Academic Policies and Procedures Affecting Both Undergraduates and Graduates
Degrees and Degree Components
Degrees and certificates that are awarded by George Mason University are in
programs and at levels authorized by the State Council of Higher Education for
Virginia. The university confers degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral
levels. An academic program may include a degree program and additional majors,
minors, or certificates. The university offers no certificate program below the
bachelor's level; some post baccalaureate certificates, however, may be awarded
concurrently with the bachelor's degree. See the chapter on Programs of Study.
Definitions of Degree Components
Degree program, major/field: A program of study that normally requires
at least 30 credits of course work in the specified field. The primary program
name (degree and major/field) appears on the diploma.
Track: A second-order component of a degree program approved by the
State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
Concentration: A second-order component of a degree program or a component
of a track. Undergraduate concentrations are approved by the unit at the undergraduate
level, or by the Graduate Council at the graduate level.
Certificate: A non-degree program complementary to a degree that requires
at least 24 undergraduate or 15 graduate credits. Certificates are approved by
the school, or college at the undergraduate level, and by the university Graduate
Council at the graduate level. The name of a completed certificate program appears
on the transcript after the conferral of an undergraduate degree.
Minor: A complement to a bachelor's degree program/major normally
requiring at least 15 credits in a field other than the student's major.
Option: The choice of a thesis or nonthesis path in graduate programs.
Catalog Requirements for Degrees
All degree candidates may choose to graduate under the terms of the catalog
in effect at the time of conferral of the degree. Not all programs and degree
components are available in all catalogs. For any one degree, all requirements
must be met as stated in a single catalog.
Bachelor's degree candidates who have been continuously enrolled (allowing
absences from Summer Terms and/or single semesters) may choose to graduate under
the terms of any catalog in effect at or after their admission. Students who have
been inactive for five or more years or who have attended another institution
without prior approval from their academic dean/director must graduate under a
catalog in effect at or after their re-enrollment.
Master's and doctoral degree candidates who have been continuously enrolled
may choose to graduate under the terms of any catalog in effect at or after their
admission. Students who have been inactive more than one year, however, must graduate
under a catalog in effect after they have been granted permission to re-enroll,
or must petition their unit dean or director to graduate under an earlier catalog.
The final decision rests with the unit dean or director.
Application for Degree
All students should initially declare and then maintain an "expected graduation
date" from George Mason through 4GMU, (703) 993-4468. In their final semester,
students who expect to complete degree requirements must confirm their intent
to graduate through the registrar's web site by the end of the fifth week of classes
for that semester. August graduates are processed according to the deadlines for
the previous spring semester. Some programs require a paper application, which
is due in the Office of the Registrar eight to ten weeks after the first day of
classes. Paper applications are obtained through the registrar's web site (http://registrar.gmu.edu).
Separate applications for each degree or certificate are required. Additional
majors and/or minors, available in bachelor's programs only, also require separate
applications and must be earned concurrently with the primary major.
For a degree to be conferred, all course work must be completed, even if the
course work is not being applied to the degree. Master's students must complete
non-course degree requirements including credit-by-exam, oral exams, theses, scholarly
papers, and comprehensive exams prior to the conferral (graduation) date. Doctoral
students must have met all requirements well before the conferral date. For detailed
deadlines, refer to www.gmu.edu/library/specialcollections/
Students must have active registration status the semester or Summer Term of
graduation; if all course work has been completed, a special registration must
be obtained. (See Special Registration for Non-enrolled Students in the Registration
and Attendance section.) Degree applications will not be automatically extended
if graduation is postponed; students must reapply for each conferral date.
Commencement exercises provide an opportunity for students and their families
to share in the conferral of academic degrees. Students wishing to participate
in commencement exercises should reserve a place for themselves in the academic
procession and reserve tickets for their guests through 4GMU, (703) 993-4468.
The system will accept their reservation two business days after the degree application
has been filed.
Bachelor's and master's candidates who declare their intent to graduate in
August but who have not yet completed all degree requirements may participate
in the commencement ceremony in anticipation of the completion of the degree.
Their names are marked with an asterisk identifying them as candidates pending
completion of all requirements. Doctoral students may participate only if they
have successfully completed all degree requirements including defending and submitting
a signed final copy of their dissertation by the deadline. Students who have completed
all degree requirements except for a required internship may participate if they
will have completed the internship by September 10.