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Studying a Postgrad Program in Washington DC

Postgrad Study in Washington DCNamed after the first US president George Washington, and established in 1791 Washington DC is the capital of the United States. It is not to be confused with the Evergreen State of Washington which can be found in the North West of America

Known as Washington, the District or simply DC it has a population of around 700,000. This is increased by one million commuters from the surrounding states of Maryland and Virginia during the week. Washington DC is part of the New England area of the USA which also includes the popular US states of Connecticut and New York. The 68.3 square miles of Washington DC is not actually part of any US state. Congress has authority over Washington DC and there is also an elected mayor and council. Washington DC residents elect a non-voting member of the House of Representatives but they do not have a Senator.

With about 170 embassies based in Washington it is a very diverse and exciting place to live and study.

Where can you study a PG Program in Washington DC?

There are 20 institutions based in Washington DC offering postgraduate programs. As you can imagine many of the universities based in Washington are very politically active. The vast majority of Washington DC's universities are private – here is a small selection of what’s on offer.

George Washington University: Established in 1821, George Washington University is considered to be the most politically active university in the US. Based in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington there are 11,000 undergraduate and 15,000 postgraduate students. Its School of Political Management and School of International Affairs are frequently rated very highly. This prestigious private university is a great place for postgrad students with a real interest in politics.

American University: This private university is based at a campus on Massachusetts Avenue and on another campus on Nebraska Avenue. It was established in 1893 and has 7,000 undergraduate and 3,500 postgraduate students. The School of International Survey has an excellent global reputation and the American University has recently become increasingly competitive. It also has a very highly rated MBA program.

Georgetown University: With 7,500 undergraduate and 10,000 postgraduate students from diverse backgrounds Georgetown University is a very prestigious institution. The Georgetown University Credit Union is the largest financial institution run only by students in the US. Students also operate the Georgetown Students Corp, which is a charitable organisation that funds student groups and societies. Georgetown Student Corp is the largest student lead charity in the US. Georgetown University was founded in 1789 and is the oldest Catholic university in the US. This private university is very popular with postgrad students and has a number of notable alumni.

University of The District of Columbia: This is Washington's only public university and it has a very limited postgrad program offering. There are 5,000 undergraduates and only 234 postgrad students who mostly study Law programs. Some of these courses are only suitable for international students who are already based in the US and working as Lawyers.

Graduate School USA: Originally established by the US Department of Agriculture in 1921, Graduate School USA offers a wealth of evening classes at graduate level. It is a private university that aims to provide courses to help with the management and running of government. This means that a large number of their students are also employees of the Federal US Government. Part-time study or evening classes can be a great option for many postgrad students, particularly if they are based locally and have other commitments such as a family or established career.

Tuition fees & living costs in Washington DC

Like many areas of the US the tuition fees paid by international students and resident students can vary for public institutions. For example the tuition fees for graduates at the University of The District of Columbia are about $35,000 for international students, whereas for students already resident in Washington the fees are about $10,000 per academic year. Private universities tend to charge the same for all students. Tuition fees at George Washington University are about $29,000 per annum, and at Georgetown University they are around $49,000 to $58,000 per academic year.

Living expenses also vary for postgrad students in Washington DC and are estimated to be from $15,000 when attending a public institution to up to $29,000 when attending a private university. And don't forget that as a student in America you will need to factor in the cost of health insurance and other hidden costs.

Admissions & applications in Washington DC

The majority of graduate programs in Washington will require an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. Admission to some courses in Politics and International Relations are very competitive and simply having a degree will not necessarily be enough. Some relevant work experience would be a great advantage. Degrees awarded by institutions outside of the US will probably require accreditation by an independent organisation recognised by the US-based Council for Higher Education Accreditation. If your first language is not English, then you will need to provide proof of your ability in the English language by completing a test like TOEFL or IELTS.

Interesting Washington DC alumni

The institutions of Washington have a great number of alumni who have gone on to enjoy celebrated careers in politics and public administration. George Washington University alumni include former US Secretary of State Colin Powell and J Edgar Hoover. They also include Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and actors Kerry Washington and Alec Baldwin. Bill Clinton and actor Bradley Cooper are both alumni of Georgetown University. The actor Goldie Hawn attended American University, as did Judy Sheindlin who is now better known as TV's Judge Judy.

Student case study

Recent American University masters student, Kirsten, found studying in Washington to be a really great experience. She felt that the events and social life were very relaxed and that the academic staff were supportive. She also found it easy to get around with the public transport.

What can you do in Washington DC when you’re not studying?

Washington DC is a major tourist destination and no doubt high on your to-do list will be to take in the many impressive sites. Visiting places like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the White House are basically a must do. There is a large selection of museums and galleries to view including the huge Smithsonian Institute.

If you want to enjoy the great outdoors then visiting the national and state parks of Maryland and Virginia provide a great escape from the city to recharge your mind and boost creativity.

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