- Undergraduate Policies
- Graduate Policies
- Policies and Procedures Affecting All Students
- Knowledge of University Policies
- Official Communication with Students
- Student Requests for Academic Actions
- Appeals of Academic Procedures
- Ombudsman for Student Academic Affairs
- Privacy of Student Records
- Academic Assessment
- Student Identification Card
- Change of Status, Address
- Honor System and Code
- Human Subjects Research
- Animal Use in Research
- Student Work, Intellectual Property
- Registration and Attendance
- Academic Load
- Course Prerequisites, Corequisites
- Repeating a Course
- Advisor's Permission to Register
- Credit to Be Earned at Other Institutions
- Permission to Register as Graduate Student
- Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates
- Combined Bachelor's and Accelerated Master's Degrees
- Special Registration for Nonenrolled Students
- Enrolling for Credit without Grade Points
- Auditing a Course
- Academic Common Market
- University Consortium
- Attendance Policies
- Absence for Religious Observances
- Final exams
- Grading System
- Degree Conferral
Knowledge of University Policies
Each student is responsible for knowing Mason's rules, regulations, requirements, and academic policies. This 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, 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 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 "Catalog Requirements for Degrees" section of this chapter. The Special Collections section of the Fenwick Library has copies of all previous catalogs. They may not be checked out, but may be photocopied. Any student in doubt about 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 www.gmu.edu/pubs/osp/patpol.html#author.
Official Communication with Students
Mason uses electronic mail to provide 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 Mason e-mail account, and are required to activate that account and check it regularly.
Student Requests for Academic Actions
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, insti-tute director, or school or college dean. Request forms and instructions on how to initiate an academic action are available in the academic unit and 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 Student Academic Affairs, Johnson Center, Room 245. Students will be informed of the average wait time for decisions on academic actions undertaken within their units. Those who need assistance with the academic actions form may consult their academic advisor, or they may be directed to the Ombudsman for Student Academic Affairs (see below).
Appeals of Academic Procedures
Students have the right to appeal decisions regarding requests for academic actions. The appeals process begins in the academic unit. Each college, school, and institute at Mason 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 they must demonstrate that the student has exhausted all 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 hears only those cases where procedural irregularities or a questionable application of university policies is 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, who 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.
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 usually meets twice each semester to ensure the timely resolution of cases. The committee communicates its decision to the student, the relevant unit, and the provost.
Ombudsman for Student Academic Affairs
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.
Privacy of Student Records
Office of the Registrar
Each year, Mason informs students of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. The university fully intends to comply with this act, which protects the privacy of education records, establishes the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and provides guidelines for amending 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) con-cerning alleged failures by Mason to comply with the act.
The Notification of Rights under FERPA 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. For more information about FERPA, contact the Office of the Registrar.
Students may be called upon from time to time to participate in focus groups, complete questionnaires, or contribute in some other way to this process. At any time, students may contact the Office of Insti-tutional Assessment at assessment.gmu.edu with concerns, comments, and recommendations about their educational experiences here.
Further, all academic programs at Mason 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 assessment.gmu.edu and click on "Academic Program Evaluation."
Student Identification Card
After registering, each student should obtain a university photo identification card. It must be presented to use library services and is required for admission to university events and when using facilities after normal operating hours. It is not transferable and is validated each semester after payment is made for classes. For more information, call the Photo ID Office at 703-993-1004, or go to the "Photo ID Office" section in the General Policies chapter of this catalog.
Change of Status, Address
Each student is required to maintain with Mason current contact and iden-tifying information, 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. Students are responsible for official communications directed to Mason e-mail accounts.
Addresses should be updated over the Internet using Patriot Web. 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. For more information, go to www.gmu.edu/email.
Honor System and Code
Mason 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 code's provisions. 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 to the Honor Committee. Any student who has knowledge of, but does not report, a 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 composed of students selected by the student body, and it 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 as follows:
To promote a stronger sense of mutual responsibility, respect, trust, and fairness among all members of the George Mason University community and with the desire for greater academic and personal achievement, we, the student members of the university community, have set forth this honor code: Student members of the George Mason University community pledge not to cheat, plagiarize, steal, or lie in matters related to academic work.
The Honor Committee is a group of Mason students selected to promote academic integrity as a core value for our university community. Members of the committee will also serve on hearing panels established to investigate and resolve alleged violations of the code.
Composition of the Committee
Membership will be limited to 100 members who apply for membership and are confirmed at an election held each spring. Members appointed by the chair of the Honor Committee may serve provisionally pending the next election. Members must have no Honor Code violations, maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.30, be in good academic standing, and successfully complete the training and orientation program. If more than 100 students apply for membership, a candidate list will be maintained according to the date of the application, and appointments will be made as vacancies occur. The term of office extends from initial appointment until final graduation, provided the member is not found responsible for an Honor Code violation, serves on at least two hearing panels each semester, remains in good academic standing, and maintains the required GPA.
Honor Committee Officers
A chairperson and vice chairperson will be elected in April of each year by the members of the committee. The term of office will be one year. A faculty advisor, chosen jointly by the chair of the committee and the vice president for university life, will provide administrative assistance for committee business.
Students should request an explanation of any aspect of the professor's policies regarding the Honor Code that they do not fully understand. They also have an obligation not only to follow the code themselves, but to encourage respect among their fellow students for the provisions of the code. This includes an obligation to report violations by other students to the Honor Committee.
Faculty members have a responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the learning and testing process. They should explain at the beginning of each semester what would be considered an integrity violation in their courses. Special attention should be given to the subject of plagiarism. Faculty members may actively proctor exams in situations that they believe warrant it.
Procedures for Reporting Violations
Suspected violations should be reported to the Honor Committee in a timely manner using forms provided by the Honor Committee. The Honor Committee will promptly notify the involved students in writing. Those students will meet with a representative of the Honor Committee to review the information and arrange for resolution of the matter.
When a student disputes an allegation, a five-member panel of Honor Committee members, appointed by the chair of the Honor Committee, will meet with both the student and the person(s) reporting the alleged offense. Each side will present information, and the panel will determine if clear and convincing evidence of a violation has been presented. At least four of the five panel members must judge that the evidence proves responsibility for the offense. If the student is found responsible, a sanction or sanctions will be determined by majority vote of the panel.
The hearing panel will have a faculty member present during the hearing to offer assistance when requested by the chair of the panel. All other parties may have an advisor present if that advisor is a member of the George Mason University student body, other than a student from the School of Law.
The hearing panel may impose oral and written reprimands and other such nonacademic sanctions as it deems proportionate to the offense. It can recommend sanctions to the course professor that involve reduced grades. Recommendations for nonacademic suspension and nonacademic dismissal are forwarded to the provost's delegate. In determining sanctions, panel members should keep in mind the nonpunitive educational purpose of the Honor Code process.
Appeals must be submitted in writing within seven business days of the hearing. Appeals can be granted only on the basis of new evidence, procedural irregularity, or other grounds of sufficient gravity to call into serious doubt the original hearing panel's decision. The decision to accept or deny the appeal will be made by three Honor Committee members who have had no prior contact with the case.
The Honor Committee, by majority vote, may approve proposed amendments to the Honor Code. The proposed amendments will be submitted to the student population at the next spring election, and they must be approved for implementation by a two-thirds majority of those voting.
Human Subjects Research
All research activities involving human subjects or data regarding human subjects that are directed by faculty, staff, or students or that involve faculty, staff, or students as participants must be submitted to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) for review and approval. The form for submission can be found at www.gmu.edu/pubs/osp/compliance.htm. All research activities will be reviewed by the Human Subjects Review Board prior to implementation of the activity. All student research must be supervised by a faculty member. The faculty member will serve as the principal investigator for the research, and will assume responsibility for the legal and ethical conduct of the work.
Animal Use in Research
All work with live animals, whether for research, teaching, or testing, must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to initiation of the work. All care and use of animals at Mason must be carried out under the supervision of a faculty member who is qualified and experienced in the work being conducted, and who assumes responsibility for legal and ethical conduct. The form for submission to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) can be found at www.gmu.edu/pubs/osp/animal.html.
Student Work, Intellectual Property
Copyrightable works, including dissertations and patentable works developed in connection with course work by students who are not Mason employees, are deemed to belong to the student. However, Mason 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 course work. 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 generally applicable to employees.
Registration and Attendance
Preregistration for the next semester or Summer Term begins after midsemester of fall or spring semesters, according to priority groups (graduate students, seniors, juniors, and so on). The Registrar's Office assigns each student a "time ticket," which is a specific date and time after which a student may register. The time ticket is based on the number of credits earned. Thus, the time ticket will not be the same for all students within a particular priority group. Students should consult the Schedule of Classes and the Patriot Web system 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 for insufficient enrollment. Mason reserves the right to change the class schedule and adjust the individual section enrollment as necessary.
Registration is usually accomplished using the Patriot Web 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. Various schools and departments have their own processes for granting this permission. For some 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 removed 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) via the Patriot Web system. Incorrect enrollments may result in academic and financial penalties.
Students are responsible for full tuition payment and grades received for all courses in which they are registered unless their registration is canceled for nonpayment; registration is canceled administratively due to suspension, dismissal or termination; the section is canceled; or the course is dropped before the tuition liability begins. See the Schedule of Classes for deadlines.
Registration changes must be completed within the schedule adjustment period defined below and indicated in the Schedule of Classes. Changes to registration are usually made using the Patriot Web system.
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 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 by the end of the drop period those courses that they do not intend to continue. 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. For more information, see the "Additional Grade Notations—Administrative Failure" section of this chapter. 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. This approval usually is given for all courses at once, constituting withdrawal from a semester. For more information, see the "Withdrawal from a Semester" section of this chapter.
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 via the Patriot Web system 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 preregistered should cancel registration using the Patriot Web system before the early registration deadline for payment.
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.
Elective Withdrawal for Undergraduates
Undergraduates enrolled in degree programs are eligible to withdraw from a limited number of classes without dean's approval and at the student's own discretion. Students may process a maximum of three such elective withdrawals during their entire undergraduate career at Mason. The three classes may have any number of credits. The Academic Calendar for each semester will include an open withdrawal period beginning the day following the last day to drop the class and extending through the ninth week. For classes shorter than a semester (14 weeks), the period will be set in proportion to the length of the class. This policy begins in the fall 2005 semester; procedures are published in the Schedule of Classes.
Course Withdrawal with Dean Approval
For graduate and nondegree students, withdrawal after the last day for dropping a course requires approval by the student's academic dean, and is permitted only for non- academic reasons that prevent course completion. For undergraduate students, withdrawal after the open withdrawal period, for cause within the period, or after a student has used all three elective withdrawals, requires approval by the student's academic dean and is permitted only for non- academic reasons that prevent course completion. Different college level standards for approval may apply.
Semester Withdrawal with Dean Approval
Undergraduates taking three or fewer classes may use the elective withdrawal for all courses for a semester; see the "Elective Withdrawal for Undergraduates" section of this chapter. Otherwise, students may withdraw from a semester after the end of the drop period without academic penalty only for nonacademic reasons approved by the academic dean as sufficient to merit a policy exception. Students who stop attending classes without the dean's approval, and without processing an elective withdrawal, if eligible, will receive F's in all courses. Withdrawal forms are available at the appropriate academic dean's office.
Upon official withdrawal from a semester 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 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 6 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 planning 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 declares maximum credits and approval authority for all categories of students; it is published in the Schedule of Classes each semester.
Course Prerequisites, Corequisites
Course prerequisites or corequisites 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 these as stated in the catalog, and to have taken prerequisites recently enough to be of value. The administrator of the academic unit in which the course is taught or the instructor of the course may summarily drop students who have enrolled in a course for which they have not met the prerequisites. 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 should be addressed to the academic department or course instructor.
Repeating a Course
Some courses are annotated in the catalog as "repeatable for credit." These are courses in which students receive additional credit for more than one taking of the same course, up to a maximum number of credit hours specified in the catalog. Special Topics and Independent Study courses are examples. For all other courses, the following conditions apply:
- Graduate students who have passed a course with a grade of B- or better are not permitted to repeat the course for credit. Also, they must obtain permission from the offering department 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 such permission. When a course is repeated, all credits attempted are used to determine warning, termination, or dismissal; the transcript shows grades for all courses attempted; and only one grade per course may be presented on the degree application.
- Beginning in fall 2004, undergraduate degree students may repeat courses in which they seek a higher grade. The subject code, course number, credit hours, and title must be identical. All attempts must be at Mason. Previous attempts of repeated courses will be identified and excluded from calculation in the cumulative GPA. All attempts of every course and their grades will always appear as part of the student's academic record and transcript. The grade from the most recent taking of any repeated course counts in the student's cumulative GPA, even if that grade is lower than the grade in a previous attempt. No adjustment to the cumulative GPA will be made when the grade in the repeated course is "W," as the result of an approved withdrawal.
The undergraduate repeat policy does not apply to courses both taken and repeated before the fall 2004 semester. It does apply to courses first attempted before fall 2004 and retaken fall 2004 or later. Note that individual programs may disallow students from retaking certain high-demand courses simply for the purpose of improving their grade.
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. All students are encouraged to consult with their advisors concerning course registration each semester.
Credit to Be Earned at Other Institutions
Students who apply for admission to Mason usually do not seek simultaneous enrollment at another collegiate institution. In those unique situations when a student does seek concurrent enrollment, the student must obtain advance written approval from the appropriate Mason dean. This process permits a student to enroll elsewhere in a suitable course unavailable at Mason. Catalog numbers and descriptions of courses to be taken elsewhere must be submitted with the request for approval. Students must submit an official transcript for all such course work to the Registrar's Office. Note that while credit may be approved for transfer and a minimum grade must be achieved, grades themselves do not compute into any Mason GPA. Students who enroll elsewhere without advance written permission while enrolled at Mason may not receive transfer credit for course work taken at other institutions.
Permission to Register as 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 nondegree students through the preregistration process. Dual registration—for example, as a graduate student and as a nondegree 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 any 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 combined bachelor's and 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 Mason seniors within 15 credits of completing 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 GPA of 3.00 or better, and have a major in the department offering the course. Approval for reserve graduate credit is limited to 6 credits, and does not imply approval for admission into a Mason graduate program 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. For more information, see the "Grading System" section below. Credit for the same course is not given toward both graduate and undergraduate degrees.
Combined Bachelor's and Accelerated Master's Degrees
The university offers a number of combined bachelor's and 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. More information is available in the various 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 Mason undergraduates.
Special Registration for Nonenrolled 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 Mason enrolled program, can retain active status by registering for Special Registration (ZREG 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 library and computer privileges, receive a student ID, and buy a parking decal. Students must have active status to apply for or receive a degree, take an exam, or participate in cooperative education.
Enrolling for Credit without Grade Points
Entire courses normally graded as satisfactory/no credit (S/NC) are annotated in the catalog, but students may elect to take credit without grade points. Undergraduates may take up to 6 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. For more information, see the "Additional Grade Notations" section below.
Auditing a Course
Auditing a course requires the course instructor's permission. Audit forms are available at the Registrar's Office. A previously audited course may be taken again for credit in a later term. Students may also audit a course previously taken and passed. However, students 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 Mason program that is not available in their home state, may be able to participate in the ACM and thereby attend Mason without incurring out-of-state tuition charges. Likewise, legal residents of Virginia may take advantage of programs in other states. More information about this program is available at the Office of the Registrar.
Mason is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which also includes American University, Catholic University of America, Gallaudet University, 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 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 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 Mason. 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 Mason, 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 Mason consortium students are available in the Schedule of Classes and on the web at registrar.gmu.edu/consortium_policies.html. Information pertaining to all member institutions is available at www.consortium.org/cross_registration.asp. For more information, contact the consortium coordinator in the Office of the Registrar, 703-993-2436.
Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they register. In-class participation is important not only to the individual student, but to the class as a whole. Because class participation may be a factor in grading, instructors may use absence, tardiness, or early departure as de facto evidence of nonparticipation. 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.
Absence for Religious Observances
It is Mason's policy to make every reasonable effort to allow members of the campus community to observe their religious holidays without academic penalty. Absence from classes or exams for religious reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the absence. Students who expect to miss classes, exams, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance will 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 exams are usually 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 two hours, 45 minutes. Changes in location or time of in-class final exams must be approved by the appropriate department chair and dean. A professor who is considering assigning a take-home exam 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 exams. Students must not be required to submit exams before the date of the regularly scheduled exam for a course. Final re-exams are not permitted.
Absences from final exams will not be excused except for sickness on the day of the exam or for other cause approved by the student's academic dean or director. The effect of an unexcused absence from an undergraduate final exam shall be determined by the weighted value of the exam as stated in the course syllabus provided by the instructor. If absence from a graduate final exam is unexcused, the grade for the course is entered as F. See the "Additional Grade Notations" section below for information on being 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 the "Graduate Academic Standards and Grades" section.
The university-wide system for undergraduate grading is as follows:
No credit toward graduation accrues from a failing grade, or from a grade that is replaced by a retaken course. For more information, see the "Registration and Attendance" section.
Additional Grade Notations
Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC): 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 the catalog. Students may also elect to take credit without grade. For more information, see the "Registration and Attendance" section of this chapter.
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.
Incomplete (IN): This grade 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 grades and have the final grades 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 IN's from the transcript may result in retroactive elimination of probation, suspension, termination, or dismissal.
Incomplete, extended (IX): IX is given by the Registrar's Office after receiving from the professor an official extension of time for a student to complete course work. IX affects the academic record the same way as the IN grade.
In Progress (IP): This may be given in selected courses, including graduate theses, dissertations, practica, and internships. IP may also be used when the work of BIS 490 or a course that is graded S/NC or A/B/C/NC is not completed within one semester. IP has no effect on the GPA. 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.
Absent with permission (AB): A student who has received permission from the academic dean or director to be absent from a final exam for cause beyond reasonable control may receive a temporary grade of AB. A rescheduled exam must be administered within 10 business days of the original exam date, or the AB will automatically become an F. Final determination of academic status is not complete while the AB remains on the transcript.
Special Provision (SP): The grade of SP may be given by a 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 GPA and remains on the transcript until the work is completed and a final grade is assigned.
Administrative Failure (FA): 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.
Midterm progress is reported for all full-semester 100- and 200-level classes, and for 300- and 400-level classes at the discretion of the professor. The reporting period extends from the fifth through the eighth week of the semester, allowing flexibility as to when individual faculty provide reports for their classes. Students should check with their instructors as to when reports will be complete and available for viewing through Patriot Web. These progress reports, which appear in Patriot Web as "Midterm Grades," do not become part of the student's official record. They are not calculated in any GPA, and they do not appear on any official or unofficial transcript.
Semester grade reports are available through Patriot Web. Students may print a grade report for their own records or to issue to a third party. Official semester grade reports for tuition reimbursement may be obtained through the Office of the Registrar. Students may also order an official transcript through the Registrar's Office.
Grade Point Average
Quality point values are assigned to letter grades as indicated in the grading system table. A quality 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 3-credit course earns 12 quality points. The grade point average is computed by dividing the quality points earned by the number of credit hours graded A+ through F (GPA hours).
For undergraduates, the grade point average computed for the current term gives the current GPA, which is the measure of academic performance in one semester and affects eligibility for the dean's list. The grade point average computed for all institutional credit gives the cumulative GPA, which is the basis for the university's retention policies, including good standing, warning, probation, suspension, and dismissal. Cumulative GPA also determines students' eligibility to graduate and to have university honors posted to their record at graduation.
Undergraduates with 90 or more overall earned credit hours before fall 2004 who graduate by May 2006 at the latest will have a degree GPA computed from graded courses completed at Mason and applied toward the degree. For these students, the degree GPA will affect eligibility to graduate as well as eligibility for graduation with university honors.
Current GPA and cumulative GPA do not apply to graduate students. A notation of academic warning is entered on the transcript of a graduate student who receives a grade of C, or F in a graduate course or while a grade of IN is in effect. A degree GPA is computed for graduate students based on graded courses completed at the university and applied toward the degree. For more information, see the "Graduate Policies" section of this chapter.
Change of Grade
The conditions and time limits for changes from the temporary grades IN, IP, AB, and SP to final grades appear in the "Additional Grade Notations" section.
Once a final grade 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 student performance, there may be times 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 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 the instructor is no longer associated with the university, the local administrator of the unit offering the course will appoint a faculty surrogate, who will assume magisterial authority of the instructor record at this level of appeal.
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).
Pending Grade Appeal
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 decision date.
Mason awards degrees and certificates in programs and at levels authorized by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. The university confers degrees at the bachelor, master, 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 level; some post-baccalaureate certificates, however, may be awarded concurrently with the bachelor's degree. For more information, see the Programs of Study chapter.
Definitions of Degree Components
- Degree program, major or 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 or 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 approved by the unit at the undergraduate level, or by the Graduate Council at the graduate level.
- Certificate: A nondegree 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 or major normally requiring at least 15 credits in a field other than the student's major. Of the courses presented for a minor, at least 8 credit hours must be applied only to that minor and may not be used to fulfill requirements of the student's major, concentration, or another minor.
Option: The choice of a thesis or nonthesis path in graduate programs.
Catalog Requirements for Degrees
Catalog year refers to the setting of course and noncourse requirements within academic programs as stated in the school and college section of a specific catalog. Catalog year does not set academic policies in place, however. For more information, see the "Knowledge of University Policies" section. 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 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 or 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 they 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
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 (registrar.gmu.edu). Separate applications for each degree or certificate are required. Additional majors 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 degree students must complete noncourse 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 more information, go 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. (For more information, see the "Registration and Attendance" section of this chapter.) Degree applications will not be automatically extended if graduation is postponed; students must reapply for each conferral date.
Commencement provides an opportunity for students and their families to share in the conferral of academic degrees. Students who wish to participate should use Patriot Web to reserve a place for themselves in the academic procession and reserve tickets for their guests. The system will accept their reservation two business days after the degree application has been filed.
Bachelor's and master's degree 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 degree completion. 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.