Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C.

George Washington, Georgetown, and Howard universities top the list

US Capitol Building, National Mall and Northwest Washington at sunrise from Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA
••• The U.S. Capitol Building, National Mall, and Northwest Washington at sunrise. Danita Delimont/Getty Images

Washington, D.C., is home to a wide variety of colleges and universities and is a great city for students. The cultural diversity of the community and the wide range of things to do attracts people from around the world to the nation's capital to earn a college degree. This guide includes information about Washington's colleges and universities, community colleges, and programs for working adults.

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    American University is located on an 84-acre campus in a residential neighborhood of Northwest Washington. The university offers six academic programs: College of Arts and Sciences, Kogod School of Business, School of Communication, School of International Service, School of Public Affairs, and Washington College of Law. The average class size is 23, and the student-faculty ratio is 14-to-1. AU is especially known for promoting international understanding and for WAMU, America’s National Public Radio Station, one of the top NPR stations in the country.

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    Catholic University is the national university of the Roman Catholic Church. The campus is located in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington. The Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center are adjacent to the campus. At the undergraduate level, students can choose from more than 60 majors and programs offered by six academic schools: Arts and Sciences, Architecture and Planning, Nursing, Philosophy, Music, and Engineering. The student-teacher ratio is about 15-to-1.

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    The Corcoran is part of the George Washington Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. The college was affiliated with the Corcoran Gallery of Art from 1999 to 2014. It became the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University in August 2014, at which time the university committed to ​taking over responsibility for the necessary renovations to the building. The faculty includes renowned artists, designers, and photographers. Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees are offered in fine art, fine art photography, photojournalism, graphic design, digital media design, and interior design. Master of Arts degree programs include interior design, exhibition design, history of decorative arts, and art education.

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    Gallaudet University is the world's only college in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate students who are deaf and hard of hearing. Degrees are available in more than 40 subjects. The school was chartered by Abraham Lincoln.

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    GW, the largest college in the nation’s capital, offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts and professional degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business, and international affairs. The urban campus is centrally located in the heart of the city.

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    Georgetown University, the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, is a major international university that includes four undergraduate schools, graduate programs, a law school, and a medical school. Georgetown is a prestigious college and attracts some of the nation's top students. Georgetown's tuition is one of the most expensive in the U.S. The 104-acre main campus is located in the historic Georgetown neighborhood of Washington overlooking the Potomac River. Alumni include leaders in a variety of fields, including academia, the arts, business, government, law, medicine, and non-profits.

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    Howard University attracts the nation’s top African-American students to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs in more than 120 areas of study. Among notable alumni are U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, and Emmy Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad.

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    The National Defense University is an accredited graduate-level university that prepares military and civilian leaders to evaluate national and international security challenges.

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    Strayer University offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the Washington area designed to meet the needs of working adults with classes available seven days and nights a week. Students can complete a degree or gain marketable skills to enhance their careers. Six- to 12-course certificate programs are available to prepare students for professional certification in a variety of disciplines. There are several campuses around the Washington area.

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    Trinity Washington University was founded as a Catholic liberal arts college for women. Today, the College of Arts and Sciences offers women academic programs that include criminal justice, forensic psychology, journalism, and business. The School of Education offers coeducational graduate programs in education, counseling, curriculum design, and educational administration.

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    UDC is a commuter school in Washington offering a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education opportunities to a diverse student population.  ​The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law is one of only five American Bar Association accredited law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It is one of the most affordable law schools in the nation, and it emphasizes providing legal aid to low-income clients.

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    This is an independent institution with campuses in Washington and Northern Virginia focused on providing education to a diverse, multi-cultural student population. Bachelor’s and master’s programs are offered in an online or once-a-week on-campus format. 

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    Wesley is a graduate theological school of the United Methodist Church and a member of the Washington Theological Consortium. It is one of the largest and the most diverse seminaries in the world and prepares its students to provide leadership to churches and other service organizations. The seminary actively works with churches, hospitals, and agencies to provide student opportunities for the practice of ministry.