Mission and Heritage
“I chose the GW program because it offered the perfect combination of a rigorous academic atmosphere that provided maximum flexibility given my family circumstances (three young children).”
The Graduate School of Education and Human Development, strategically based in the nation's capital and serving the global community, develops informed and skilled leaders through innovative teaching and learning that: Engages in scholarly inquiry that raises the level of academic excellence by enriching theory, policy, and practice across the life-span; Promotes leadership, diversity, learning, and human development reflective of changing global societies; Creates public and private partnerships and; Advocates continuous self examination and critical analysis towards excellence.
The George Washington University, which celebrated its 185th anniversary in 2006, grew out of the desire of our country's first President to establish a national institution of higher learning. When GW opened its doors in 1821 as Columbian College in the District of Columbia, it boasted three faculty members, one tutor, and 30 students in a single building.
The debt of the University to George Washington is intangible but clear. Both as president and private citizen, Washington believed the fledgling country urgently needed a national university where "Youth from all parts of the United States" might go to be educated in the arts and sciences, and to study "the principles of Politics and good Government." Washington believed the capital city, which at the time was centrally located, was the logical site for such an institution.
Washington died before his vision was carried out. The Rev. Luther Rice and three friends took up the effort; President James Monroe and 32 members of the U.S. Congress also became involved. On Feb. 9, 1821, Monroe signed the Act of Congress that created the Columbian College in the District of Columbia, a private, nonsectarian institution. In 1904, the institution was given its current name, and in 1912, it began the move to its present location in Foggy Bottom, the area George Washington had envisioned for his national university.
Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. We have more than 20,000 students–from all 50 states, the District and more than 130 countries–studying a rich range of disciplines. Our mission is to provide an environment where knowledge is created and acquired and where creative endeavors seek to enrich the experiences of the global society. The depth and breadth of our academic programs, the exceptional qualifications of our full-time faculty, the unmatched experiences of our adjunct faculty and the strengths of our research initiatives allow our students, our faculty and our staff to look at the world beyond the classroom. They allow us to prepare the next generation of leaders.