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GW is organized into ten schools and colleges each with a different dean and organization.
- The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) is the oldest and largest college in the university. It was founded in 1821; at the beginning of the university's history, there was no distinction between this college and the university. The School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration (SPPPA) belong to this college, although they are run separately. The Columbian College was among the first American institutions to grant a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in 1888. The Columbian College is notable for its academic diversity.
- The George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was founded in 1821 due to the need for doctors in the District of Columbia. In 1981, the Medical Center became the center of the national spotlight when President Ronald Reagan was rushed to the emergency room after an attempted assassination. The emergency room area was later renamed the Ronald Reagan Institute of Energy Medicine, and other politicians, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, come to GW for routine and emergency procedures. An associate school in the university is the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS).
- The George Washington University Law School was established in 1826 and is the oldest law school in the District of Columbia. Supreme Court Justices like David J. Brewer and John Marshall Harlan were among those who served on its faculty. Due to its proximity to the Supreme Court, the Law School is frequently visited by Supreme Court Justices and Law Clerks.Chief Justice John Roberts presided over its moot court in 2007.
- The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) has always been one of the top Graduate Schools of Education in the United States. GSEHD was officially started in 1909. The school is composed of three distinct academic departments, and it is one of the largest schools within the GWU. U.S. News & World Report rated the graduate program in the top 20, and was 5th overall in total research expenditures.
- The School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) was founded on October 1, 1884 as the Corcoran Scientific School of Columbian University. The school separated from the Columbian College in 1962 and was one of the first to accept women for degree candidacy in engineering and has awarded the most engineering doctoral degrees to women in the country. The bazooka was invented at the SEAS in 1942.
- The Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) was originally founded in 1898 as the School of Comparative Jurisprudence and Diplomacy. Under President Lloyd Elliott, the school completely separated from the Columbian College. The school lies down the street from the Department of State and because of this there are many opportunities for students in American Diplomacy. On September 3, 2005, alumnus Colin Powell opened a new complex for this school at 1957 E Street NW in front of the Department of Agriculture.
- The George Washington University School of Business (GWSB) has risen in rankings and prestige steadily. The part-time MBA program or "Professional MBA", is a flexible format program and is currently ranked 26th in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. The full-time MBA]] is also respectably ranked near the top 50 in the nation. Specialized masters programs in Accountancy and Finance are also highly regarded. MBA's at the George Washington School of Business take the typical AACSB MBA core courses but can also add to their expertise in Finance with electives such as Options, Futures and Financial Engineering. Students can also get real world experience by taking courses in the new Capital Markets Trading room in Duques Hall. The GW School of Business was established with a $1 million gift by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction in 1928.With its proximity in Washington, D.C. to world-leading institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the School of Business has provided its graduates with important contacts for the future.On February 6, 2006, the Chairman and CEO of FedEx Frederick Smith opened a new complex for the school called Duques Hall.
During the Trachtenberg Presidency, the George Washington University has also become a leader in terms of providing professional education. Some schools founded during his era were the College of Professional Studies,and the Graduate School of Political Management.