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Policies and Procedures Affecting Both Undergraduates and Graduates
Each student is responsible for knowing the rules, regulations, requirements, and academic policies of the university. The catalog is the normal repository of policy statements; but corrections, changes, or interpretations can be promulgated by other means, including electronic publication. When the university or one of its academic units makes changes in course requirements, grading procedures, and/or the level of qualitative performance expected of its students for acceptance into particular programs, academic standing, or graduation, the changes apply to all students enrolled in the university at the time of implementation of the change and thereafter.
Students have certain choices regarding the set of degree requirements under which they graduate, as detailed in the section Catalog Requirements for Degrees. The Special Collections section of the Fenwick Library has a copy of all previous catalogs (which may not be checked out but may be photocopied) for use by staff and students.
A student in doubt concerning an academic matter should consult a faculty advisor or dean.
Students are subject to the university's stated policies regarding patents and copyrights. These policies are available at www.gmu.edu/pubs/osp/copypol.html and at www.gmu.edu/pubs/osp/patpol.html#author.
The university will use electronic mail as an effective way of providing official information to students. Examples include notices from the library, notices about academic standing, financial aid information, class materials, assignments, questions and instructor feedback. Students are responsible for the content of university communication sent to their George Mason University e-mail account, and are required to activate that account and check it regularly. Students who prefer to use another e-mail system as their primary mailbox should place an e-mail forwarder in their university account. See the web site for further information about e-mail and other communication services.
All requests for academic actions, such as special permissions or exceptions to published academic regulations, must be submitted to the head of the unit in which the student's program is housed (for example, the department chair, institute director, or school or college dean or his or her designees). Request forms and instructions on how to initiate an academic action are available in the academic unit and/ or on the unit's web site. For students who have not yet declared a major, the academic actions process is executed in the Office of Students Academic Affairs (Johnson Center, Room 245). Students will be informed of the average wait time for decisions on academic actions undertaken within their units. Students who need assistance in the preparation of the academic actions form may consult their academic advisor or may be directed to contact the Ombudsman for Student Academic Affairs (see below).
Students have the right to appeal decisions made regarding requests for academic actions. The appeals process begins in the academic unit. Each college, school, and institute in the university has its own procedures, and students will be informed of those procedures in a clear and timely manner. Students who feel the final decision rendered by a college or school is unfair may appeal to the Provost's Office. All appeals must be in writing and must demonstrate that the student has exhausted all his or her options within the college or unit.
The Provost's Office may either decide the appeal or refer the case to the University Academic Appeals Committee. The committee consists of five faculty members, including at least one member of the Faculty Senate, and the provost (or designee) who serves in an ex officio, non-voting capacity. The committee only hears cases for which procedural irregularities or a questionable application of university policies to the individual case are demonstrable, or when the provost or the committee deems the case relevant to the application of university-wide policies. The burden of proof rests with the student, and the student must provide clear and convincing documentation to support the contention that the decision was unfair. The committee's decision is final. Note that the University Academic Appeals Committee is not charged to hear grade appeals or appeals of Honor Committee decisions. For information on Grade Appeals, see the section Examinations and Grades. For Honor Code Appeals, see the section Honor System and Code.
The Provost's Office is responsible for maintaining appeals records, determining whether students have just cause, and ensuring that complete documentation is available for all committee members. The committee normally meets twice each semester to ensure the timely resolution of its cases. The committee communicates its decision to the student, the relevant unit, and the provost.
Johnson Center, Room 245
The ombudsman for student academic affairs is appointed by the provost to listen to student academic concerns, provide advice and referrals, and assist students with resolving academic conflicts. The ombudsman does not overturn academic actions but may recommend academic policy changes, where appropriate.
Office of the Registrar
Annually, George Mason University informs students of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. This act, with which the institution intends to comply fully, protects the privacy of education records, establishes the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and provides guidelines for the amendment of inaccurate or misleading data through informal and formal hearings. Students also have the right to file complaints with the Family Policy Compliance Office (U.S. Department of Education) concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with the act.
The Notification of Rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Public Notice Designating Directory Information detail students' rights and the procedures implemented by the university to comply with FERPA. Both notices are published in the Schedule of Classes and are available on the web. Questions concerning the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act may be directed to the Office of the Registrar.
Students may be called upon from time to time to participate in focus groups, to complete questionnaires or to contribute in some other way to this process. At any time, students may contact the Office of Institutional Assessment (http://assessment.GMU.edu) with concerns, comments, and recommendations about their educational experiences at George Mason University.
Further, all academic programs at George Mason University have student learning goals that are reflected in the curriculum and in extracurricular opportunities available to students. To find out more about the goals of a specific program, go to http://assessment.GMU.edu and click on "Academic Program Evaluation."
After registering, each student should obtain a university photo identification card. It must be presented to use the library services and is required for admission to university events and when using university facilities after normal operating hours. It is not transferable and is validated each semester after payment is made for classes. Questions may be directed to the Photo ID Office at (703) 993-1004.
Each student is required to maintain current contact and identifying information at the university, including permanent and local addresses, telephone numbers, student number and legal name. Each student must also maintain the university e-mail account assigned at the time of admission, forwarding to personal e-mail systems as desired. Students are responsible for official communications directed to university e-mail accounts.
Addresses should be updated over the Internet using webGMU. Name and social security number changes require official documentation and must be processed in person at the Office of the Registrar or with the original copy of a notarized request. Please see www.gmu.edu/email for further information about student e-mail and other communication services.
George Mason University shares in the tradition of an honor system that has existed in Virginia since 1842. The Honor Code is an integral part of university life. On the application for admission, students sign a statement agreeing to conform to and uphold the Honor Code. Students are responsible, therefore, for understanding the provisions of the code. In the spirit of the code, a student's word is a declaration of good faith acceptable as truth in all academic matters. Cheating and attempted cheating, plagiarism, lying, and stealing of academic work and related materials constitute Honor Code violations. To maintain an academic community according to these standards, students and faculty must report all alleged violations of the Honor Code to the Honor Committee. Any student who has knowledge of, but does not report, an Honor Code violation may be accused of lying under the Honor Code.
The Honor Committee is independent of the Student Government and the university administration. It is made up of students selected by the student body and has the primary duty of espousing the values of the Honor Code. Its secondary function is to sit as a hearing committee on all alleged violations of the code.
At the beginning of each semester, faculty members have the responsibility of explaining to their classes their policy regarding the Honor Code. They must also explain the extent to which aid, if any, is permitted on academic work. The complete Honor Code is printed below.
To promote a stronger sense of mutual responsibility, respect, trust, and fairness among all members of George Mason University, and with the desire for greater academic and personal achievement, we, the members of George Mason University, have set forth the following code of honor.
I. The Honor Committee
The Honor Committee is a group of students elected from the student body whose primary and indispensable duty is to instill the concept and spirit of the Honor Code within the student body. The secondary function of this group is to sit as a hearing committee on all alleged violations of the code.
II. Extent of the Honor Code
The Honor Code of George Mason University deals specifically with cheating and attempted cheating, plagiarism, lying, and stealing.
A. Cheating encompasses the following:
B. Plagiarism encompasses the following:
C. Lying encompasses the following: The willful and knowledgeable telling of an untruth, as well as any form of deceit, attempted deceit, or fraud in an oral or written statement relating to academic work. This includes but is not limited to the following:
D. Stealing encompasses the following:
Taking or appropriating without the permission to do so, and with the intent to keep or to make use of wrongfully, property belonging to any member of the George Mason University community or any property located on the university campus. This includes misuse of university computer resources (see the Responsible Use of Computing Policy section in the "General Policies" chapter). This section is relevant only to academic work and related materials.
III. Responsibility of the Faculty
Professors are responsible, to the best of their ability, for maintaining the integrity of the learning and testing process, both in the classroom and outside of it, and for fostering conditions of academic integrity. Faculty members may actively proctor examinations in situations that they believe warrant it.
To alleviate misunderstandings, all professors are required to delineate at the beginning of each semester what constitutes a violation of the Honor Code in their classes. This should include an explanation of
A. The extent to which collaboration or group participation is permissible in preparing term papers, laboratory exhibits or notebooks, reports of any kind, tests, quizzes, examinations, homework, or any other work
B. The extent to which the use of study aids, memoranda, books, data, or other information is permissible to fulfill course requirements and
C. Guidelines on what constitutes plagiarism, including requirements for citing sources
All professors are encouraged to send the Honor Committee a written copy of their Honor Code policies, which are kept on file. These requirements should also be stated before each test, examination, or other graded work to clarify what is permissible.
Faculty members who witness an Honor Code violation should proceed as outlined under Procedure for Reporting a Violation.
IV. Responsibility of the Students
Students should request a delineation of policy from each professor if none is given at the beginning of each semester. Students should also request an explanation of any part of the policy they do not understand. Students are responsible for understanding their professors' policies with regard to the Honor Code. Students are also responsible for understanding the provisions of the Honor Code.
As participating members of this community, all students have the duty to report to a member of the Honor Committee, within the prescribed time outlined under Procedure for Reporting a Violation, any violations of the Honor Code. This duty is important not only because it enforces the Honor Code, but also because it gives all students the opportunity to express their respect for personal integrity and an honest academic community.
V. Procedure for Reporting a Violation
All students or faculty members witnessing or discovering a violation of the Honor Code should enlist, wherever and whenever possible, one or more corroborating witnesses to the overt act. The accuser(s) (student, faculty, or staff), within 15 working days from date of realization, notifies the Honor Committee.
The Honor Committee will, within five working days, mail a letter of accusation to the suspected party. This letter is addressed to the accused student's current mailing address listed with the Registrar's Office. The letter informs the suspected parties that they have five Honor Committee working days to contact the Honor Committee office and make an appointment to see the committee chair (or his/her delegate), who advises them of their rights and options. The Honor Committee begins an investigation, which does not involve a presumption of guilt on the part of the accused. Any member of the George Mason University academic community who knows of but does not report an Honor Code violation may be accused of lying under the Honor Code.
VI. Counsel for the Accused and Accuser
Counsel for the accused and accuser may be provided by any member of the George Mason University student community, including members of the Honor Committee, but not including students of the School of Law.
VII. Appearance of Witnesses
The Honor Committee may require any member of the university community to appear as a witness before the committee at the time of the hearing. All requests for such appearances are issued by the chair of the Honor Committee, or by the counsel appointed to that case. The appearance of the accuser is required.
To find a student guilty of an honor violation, there must be a four-fifths majority vote (four to one) for a verdict of guilty. Clear and convincing evidence must be presented to find the student guilty.
A student may not be tried more than once for the same offense except when an appeal is granted.
If the accused is found guilty of an honor violation, the Honor Committee determines the nature of the penalty by majority vote.
The Honor Committee is not restricted to one kind of penalty but determines one commensurate with the seriousness of the offense. Typical of the range of penalties that may be given are the following:
A. Oral reprimand: An oral statement to the student given by the chair of the hearing. No entry is made on the student's scholastic record.
B. Written reprimand: A written censure placed in the confidential files of the Honor Committee and in the student's academic file but not made part of the student's scholastic transcript records.
C. Nonacademic probation: Exclusion from holding or running for an elected or appointed office in any organiza tion or activity associated with the university. Ineligibility to participate in any activity representing the university on either an intercollegiate or club level and ineligibility to serve as a working staff member of any student organization. This action is noted in the judicial administrator's file but is not made a part of the student's scholastic record.
D. Service hours: Library or other supervised university service hours to be completed by a specific time. Upon completion, the hold on the student's records is removed.
E. Failing grade: Recommendation in writing to the instructor for a grade of F for the work involved, or for the entire course. The student's permanent record reflects the academic evaluation made by the instructor.
F. Recommendation of suspension from the university for one or more semesters: A student's scholastic record would read, "Nonacademic suspension from (date) to (date)." The recommendation is made to the vice president for university life.
G. Recommendation of expulsion from the university: A student's scholastic record would read, "Nonacademic expulsion as of (date)." This penalty is recommended to the vice president for university life only in extraordinary circumstances, such as for repeated offenses.
A written request for an appeal, detailing new evidence, procedural irregularities, or other sufficient grounds that may have sufficient bearing on the outcome of the trial, must be presented to the chair of the Honor Committee within seven working days after the date on which the verdict was rendered.
The written request is reviewed by at least three voting members who were not involved with the original case. If a new hearing is granted, no voting member from the original hearing may vote in a second or subsequent hearing of the same case.
XI. Keeping of Records
The records of the hearing are kept in the Honor Committee's files. These records include a tape or a full transcript of the hearing and all evidence presented at the hearing. If the evidence belongs to any person other than the accused, the original is returned to the owner and a copy kept with the records of the Honor Committee.
XII. Composition of the Committee
The Honor Committee is proportionally composed of students from each school and faculty advisor(s), although the latter are nonvoting members. Undecided majors, B.I.S. students, and continuing education students are considered together as a school. The total number of members is as close to one-half of one percent of the student body as possible. Freshmen are appointed in the fall to serve until the following spring election. One or more clerks appointed by the committee from the student body serve as aides to the chair.
The chair of the committee is elected by majority vote of the committee members. For each hearing, five members of the Honor Committee are designated as voting members.
A faculty hearing advisor, acting as a nonvoting member of the committee, sits with and advises the committee at all hearings. The faculty advisor and faculty hearing advisor are chosen by the Honor Committee.
Previous Honor Committee members may serve during the Summer Term.
XIII. Eligibility of Members
Any student who maintains a 2.0 grade point average and is in good standing with the university is eligible for the Honor Committee. A committee member must maintain a 2.0 average to continue in office.
XIV. Election of the Honor Committee
The Honor Committee is elected in the spring semester. The term of office begins upon election and runs until the following spring election.
In the fall semester the chair appoints new members to fill any vacancies that have occurred and to fill the freshman seats on the committee.
XV. The Challenging and Voluntary Withdrawal of a Member of the Committee from Participation in a Particular Hearing
An accused person who challenges the right of any member of the Honor Committee to sit in judgment on him or her must present cause to the chair of the hearing.
The hearing committee then decides the validity of the challenge with the challenged member abstaining from voting. A simple majority decides the validity of any challenge. A successfully challenged committee member must not be present during the hearing.
A member of the Honor Committee who feels prejudiced as to the facts of the case, is a close friend or relative of the accused, or would not be able to render an impartial judgment must withdraw from a specific hearing.
XVI. Provision for Amendments
Upon petition of 20 percent of the student body, amendments to or revisions of the Honor Code may be proposed for ratification. Said amendments and/or revisions are voted on by the student body as a whole. A two-thirds majority of the votes cast is necessary for acceptance of any amendment or revision.
The Honor Committee may also propose amendments to be voted on by the student body as described in paragraph one of this section.
Approved amendments take effect immediately for all new cases. New provisions are not applied to cases initiated prior to the amendments.
Copyrightable works, including dissertations and patentable works developed in connection with course work by students who are not university employees are deemed to belong to the student. However, George Mason University may claim copyright ownership of a work or ownership of a patentable invention when extraordinary use of university facilities, personnel, or resources is made in the development of the materials or invention, especially when unrelated to coursework. Ownership and disposition of intellectual property developed by students while employed by the university, including undergraduates and graduate research and teaching assistants, is governed by university policies applicable to university employees generally.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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 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.
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 C- or 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.
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.
A student who applies for admission to the university does not normally seek simultaneous enrollment at another collegiate institution. In those unique situations when a student does seek concurrent enrollment at another university/ college, the student must obtain advance written approval from the appropriate George Mason dean. This process permits a student to enroll elsewhere in a suitable course unavailable at George Mason. Catalog numbers and descriptions of courses to be taken elsewhere must be submitted with the request for approval. Students who enroll elsewhere without advance written permission while enrolled at George Mason may not receive transfer credit for course work taken at other institutions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 http://registrar.gmu.edu /consortium_policies.html. Information pertaining to all member institutions is available at www.consortium.org/cross_registration.asp. 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.
Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they register. In-class participation is important to the individual student and to the class as a whole. Because class participant may be a factor in grading, instructors may use absence, tardiness, or early departure as de facto evidence of non-participation. Students who miss an exam with an acceptable excuse may be penalized according to the individual instructor's grading policy, as stated in the course syllabus.
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.
Final examinations are normally given at the end of all undergraduate courses. Except in predominantly laboratory courses, exams may not be given during the last week of classes. Exams may not exceed the scheduled length of 2 hours 45 minutes. Changes in location or time of in-class final examinations must be approved by the appropriate department chair and appropriate dean. A professor who is considering the assignment of a take-home examination or significant end of semester paper or project should inform the students at the beginning of the semester. Such assignments should be distributed by the beginning of the last week of classes so that students can coordinate them with preparation for other examinations. Students must not be required to submit examinations before the date of the regularly scheduled examination for a course. Final re-examinations are not permitted.
Absence from final examinations will not be excused except for sickness on the day of the examination or for other cause approved by the student's academic dean/director. The effect of an unexcused absence from an undergraduate final examination shall be determined by the weighted value of the examination as stated in the course syllabus provided by the instructor. If absence from a graduate final examination is unexcused, the grade for the course is entered as F. See Additional Grade Notations below for Absent with Permission.
University course work is measured in terms of quantity and quality. A credit normally represents one hour per week of lecture or recitation, or not fewer than two hours per week of laboratory work, throughout a semester. The number of credits is a measure of quantity. The grade is a measure of quality. For grades applicable to graduate courses, see Graduate Academic Standards and Grades section.
The university-wide system for undergraduate grading is as follows:
Grades below C are unsatisfactory and consist of two categories: unsatisfactory passing (C- and D); unsatisfactory failing (F). No credit towards graduation accrues from a failing grade or from an unsatisfactory, passing grade that is replaced by a retaken course. See also Repeating a Course in the section Registration and Attendance.
S/NC (Satisfactory/No Credit). An S grade reflects satisfactory work (C or better for undergraduates, B- or better for graduates); otherwise, the student receives no credit (NC). S and NC have no effect on the grade point average. Entire courses normally graded S/NC are annotated in their catalog descriptions. Students may also elect to take credit without grade. See Enrolling for Credit without Grade Points in the section Registration and Attendance.
A/B/C/NC. A student successfully completing English Composition and Introduction to Literature (ENGL 101) or Composition for Non-Native Speakers of English (ENGL 100) is graded A, A-, B+, B, B-, or C; a student not attaining at least C in these courses receives no credit (NC). NC has no effect on the grade point average.
IN (Incomplete). The grade of IN (incomplete) may be given to a student who is passing a course but who may be unable to complete scheduled course work for a cause beyond reasonable control. The student must then complete all the requirements by the end of the ninth week of the next semester (not including Summer Term), and the instructor must turn in the final grade by the end of the tenth week. Unless an explicit written extension is filed with the Registrar's Office by the faculty deadline, the grade of IN is changed by the registrar to an F. Maximum IN extension is to the end of the same semester in which it was originally due. Students who have filed their intent to graduate have only six weeks from the date of degree conferral to resolve any incomplete grade(s) and have the final grade(s) recorded by the Registrar's Office.
While a grade of IN remains on the transcript, it is treated as an unsatisfactory grade in determining probation, suspension, termination or dismissal. Removal of INs from the transcript may result in retroactive elimination of probation, suspension, termination or dismissal.
IP (In Progress). IP grades may be given in selected courses, including graduate theses, dissertations, practica, and internships. In addition, when the work of BIS 490 or of a course that is graded S/NC or A/B/C/NC is not completed within one semester, a grade of In Progress (IP) may be used. IP has no effect on the grade point average. With the exception of BIS 490, IP remains on the record until the work is completed and a final grade is assigned. An IP in BIS 490 not changed to a final grade by the last day of classes of the next semester (not including Summer Term) is changed by the registrar to F. IP grades will also be awarded in courses numbered 998 and 999 until successful completion, and then they will be changed to S/NC.
AB (Absent with permission). A student who has received permission from the student's academic dean/director to be absent from a final examination for a cause beyond reasonable control may receive a temporary grade of AB. A rescheduled exam must be administered within 10 business days of the original date of the examination or the AB will automatically become an F. Final determination of academic status is not complete while the AB remains on the transcript.
SP (Special Provision). The grade of SP may be given by the student's dean to a student who is unable to complete the course requirements because of extraordinary long-term circumstances, such as major illness or military deployment. SP has no effect on the grade point average and remains on the transcript until the work is completed and a final grade is assigned.
FA (Administrative Failure). For students who appear on the official roster and final grade form for a course, but who never attended or stopped attending a course, a grade of FA is noted on internal documents. Official documents contain the official grade of F.
Mid-term grades are reported for full semester, 100- and 200- level courses at the mid-point of each fall and spring semester. Students are notified through their university e-mail account that mid-term grades are available to them only through webGMU. Mid-term grades are intended to provide feedback to students on their academic progress. They do not become part of the student's official record: they are not calculated in any grade point average and they do not appear on any official or unofficial transcript.
Semester grade reports are available over the 4GMU telephone system, (703) 993-4468, and on-line through webGMU. Students may print a grade report for their own records, or to issue to a third party, through webGMU. Transcripts of all complete academic work may be ordered at any time with a written request to the Office of the Registrar.
Grade point values are assigned to letter grades as indicated in the Grading System table. A grade point score is computed by multiplying the value of a letter grade by the number of credits for the course. For example, a student receiving an A in a three-credit course earns 12 grade points.
Dividing the total grade points earned in a semester by the number of letter-graded credits attempted in that semester gives the current GPA. Current GPA is the measure of academic performance in one semester and affects both the Dean's List and academic standing. The cumulative GPA is computed by dividing the number of grade points earned in all George Mason University courses by the number of normally graded credits attempted at the university. Cumulative GPA is one of several criteria affecting academic dismissal. Degree GPA is computed from graded courses the student completes at the university and that are applied toward the degree. This GPA is noted on the transcript under the degree conferred. Courses not used in this calculation are noted as excluded on the transcript.
The conditions and time limits for changes from the temporary grades, IN, IP, AB and SP, to final grades appear in the section Additional Grade Notations.
Once a final grade in a course has been recorded by the Office of the Registrar, it can be changed only in cases of computational or recording error, or pursuant to a successful appeal of grade, as described below. Additional work of any type submitted to improve a grade after the final grade has been assigned and sent to the Office of the Registrar is never accepted.
All changes of final grades must be initiated, approved, and recorded by the last day of classes of the next regular semester (spring for fall grades, fall for spring, and summer term grades).
Although faculty members are generally the best judges of the performance of students in their classes, there may be instances when a student believes a grade is unfair. In such cases the student should ask the faculty member to reconsider the grade. If the student is not satisfied, an appeal may be made to the head of the unit offering the course (the department chair, institute director, or his/her designee). The chair (or other recipient of the appeal) should ask the student to return to the faculty member who assigned the grade for further consultation.
If a mutually satisfactory agreement is not reached, the student may request that the chair form a committee of three faculty peers of the faculty member who assigned the grade. If the chair believes the student's complaint is not legitimate, this reservation is reported to the chair's supervisor (usually the dean), and no review is conducted unless the dean believes the complaint has merit.
The faculty member or the student may challenge, and have replaced, one of the three members of the committee without giving a reason for the challenge. The committee meets separately with the faculty member and the student to explore the full particulars of the case. A nonparticipating observer of the student's choice may attend the meeting. Every effort is made to avoid an adversarial relationship.
After the committee has reviewed the case thoroughly, it issues to the chair (with a copy to the faculty member) a written recommendation including the reasons for its findings. At this time, the faculty member has an opportunity to take the recommended action, if any. If the matter is not resolved at this point, the chair considers the committee recommendation and makes a recommendation to the dean. The decision of the dean is not subject to further appeal. If the dean decides that a change of grade is appropriate, and the faculty member refuses to make the change, then the dean may direct the registrar to do so.
Grade appeals are not accepted after the last day of classes of the following semester (spring for fall grades, fall for spring and summer grades).
In select cases, a student may request a delay from the dean in imposing academic suspension because of a pending grade appeal that could change the student's status. An approved delay allows the student to register.
If the grade appeal is successful, the official transcript is corrected and the student continues in classes as a student in good academic standing. If the grade appeal is not successful, the student is required to stop attending all classes immediately. No record of registration for the academic period appears on a transcript, and the student receives the appropriate refund as of the date of decision.
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.
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. A concentration consists of at least 12 hours that are not applied to any other concentration. Undergraduate concentrations are not 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.
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.
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/dtwebguide.htm.
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.