The Academic System

Statistics professor explaining a problem on the whiteboard.

GW operates on a semester basis, with 15 weeks in each semester. The semesters are referred to as fall (late August through late December) and spring (early January through mid-May).

Students attending GW for a degree enter a degree program that focuses on a particular major or area of study. Exchange students are admitted to GW as non-degree students and can register for courses in any of the undergraduate majors.

An individual course or class can be administered in one of two ways: large lecture or small seminar.

The lecture class is frequently used at the undergraduate level, particularly for the first two years of study. Lectures are sometimes large and make discussions difficult. For this reason, a lecture will often be supplemented with a recitation or discussion session to permit discussion and/or scientific experimentation.

A seminar is the most common form of instruction at the graduate level; however seminars are also used in upper level undergraduate courses as well. These classes are generally smaller, permitting opportunities for direct student participation and closer interactions with professors.


GW uses a credit system that can be used to determine contact hours . Typically, one credit hour is equivalent to one contact hour. Undergraduate courses range from 1 to 6 credit hours, however, a typical undergraduate course is usually 3 or 4 credits.

Exchange students attending GW are required to maintain a full-time course load, which typically equates to 4 to 5 courses for a total of 12 to 15 credit hours. Exchange students can enroll in a maximum of 17 credit hours as part of the tuition waiver.

Incoming Exchange Questions

Incoming exchange students who have questions should e-mail the Exchange Coordinator.