Human Services & Social Justice Program, Columbian College seal. A group of students in a discussion circle


working with communities to create change
through service learning and community-engaged scholarship.


Who We Are


GW’s Human Services and Social Justice (HSSJ) Program assists students in developing identities as leaders and professionals in nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and government and private agencies. Merging sociology, counseling, education and psychology, the program's interdisciplinary major, minor and combined degrees blend rigorous academic classwork with scholarly research and community practice. Students are empowered to work against injustice, discrimination and poverty while making a focused impact on their local communities. 

Hands-on service learning is central to the HSSJ Program, and we are proud of our partnerships with many nonprofit organizations, cultural institutions and government agencies in Washington, D.C. Through professional community-building and and innovative classroom experiences, students master lifelong expertise that will assist them in their professional pursuits.

Professor Michelle Kelso helps a student in class



COVID-19 Resources & Updates


What We Offer

A group of HSSJ capstone students stand in front of the U.S. Capitol Building

Service Learning

Hands-on field experience through service learning is an integral part of the HSSJ Program curriculum.

Erica Walls teaching

Flexible Degree Options

Students may choose between a major, minor or combined degree, as well as dozens of course options.

GW Nashman Center building exterior

Community Partnerships

HSSJ partners with GW's Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service as well as many local groups.

A group of HSSJ students pose in caps and gowns

Lifelong Benefits

Graduates are equipped with interpersonal skills, cross-cultural understanding and concrete job experience.


Spotlight on Current Students


Picture of student Sondra eating ice cream

Sondra Fiorella 

"Since the semester began a fellow classmate and I have been partnered with the US Dream Academy working on evaluating the effectiveness of their programming. So far we have been collecting responses from a survey that we wrote which will help us and them determine the success of their first-ever online fundraising gala." 

Kaylah in front of the Supreme Court

Kaylah Fermaint 

"My name is Kaylah Fermaint and I'm a senior pursuing a B.A in Human Services & Social Justice with a Sociology minor. I'm a first generation college student from New Jersey, longing to be with the rest of my family in Puerto Rico. As my undergraduate experience at GW comes soon to a close, I have been trying to figure out what is my #onlyatgw moment. After some thought, I realized my academic  moment was sitting in Dr. Kelso’s office declaring my major in HSSJ. This program has not only given me a family, but also has prepared me to advocate for social justice and take steps to create equitable opportunities for the communities I serve. In three years, I worked with organizations like The Petey Greene Program, Latino Student Fund, and In The Streets.  These experiences have prepared me to take my skills and knowledge to more professional settings in the future." 




Of HSSJ students reported having a better understanding of the role they can play in addressing social problems


Of alumni have worked for non-profit organizations after graduation

Spotlight on Alumni


Alumna Julia Sinsky on the Lincoln Memorial

Julia Sinsky BA '16

"With my passions, I mainly focused on early childhood education as well as healthcare disparities, but my classmates allowed me to learn so much about LGBTQ+, poverty and homelessness, and food access, just to name a few. I am not exaggerating when I say that each and every course helped develop me into the person I am today and the goals I have for my future."

Alumna Haley Amdur in front of a blurred Washington Monument

Haley Amdur BA '19

"I graduated with a major in HSSJ and a minor in music. I now work in the education department at Washington Hebrew Congregation, providing students in PreK-12th grade with Jewish education, social justice opportunities, and a sense of community. I have utilized so much of what I learned as part of the major, including grant writing, program evaluation, as well as pulling from experiences in service learning to help inform my choices today."


Commonly Asked Questions

  • When should I declare my major/minor? You can declare your major/minor anytime, but CCAS requires it second semester sophomore year.

  • Can I study abroad? Yes! Please talk to your advisor about when is the best time for you to go abroad. 

  • What are the requirements for the major/minor? The major requires 45 credits and the minor requires 18 credits. For more information about the specific classes please go to our BA in HSSJ page. 

  • Who can I contact if I am thinking about majoring/minoring? Please contact the program director, Michelle Kelso for your questions about the HSSJ major/minor.

  • What is service and how much is needed to complete the major? Service learning means working on projects or research with community based organizations. We help find site placements for classes. The major requires 300+ hours by graduation. For more information about service please visit our service learning page. 

  • Where do alumni work? Our alumni work in a variety of fields including non-profits, healthcare, education, and the private sector. To see specific organizations our alumni have worked please see our alumni outcomes page.