Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a fellowship, an assistantship, and a scholarship?

At the graduate level, both fellowships and scholarships are merit-based awards applied to the funding of graduate study. Assistantships are positions that require work on the GWU campus.

The George Washington University has two graduate assistantship (GA) options, which are: graduate assistantships (GAs) and graduate research assistantships.

GA and GRA positions vary in terms of payment and duties. Academic departments within the schools and colleges make appointments for these positions.

When should I apply for funding for graduate school? Should I wait until I hear about my acceptance to the program?

Students applying for graduate school should look as early as possible for funding opportunities, as deadlines for funding tend to run about six months to a year earlier than when funding will begin.

Most schools and academic departments at GW use the applicant’s graduate application as the basis of consideration for any internal, department or school awards.

Funding opportunities available through the Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships have various application deadlines. The majority of these deadlines are between January and April for funding beginning the next fall.

Some fellowships will consider students who have applied, but not yet been accepted to the program. Be sure to check eligibility requirements of fellowships you are interested in.

What types of funding are available for students in my department?

Decisions for department funding at the graduate level are made at the time of admission. Students who are interested in funding opportunities are strongly encouraged to fill out the necessary prompts in their admission application signifying their interest in funding.

Information about departmental funding can be found on our webpage, but we recommend that you consult your department’s webpage or contact them directly. Departments handle most of this funding directly. Some of these fellowships are only available to incoming students, and awardees are determined by the strength of their admission application.

Some departments offer graduate assistantships in the form of teaching assistantships (GAships) and/or research assistantships (GRAships). The majority of assistantships are in the form of GAships. Check with your department to be sure that they offer this type of funding and if any additional materials need to be submitted.

I have a question about my FAFSA or student loans. Whom can I talk to?

Any questions regarding student loans or the FAFSA need to be directed to Student Financial Assistance. You can either visit them in Colonial Central which is located on the lower floor of the Marvin Center or you can call them at 202-994-6620 or e-mail them at Due to the high number of calls, we recommend either visiting them in Colonial Central or e-mailing.

I am interested in being a Graduate Assistant. What is the process to becoming one?

Academic departments select Graduate Assistants (GAs). These positions are limited, highly competitive and not available in all departments. Interested candidates will want to indicate their interest in a GA position on their admissions application, if applicable. Students can also contact the department’s graduate advisor, whose e-mail is normally easily available on your program’s website, for further detail regarding if teaching assistantships are available for that department.

I am an applicant to a graduate certificate or non-degree program. Am I eligible for graduate funding?

With few exceptions, graduate funding is strictly awarded to degree candidates (i.e. MA, PhD, etc). If you are enrolled in/or applying to a certificate program, check with your program director or advisor as to whether or not there is any funding available for certificate students. Non-degree students are not eligible for graduate aid.

I am applying for/have received a fellowship for the academic year. Can I apply it to classes I take over the summer?

Unfortunately, no. Fellowships and assistantships are awarded for the academic year and only cover Fall and Spring semesters.

Is there funding for International Students?

Almost all merit-based financial assistance opportunities are open to international students. Some students receive funding from GW, their home countries or the companies for which they work. Restrictions apply to international students seeking on- or off-campus employment. For more information contact the International Services Office.