Undergraduate students will get a year of learning at their home institution, then a year each at Luiss University in Rome, Renmin University in Beijing and GW.
By Nick Erickson
A new triple-degree program will allow aspiring global business leaders to study at prestigious institutions in a trio of capital cities around the world during their undergraduate years. George Washington University is partnering with Rome’s Luiss University and Beijing’s Renmin University on a program that will equip students with the critical and analytical skills needed in an increasingly connected world and marketplace.
Called the ACE (America, China, Europe) program, it will annually offer 15 students per university to take part in this opportunity to dive deep into the social and business cultures of three different continents.
Students will apply early in their first semester on campus—the application deadline for the inaugural ACE class of 2026 is Sept. 25—and spend their first year on their home campus before beginning their travels. They will study at Luiss in year two and Renmin in year three before finishing up at GW. The four-year program, which will also allow students to earn necessary graduation requirements from their home institutions no matter where in the world they are, culminates in earning bachelor’s degrees in business from all three schools.
GW School of Business (GWSB) Assistant Dean of Operations and Global and Experiential Education Bryan Andriano said this is a program for students passionate about receiving a worldly education, which is a key component of GW’s distinction as a global campus.
“Intercultural capacities are what we're trying to build in our students,” Andriano said. “Really, we're preparing students for an incredibly global world and marketplace so that when students graduate from an institution like GW, they're able to work across national boundaries and in highly diverse teams right away.”
Luiss initiated the conversations just prior to the pandemic as the Italian institution found a need for global, future-ready managers who were able to work and interact in dynamic and multicultural environments. GW fit the bill for a partnership.
“The largest higher education institution in Washington, D.C., the prestigious George Washington University, was a natural choice for the American arm of the program boasting not only a central location just streets away from the White House and the World Bank, but also a vast network of world-class academic opportunities, access and partnerships as well as an impressive list of distinguished alumni,” said Luiss professor Antonio Majocchi.
The ACE program offers a more sustained education abroad and for a longer duration of time. Applicants are not limited to current GWSB students, but they would need to transfer to GWSB if admitted to the program. Successful candidates must show they can handle the demands of such a lengthy international commitment. Andriano pointed out that that doesn’t necessarily mean students have to hold a passport or have any prior travel abroad experiences. They just need to show a willingness to engage in the cultural experiences at hand.
“The mission is to really provide a stretch for the students who are ready for the most rigorous kind of global learning we can provide as an institution, and that's a deep meaningful and immersive education in three very different regions of the world,” Andriano said. “There are some students who are primed to be able to do a program that's this rigorous, and so that's what we're looking for in an application.”
Students in the program will get a unique experience at each campus as all the curriculums are catered to immerse participants in the home culture, and students will also have the opportunity build their resumes by applying for local internships abroad.
"Our students arrive at GW expecting global education to be a part of their experience, and this is what global education looks like. This is a 21st-century program for highly sophisticated students."
GWSB Assistant Dean of Operations and Global and Experiential Education
One of the opportunities will be to take classes of the native language at each institution, and each school will have academic opportunities specific to them. For example, at GW, students will take their elective international business courses and can interact with global business giants such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
“There’s a very thoughtful progression, not just of what courses are needed at which time for all the degrees but also to make sure to highlight coursework that's unique to that institution because as much as we share similarities, we also have our own kind of differentiation that we wanted to make,” Andriano said.
The ACE program has a home tuition policy, and GW students can carry their financial aid into the program. In addition, work study offsets will be available, so students who qualify for work study but can’t engage while they're abroad will receive a grant to cover those expenses. Airfare will also be included, and housing will also be provided for students at each of the institutions.
Andriano, who as an undergrad was a part of the second class of Benjamin A. Gilman Scholars for Pell Grant recipients, said GW student resources such as counseling and advising services will also be available to students abroad.
Above all, the ACE program is designed to be accessible for any student who wishes to challenge themselves in an immersive environment while setting themselves up for future success and difference making.
“Our students arrive at GW expecting global education to be a part of their experience, and this is what global education looks like," Andriano said. "This is a 21st-century program for highly sophisticated students.”