As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the study of behavior and social processes holds great importance. The origins of our civilization — how we have evolved, the way we interrelate and live and how we are changing — touch upon the very essence of who we are as human beings. The knowledge discovered through disciplines like anthropology, economics, psychology, and sociology drives global dialogue and sheds light on how to improve life for coming generations. The dynamic setting of Washington, DC, allows students to apply these theories and thought-models to major research projects and internships at the world’s leading institutions.
Programs in Humanities and Social Behavorial Sciences at GW
The program emphasizes interdisciplinary cultural analysis with approaches from anthropology, architectural history, art history, language, geography, media studies, history, performance studies, and political theory. Students in the master’s program choose from a general degree in American studies or specialize in museums and material culture. Doctoral students construct a comprehensive plan of study tailored to three areas of interest and develop research agendas through participation in seminars and workshops. Both degrees draw on the rich resources of Washington-based archives and research institutes that enhance learning and promote hands-on experience.
GW offers the largest comprehensive anthropology program in the Washington, DC, region. Students go on to build careers in academics or a variety of policy-oriented and applied occupations that require an understanding of cultural processes. The Master of Arts provides grounding in the four fields of the discipline: biological anthropology, sociocultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology. The Ph.D. is designed to develop creativity, communication, and academic rigor, with a focus on using theory and method for the study of social issues. Students benefit from a close partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and access to Washington’s archival collections and policy organizations.
One of the first programs of its kind to be developed in the United States and accredited by the American Art Therapy Association, GW’s program combines artistic training with therapy and counseling skills. Students are trained to become effective art therapists through a combination of coursework, hands-on projects, and placements in internships. Studies include training in drawing, painting and sculpture, as well as intensive coursework in the types of art therapy, diagnosis, and assessment. Coursework in trauma training is also available.
The program offers professionals in art, therapy, psychology, and related fields the opportunity to learn how the theories and practice of art therapy can be incorporated in their work and in treatment. Designed for those who have already earned a master’s or Ph.D., the program prepares its graduates for registration with the Art Therapy Credentials Board and to take the board certification examination.
Graduates of this program will be able to more effectively address the following issues in working with children with autism spectrum disorders: academic achievement and study skills commensurate with their cognitive strength; social skills for navigating all of the environments in which they live, work, and play; and problemsolving strategies that enable them to respond flexibly and successfully to challenging situations.
GW’s M.A. in Communication Management — the only degree of its kind in the Washington, DC, metro area — explores the planning, implementation, monitoring, and revision of communication messages and processes within and across organizations. Understanding how people inform, influence, and persuade each other is central to the program’s interdisciplinary curriculum. Students learn to apply theory to practical issues and research problems, enabling them to envision and facilitate communication management strategies, such as intergroup dialogues, communication campaigns, and organizational interventions.
Combining training in traditional criminology, criminal justice, and forensic sciences, this multi-faceted curriculum engages and challenges students to evaluate the historical development of criminal justice, its evolution into modern legal systems, and ongoing problems and reforms in policing, the courts, and the corrections system. Graduates develop an understanding of the causes of criminal behavior and the social conditions that contribute to crime, in addition to analyzing how the criminal justice system operates. The master’s in criminology is housed in the department of sociology and is not intended for practitioners. Students who wish to work in criminal justice or security should pursue studies in GW’s forensic sciences program.
The graduate economics program involves topics ranging from microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics to labor economics, international economics, and the economics of industry. As the program is located within walking distance of the Federal Reserve, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Federal Trade Commission, many students go on to careers in government, international agencies, or consulting firms located in the DC region. The economics department assists in these career aspirations with an active placement service.
The English master’s and doctoral programs offer a comprehensive training in critical theory as well as literary and cultural studies, exposing students to a diversity of texts within a global and transnational context. Particular strengths include medieval and early modern studies, 19th century studies, and contemporary literature. A large faculty serves a small student body to allow for close interaction and mentoring, and students have access to extraordinary research archives, such as the Folger Shakespeare Library, Library of Congress, National Archives, and libraries connected to the many museums in Washington, DC.
To address the growing need for criminal profilers, competency experts, psychological evaluators, and counselors, the master’s degree in forensic psychology trains students in highly-specialized courses ranging from the psychopathology of serial criminals and terrorist agents to ethical issues involving interrogation. This education — combined with extensive externship opportunities found only in the nation’s capital — have enabled graduates to excel in careers in homeland security, law enforcement, correctional systems, and social services for victims and offenders.
The program investigates societal and environmental dynamics, focusing on questions of sustainability, urbanization, and uneven resource distribution. Graduates pursue rewarding careers in governmental and non-governmental agencies, and in the private sector. Four core areas of study reflect the research interests and strengths of the geography faculty: urban environment, development and sustainability, human migration and mobility, and applied geospatial techniques.
The program’s proximity to some of the most important research repositories in the world — including the National Archives, Folger Shakespeare Library, National Security Archive, Smithsonian Institution — makes GW an ideal place to examine a variety of historical fields, from Renaissance Europe to the Cold War, and from imperial and colonial studies to modern American political and social history. The Ph.D. is offered in both history and American religious history, and the master’s program offers concentrations in historic preservation, history and public policy, imperial and colonial studies, and U.S. legal history.
Students investigate the origins and evolution of mankind through hands-on research using the latest instrumentation. Rigorous core training in molecular biology, archaeology, cognitive science, and ecology — among other topics — prepares graduates for collaborative projects with other researchers from around the world and across many areas of expertise. Coursework involves problembased learning seminars, original research, and two laboratory rotations at institutions outside of GW, at least one of which is usually outside of the United States.
The Islamic studies program offers an insider’s perspective on Islamic tradition as a religion, a civilization, a culture, and a political force. Unlike other Islamic programs, the degree incorporates a historical component, whether focusing on classical texts or modern Islam. The program also uniquely features not only an education in Sunni Islam, but Shi’ite Islam as well. Students are immersed in core courses that provide grounding in the history of the religion, in addition to courses that offer insight into current politics, society, and cultures of the Islamic world.
The first of its kind in the United States, the M.A. in Jewish cultural arts produces cultural entrepreneurs and administrators with skills ranging from audience development and fiscal management to the nurturing of new forms of Jewish cultural expression. Students gain hands-on skills as well as the intellectual capital to think analytically and deeply about the history, ethnography, sociology, and overarching creativity of the modern Jewish experience — and respond innovatively to its challenges and possibilities.
Offered by the School of Media and Public Affairs, the master’s program in media and strategic communication explores the history, theory, and practice of disseminating information throughout society and methods for using communication to affect change in the world. Leading political communication scholars and award-winning journalists provide first-hand knowledge on the ways in which governments and other organizations interact with the public in the midst of an ever-changing media landscape. Graduates have established successful careers in public affairs and communication roles at the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Pew Research Center, and many other private, public, and non-profit organizations.
Offered entirely online, the graduate certificate in museum collections management and care features a sequence of four graduate-level courses designed for those with collections management responsibilities who are working or volunteering in large and small museums all over the country and across the world. The certificate is ideal for museum professionals who wish to enhance their career with formal training and practical techniques.
Developed in consultation with the museum community, the interdisciplinary curriculum of the program balances academic study with carefully supervised fieldwork, preparing practitioners with the knowledge and competencies to qualify for positions in art, history, children’s, or science museums, zoos, aquariums, or historical sites. Students engage with world-class institutions to build portfolios as advocates for museum accessibility and accountability.
Ranked among the top museum training programs in the United States, students immerse themselves practically and academically amidst more than 60 museums and cultural organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution. Students in the master’s program can focus on collections management, exhibit development/design, or museum management and leadership. The graduate certificate is designed for U.S. students who hold at least a master’s degree in a related area and foreign museum professionals who wish to study one or more aspects of museum work in the United States.
The Master of Arts in philosophy develops the critical thinking, close reading, persuasive writing, and oral communication skills needed for success in a doctoral program or teaching career. Graduates may go on to obtain their Ph.D. in philosophy or a related field, such as political theory, biomedical ethics and gender studies. Others draw upon philosophical knowledge to teach at secondary or two-year college levels, or pursue careers in private, government and non-profit sectors. The degree includes modern analytical curriculum in addition to the traditional study of historic texts and scholarship.
The nationally recognized political science program examines politics on a national and international scale, with emphases on American politics, comparative politics, and international relations. Students benefit from unique opportunities to work with prominent scholars among the many resources available in the nation’s capital. Graduates have developed fulfilling careers at many organizations and settings, including the Congressional Research Service, World Bank, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and numerous universities of distinction.
Students receive in-depth psychodynamic training that combines extensive practical experience with classes on the scientific foundations of psychology. Courses are taught by seasoned clinicians, scholars, and researchers. Students also study cognitive behavioral systems and community consultation approaches. The program provides opportunities to learn through group, family, and short-term interventions and to work in hospital, forensic, and school settings.
Students explore psychological theory, develop research skills, and understand how to approach issues within communities and societies. The program offers courses that reflect the wide-ranging field of psychology as the study of normal and abnormal behavior, and the psychological, social, and biological processes related to that behavior. Fields of study include applied social psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and industrial and organizational psychology.
Students engage in comprehensive coverage of the core areas of sociological theory and social research methods, along with a range of disciplinary substantive areas. Courses include research methods, data analysis, qualitative methodology, field research in organizational settings, development of sociological theory, and modern sociological theory. All program participants are required to identify major and minor concentrations, selecting from the department’s three core areas: social stratification, criminology, and urban sociology. Graduates help shape the future of society through careers in policy, law, public administration, and more.
The master’s program provides full insight into communication disorders and their consequences for individuals and society, including rehabilitation techniques. Learning environments encompass traditional classroom instruction and clinical education with mentors in the GW Speech and Hearing Center. Experts with an M.A. in speech-language pathology are in high demand, allowing graduates to find rewarding positions at hospitals, clinics, private practices and schools, as well as acute care and rehabilitation centers and facilities for learningdisabled children. Accredited by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, our program is considered among the finest in the country, ranked 35th out of 230 ranked programs by the U.S. News and World Report.
The program draws on faculty members from various disciplines to offer students a unique grounding in feminist theory as well as empirical knowledge about women in the United States and around the world. Established in 1972 as the women’s studies program at GW, the interdisciplinary program was the first of its kind in the United States. Students go on to work in law, policy, advocacy, academia, and the non-profit sector. A graduate certificate is available to those wishing to enhance their career with a fundamental grounding in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.
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