April 29, 2015

The Best of Both Worlds: Studying International Affairs in D.C. and Qatar

Ten years ago, Georgetown opened a new campus in Education City, Qatar, almost 7,000 miles away from its main campus in Washington, D.C.

The campus, known as GU-Q, is home to 252 students who earn the same Bachelor of Science of Foreign Service (BSFS) degree as their peers at the School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C.

Each year, a small number of these GU-Q students study abroad at Georgetown’s main campus, enjoying the best of both Georgetown worlds.


Georgetown’s campuses in D.C. and Doha are both ideally situated for the study of international affairs.

Students at the main campus have access to a wide range of opportunities through the governmental, international and civil society organizations located in the nation’s capital.

“If you’re studying international relations, one of the best places is D.C.,” said Kevin Lee (GU-Q'15/MSFS’16).

“But another great place is somewhere that’s removed from the experiences that most other people would have,” he added.

Lee said studying in Qatar allowed him to engage with different perspectives that might be hard to find in the United States or back home in Singapore.

“Those kind of views you can’t replicate anywhere else,” Lee said.

Experiential Learning

Both campuses also offer a range of experiential learning opportunities that appeal to BSFS students.

Rumsha Shahzad (GU-Q'16) said experiential learning trips have defined her time at both Georgetown campuses. This semester, while at main campus, she traveled to Florida through the Alternative Breaks Program to study issues of agriculture and labor. 

Back at GU-Q, Shahzad traveled to Germany and Poland to study the memorialization of the Holocaust through the Zones of Conflict, Zones of Peace program.

She also went on a GU-Q community engagement trip to the Philippines with Habitat for Humanity. These hands-on experiences have allowed her to connect the material from her classes to larger issues in the world.

“I realized that I wanted to be on the ground and working with people who were going through things I wanted to change as opposed to making policy far away,” Shahzad said. “I wanted to be connected to the people.”

A Sense of Community

Each Georgetown campus offers its students an important sense of community.

With its 7,100 undergraduate students, over 330 student clubs, and four undergraduate schools, the main campus is filled with possibilities.

“I finally got a chance to see what the traditional experience of college really looks like,” said Xiaofei Wang (GU-Q'16). “When you’re walking around, you feel like there are a lot of things to do.”

GU-Q’s small student body, on the other hand, creates an extremely close-knit campus.

As the first Chinese student to attend GU-Q, Wang found the students to be a great support system.

“If you ask me what's the thing I will miss after I leave Qatar, it’s the people there,” he said.

“It’s because of those people that I felt I was at home.”