Who We Are

students exit the Media and Public Affairs building

The School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) is a trailblazer in the study of political communication, journalism and media. 

As the only school of its kind in the capital of politics and media, SMPA excels at bringing Washington into the classroom. The SMPA community benefits from access to an extensive network, events with political and media leaders and a prime location to explore the interplay of media and politics.

In an era of dramatic change and information overload, we provide the skills, theory, ethics and experience necessary to communicate effectively and inspire change.

Our faculty members are top academics and professionals in their fields, bringing extensive experience and networks of knowledge into the classroom and beyond.

Our graduates are leaders in advocacy, politics, business and journalism and our students engage the world around them through internships and access to decision-makers, community leaders and power brokers.


Inside SMPA

Frank Sesno at a podium

Frank Sesno, SMPA Director

Frank Sesno is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who spent 21 years at CNN where he served as Washington Bureau Chief, White House Correspondent and anchor. He has interviewed five U.S. presidents and thousands of political, business and civic leaders, from Hillary Clinton to Walter Cronkite.
Broadcast studio control room

Broadcast Studio and Facilities

SMPA offers students access to a wide array of state-­of-­the-­art ­production and broadcasting facilities. Students enrolled in specific SMPA courses can use this industry­-standard equipment to learn and practice the craft of visual storytelling.

student stands outside Media and Public Affairs Building

Visit Us

SMPA is housed in the Media and Public Affairs building on GW's main Foggy Bottom Campus. To set up a visit to the School and meet with faculty or students, please email smpa@gwu.edu.


SMPA Stories


SMPA's History


From Making Headlines to Making History:A Timeline of SMPA
GW becomes the first university in the world to offer an undergraduate degree in political communication.
The Center is renamed by the Board of Trustees to become the School of Media and Public Affairs to reflect the department's vision for the future. Speech communication becomes part of the current Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication.
Construction begins on the building designed to house, among other units, SMPA's programs, faculty, classes and video studio facilities. The building was dedicated in 2001.
The Documentary Center is founded.
Planet Forward joins the Documentary Center as part of the Center for Innovative Media.
The radio/television program becomes the Electronic Media program.
The Electronic Media program ends; The Institute for Public Diplomacy launches.
The National Center for Communication Studies is founded. It houses four programs: speech communication, journalism, radio/television, and political communication.
The Media and Public Affairs MA evolves focus and changes its name to Media and Strategic Communication.
SMPA launches the Master‘s in Media and Public Affairs program, melding elements of the three BA programs.
The Center for Innovative Media is founded. The Institute for Public Diplomacy partners with the Elliott School of International Affairs and SMPA to launch an MA in global communication. The Institute changes its name to the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.
SMPA celebrates its 25th anniversary.
GW begins offering journalism courses.
First degree issued in radio/television.
SMPA launches the Master’s in Media and Public Affairs program, melding elements of the three BA programs.
The Center is renamed by the Board of Trustees to become The School of Media and Public Affairs to reflect the department's vision for the future. Speech Communication becomes part of the current department of Organizational Sciences and Communication.
Construction begins on the building designed to house, among other units, SMPA's programs, faculty, classes and video studio facilities. The building was dedicated in 2001.
The National Center for Communication Studies is founded. It houses four programs: speech communication, journalism, radio/television and political communication.
The National Center for Communication Studies is founded. It houses four programs: speech communication, journalism, radio/television and political communication.
The Center for Innovative Media is founded. The Institute for Public Diplomacy partners with the Elliott School of International Affairs and SMPA to launch an MA in global communication. The Institute changes its name to the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.
The Electronic Media program ends; The Institute for Public Diplomacy launches.
From Making Headlines to Making History:A Timeline of SMPA