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George Mason University
2002-03 University Catalog

Academic Policies and Procedures Affecting Both Undergraduates and Graduates

Registration and Attendance


Pre-registration for the next semester or Summer Term begins after mid-semester of fall or spring semesters, according to priority groups (graduate students, seniors, juniors, etc.). The Registrar's Office assigns each student an "appointment time" which is a specific date and time after which a student may register. The appointment time is based on the number of credits earned and in progress. Thus, appointment times will not be the same for all students within a particular priority group. Students should consult the Schedule of Classes, and 4GMU, (703) 993-4468, for information about their registration date and time.

Registration Procedure

The Schedule of Classes, made available by the Registrar's Office before priority registration each semester, contains written instructions for registration. Courses listed in the Schedule of Classes may be canceled if enrollment is insufficient. The university reserves the right to change the class schedule and adjust the individual section enrollment as necessary.

Registration is normally accomplished using the 4GMU telephone system. However, if a section is closed or if registration into a selected section is controlled, permission to enroll must be obtained from the academic program offering the course. The School of Management has its own process for granting this permission. For all other courses, the student must submit in person to the Registrar's Office a completed and signed Course Permit form.

Students must be present at the first meeting of every laboratory course (lecture and laboratory) to validate their registration. If students cannot attend the first meeting, they must notify the instructor beforehand if they intend to continue in that section. Otherwise, their names may be stricken from the class roll in both lecture and lab.

Students are responsible for registering properly and paying by the deadline. Students should confirm the correctness of their enrollments (including drop and add) by calling 4GMU, (703) 993-4468, or by using webGMU. Incorrect enrollments may subject students to both academic and financial penalties.

Students are responsible for full tuition payment and grades received for all courses in which they are registered unless (1) their registrations are canceled for nonpayment; (2) their registrations are canceled administratively due to suspension, dismissal or termination; (3) the section in which they are registered is canceled, or (4) they drop the course before the tuition liability begins. See the Schedule of Classes for deadlines (p.2).

Changing Registration: Drop/Add (Schedule Adjustment)

Registration changes must be completed within the schedule adjustment period defined below and indicated in the Schedule of Classes. Changes to registration are normally made using the 4GMU telephone system, (703) 993-4468.

The last day for adding a 14-week course is two calendar weeks after and including the first day of classes. The last day for dropping a 14-week course is five calendar weeks after the first day of classes (including the first day). Courses meeting for fewer than 14 weeks have add, drop, and tuition liability dates proportional to their length. These dates are published on the registrar's web site each semester.

All students are expected to enroll by the end of the add period through the official registration procedures. Students will not receive credit for courses unless their names are on the official class rosters and final grade sheets. "Retroactive credits" will not be awarded to students who report that they attended classes but were not on the official rosters. After the date listed in the Schedule of Classes for adding courses, add actions are limited to unusual circumstances beyond the student's control and require approval by the chair of the academic department offering the course.

All students are expected to drop courses in which they do not intend to continue by the end of the drop period. Registration is not canceled for failure to drop courses properly. Further, registration is not canceled for failure to attend classes unless stated otherwise in the Schedule of Classes. All classes for which a student is enrolled past the drop deadline will remain part of the official academic record. See Additional Grade NotationsAdministrative Failure in the Final Examinations and Grades section. After the date listed in the Schedule of Classes for dropping courses, withdrawal approval is granted only for nonacademic reasons by the student's academic dean. Normally this approval is given for all courses at once, constituting withdrawal from a semester (see Withdrawal from a Semester).

No change of registration transaction is complete until it is processed by the Office of Student Accounts and the Office of the Registrar.

Students will not receive written confirmation of schedule changes and are responsible for checking their schedules on 4GMU or webGMU before the end of the add or drop period to verify that their schedules are correct and that they are properly enrolled. Students will not be allowed to remain in classes unless they are properly enrolled. Students will be responsible, both financially and academically, for all courses in which they remain officially enrolled.

Canceling Registration/Withdrawal

Students who cannot attend classes during the semester for which they have pre-registered should cancel registration using the 4GMU telephone registration system, (703) 993-4468, before the early registration deadline for payment. While students may be dropped from classes for non-payment, especially between the first payment deadline and the beginning of classes, they should never rely on the "drop for non-payment" procedure to remove unwanted course registrations. Students who withdraw after the first week of classes must complete a withdrawal form at the Registrar's Office. See the Drop/ Withdrawal Chart in the Schedule of Classes.

Refunds of tuition on and after the first day of classes are made according to the Tuition Liability dates published in this catalog and the Schedule of Classes. Withdrawal after the last day for dropping a course (specified in the Academic Calendar) requires approval by the student's academic dean and is permitted only for nonacademic reasons that prevent course completion.

Withdrawal from a Semester

A student may withdraw from a semester after the end of the drop period without academic penalty only for non-academic reasons that the student's academic dean approves as sufficient to merit an exception to policy. A student who stops attending classes without the dean's approval receives Fs in all courses. Withdrawal forms are available at the student's academic dean's office.

Upon withdrawal after the drop period, the following notation is made on the student's official transcript: "Withdrew voluntarily for nonacademic reasons."

Academic Load

The minimum full-time load for undergraduate students is 12 credits per semester. For graduate full-time load, see Classification of Students in the Graduate Policies section below. For planning purposes, applicants for admission are asked to indicate their preference for full- or part-time status and for day or evening classes. However, they may freely choose between evening and day sections of courses and may change their full- or part-time status.

Although many students must work to meet living expenses, employment must not take priority over academic responsibilities. Students employed more than 20 hours a week are strongly urged not to attempt a full-time academic load. Students employed more than 40 hours a week should attempt no more than six credits per semester. Students who fail to observe these guidelines may expect no special consideration for academic problems arising from the pressures of employment. Although 12 credits per semester represent a minimum full-time undergraduate load, students wishing to graduate in four years need to carry an average of at least 15 credits per semester. Written approval must be submitted to the Registrar's Office before students can register for more than the maximum allowable credits. The Overload Permission Chart, which declares maximum credits and approval authority for all categories of students, is published in the Schedule of Classes each semester.

Course Prerequisites and Co-requisites

Course prerequisites or co-requisites state requirements for student entry into courses and reflect necessary preparation for attempting the course. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of pre- and co-requisites as stated in the catalog, and to have taken prerequisites recently enough to be of value. A student not meeting the requirements may receive an e-mail reminder, and may be asked to drop the course. Graduate course prerequisites are normally met with a grade of B- or better; undergraduate course prerequisites are normally met with a grade of C- or better. Questions about pre- or co-requisites should be addressed to the academic department or to the instructor of the course.

Repeating a Course

Some courses are annotated in their catalog description as "repeatable for credit." These are courses in which students can receive additional credit for more than one taking of the same course, up to a maximum number of credit hours. Special Topics and Independent Study courses are examples. For all other courses, the following conditions apply:

An undergraduate student who has passed a course with a grade of C- or better is not permitted to repeat the course for credit. An undergraduate student may repeat a course in which a grade of D or below has been earned, subject to restrictions stated for specific courses or by specific departments. Duplicate credit is not earned.

A graduate student who has passed a course with a grade of B- or better is not permitted to repeat the course for credit. A graduate student must obtain permission from the department offering the course to repeat a course in which a grade of C or below has been earned. Duplicate credit is not earned. Each department establishes procedures for granting permission for repeating a course.

When a course is repeated, all credits attempted are used in determination of warning, probation, suspension, termination or dismissal; the transcript shows grades for all courses attempted; and only one grade per course may be presented on the degree application.

Advisor's Permission to Register

All newly admitted students and undeclared undergraduates on academic warning or academic probation are required to obtain an advisor's approval for registration. Undergraduate students in the School of Information Technology and Engineering and in the Department of Biology (including the Medical Technology program) must obtain their advisor's approval for registration each semester. All students are encouraged to consult with their advisors concerning course registration each semester.

Permission to Register as a Graduate Student

Registration for courses in a graduate program is permitted only after the student has been notified of admission. Admitted students are given preference over Extended Studies students through the pre-registration process. Dual registration (e.g., as a graduate student and as an Extended Studies enrollee) is not permitted. The graduate student is responsible for being properly registered and aware of all regulations and procedures required by a program of study. Regulations and degree requirements are not waived nor are exceptions granted because of ignorance of university, college/school/institute, or departmental regulations.

Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates

Courses numbered 700 and above are closed to undergraduates. Undergraduates may enroll in graduate-level courses 500 to 699 only with written permission which must be obtained before registration. Forms are available at the Office of the Registrar. Written permission is waived in those undergraduate programs that request or encourage seniors to take graduate courses to meet undergraduate degree requirements and for undergraduate students admitted to Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's programs.

To enroll in graduate courses for credit applicable to an undergraduate degree, undergraduates must have completed all course prerequisites, have exhausted all upper-level undergraduate courses relevant to their educational objectives, and be able to demonstrate the level of maturity required for graduate courses.

Approval to register for reserve graduate credit (earned credit held in reserve to apply later toward a graduate degree) is given only to George Mason seniors within 15 credits of completion of undergraduate study who have successfully completed all course prerequisites. In addition, this privilege is normally extended only to seniors who have completed at least 12 credits at the university, have a cumulative grade point average of 3.000 or better, and have a major in the department offering the course. Approval for reserve graduate credit is limited to six credits and does not imply approval for admission into a graduate program at the university or that credit so earned will be accepted at another graduate school.

Undergraduates enrolled in graduate courses are eligible to receive only those letter grades applicable to graduate grading. See Grading System, below. Credit for the same course is not given toward both graduate and undergraduate degrees.

Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees

The University offers a number of Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree programs for academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to research, or to graduate or professional studies. Students admitted into these programs may take a number of graduate courses in their field of study (with permission of their undergraduate and graduate advisors) after fulfilling 90 undergraduate credit hours and fulfilling all prerequisites. Graduate credits completed with a 3.00 GPA or better will give the student Advanced Placement in the Master's Program. Students in an Accelerated Degree Program must fulfill all University requirements for the Master's Degree, including a minimum of 18 applicable graduate credit hours taken after the bachelor's degree has been completed and posted to the student's academic record. Applications and information for specific programs are available in schools and institutes. Admission is competitive and undergraduates are advised to inquire early in their undergraduate careers. Applications must be approved by the Undergraduate Coordinator in the student's major program, the Graduate Coordinator in the graduate school or department, and the relevant graduate associate dean. The university waives the graduate application fee for George Mason undergraduates.

Special Registration for Non-enrolled Students

Degree-seeking students not enrolled in a credit-bearing course, but whose academic department certifies that they are pursuing an activity related to their George Mason enrolled program, can retain active status by registering for Special Registration (SREG 200) for a $45 fee. Written approval from the student's advisor and the academic department chair is required. Special registration allows students to retain their library and computer privileges, to receive a student ID, and to buy a parking decal. Students must have active status to apply for or receive a degree, take an examination, or participate in cooperative education.

Enrolling for Credit without Grade Points

Entire courses normally graded as satisfactory/no credit are annotated in their catalog descriptions, but students may elect to take credit without grade points. Undergraduates may take up to six credits to be graded S/NC; this option applies only to electives outside the major field. Graduate students may elect the S/NC grade option only for courses that do not apply to the degree or certificate requirements. S/NC grading will also be used for courses numbered 998 and 999. See also the section Additional Grade Notations below.

Auditing a Course

Auditing a course requires the permission of the instructor of the course. Audit forms are available at the Registrar's Office. A previously audited course may be taken again for credit in a later term. A student may also audit a course previously taken and passed. A student may not change from credit to audit status nor from audit to credit status after the end of the drop period, as defined above. The usual tuition and fees apply to audit status.

Academic Common Market

The Academic Common Market (ACM) is a cooperative tuition-reduction program agreement among 16 southern states, including Virginia. Students who are not legal residents of Virginia, but who wish to pursue a degree in a selected George Mason program which is not available in their home states, may be able to participate in the ACM and thereby attend George Mason without incurring out-of-state tuition charges. Likewise, legal residents of Virginia may take advantage of programs in other states. Further information about this program is available at the Office of the Registrar.

Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area

George Mason University is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes American University, The Catholic University of America, Gallaudet University, The George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Marymount University, Southeastern University, Trinity College, the University of the District of Columbia, and the University of Maryland-College Park. Eligible George Mason students may enroll in courses at any of the consortium institutions. The consortium's cross-registration arrangement permits students enrolled in eligible degree programs at one consortium member institution to take a course at another member institution.

Participation in consortium cross registration is available to degree-seeking juniors, seniors and graduate students in good standing and currently enrolled at George Mason University. Participation is limited to courses that are approved by the student's department chair and dean, apply to the student's program of study, are not offered during that semester at George Mason University, and have space available at the visited institution. Additional restrictions apply. Students may take just one course per semester, with a career maximum of 12 credits for undergraduates and 6 credits for graduate students.

Information and regulations for both outgoing and incoming George Mason University consortium students are available in the Schedule of Classes and on the internet at consortium_policies.html. Information pertaining to all member institutions is available at Contact the Consortium Coordinator, Office of the Registrar, (703) 993-2436, for additional information, registration instructions and access to schedules and catalogs of consortium member institutions.

Attendance Policies

Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they register. Although absence alone is not a reason for lowering a grade, students are not relieved of the obligation to fulfill course assignments, including those that can only be fulfilled in class. Students who fail to participate (because of absences) in a course in which participation is a factor in evaluation, or students who miss an exam without an excuse, may be penalized according to the weighted value of the missed work as stated in the course syllabus.

Absence for Religious Observances

It is the policy of George Mason University to make every reasonable effort to allow members of the university community to observe their religious holidays without academic penalty. Absence from classes or examinations for religious reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence. Students who expect to miss classes, examinations, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance shall be provided a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete their academic responsibilities. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of major religious holidays on which they will be absent. Faculty should take religious observances into consideration when constructing class schedules and syllabi.