- Policies and Procedures Affecting All Students
- Knowledge of University Policies
- Official Communication with Students
- Student Requests for Academic Actions
- Privacy of Student Records
- Academic Assessment
- Student Identification Card
- Change of Status, Address
- Honor System and Code
- Honor 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 or Participation in University Activities
- Final Exams
- Grading System
- Degree Conferral
- Undergraduate Policies
- Student Classification
- Academic Advising
- Advising upon Entrance into Upper Division (Junior Standing)
- Requirements for Retention
- Dean's List
- Good Academic Standing
- Student Retention Categories
- Periods of Academic Suspension
- Academic Dismissal
- Academic Period
- Academic Performance and Credit Limit
- Academic Standing and Student Activities
- Academic Clemency
- Undergraduate Academic Program
- Change of Academic Program
- Credit for More than One Undergraduate Major
- Undergraduate Certificates
- Baccalaureate Degree Requirements
- Second Bachelor's Degree
- University Honors
- Graduate Policies
- Graduate Council
- Graduate Faculty
- Academic Programs
- Student Status
- Full-Time Classification
- Change from Nondegree Status
- Removing Provisional Qualifier
- Permission to Re-Enroll
- Voluntary Resignation from Graduate Academic Program
- Academic Advising
- Transfer of Credit
- Reduction of Credit
- Credit by External Exam
- Credit from Other Institutions
- Graduate Academic Standards, Grades
- Academic Warning
- Academic Termination
- Academic Dismissal
- Requirements for Graduate Certificates
- Requirements for Master's Degrees
- Requirements for Doctoral Degrees
- University Dissertation and Thesis Services
Policies and Procedures Affecting All Students
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 changes 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 and Archives 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/research/OSP/docs/worddocuments/PatentPolicy.doc and www.gmu.edu/research/OSP/docs/worddocuments/CopyrightPolicy.doc.
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, department chair, institute 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 next page).
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 will 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, nonvoting 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 is a neutral, independent, informal, and confidential person who listens to student academic concerns, provides advice and referrals, and helps students resolve academic conflicts. The ombudsman is an advocate for fairness and the equitable treatment of students and operates independently of all formal grievance processes at the university. Meetings with the ombudsman are confidential. 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) concerning 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 Institutional Assessment at assessment.gmu.edu with concerns, comments, and recommendations about their educational experiences at Mason.
Furthermore, all academic programs have student learning goals that are reflected in the curriculum and 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 Review."
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 identifying 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.
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 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.
A chair and vice chair 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 whether 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 for review and approval. The form for submission can be found at www.gmu.edu/research/ORSP/HumanSubjects.html. All research activities will be reviewed by the Human Subjects Review Board prior to implementation of the activity. Separate approval of the vice provost for academic affairs is required for survey research involving Mason students that requires the use of contact information stored in the university database. 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 assumes responsibility for legal and ethical conduct. The form for submission to the Office of Sponsored Programs can be found at www.gmu.edu/research/ORSP/AnimalCareAndUse.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. Mason may, however, 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
Registration 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 Patriot Web 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 Patriot Web; however, if a section is closed or 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 a completed and signed course permit form in person to the Registrar's Office.
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 name 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 Patriot Web. 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 because of 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 Patriot Web.
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 complete their initial enrollment before the first day of classes for the semester. Any additions to that enrollment must be processed 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. Furthermore, registration is not canceled for failure to attend classes unless stated otherwise in the Schedule of Classes. All classes in 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 Patriot Web before the end of the add or drop period to verify that their schedules are correct and 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 registered should cancel registration using Patriot Web prior to the first day of classes for the semester.
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 began 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 nonacademic 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 nonacademic 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.
Effects of Course or Semester Withdrawal
Approved or elective withdrawal results in a grade of W on the student's transcript for the course(s) affected. While a grade of W does not affect the GPA, undergraduate students should note that withdrawn courses are part of "attempted credit hours," which serve as the basis for the student's credit level. In the university's undergraduate retention system, GPA standards increase according to credit level. See the section on Requirements for Retention.
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 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 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 credits 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.
- Except for courses that are repeatable for additional credit, such as special topics courses, undergraduate degree students may repeat courses for which they seek a higher grade. A grade received in a repeated course will replace a grade in prior takings of the same course in the calculation of the cumulative GPA, even if the more recent grade is lower. Repeat rules apply to the same course and courses designated in the catalog as equivalent. Repeat rules apply throughout a student's academic history. All instances of courses and their grades remain part of the student's transcript. Duplicate credit is not given. No adjustment to the cumulative GPA will be made when the grade in the repeated course is W. A grade in a Mason course will not be excluded from the cumulative GPA based on a subsequent taking of an equivalent course at a transfer institution. The exclusion of earlier grades of repeated courses will not change the academic standing or dean's list notations for the earlier semester. 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 registration process. Dual registration (for example, as a graduate student and 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 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 credits and fulfilling all prerequisites. A maximum of 6 graduate credits completed with a 3.00 GPA or better in each course will apply to the undergraduate degree and give the student advanced placement in the master's program. A maximum of 6 graduate credits may also be taken as reserve graduate credit and only applied to the master's. See Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates section above.
Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree, including a minimum of 18 applicable graduate credits 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; 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 field of the major, minor, or certificate program. 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 states, including Virginia, which compose the Southern Regional Education Board. Students who are not legal residents of Virginia but 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 or at registrar.gmu.edu/students/domicile/nonresidents.html.
Mason is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes American University, Catholic University of America, Corcoran College of Art and Design, 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. Credit earned through the consortium is considered resident credit, so grades count in the Mason GPA.
Information and regulations, including restricted and excluded courses, for both outgoing and incoming Mason consortium students are available in the Schedule of Classes and on the web at registrar.gmu.edu/students/consortium/index.html. Information pertaining to all member institutions is available at www.consortium.org/main.asp. For more information, call the consortium coordinator in the Office of the Registrar at 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 also 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 or Participation in University Activities
It is Mason's policy to encourage its faculty to make a reasonable effort to allow students to observe their religious holidays or to participate in university-sponsored activities (e.g., intercollegiate athletics, forensics team, dance company, etc.) without academic penalty. Absence from classes or exams for these reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the absence. Students who miss classes, exams, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance or for participation in a university activity will be provided a reasonable alternative opportunity, consistent with class attendance policies stated in the syllabus, to make up the missed work. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty, within the first two weeks of the semester, with the dates of major religious holidays on which they will be absent, and the dates for which they are requesting an excused absence for participation in any university-sponsored activity scheduled prior to the start of the semester, and as soon as possible otherwise. Students requesting an excused absence for participation in a university-sponsored activity must provide their instructor with a letter from a university official stating the dates and times that participation in the activity would result in the student missing class. Faculty members are encouraged to 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. Retaking final exams is not permitted.
Absences from final exams will not be excused except for sickness on the day of the exam or 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, Grades section of this chapter.
The university-wide system for undergraduate grading is as follows:
Grade Points Courses
No credit toward graduation accrues from a failing grade or a grade that is replaced by a retaken course. For more information, see the Registration and Attendance section of this chapter.
Additional Grade Notations
Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC): An S grade reflects satisfactory work (C or better for undergraduate students, B- or better for graduate students); otherwise, the student receives no credit (NC). S and NC have no effect on the student's GPA. 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: Students who successfully complete English Composition and Introduction to Literature (ENGL 101) or Composition for Non-Native Speakers of English (ENGL 100) are graded A, A-, B+, B, B-, or C. Students who do not attain at least a C in these courses receive no credit (NC). NC has no effect on the GPA.
Incomplete (IN): This grade may be given to students who are 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 10th 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. The 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 INs 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 an IN does.
In Progress (IP): This grade 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 an 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 students who are 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 who 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.
Official transcripts include all credit course work attempted at the university. Official transcripts will not be issued when unsatisfied financial obligations to the university exist. Unofficial transcripts may be printed by the student from Patriot Web. See registrar.gmu.edu for information and instructions on requesting official transcripts.
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 GPA is computed by dividing the quality points earned by the number of credits graded A+ through F (GPA hours).
For undergraduates, the GPA 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 GPA 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 have university honors posted to their record at graduation.
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 a grade of F in a graduate course or while a grade of IN or IX 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 the 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, and 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 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. 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 that includes 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 (SCHEV). 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 level; some postbaccalaureate 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 for bachelor's and master's degrees. Only the degree name appears for doctoral degrees. An undergraduate who desires to graduate with a BA or BS degree in two or more subjects must meet departmental requirements for the major in each field. For each major, at least 18 credits used to fulfill its requirements cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of another major, a concentration, a minor, or an undergraduate certificate.
- Track: A second-order component of a degree program approved by SCHEV
- 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. For each undergraduate certificate, at least 15 credits used to fulfill its requirements cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of a major, a concentration, a minor, or another undergraduate certificate.
- 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 credits must be applied only to that minor and may not be used to fulfill requirements of the student's major, concentration, an undergraduate certificate, 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 of this chapter. 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 the semester prior to the expected completion of degree requirements, students must confirm their intent to graduate through Patriot Web. The deadline to file the intent to graduate is generally six to seven months prior to the conferral date. Specific deadlines are published on the registrar's web site registrar.gmu.edu. Some graduate programs require a paper application. Applications are available on the registrar's web site as well as complete instructions and deadlines regarding graduation. Separate applications for each graduate degree or certificate are required.
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 non-course degree requirements including credit-by-exam, oral exams, theses, scholarly papers, and comprehensive exams prior to the conferral (graduation) date. Master's theses and doctoral dissertations are due in the library well before the conferral date. For more information, go to www.gmu.edu/library/specialcollections/dtwebguide.
Students must have active registration status the semester or summer term of graduation. Students not registered for course work in the term of graduation must obtain a special registration. (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 check the web site at events.gmu.edu for current information about all Commencement details including tickets, regalia, and schedules. 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.
Admitted undergraduates are classified as follows: freshman, 0-29 credits completed; sophomore, 30-59 credits completed; junior, 60-89 credits completed; and senior, 90 or more credits completed. Full-time undergraduates are classified as those students enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester. Please note that different criteria for full-time status may apply for tuition, verification, and financial aid purposes. For more information, contact the offices of Student Accounts, Registrar, and Student Financial Aid, respectively.
Admitted undergraduate students should meet regularly with an academic advisor to discuss academic programs, educational goals, and career plans. With their advisors, students plan academic programs to meet the general university degree requirements and specific requirements within their major fields. It is the student's responsibility to read the catalog and know and fulfill the requirements of a specific baccalaureate degree. To assist in the advising process, Mason provides a computerized degree evaluation. Students may access their individualized reports through Patriot Web.
Individual departments establish their own advising processes; students should check with their departments for the appropriate procedures. During their freshman and sophomore years, students in the Honors Program in General Education plan their schedules with honors advisors. Every department coordinates advising of its honors students through the Honors Office, Enterprise Hall, Room 305.
Some departments require that students be advised prior to registration each semester. For the categories of students who may not register until they have seen an advisor, see the Registration and Attendance section of this chapter.
Academic Advising Center Student Union Building I, Room 304, MS 2E6 Phone: 703-993-2470 Fax: 703-993-2478
Admitted students who have not yet declared a major or are considering a change of major are assisted in the Academic Advising Center. Students are encouraged to make an appointment for information about general education requirements, programs, policies, procedures, and other academic concerns. The center also provides information and guidance for students who are interested in preprofessional programs in the health fields. Advising is available by appointment Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Tuesday until 8 p.m. when classes are in session.
Student Academic Affairs and Advising Johnson Center, Room 245, MS 2C4 Phone: 703-993-9082 Fax: 703-993-9008
Student Academic Affairs and Advising consists of five centers: the Freshman Center, Transfer Center, University Scholars, Postgraduate Fellowships and Scholarships, and the University Transitions Office. Student Academic Affairs and Advising also rules on all academic actions submitted by students not in a declared major.
Advising upon Entrance into Upper Division (Junior Standing)
Upon entrance into the upper division, every student should meet with an advisor to adopt a program of study. This meeting should cover the following:
- Review of requirements for the degree and major the student has chosen
- Review of the student's record including any deficiencies, which must be made up
- Discussion of career or graduate study options open to the student enrolled in such a program
- Opportunities for departmental faculty to evaluate the student's suitability to major in the chosen discipline.
This advising session occurs in the semester in which the student will have completed 60 or more acceptable credits. The results are a matter of record, with any approved modifications being entered into the student's computerized degree plan.
Although an upper-division student who has filed an approved program of study is usually not required to consult again with an academic advisor, it remains the student's responsibility to seek approval for any program change so that the computerized degree plan may be kept current. In particular, once a student has completed 60 credits, a change of major requires an extended session with an advisor in the new major and approval of a new program of study before the change is complete.
A student in lower-division status may change majors by filing a Change/Declaration of Academic Program Form with the registrar. These are minimal advising procedures to be followed in all undergraduate segments of the university; individual units may require additional advising sessions.
Health Professions Advising and the Medical Sciences Advisory Committee
Students are responsible for educating themselves about a career in the health professions (e.g., dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, optometry, podiatry, or veterinary medicine) and should become familiar with the admissions process. The health professions advisor coordinates academic and career advising for Mason students and alumni as the chair of the Medical Sciences Advisory Committee. The committee reviews all qualified candidates for admission to health profession programs in dentistry, podiatry, veterinary, allopathic, and osteopathic medicine to create a composite letter of evaluation for the applicant. The committee comprises university faculty and professional advising staff. For more information, consult the advising web site or contact the health professions advisor, Student Academic Affairs and Advising, 4400 University Drive, MS 2C4, Fairfax, Virginia 22030.
Requirements for Retention
The following system of academic progress became effective in fall 2004 and applies to all undergraduate degree and nondegree students at Mason, including those formerly categorized as extended studies students.
Academic retention is based solely on the cumulative GPA. The significance of the cumulative GPA varies according to the credit level or attempted credit hours, which is a combination of all credits attempted at the university plus credits transferred from other institutions or obtained by testing.
Students in degree status who take at least 6 credits in a semester and earn a semester GPA of 3.50 or higher merit placement on the Dean's List. Courses subsequently repeated and excluded will not retroactively affect Dean's List status. This notation will be placed on the individual's permanent record.
Good Academic Standing
Students are in good academic standing unless they are academically dismissed, suspended, or on probation. Students on academic warning are still considered to be in good academic standing.
Student Retention Categories
The university's minimum standard for academic achievement is 2.00 on a 4.00 scale. Students with at least 7 attempted credits and a cumulative GPA of less than 2.00 fall into one of three categories: warning, probation, and suspension. All notations of academic standing are included in a student's permanent record. The cumulative GPA range that defines each of the categories varies according to the credit level, as noted below:
GPA Retention Levels
|Attempted Credit Hours||Cumulative GPA Range||Cumulative GPA Range||Cumulative GPA Range|
Periods of Academic Suspension
Students in degree status who incur a first suspension following a spring semester or summer term serve a period of suspension through the next fall semester. Students who incur a first suspension following a fall semester serve a period of suspension through the next summer term. A second suspension is for one calendar year: two semesters and a summer term. Students returning from suspension are on probation for one academic period. Course credits earned at other colleges during the period of suspension from Mason (for academic or nonacademic reasons) are not accepted for the degree program.
Nondegree undergraduate students placed on suspension have no specified rights of return to the university. Nondegree students who have been suspended and wish to resume their studies after a period of absence must qualify for readmission through the Office of Admissions.
A third suspension results in academic dismissal, a status that is usually permanent. In exceptional cases, students who have been dismissed may apply for readmission after a minimum absence of three calendar years from the university, but only if they meet one or more of the following conditions after having been dismissed:
- Demonstrate academic success (2.50 GPA or better) in at least 18 credits of classes taken during the period of dismissal at an accredited two- or four-year college or university. Such credits may be considered for transfer back to Mason, but there is no guarantee of acceptance of the credit.
- Provide other evidence of a renewed ability to achieve academic success.
- Provide evidence that all degree requirements will be met once an additional 12 or fewer credits are complete.
Meeting the above requirements does not guarantee a return. The Office of Admissions and the appropriate school or college dean will make individual decisions in the best academic interests of the student and the university. For students seeking readmission to a new school or college, the new dean will make the decision in consultation with the former dean and the Office of Admissions. For more information, see the Academic Clemency section of this chapter.
Academic period refers to fall semester, spring semester, or summer term. For determining the duration of academic warning, probation, and suspension, an academic period is defined as follows:
Each academic period begins on the 15th day following the last scheduled day of final exams for the previous period. Each academic period ends on the 14th day after the last scheduled day of final exams. For example, assume that the last scheduled day of final exams for a semester is Monday, December 23. That period then ends on Monday, January 6. The next period begins on Tuesday, January 7.
Academic Performance and Credit Limit
Undergraduate students on warning, probation, or returning from suspension are limited to a maximum of 13 credits for following semesters until they achieve good standing. Students registered for 14 or more credits are responsible for seeking academic advisement and adjusting their enrollment to a maximum of 13 credits.
Academic Standing and Student Activities
Only students in good academic standing are eligible to hold or run for elective or appointive office in any organization or activity associated with Mason, compete in any athletic or other activity representing Mason on either an intercollegiate or a club level, or serve as a working staff member of any student organization. Note that students on warning are considered to be in good standing.
A student whose eligibility for an activity requires the completion of a semester will have fulfilled that requirement when the student's publicly scheduled exams are over, unless continued eligibility depends on the grades received. In the latter case, the student will not become eligible until the end of the semester as defined in the Academic Period section of this chapter.
Undergraduate students returning to Mason after a separation of a minimum of three calendar years may petition their academic dean to have a number of previously earned grades and credits removed from the calculation of their cumulative GPA. Up to 16 credits and corresponding grades from courses previously completed at Mason may be removed from calculation of the GPA and will not be counted toward graduation requirements. Note that the courses, with their original grades and the notation "Academic Clemency," will remain listed on the student's transcript permanently. The petition for clemency must be filed in the first semester of returning to Mason; approval may depend on successful completion of that semester. Approval of the request is neither automatic nor guaranteed.
Undergraduate Academic Program
To plan a sound academic program, undergraduates should select a degree and major as soon as it is practical but no later than four weeks before the end of the sophomore year. To declare a major, students should confer with the appropriate advisor or designate of either the new major program or, if undeclared, the Academic Advising Center (in Student Union Building I, Room 304). Students should obtain signatures from both departments in the Change of Major section of the Change/Declaration of Academic Program Form, which is available in the Registrar's Office and the Academic Advising Center.
Change of Academic Program
Students considering a change in their academic program (major or degree) are encouraged to see an advisor in the Academic Advising Center or a faculty advisor in their prospective discipline. Departmental chapters of this catalog describe requirements for acceptance. Students not meeting the requirements may appeal to the department chair for an exception.
Once a student has completed 60 credits, a change of major requires a meeting with an advisor in the new major before the change is complete. To file a change of major, signatures of advisors or designates in both the new and former major programs must be obtained on the Change/Declaration of Academic Program Form.
Credit for More than One Undergraduate Major
Students seeking to graduate with a BA or BS degree in two or more subjects must meet departmental requirements for the major in each field. For each major, at least 18 credits used to fulfill its requirements cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of another major, a concentration, a minor, or an undergraduate certificate.
Students given permission to pursue two or more concurrent majors must complete the Declaration of Second Major section of the Change/Declaration of Academic Program form, available in the Registrar's Office or at registrar.gmu.edu/forms. The applicant must present a detailed program of study for both majors and obtain the authorizing signature from the chair or director of the second major program and from the dean or director, if required by the college, school, or institute. When required, department chairs and deans or directors must also approve all changes to the programs of study. Students may begin a program at any time that permits completion before the anticipated graduation date.
Students may elect minor programs of study in addition to major fields by completing the Declaration or Change of Minor section of the Change/Declaration of Academic Program Form. Minors usually require between 15 and 21 credits of study, at least 8 of which must be applied only to that minor and may not be used to fulfill requirements of the student's major, concentration, an undergraduate certificate, or another minor. Students must complete at least 6 credits in their minor at Mason and achieve a minimum 2.00 GPA in courses applied to the minor. Students interested in a minor should consult the appropriate chapters in this catalog.
Students may elect undergraduate certificate programs of study in addition to major fields by completing the Change/Declaration of Academic Program Form. Students pursuing undergraduate certificates must be admitted to Mason in degree-seeking status. Undergraduate certificate programs require at least 24 credits, 15 of which may not also be used to fulfill the requirements of a major, a concentration, a minor, or another undergraduate certificate. More than half of the credit hours for an undergraduate certificate must be taken at Mason, and more than half must be taken in degree-seeking status. Students must achieve at least a 2.00 GPA in courses applied to the certificate. Students with a previous bachelor's degree, who are admitted to an undergraduate certificate program alone, have four years to complete certificate requirements. A completed undergraduate certificate may be posted to the transcript only after completion of a bachelor's degree. Note that these are university minimum requirements; individual programs may have higher standards and/or more restrictive requirements.
Baccalaureate Degree Requirements
To qualify for a bachelor's degree, students must have been admitted, completed at least 120 credits that count toward graduation, fulfilled all degree requirements, and achieved a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or higher. Students seeking a bachelor's degree must apply at least 45 credits of upper-level courses (numbered 300 or above) toward graduation requirements. Some programs may have higher standards for grades allowable in majors, minors, or certificates. Please refer to the appropriate section of this catalog for more information.
General Education Requirements
All undergraduates seeking a baccalaureate degree at Mason must complete the General Education requirements. For more details, go to the University General Education chapter of this catalog. Additional requirements for specific degree programs can be found in the description of each college or school in this catalog.
English Composition Requirement
Mason requires students to complete at least two semesters of English composition. Students enrolled in the honors program in General Education or New Century College learning communities complete the English composition requirement as specified in those programs. All other students, unless they have received equivalent credit through transfer or proficiency exam, must enroll in ENGL 101 (or 100) upon admission and, after meeting its prerequisites, ENGL 302. Students must attain a minimum grade of C in composition courses to fulfill degree requirements.
Writing-Intensive Course Requirement
In addition to English composition and as part of the university's commitment to literacy in all programs, at least one course in each major has been designated "writing intensive." While other courses in the major may require written projects, writing-intensive courses emphasize the process of drafting and revision. Faculty members give constructive comments on drafts of at least one course project. Students then revise and resubmit, or use for future submissions. Writing-intensive courses are numbered 300 and above. See the description of each major for the specific courses that fulfill the requirement.
At least one-fourth of the total credits applied to the degree must be completed at Mason and include at least 12 upper-level credits (courses numbered 300 or above) in the major program. For more information, see the Credit to Be Earned at Other Institutions section.
Second Bachelor's Degree
A second bachelor's degree may be earned, either concurrently or sequentially. To graduate with two degrees, students must present at least 30 Mason credits beyond those required by either degree alone. For sequential awarding of degrees, students must be readmitted for the second degree through the Office of Admissions and complete a minimum of 30 credit hours after that point to have fulfilled the residency requirement for that degree.
Students who are concurrently pursuing two bachelor's degrees at Mason must present a detailed program of study for both degrees and obtain authorizing signatures from the chair or director of each degree program and the dean or director, if required by the college, school, or institute. Students may declare the second concurrent degree by completing the Declaration of Second Bachelor's Degree section of the Change/Declaration of Academic Program Form. Students pursuing concurrent degrees should apply to graduate when both degrees are complete, or be prepared to meet the requirements noted above for sequential awarding of degrees.
A student graduates with distinction from the university when at least 60 credits applied toward graduation are earned at Mason, and the student's cumulative GPA is at least equal to one of three values: 3.90, summa cum laude; 3.70, magna cum laude; or 3.50, cum laude.
A student graduates with recognition from the university when between 45 and 59 (inclusive) credits applied toward graduation are earned at Mason, and the student's cumulative GPA is at least 3.80.
The Graduate Council is the governing body for all graduate academic policies and procedures. The council approves all new graduate programs; authorizes all graduate course work, policies, and degrees conferred by the university; and sets minimum standards for admission to and graduation from any graduate program. These are minimum standards that all programs must meet; individual programs may set and enforce higher standards. The Office of the Provost administers university graduate policies for the Graduate Council.
The graduate faculty consists of all tenured and tenure-track faculty members and other faculty members appointed to the graduate faculty by the provost.
At the graduate level, Mason offers certificates and master's and doctoral degrees. There are also a number of combined bachelor's and accelerated master's degree programs for academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to research. For more information, see the Registration and Attendance section of this chapter.
Students may access graduate classes and programs according to their status as nondegree or enrolled degree students. For more information, see the Admission chapter of this catalog.
Graduate students are considered full time if they are enrolled in at least 9 graduate credits per semester or hold a full-time assistantship (20 hours a week) and are enrolled in at least 6 graduate credits per semester. Graduate students who are enrolled in dissertation credits (either 998 or 999) are considered full time if they are enrolled in at least 6 credits per semester, regardless of whether they hold an assistantship. Graduate students who have completed the minimum number of credits required by their degree program, including the minimum number of credits of 998 and 999 required by the university and their degree program, are considered full time if they are registered for at least 1 credit of 999 and their advisors and department chairs certify each semester that they are working full time on the dissertation. Note that different criteria for full-time status may apply for tuition, verification, loan deferral, and financial aid. Contact Student Accounts, the Registrar's Office, and Student Financial Aid, respectively, for more information.
Change from Nondegree Status
A student admitted for graduate study in nondegree status may request a change to degree status within the same program. To do so, the student must secure approval on the appropriate Student Request Form. All admission requirements (as usually defined by the student's program for degree status) must be met, including official transcripts and letters of recommendation. If the student intends to use credits earned in nondegree status toward a degree, the credits must be approved on the appropriate Transfer of Credit form. There is a limit on the number of credits that can be transferred when changing from nondegree to degree status; please see the applicable degree program for specific information.
Removing Provisional Qualifier
For policies concerning students admitted provisionally, see the Graduate Admission Policies section in the Admission chapter of this catalog.
Permission to Re-Enroll
Permission to re-enroll in a program must be obtained by all master's and doctoral degree students who have failed to enroll in at least 1 credit of course work for two or more consecutive semesters at Mason. A program may allow a student to petition to graduate under any catalog in effect while the student was enrolled. The final decision rests with the unit dean or director. Forms are available from the Office of the Registrar at registrar.gmu.edu/forms.
Voluntary Resignation from Graduate Academic Program
Degree-seeking students may officially resign from their academic program with the approval of their department or program chair and their dean. The Voluntary Resignation form must be approved by the student's program and Student Accounts, then submitted to the Registrar's Office for notation on the transcript. Resignations after the drop period will result in grades of W on the student's transcript for that semester, and removal from any future registered courses. Program resignation is final. Students who have been granted a resignation will not be able to register for any courses unless admitted to another degree program or nondegree status in a different program.
At the time the student was admitted to graduate study, the student is assigned a faculty advisor by the academic program responsible for the student's program of study. Registration for newly admitted graduate students, as well as continuing students, begins with a visit to the student's academic advisor. There, the student can obtain information about specific courses and degree requirements and develop an individual program of study. Progress in an approved program of study is the shared responsibility of the student and the advisor. The graduate student is responsible for compliance with the policies and procedures of the college, school, or institute, and all applicable departmental requirements that govern the individual program of study. Students should consult with their advisors before registration each semester.
Transfer of Credit
Graduate credit earned prior to admission to a certificate, master's, or doctoral program may be eligible to be transferred into the program and applied to the certificate or degree. Transfer of credit requires the approval of the program director and dean or director of the school, college, or institute. They will determine whether the credit is eligible for transfer and applicable to the specific certificate or degree program. Note that credits accepted for transfer do not compute into any Mason GPA. Limits on the number of credits that can be transferred derive from the degree requirements given below.
Credit is usually considered for transfer at the student's request at the time of initial registration as a degree-seeking student. Students must supply official transcripts plus an official transcript evaluation for transcripts from outside the United States, and an official translation for transcripts not in English if these documents were not supplied in the admission process. Credit transfer requests from students who are admitted provisionally are not considered until they have fulfilled the conditions of their admission and had the provisional qualifier removed from their records.
To be eligible for transfer credit, the credit must be graduate credit earned at another accredited university, earned at another institution and recommended for graduate credit in the American Council on Education guidebook, or earned at Mason while in a nondegree status or enrolled through extended studies. The credit must have been earned within six years prior to first enrollment as an admitted student in the specific certificate or degree program, and a minimum grade of B (3.00) must have been earned. The course must be applicable toward a degree at the institution offering the course. Extension and in-service courses that are not intended by the institution offering the courses to be applied to a degree program are not eligible for transfer credit to Mason. The credits cannot have been previously applied toward a degree at another institution or Mason; however, up to 3 credits previously applied to a degree program at another institution may be transferred into a certificate program at Mason.
Reduction of Credit
The number of credits required by a doctoral, master of fine arts, or master's program of more than 39 credits may be reduced on the basis of a previously earned master's degree. Reduction of credit requires the approval of the program director and the dean or director of the school, college, or institute. They determine whether the credits are eligible for reduction of credit and applicable to the degree program and the number of credits to be reduced. Reduction of credit is limited to a maximum of 30 credits in a doctoral program, 20 in an MFA program, and 18 in the MA in psychology concentration in school psychology, and derive from the degree requirements given below.
Students requesting a reduction of credit must supply official transcripts plus an official transcript evaluation for transcripts from outside the United States, and an official translation for transcripts not in English if these documents were not supplied in the admissions process. Reduction-of-credit requests from students who are admitted provisionally are not considered until the students have fulfilled the conditions of their admission and had the provisional qualifier removed from their records.
Credits used in reduction of credit are not subject to time limits, and the credits must have been applied to a previous degree. All the other conditions given above for eligibility of transfer of credit apply also to reduction of credits.
Credit by External Exam
Degree credit for satisfactory completion of an external exam is limited to those exams and achievement levels specifically approved by the Graduate Council.
Credit from Other Institutions
Students enrolled in a degree program may take graduate courses at another accredited institution and apply these credits to a master's or doctoral degree with prior approval. Approval must be secured in writing from the director of the graduate program and the dean or director of the school, college, or institute, and submitted to Mason's Office of the Registrar before registering at the other institution. Upon completion of the course, students must arrange for an official transcript to be submitted to Mason so that the credits may be transferred into their Mason degree program. These credits are subject to all the other conditions given above for transfer credit, including limits on numbers of credits that can be taken elsewhere. Note that credits accepted for transfer do not compute into any Mason GPA. Permission to take a course elsewhere does not exempt a graduate student from satisfying the degree requirements given below.
Enrolled, degree-seeking graduate students may be eligible to take courses through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. See the University Consortium section. Credits earned through the consortium are considered resident, not transfer, credits, and are therefore not subject to transfer of credit conditions or limitations.
Graduate Academic Standards, Grades
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. The university-wide system for grading graduate courses is as follows:
|Grade||Quality Points||Graduate Courses|
* Although a B- is a satisfactory grade for a course, students must maintain a 3.00 average in their degree program and present a 3.00 GPA on the courses listed on the graduation application.
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.
Graduate students who are admitted provisionally may be terminated from their academic programs if they fail to meet the conditions of their admission in the time limits set at admission. Students admitted provisionally and nondegree graduate students may be terminated upon accumulating grades of F in two courses or 9 credits of unsatisfactory grades in graduate courses. Provisionally admitted students who accumulate 12 credits of unsatisfactory grades in undergraduate courses will also be terminated. (For students admitted provisionally, graduate and undergraduate grades are not combined in the calculation of unsatisfactory credits leading toward termination.) Students may be terminated if they fail to achieve satisfactory progress toward their degree. A letter of termination is sent by the dean or director of the school, college, or institute, and notification of academic termination is affixed to the graduate student's official record. Students who are terminated are no longer eligible to take courses in the program but may apply to another degree program or take courses in other programs through nondegree studies.
A degree-seeking graduate student is dismissed after accumulating grades of F in two courses or 9 credits of unsatisfactory grades in graduate courses. These are minimum standards of academic performance; some programs have higher standards. A student may also be dismissed for failure to meet other program requirements such as doctoral competence exams. The notation of academic dismissal is affixed to the graduate student's official record. A student who is dismissed may not take additional course work at Mason.
Requirements for Graduate Certificates
Candidates must satisfy all university requirements and all requirements established by the graduate certificate program faculty. Individual departmental graduate certificate requirements are listed under their academic departments in this catalog. Note that the following are university minimum requirements; individual programs may have higher standards and/or more restrictive requirements.
- Graduate certificate programs require a minimum of 15 graduate credits.
- Only graduate courses may apply toward the graduate certificate.
- A maximum of 3 graduate credits taken at another institution can be transferred into a graduate certificate program. See Transfer of Credit section.
- Candidates must have a minimum GPA of 3.00 in course work presented on the certificate application, which may include no more than 3 credits of C. (Grades of C+, C-, and D do not apply to graduate courses.) The GPA calculation excludes transfer credits.
- Certificate students are subject to graduate termination and dismissal policies.
Students in Master's or Doctoral Programs also Pursuing Graduate Certificates
Students must be admitted to the master's or doctoral program in degree status. They must also be admitted to degree status for the graduate certificate program at least one semester before completion of certificate requirements.
Course Work in Degree Status
More than half of the credits required for the certificate program must be taken in degree status for the master's or doctoral degree.
The time limits coincide with the six-year time limit for master's degrees or the six-year time limit for advancement to candidacy in a doctoral degree. Master's and doctoral time limit rules apply.
Students may be enrolled in one or two graduate certificate programs while they pursue a master's and/or doctoral degree. Students who have completed a graduate certificate may subsequently be approved to apply many of those credit hours to a master's degree. Courses applying to the master's or doctoral program may also apply to up to two graduate certificate programs. When such sharing of credits between graduate certificates and graduate degrees has occurred, a maximum of two graduate certificates may be conferred.
Students in Graduate Certificate Programs Only
Students must be admitted to the graduate certificate program in degree status.
Course Work in Degree Status
More than half of the credits required for the graduate certificate program must be taken in degree status.
The time limit for completion is six years from the date of enrollment into degree status for the graduate certificate program. The time limit is not extended because of an absence and subsequent re-enrollment into the graduate certificate program. Failure to meet the time limit or to secure an extension request may result in termination from the program.
Students may be enrolled in two graduate certificate programs at the same time. The graduation application for each graduate certificate must include a minimum of 12 credits that apply only to that certificate and not to another.
Requirements for Master's Degrees
Candidates must satisfy all university degree requirements and all requirements established by the master's program faculty. Individual departmental degree requirements are listed under the respective master's programs in this catalog.
- Candidates must earn a minimum of 30 graduate credits.
- Only graduate courses may apply toward the degree.
- The majority of the credits applied to the degree must be earned at Mason or, in the case of programs offered through joint, cooperative, or consortial arrangements, at the participating institutions.
- A minimum of 18 credits must be taken in degree status, after admission to the degree program.
- A maximum of 6 credits of master's thesis research (799) or master's project may be applied to the degree.
- Candidates must have a minimum GPA of 3.00 in course work presented on the degree application, which may include no more than 6 credits of C. Grades of C, C-, or D do not apply to graduate courses. The GPA calculation excludes all transfer courses and Mason nondegree studies credits not formally approved for the degree.
Requirements regarding a thesis vary with the degree program. A number of master's programs offer both thesis and nonthesis options. The same quality of work is expected of students regardless of their chosen option. For more information, consult the section on degree requirements under each degree program.
Master's degree students have six years from the time of first enrollment as a degree-seeking student to complete their degrees. Individual master's programs may have stricter time limits, which are published in this catalog. Students who are given permission to re-enroll following an absence from Mason may not count the six-year time limit as beginning on the date of re-enrollment. Students who will not meet published time limits because of circumstances beyond their control may petition for an extension. Failure to meet the time limits or to secure approval of an extension request may result in termination from the program.
When a thesis proposal has been approved by the appropriate department, the department chair sends the collegiate dean or director a copy of the thesis proposal, including the approval signatures of the master's thesis committee members. Students may enroll in thesis research (799) at the beginning of the next semester. Students must register for 3 credits per semester until they reach the last 3 required credits. Once they have only 3 credits remaining, students may enroll for 1 credit per semester until graduation. To be considered a full-time student, the advisor and department chair must certify each semester that the student is working full time on the thesis. Please note: Graduate students must maintain continuous enrollment in 799 while writing and submitting a thesis.
The master's thesis committee is named by the candidate's department chair, who designates a member of the graduate faculty from that department as the thesis committee chair. The committee is appointed after consulting with the candidate and advisor and consists of at least three people. Two must be members of the graduate faculty from the candidate's department, while one may come from outside the department.
The thesis committee chair is primarily responsible for directing and guiding the candidate's research and writing activities. The student is responsible for keeping all committee members informed of the scope, plan, and progress of the research as well as the thesis.
Students selecting the thesis option should obtain a copy of Mason's Thesis, Dissertation, or Project Guide, which is available in the course materials store in the Johnson Center or at www.gmu.edu/library/specialcollections/dtwebguide.htm. Students may register in 799 Thesis only after their thesis proposal has been submitted and approved as prescribed in the guide. Any student not in attendance at Mason who is preparing a thesis under the active supervision of a member of the faculty or wishes to take an exam must maintain continuous registration in 799 for at least 1 credit per semester.
The original and one copy of the master's thesis with two original signed cover sheets must be deposited with the college, school, or institute dean or director for signature prior to being transferred to the University Libraries.
For degree conferral, two copies with signed cover sheets must be submitted to the library by 5 p.m. on the last Friday of classes. (For specific deadlines, go to registrar.gmu.edu.) This is also the deadline for participation in the May commencement.
Requirements for Doctoral Degrees
Candidates must satisfy all university degree requirements and all requirements established by the doctoral program faculty. Departmental degree requirements are listed under the respective doctoral programs in this catalog. Programs may impose more stringent requirements.
- Candidates must earn a minimum of 72 graduate credits, which may be reduced by a maximum of 30 credits from a completed master's degree or other suitable, approved transfer work.
- The remaining 42 credits for students with a master's degree may apply only to the doctoral degree and not to a second master's degree.
- Only graduate courses may apply toward the degree.
- The majority of credits applied to the doctoral degree (minimum 72) must be earned at Mason or in the case of programs offered through joint, cooperative, or consortial arrangements, at the participating institutions.
- More than half of all credits (minimum 72) must be taken in doctoral degree status, after admission to the degree program.
- Candidates must pass a written or oral doctoral candidacy (qualifying) exam, or both.
- Candidates must complete a minimum of 12 credits of doctoral proposal (998) and doctoral dissertation research (999). A maximum of 24 credits of 998 and 999 may be applied to the degree.
- Candidates must pass a final public defense of the doctoral dissertation.
- Candidates must have a minimum GPA of 3.00 in course work presented on the degree application, which may include no more than 6 credits of C. (Grades of C+, C-, or D do not apply to graduate courses. The GPA calculation excludes all transfer courses and Mason extended studies or nondegree credits not formally approved for the degree.)
Doctoral students have six years from the time of first enrollment as a degree-seeking student to become advanced to candidacy. Students have five years from the time of advancement to candidacy to graduation. Individual doctoral programs may have stricter time limits, which are published in this catalog. Students who are given permission to re-enroll following an absence from Mason may not count the time limits as beginning on the date of re-enrollment. Students who will not meet published time limits because of circumstances beyond their control may petition for an extension. Failure to meet the time limits or to secure approval of an extension request may result in termination from the program.
Doctoral Research Skill Requirements
Some doctoral degree programs require demonstration of proficiency in a research skill, including knowledge of the research literature in a foreign language, computer language, statistical methods, or a research tool specific to the discipline. Research skill requirements are included with the degree requirements for the specific doctoral degree. Where demonstration of research skills is required, certification that this requirement has been met must be completed for advancement to candidacy.
Program of Study
Usually before the end of the second year of graduate study but no later than consideration for advancement to candidacy, doctoral students must submit a program of study for approval by the dean or director of the college, school, or institute. The program of study must include major courses and supporting courses to be completed, research skills required, subject areas to be covered by the candidacy exam, and a proposed date for the candidacy exam. Program of Study Forms are available from each program's doctoral coordinator. Any changes in the programs of study must be documented with an amended Program of Study Form.
Advancement to Candidacy
Advancement to candidacy implies that a doctoral student has demonstrated both a breadth and a depth of knowledge in the field of study and is capable of exploring problems on the boundaries of knowledge. The candidacy exam includes a written part and may include an oral part, depending on the particular doctoral program. Doctoral students should consult the degree requirements for each doctoral program to determine whether an oral portion is required, whether it is judged separately or with the written portion, the number of times a failed candidacy exam may be repeated and any time limits for repeating, and any time limits for attempting the candidacy exam.
Before doctoral students may be advanced to candidacy by the unit dean or director, they should have completed all course work required by the program faculty, been certified in all doctoral research skills required, passed the candidacy exam, and been recommended by the doctoral supervisory committee or program coordinator. Students advanced to candidacy after the add period for a given semester must wait until the following semester to register for 999 Dissertation Research.
By the time a doctoral student is advanced to candidacy, the dean or director of the school, college, or institute appoints a dissertation committee upon recommendation of the program director. The committee consists of a graduate faculty member (see the Graduate Faculty section in this chapter) from the department of the student's field of study and at least two other members of the graduate faculty, one of whom must be from outside the student's local academic unit (school, college, institute, or department). Additional members may be appointed who are not members of the graduate faculty or are from outside the university.
Student-initiated changes in the composition of the dissertation committee may occur only with the approval of the dean or director in consultation with the committee. Such changes may be made for extenuating circumstances only. Faculty may resign from a dissertation committee with appropriate notice by submitting a written resignation.
Dissertation Registration (998, 999)
Students working on dissertation research (999) must register for a minimum of 3 credits of 999 per semester (excluding summers) until they have completed the minimum number of credits of 998 and 999 required by the university and their degree program. Then, they must register for 1 credit of 999 until the dissertation is complete and has been officially submitted to the library. See the Full-Time Classification section for more information.
All registration for doctoral dissertation research (999) must be planned with the dissertation director and approved by the dean or director of the school, college, or institute. Dissertation research (999) is open only to doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy. Once enrolled in 999, students must maintain continuous registration in 999 each semester until graduation, excluding summers. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of 999 in the summer. Individual doctoral programs may require continuous registration beginning with 998.
Registration for dissertation proposal (998) or research (999) must be completed by the end of the schedule adjustment period as published in the Schedule of Classes. If this date is missed, students must register for these courses the following semester. Failing to register on time in a particular semester does not alter the requirement for continuous registration for 999.
A dissertation is required for the doctor of philosophy degree and most professional doctoral degrees. The dissertation is a written piece of original thinking that demonstrates doctoral candidates' mastery of subject matter, methodologies, and conceptual foundations in their chosen field of study. This is generally achieved through consideration of a problem on the boundaries of knowledge in the discipline.
The director of the dissertation committee is primarily responsible for directing the doctoral candidate's research and guiding the preparation of the written dissertation. After the dissertation committee is appointed, the student should begin discussions with the director to define a suitable problem for the dissertation. Before the student may enroll in doctoral dissertation research (999), the dissertation proposal must be approved by the dissertation committee and evidence of approval sent to the unit dean or director for approval. Before that time, the student may enroll in proposal research (998).
Guidelines for the content and general format of doctoral dissertations are in the Thesis, Dissertation, or Project Guide, which is available at www.gmu.edu/library/specialcollections/dtwebguide.htm. Consult a doctoral coordinator to determine which additional reference manuals are suitable.
As soon as all degree requirements have been satisfied, including completion of the doctoral dissertation, the doctoral candidate may request a doctoral defense. Approval for the defense is given by the doctoral dissertation committee, department or program chair, and relevant dean or director of the school, college, or institute. Notice of a defense must be circulated to the university community two weeks before the defense date. The public defense should demonstrate the candidate's maturity of judgment and intellectual command of the chosen branches of the field of study.
At the close of the final defense, the dissertation committee makes final judgments for approving the dissertation. The doctoral candidate is responsible for making all required changes promptly, submitting the original and required copies, and obtaining signatures. Final approval for the dissertation is given by the doctoral dissertation committee, department or program chair, and the relevant dean or director of the school, college, or institute, all of whom must sign the final copy.
For a dissertation to be approved, all members of the committee must sign. If a committee member refuses to do so, the student or any member of the committee may petition the unit dean or director for a review and ruling. The dean or director may seek the advice of outside reviewers to provide an assessment of the work. The final decision is that of the dean or director, and is not subject to appeal.
Dissertation Submission and Fee
Two original copies on 100 percent cotton bond and one photocopied copy of the dissertation must be deposited with the college, school, or institute's dean or director for signature prior to being transferred to the University Libraries.
For degree conferral, two copies with cover sheets signed by the committee and dean or director must be submitted to the library by 5 p.m. on the last Friday of classes. (For more information, go to registrar.gmu.edu.) This is also the deadline for participation in the May commencement. To be included in Mason's published commencement program, students must submit copies to the library by April 15.
In addition, submission of the dissertation to University Microfilms International is required; a fee of $55 is paid by the student for this process. All copies of the dissertation must be submitted and all fees paid before the doctoral degree is awarded.
University Dissertation and Thesis Services
University Dissertation and Thesis Services (UDTS) facilitates completion and submission of dissertations, theses, and graduate-level projects. The program assists Mason students in all stages of production. The UDTS web site, www.gmu.edu/library/specialcollections/dtwebguide.htm, provides students with useful tools, including down-loadable templates of necessary elements, forms required for the submission process, and links to related web sites. UDTS is located in Fenwick Library, Special Collections and Archives, Wing 2C. For more information, contact the university dissertation and thesis coordinator at 703-993-2222.