Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C.

Learn About the Four-Year Colleges and Universities in the Washington, D.C. Area

Several top colleges and universities are located in the Washington, D.C. area, and the nation's capital is a particularly good place to study for students interested in pursuing fields such as political science, government, and international relations. But students interested in art, engineering, or the humanities will also find several excellent options. The list below includes four-year, not-for-profit colleges within a roughly 20-mile radius of downtown Washington, D.C. There are, of course, many community colleges and for-profit institutions in the capital region as well.

American University
American University. Jake Waage / Flickr

​Students at American University come from over 150 countries, and the university has many strong academic programs including international relations, government, and political science. The school was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for its strong programs in the liberal arts and sciences. In athletics, American competes in the NCAA Division I Patriot League.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment: 13,858 (8,123 undergraduates)
  • School Type: private university
Bowie State University
Bowie State University.

Mattysc / Wikimedia Commons /  CC BY-SA 3.0

Bowie State University is one of the country's oldest historically black universities. It's location between Baltimore and Washington D.C. gives students easy access to the opportunities available in both urban centers. Programs in business are extremely popular, and the school competes in NCAA Division II athletics.

  • Location: Bowie, Maryland
  • Enrollment: 6,148 (5,187 undergraduates)
  • School Type: public historically black university
Capitol Technology University (formerly Capitol College)
Capitol Technology University (formerly Capitol College). Ken Mayer / Flickr

Capitol Technology University is an extremely small college that places a lot of value on the personal attention and hands-on experiences students receive. The school's Space Operations Institute has a partnership with NASA.

  • Location: Laurel, Maryland
  • Enrollment: 736 (431 undergraduates)
  • School Type: private technological institution
Marist Hall at Catholic University of America
Marist Hall at Catholic University of America.

Farragutful / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

 

​The campus of the Catholic University of American sits adjacent to the towering and impressive Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in the United States. Students at CUA come from all 50 states and nearly 100 countries. Popular academic programs include architecture and political science, and strengths in the liberal arts and sciences earned the school a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Students have easy access to the D.C. Metro.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment: 6,521 (3,480 undergraduates)
  • School Type: private Catholic university
Gallaudet University

 Library of Congress

Gallaudet University has the distinction of being the first school for the deaf in the world. Situated on a striking urban campus, the university has an impressive 7 to 1 student / faculty ratio. Popular majors include communication studies, audiology, and interpretation. The school fields several NCAA Division III athletic teams.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment: 1,578 (1,129 undergraduates)
  • School Type: federally chartered private university for the deaf and hard of hearing
George Mason University
George Mason University. Ron Cogswell / Flickr

George Mason University is rapidly growing public institution that was recognized as an "up-and-coming university" by U.S. News & World Report. The school wins high marks for its overall value, and it has the distinction of being the largest public university in Virginia. The university is a member of the NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference.

  • Location: Fairfax, Virginia
  • Enrollment: 35,984 (25,010 undergraduates)
  • School Type: public university
Science & Engineering Hall, GWU
Hongyuan Zhang / Getty Images

​Students at George Washington University graduate in style—the ceremony is held on the National Mall. Like many schools in the District of Columbia, the university has international focus with strong programs in international relations, international business and political science. GW is a member of the NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment: 27,973 (11,999 undergraduates)
  • School Type: private university
Georgetown University
Georgetown University. Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr / CC by 2.0

Georgetown University is one of the country's top Catholic universities, and the school has a significant international student population as well as an impressive international relations major. Overall strengths in the liberal arts and sciences earned the university a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society. On the athletic front, Georgetown competes in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment: 19,005 (7,463 undergraduates)
  • School Type: private Catholic university
1176 Founders Library
Flickr Vision / Getty Images

Howard University consistently ranks at or near the top of the best historically black colleges and universities in the United States. Academics are supported by a healthy 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio, and the university is a national leader in educating African Americans. Howard has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa because of its strong programs in the liberal arts and sciences, and the school is a member of the NCAA Division I Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC)

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment: 9,392 (6,354 undergraduates)
  • School Type: private historically black university
A residence hall at Marymount University
A residence hall at Marymount University.

 Aude / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Marymount University has easy access to the capital, and students can easily cross-register at 13 area colleges. Popular majors include nursing, business, interior design, and fashion merchandising. The university's athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level.

  • Location: Arlington, Virginia
  • Enrollment: 3,375 (2,305 undergraduates)
  • School Type: private Catholic university
Trinity Washington University
Trinity Washington University. JosephLeonardo / Flickr

Trinity Washington University occupies an attractive wooded campus in the northeastern corner of the city. Popular majors include nursing and psychology programs. The school often wins high marks for its value. Athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment: 1,964 (1,534 undergraduates)
  • School Type: private Catholic university for women (at undergraduate level)
University of the District of Columbia
University of the District of Columbia. Matthew Bisanz / Wikimedia Commons

​The University of the District of Columbia is the only public university in D.C. (there are several public universities nearby in Maryland and Virginia). The school offers over 75 degree programs including popular majors in business, biology, and administration of justice. Academics are supported by a healthy 10 to 1 student / faculty ratio, and the school is a member of the NCAA Division II East Coast Conference

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment: 4,247 (3,859 undergraduates)
  • School Type: public historically black university
University of Maryland McKeldin Library
University of Maryland McKeldin Library. Daniel Borman / Flickr

​The largest school in this list, the University of Maryland is an excellent choice for students looking for a large, lively research university with highly rated academic programs. The university has easy Metro access to the city, a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong programs in the liberal arts and sciences, an active Greek system, and membership in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference

  • Location: College Park, Maryland
  • Enrollment: 40,521 (29,868 undergraduates)
  • School Type: public university
Washington Adventist University
Washington Adventist University. Farragutful / Wikimedia Commons

Washington Adventist University is a small school with a diverse student body from 40 states and 47 countries. Spiritual life on campus is active, and nursing, business, and psychology are among the most popular undergraduate majors. Academics are supported by a 9 to 1 student / faculty ratio, so students can expect a lot of interaction with their professors. The school has an honors program for academically strong students.

  • Location: Takoma Park, Maryland
  • Enrollment: 1,069 (873 undergraduates)
  • School Type: private university affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Expand Your College Search

The Middle Atlantic Region
The Middle Atlantic Region.

To expand your search, you can also check out these top picks in the region: