A circle of students sitting at desks in an HSSJ Capstone class


The Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and Social Justice curriculum builds on critical theory that allows students to understand and analyze complex social issues facing individuals and communities, as well as providing them with the skills to tackle these issues in real-world settings. We look at underlying factors that affect communities, from poverty to discrimination to government policies and programs, in order to lay the foundations for change. 

Our required courses prepare students to be scholar-practitioners ready to work in communities, governmental agencies, nonprofits, schools, health centers and counseling services utilizing inclusive, socially just and sustainable practices. We achieve this by offering students educational experiences that incorporate service learning and community-based research in core classes to deepen student learning, address community-identified concerns and to weave theory, research and practice together in relevant ways.



Senior Capstone Project

A group of GW HSSJ students in the capstone class sit outside together



The senior class capstone offers a unique opportunity at GW to combine scholarly and community practice to make social change in the District through an experiential philanthropy project. Students partner with the Learning by Giving Foundation (LxG), which provides the class with an initial $5,000 for their giving project. Students then create a class foundation, deciding together which social issue their philanthropy will address. Using best practices examined during the course, students research the selected social issue, raise additional funds, put out a call for grant proposals and select grant recipients among local nonprofit applicants.

Examples of Recent Philanthropy


Honey W. Nashman Award

The Honey W. Nashman Prize for Academic Achievement and Service is awarded each year to outstanding seniors in the HSSJ Program who have earned a GPA of 3.5 or greater in the major.

Honey W. Nashman, professor emeritus, dedicated 43 years of teaching service to GW, including serving as director of the HSSJ Program. She has published, researched, won awards and been a leader in the human services, social justice and community organizing fields over the course of her impressive career. The Honey W. Nashman Prize for Academic Achievement and Service and the Honey W. Nashman Research Award for Community-Based Participatory Research are both named in her honor. Learn more about Honey W. Nashman

Past Nashman Outstanding Senior Awardees

  • 2020: Nili Ezekiel
  • 2019: Helen Palatianos
  • 2018: Julia Resnik
  • 2017: Leah Cohen and Rachel Naugle
  • 2016: Shanna Helf
  • 2015: Maura Molish and Ashley Trick


Spotlight on HSSJ Students

Adam Graubart points to a research poster of his senior thesis

Measuring Social Justice at the Community Level

For his senior thesis research project, Adam Graubart, BA ’19, engaged with local D.C. synagogues to identify how specific congregations demonstrate their social justice values through their actions. Graubart conducted primary research through interviews and focus groups and presented his work at GW Research Days. His final thesis won the Julian Clement Chase Prize.

Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Programs.

Program-specific curriculum (below).

Achievement of a minimum grade of C- in all courses that count toward the degree.

HSSJ 1100Introduction to Human Services and Social Justice3
SOC 1001Introduction to Sociology3
or SOC 1002 The Sociological Imagination
HSSJ 1177Organizing for Social Justice in Human Services
HSSJ 2170Interpersonal Relationships in Human Services
HSSJ 2171Human Interactions: Child and Adolescent Development
HSSJ 2172Human Interactions: Adult Development
HSSJ 2200Principles of Ethical Leadership
HSSJ 3100WProgram Planning and Evaluation
HSSJ 3110WNonprofit and Organizational Management
HSSJ 3152
HSSJ 3153
Fact/Field/Fiction: Intersections in HSSJ
and Internship in Human Services and Social Justice *
HSSJ 4195Capstone Seminar in Human Services and Social Justice
SOC 2101Social Research Methods
*HSSJ 3152 and HSSJ 3153 must be taken concurrently.
Two courses (6 credits) selected from the following:
HSSJ 2160Role of NGOs in International Humanitarian Assistance
SOC 2104Contemporary Sociological Theory
SOC 2105Social Problems in American Society
SOC 2163Sociology of Education
SOC 2170Class and Inequality in American Society
SOC 2173Social Movements
SOC 2175Sociology of Sex and Gender
SOC 2179Race and Minority Relations