Science, Health & Medicine

The Science, Health & Medicine (SHM) cohort of the Women’s Leadership Program is designed for first-year women who are interested in medicine, public health, engineering, and/or any of the natural sciences. The SHM cohort combines an in-depth study of scientific applications, the humanities, and leadership.

The courses satisfy the requirements for majors in the Columbian College of Arts and Science, pre-medical requirements, and general curriculum requirements for other students. Successful students will graduate from the program to join the ranks of other women in science who have made significant contributions in the field.

The program combines challenging academics with a residential structure that encourages students to work together to achieve their learning goals.  Students live together in Somers Hall on the Mount Vernon Campus, along with a graduate teaching assistant who serves as a role model, mentor, and a link between the academic and residential components of the program.

Academic Program

The academic program for SHM students consists of three components:

  • two semester introduction to biological concepts and their applications
  • two semester sequence that focuses on inquiry, writing and research
  • two semester weekly symposiums that incorporate community service

The GW undergraduate tuition rate applies to students taking 12-17 credit hours per semeter. However, with the one credit requirement for the evening symposium series (WLP 1110 in the Fall and WLP 1111 in the Spring), all WLP students are automatically approved to take 18 credit hours per semester during their year in the program, at no extra charge above the undergraduate tuition rate.

Courses and Credits

General Biology I

In the SHM biology class, students investigate biological principles using active learning strategies. The focus is on understanding the underlying concepts along with critical thinking and problem solving. In the fall (BISC 1115, lecture & BISC 1125, lab), the focus is on biochemistry and cellular biology. 

University Writing Course

This course fulfills one literacy requirement. The University Writing Program provides comprehensive writing and research instruction and is required for all undergraduate students. The WLP offers a choice of topics taught by the program’s University Writing faculty. This course is not cohort-specific and students may select any of the courses offered.


This course does not fulfill an academic requirement, but counts towards the students’ overall earned credit hours. The weekly symposia are designed to supplement the academic component of the program with a wide variety of extra-curricular opportunities, many of which are exclusive to members of WLP. The symposia fall into two main categories: women’s leadership and discipline-specific exploration.  The discipline-specific events are geared towards the specific interests of students in the SHM program. The symposia include visits by women who work in different areas of science and medicine, as well as frequent opportunities to explore the resources of the Washington, DC metro area.

General Biology II

In the SHM biology classes, students investigate biological principles using active learning strategies. The goal for both courses is to introduce fundamental scientific concepts while building critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills. In the spring (BISC 1116, lecture & BISC 1126, lab), the content shifts to evolution and animal biology. 

Humanities Seminar

This course fulfils one Humanities requirement. This cross cohort, writing-intensive seminar emphasizes critical reading skills, concepts of disciplinarity and processes of producing and legitimating knowledge for women in humanities. The course is taught by a member of the WLP University Writing faculty.


The weekly symposium take place throughout the fall and spring semesters.