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George Mason University
2002-03 University Catalog

Graduate Academic Policies

Requirements Applicable To All Master's Degrees

Candidates must satisfy all university degree requirements and all requirements established by the master's program faculty. Individual departmental degree requirements are listed under the respective master's programs in this catalog.

  1. A candidate must earn a minimum of 30 graduate credits.

  2. Only graduate courses may apply toward the degree.

  3. The majority of the credits applied to the degree must be earned at the university (or, in the case of programs offered through joint, cooperative, or consortial arrangements, at the participating institutions).

  4. A minimum of 18 credits have to be taken in degree status (after admission to the degree program).

  5. A maximum of 6 credits of master's thesis research (799) or master's project may be applied to the degree.

  6. A candidate must have a minimum GPA of 3.000 in course work presented on the degree application, which may include no more than 6 credits of C or C+. (Grades of C- or D do not apply to graduate courses. The GPA calculation excludes all transfer courses and George Mason Extended Studies credits not formally approved for the degree.)

Thesis and Non-thesis Options

Requirements regarding a thesis vary with the degree program. A number of master's programs offer both a thesis and non-thesis option. The same quality of work is expected of students regardless of their chosen option. For further information, consult the section on degree requirements under each degree program.

Time Limit

Master's degree students have six years from the time of first enrollment as a degree-seeking student to complete their degrees. Individual master's programs may have stricter time limits, which are published in the catalog. Students who are given permission to re-enroll following an absence from the university may not count the six-year time limit as beginning on the date of re-enrollment. Students who will not meet published time limits due to circumstances beyond their control may petition their school, college, or institute for an extension. Failure to meet the time limits, or to secure approval of an extension request, may result in termination from the program.

Master's Thesis

When a thesis proposal has been approved by the appropriate department, the department chair sends the collegiate dean or director a copy of the thesis proposal, including the approval signatures of the master's thesis committee members. The student may enroll in thesis research (799) at the beginning of the next semester. Students must register for three credits per semester until they reach the last three required credits. Once they have only three credits remaining, students may enroll for one credit per semester until graduation. To be considered a full-time student, the advisor and department chair must certify each semester that the student is working full time on his or her thesis. Please note: Graduate students must maintain continuous enrollment while writing and submitting a thesis.

The master's thesis committee is named by the candidate's department chair, who designates a member of the graduate faculty from that department as the thesis committee chair. The committee is appointed after consultation with the candidate and the advisor, and consists of at least three persons: two must be members of the graduate faculty from the candidate's department; one may come from outside the department.

The thesis committee chair is primarily responsible for directing and guiding the candidate's research and writing activities. The student is responsible for keeping all committee members informed of the scope, plan, and progress of both the research and the thesis.

Students selecting the thesis option should obtain a copy of GMU's Thesis, Dissertation or Project Guide, which is available in the course materials store in the Johnson Center or on the University Dissertation and Thesis Services web site, collections/dtwebguide.htm. Students may register in Thesis (799) only after their thesis proposal has been submitted and approved as prescribed in the guide.

Any student not in attendance at the university who is preparing a thesis under the active supervision of a member of the faculty, or who wishes to take an examination, must maintain continuous registration for at least one credit per semester.

Thesis Submission

The original and one copy of the master's thesis with two original signed cover sheets must be deposited with the college/ school/institute dean or director for dean/director's signature prior to being transferred to the University Libraries.

For degree conferral, two copies with cover sheets signed by committee and dean/director of college/school/institute must be submitted to the library by 5 p.m. the on last Friday of classes (select the timelines link at for specific deadline date). This is also the deadline for participation in the May commencement.