colin Powell
  • Former US Senator, Harry Reid
  • Former President of South Korea, Syngman Rhee
  • Former President of Georgia,mMikheil Saakashvili
  • Former Prime Minister of Mongolia, Chimediin Saikhanbileg
  • Political correspondent, Director of GWU School of Media and Public Affairs, Frank Sesno
  • Lawyer, judge, university president, and special prosecutor of Bill Clinton impeachment investigation, Kenneth W. Starr
  • Current US Senator and candidate for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren

Of special interest is GWU Law School graduate Belva Ann Bennett, who in 1879 became the first woman authorized to argue cases before the US Supreme Court. Also, sitting US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas formerly lectured at the GWU Law School.

Among GWU-connected individuals in the STEM disciplines, we may mention:

  • Biochemist, Nobel laureate, Julius Axelrod
  • Physicist, George Gamow
  • Physicist, Nobel laureate, Masatoshi Koshiba
  • Physiologist, Nobel laureate, Ferid Murad
  • Biochemist, Nobel laureate, Marshall Nirenberg
  • Physicist, Edward Teller
  • Biochemist, Nobel laureateVincent du Vigneaud

Other GWU-associated individuals include:

  • Actor, Karen Allen
  • Actor, Alec Baldwin
  • Sociologist, Amitai Etzioni
  • Novelist, Edward P. Jones


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


IncomeAverage Net Cost

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


2121 I Street, NW, Washington DC 20052

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

46 per 100k

Violent Crime

11 per 100k

What is George Washington University known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#15 World Rank #12 USA Rank
#27 World Rank #16 USA Rank
#19 World Rank #17 USA Rank
#28 World Rank #23 USA Rank
#29 World Rank #23 USA Rank
Political Science
#47 World Rank #31 USA Rank
#46 World Rank #33 USA Rank
#80 World Rank #37 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#51 World Rank #43 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#75 World Rank #52 USA Rank
#99 World Rank #52 USA Rank
#172 World Rank #60 USA Rank
#126 World Rank #66 USA Rank
#134 World Rank #73 USA Rank
Computer Science
#167 World Rank #79 USA Rank
#211 World Rank #81 USA Rank
#161 World Rank #84 USA Rank
#148 World Rank #88 USA Rank
#205 World Rank #99 USA Rank
#241 World Rank #103 USA Rank
#296 World Rank #109 USA Rank
#361 World Rank #130 USA Rank
#416 World Rank #242 USA Rank
Social Work
#1187 World Rank #366 USA Rank
Earth Sciences

Influential People

Who are George Washington University's Most influential alumni?

George Washington University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Nursing, Communications, and Law. George Washington University’s most academically influential people include L. Ron Hubbard, Bob Woodward, and Glenn Greenwald.

L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard

American science fiction author and the founder of the Church of Scientology

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Bob Woodward
Bob Woodward

American journalist

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Glenn Greenwald
Glenn Greenwald

American journalist, lawyer and writer

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Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Ames

Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst

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Anwar al-Awlaki
Anwar al-Awlaki

Yemeni-American imam

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Billy Mitchell
Billy Mitchell

United States Army general during World War I

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David Lynch
David Lynch

American filmmaker, visual artist, and musician

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Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin

American actor, writer, producer, and comedian

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Lester Frank Ward
Lester Frank Ward

American sociologist and paleontologist

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Roger Stone
Roger Stone

American lobbyist

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Edward Elmer Smith
Edward Elmer Smith

Food engineer and author

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Brian Williams
Brian Williams

American TV news anchor

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