Washington is the capital of the United States, and is seated in the District of Columbia, which was formed by the Residence Act of 1790. Maryland and Virginia each donated a portion of land to form the federal district alongside the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The district is not a part of any individual state, but operates instead under the jurisdiction of Congress.
Washington is home to the Capitol, the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government; the Supreme Court, the seat of the judicial branch; and the White House, the home of the president and the seat of the executive branch. There are an additional 176 foreign embassies located within the capital as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profits, lobbying groups, and professional associations.
The capital city is the 20th largest American city by population with numerous commuters coming in from Maryland and Virginia each day and the metropolitan area, taken as a whole, is the sixth largest in the country. In recent years, the city has experienced a housing and urban revitalization that has contributed to the downtown renaissance and has attracted people back to the city.
The district is widely known as a cosmopolitan city, and is home to diverse populations and ethnic groups that reflect the nation’s melting pot.
The NoMa neighborhood is the area that surrounds the program offices, and stretches from Union Station on the south to Q and R streets NE on the north. The acronym stands for “North of Massachusetts Avenue.”
For almost a decade, the neighborhood has experienced robust development and expansion. Today, NoMa is best known as the home of Union Market, a restored grocery and specialty food hall. It has a growing reputation as an hip, artsy spot that offers easy access to transportation and recreational paths, defined public spaces, community art initiatives, and many seasonal events.
One of the city’s most popular placed to live, Capitol Hill is known for its 19th-century rowhouses and Eastern Market as well as its vibrant dining and nightlife scene. The neighborhood offers access to key government buildings as well as historic sites.
Columbia Heights has been the longtime home to Washington’s Hispanic population, and holds attractions including the GALA Hispanic Theater and the Mexican Cultural Institute.
Popular among creatives, international professionals and families, Columbia Heights is one of the capital’s most densely populated neighborhoods. It offers homey parks, outdoor attractions, and numerous restaurants.
Brookland and Catholic University
Brookland, which encompasses the campus of Catholic University, is known for its 193 acres of tree-lined streets, homes, and retro storefronts. It has a central art zone near the metro stop that offers galleries and performance spaces.
The neighborhood sits just across the way from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is the largest Roman Catholic Church in North America. There are numerous other religious sites throughout the neighborhood as well as more secular entertainment spots, such as the Arts Walk at Monroe Street Market and funky dining and drinking spots.
Rhode Island Avenue
In 2015, multiple agencies, together under the Great Streets Initiative, announced plans to develop residential units and retail outlets in the Rhode Island Avenue neighborhood of Northeast Washington. The revitalization, which continues today, has brought many young professionals and young families into the neighborhood.
Rhode Island Avenue NE runs along the Langdon and Brentwood neighborhood, and eventually leading into the Shaw and Logan Circle neighborhoods. The stretch offers a wide variety of popular attracts, with each neighborhood having its own unique personality.
Alexandria and Old Town
Alexandria is a charming suburban city in nearby Virginia with restaurants, shops, and waterfront access.
At its center is Old Town, a nationally designated historic district that was once home to George Washington. The town is known for King Street, a walkable mile that offers high-end shopping, antique stores, artisan workshops, and eclectic boutiques.
Students may choose to live in Virginia or Maryland, and commute to the program offices or to their clinical rotations. There are many attractive options with easy access to trains. However, commuting may not be suitable for all students and the program works closely with MSA students who are accepted into the program in Washington to ensure they have extensive support and guidance on moving to the city and finding the neighborhood that’s right for them. We encourage you to learn more about Washington, and the opportunities for living and working here.