Undergraduate GPAs of Mason Students, May 2005
The Faculty Senate Executive Committee requested that the Registrar provide a distribution of undergraduate Grade Point Averages as of the end of May 2005, as shown below:
GPA Range Count Percentage
4.00 1,049 6.39
3.75 to 3.99 1,312 8.00
3.50 to 3.74 1,951 11.89
3.25 to 3.49 1,946 11.86
3.00 to 3.24 2,260 13.77
2.50 to 2.99 3,148 19.18
2.00 to 2.49 2,170 13.22
1.50 to 1.99 1,027 6.26
1.49 and below 1,546 9.42
Note that roughly one out of every sixteen undergraduates has a perfect GPA (4.00); 51.91 percent have a GPA of 3.00 or more (B or better); 32.4 percent have a GPA between 2.00 and 2.99 (B- to C+); and 15.68 percent have a GPA of 1.99 and below (unsatisfactory, C-, D, and F).
It is interesting that Princeton Review’s, The Best 361 Colleges (2006 Edition), which ranks George Mason as first in “Diversity”, also ranks GMU as 15 from the top in students who say that they “(almost) never study.” The editors of Princeton Review asked 110,000 students at the 361 colleges “How many out-of-class hours do you spend studying each day?” and, from the responses, created a list of colleges ranked by “Their Students (Almost) Never Study.”
This characterization of Mason students may seem extreme, but consider the information on student activities collected by GMU’s Institutional Assessment Office for 2002 from a survey of graduating seniors (more recent data are not available, but it seems unlikely that major changes have occurred in just three years). For the detailed data, see:
The Instutional Assessment Office reports that the vast majority of Mason students work (83.4%) and, for those who work, the average number of hours per week is 27.2, and 57.9 percent work 21 hours or more each week. Factor in additional time for commuting to and from the University, to and from work, and to and from “home,” and considerable time on average is spent working and commuting.
Consider also the number of hours spent “partying/socializing.” Among those who party, the average number of hours spent weekly partying and socializing is 11.8; nearly one-third (32.5%) of Mason students spend 11 or more hours each week partying and socializing. [One can only speculate about whether “socializing” includes the not inconsiderable time that students spend on their cell phones.]
What about time spent studying? More than 40 percent reported spending 10 hours per week or less studying and completing assignments. The average number of weekly hours spent studying was 17.7 -- far less than the average number of hours worked for pay each week. About one-third (32.7%) indicated spending between 11 and 20 hours per week on classwork. Thus, more than 72 percent of Mason students reported spending more time on average at work than doing classwork.
There are only so many hours in the day and, for GMU students, some time must be spent in going to class. Rather surprisingly, one in five students (20.2 percent) claims to spend between 19 and 21 hours per week attending classes and labs. The average time spent attending classes and labs was 13.7 hours per week.
If we contrast the average time spent weekly working for pay (27.2 hours) plus the average time spent each week socializing and partying (11.8 hours) [Total = 39.0 hours] with the average weekly hours spent studying (17.7 hours) plus the average time spent attending class each week (13.7) [Total = 31.4 hours], the average time spent on academic pursuits each week is significantly less than the average time spent working, partying, and socializing.
In sum, given the time that the average Mason student gives to academic work and classes and the competing commitments to work (and, additionally, to commuting and cell phone chatting), partying, and socializing, it is remarkable that more than half of Mason students have GPAs of 3.00 and better.
A detailed study of GMU’s Academic Standards was undertaken by a Faculty Senate Task Force on Academic Standards which was established in 2002 and reported its findings in November 2003. That report can be accessed at: