College Code: SC
Additional Academic Units
Interdisciplinary and Joint Programs
The College of Science (COS) serves as the nexus for research and education in the natural, mathematical, and computational sciences at Mason. The central mission of COS is to create and disseminate scientific knowledge, provide outstanding scholarship in concert with excellent teaching, and develop the human and technical resources required to address the current and future needs of society. Through its innovative and multifaceted educational and research mission, COS offers exciting opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students, scientists, educators, and other professionals in Northern Virginia and the national capital region.
In addition to the wide variety of undergraduate degree programs offered by its 10 academic units, COS also offers many innovative graduate degrees and interdisciplinary minors. The research strength of COS provides an essential resource to graduate students and to undergraduates whose involvement in research is strongly encouraged. Many undergraduates go on to graduate school and to pursue careers in public service, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. Graduate students engage in more specialized study at the master’s and doctoral levels, preparing them for first or second careers or job advancement and providing personal enrichment.
Faculty members are committed to teaching grounded in scholarship and research. They strive to make students rigorous thinkers and clear communicators while encouraging experimentation with new approaches and ideas. Students are thus prepared for their role as informed citizens in a complex, global society and able to adapt to an ever-changing world.
Vikas Chandhoke, Dean
Evans J. Mandes, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Matters
Richard J. Diecchio, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs
Martha Westcoat-Andes, Associate Dean for Administration
Gregory D. Foster, Acting Associate Dean for Research
Timothy L. Born, Acting Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
Accommodations for Disabled Students
Students with documented disabilities should contact the Office of Disability Services (Student Union I, Room 222; 703-993-2474) to open a file and learn more about accommodations that may be available to them.
Graduate Degree Programs
COS offers 10 master’s degrees and 10 doctoral degrees. The requirements for each degree are described in the departmental and degree sections that follow. A complete listing of the graduate programs administered by the College of Science is available on the college web site: http://cos.gmu.edu/academics/degree_programs/graduate.
Undergraduate Degree Programs
COS offers 7 bachelor of arts degrees and 12 bachelor of science degrees. These undergraduate degree consist of course work in university-wide general education, a major area of study, and electives. To earn a bachelor’s degree, students must complete 120 credits, of which at least 45 must be in upper-level courses (numbered 300 and above). At least one course at the 300 or 400 level must be designated “writing intensive.” All entering students who have not yet satisfied the university-wide general education requirement in quantitative reasoning are required to take the math placement test prior to enrollment.
Students should consult the University General Education chapter for information concerning university-wide general education requirements for undergraduate degrees.
All students are responsible for meeting with their academic advisor, and reviewing their transcripts and degree audits regularly to ensure that they are correct and meet all their requirements. Transfer students are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor prior to registering for classes to review their transcripts and course equivalencies. In some cases, students may need to earn more than 120 credits to complete all of their requirements.
A complete listing of the undergraduate programs administered by the College of Science is available on the college web site: http://cos.gmu.edu/academics/undergraduate/degree_programs.
College-Level Degree Requirements
The baccalaureate degree is designed to provide a broad knowledge of the world, develop in students the ability to think conceptually and critically, acquaint them with many different methods of inquiry, and provide skills to continue intellectual growth throughout life.
Bachelor of Arts
The BA degree provides students with a breadth of knowledge, as well as the necessary skills to make in-depth study of a major truly meaningful. In addition to the university-wide general education program , students pursuing a BA degree must complete the course work below, and the courses listed in the departmental sections that follow. Except where expressly prohibited, a course used to fulfill a college-level requirement may also be used simultaneously to satisfy other requirements, such as university-wide general education requirements, college-level requirements, or requirements for the major. In some cases, the COS requirements below may be superseded by requirements of the major degree program.
- Philosophy or religious studies: 3 credits, fulfilled by any course in philosophy or religious studies (PHIL, RELI)
- Social and behavioral science: 3 credits in addition to the university-wide requirement in social and behavioral science for a total of 6 credits. The two courses used to fulfill the combined college and university requirements must be from different disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. This requirement may be fulfilled by completing any course in ANTH, CRIM, ECON, GOVT, HIST (except 100 or 125), LING, PSYC, or SOCI and these courses in GGS: 101, 103, 110, 301, 303, 304, 305, 306, 315, 316, 320, 325, 330, 357, 380.
- Science: 1 credit in addition to the university-wide requirement for a totel of 8 credits. This requirement can be fulfilled by completing two of any approved natural science courses that include a laboratory experience. This requirement may not be fulfilled by BIOL 124 or 125.
- Non-Western culture: 3 credits of an approved course in the study of a non-Western culture in addition to the course used to fulfill the university-wide general education requirement in global understanding. A course used to fulfill the university-wide general education global understanding requirement may not be simultaneously used to satisfy this college-level requirement. A course used to fulfill this requirement may be used simultaneously to fulfill any other requirements (university-wide general education requirements, college-level requirements, or requirements for the major). This requirement may be fulfilled by any of the following courses: ANTH 114, 300, 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 311, 313, 314, 323, 330, 332, 381, 396; ARTH 203, 204, 319, 320, 380, 382, 383, 384, 385, 386, 482; CHIN 318, 320, 325; DANC 118; ECON 361, 362; FREN 451, 454; GGS 101, 316, 325, 330, 399; GOVT 328, 332, 333, 340, 341, 345, 432, 433; HIST 130, 251, 252, 261, 262, 271, 281, 282, 328, 329, 353, 354, 356, 365, 366, 367, 387, 426, 460, 461, 465, 466; JAPA 310; MUSI 103; RELI 211, 212, 272, 313, 314, 315, 337, 374, 375, 490; or RUSS 353, 354. Students who can document attendance at a native school in a non-Western country for at least four years may request a waiver from this requirement through the CHSS Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office.
- Foreign language: intermediate-level proficiency in one foreign language. This requirement may be fulfilled by completing a course in a foreign language numbered 202, 209, or 210; or by successfully completing a 300- or 400-level course that requires intermediate-level proficiency and is taught in the foreign language; or by achieving a satisfactory score on an approved proficiency test; or by presenting for admission to George Mason University an approved score on the TOEFL and on the TOEFL essay (for students whose native language is not English). International students should consult the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office about a possible waiver of the foreign language requirement.
Requirements for each BA major are listed in the departmental sections that follow.
Bachelor of Science
The BS degree provides students with a more intensive approach to the technical core knowledge and concepts in their major field of study. Therefore, this curriculum has a reduced number of courses in humanities and social sciences in comparison with the BA degree to allow students to achieve greater depth in their majors. Students pursuing a BS degree must complete the university-wide general education program plus the requirements for their major. Requirements for each BS major in COS are listed in the departmental sections that follow.
Degree programs that prepare students for high school teaching careers are available in the following COS departments or programs: Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Science; Biology; Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics. Students who wish to become K-12 teachers, and who plan to seek teacher licensure should also consult the College of Education and Human Development chapter and attend an information session early in their undergraduate career. For more information, call 703-993-2892, e-mail email@example.com, or go to gse.gmu.edu.
Students may elect to take a minor in addition to their major field of study. For policies governing all minors, see the Academic Policies chapter of this catalog. Students interested in earning a minor should complete the appropriate section of the Change/Declaration of Academic Program form.
Students should become familiar with the university’s general academic policies in addition to those specific to each academic unit. Please see the Academic Policies section of this catalog.
Questions about Academic Policies
Students with questions regarding exceptions to academic policies and college-level requirements should contact the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office (College Hall, Room C211; 703-993-8725; firstname.lastname@example.org).
Additional policy information and forms are available online from the college’s Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
Students are personally responsible for correctly registering for courses and paying all tuition and fees by the official university registration and payment deadlines. Instructors do not have the authority to add students to courses. All students should verify the accuracy of their enrollment before the end of the add period.
Students should review the university policies regarding academic load in the Academic Policies section of this catalog.
In order to be considered for an overload, students must fulfill all of the following criteria:
- Be in good academic standing
- Have completed the prior semester with a GPA of 2.33 or higher
- Have a cumulative GPA of 2.33 or higher
- Have demonstrated in prior semesters at Mason the ability to handle an increased and demanding course load while maintaining high performance
- Have no remaining incompletes (INs) from a previous semester
Freshman and transfer students in their first semesters are note given permission for overloads as they have yet to establish an academic record at George Mason.
If approved for an overload, the student is responsible for adding the additional class(es) and paying for the related tuition by the official university deadlines.
Physical Education (PHED) and Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies (PRLS) activity courses cannot be used for credit for a degree in the College of Science.
MLSC 400 and MLSC 401 can be used for credit for a degree in the college, but credit from other MLSC courses may not be applied toward degrees in the college.
Once matriculated at Mason, students may not take CLEP exams and apply credits from those exams to degrees in the college. Students may apply credits from CLEP exams to degrees in the college only if those credits were awarded and reported prior to admission.
University Consortium Registration
Students should review the university policies regarding university consortium under Special Registration Procedure in the Academic Policies section of this catalog.
Students who have failed a course at Mason are not permitted to take the equivalent course through the consortium under any circumstances. All consortium registration requests must be submitted to the dean’s office at least 3 weeks prior to the first day of classes for the relevant semester at Mason.
Permission to Study Elsewhere
Students enrolled at George Mason University are expected to complete their coursework with George Mason courses. Exceptions to this policy are rare and are considered only under extraordinary circumstances, on a case-by-case basis. Students must obtain advance, written approval from their department/program and dean’s office before enrolling in classes elsewhere.
To be considered for an exception to this policy, students must have completed the immediately preceding semester with a GPA of 2.00 or higher and not be in danger of academic probation, suspension or dismissal. Freshmen and new transfer students are not allowed to take courses elsewhere as they have yet to establish an academic record at George Mason. Since transfer students have already transferred a number of hours, they are expected to plan all remaining courses at George Mason. Local community colleges are not part of the University Consortium, and requests to take community college courses can seldom be approved. Courses offered at Consortium Universities must be reviewed by the Consortium Coordinator in advance and do not need permission to study elsewhere.
Courses taken elsewhere that have been pre-approved by the dean’s office must be taken for a grade and be passed with a minimum grade of 2.00 or higher in order to be transferred to George Mason. Although credit for the course can be transferred, the grade for the course does not. The grade will not be factored into the student’s GPA. Additionally, approval to study elsewhere will not be granted after the student has completed the coursework. Approval for study elsewhere is specific to the term and course(s) for which it is granted. If a student does not complete the course(s) elsewhere during the approved term, the student must submit a new study elsewhere request to take the course(s) at a later date. Similarly, enrollment in additional or alternate courses at another institution will not be considered for transfer after the fact. Approval for study elsewhere during a given semester does not guarantee approval in a later term.
Students must make arrangements with the visited institution to have an official transcript mailed directly to the George Mason University Registrar’s Office immediately after the course work is completed. Credit cannot be transferred until an official transcript is received.
Additional information about study elsewhere can be found at www.gmu.edu/student/academicaffairs/policies.htm.
In order to be considered for study through the Center for Global Education, students must plan well in advance and receive prior, written permission from the academic dean. Students must also meet all of the following criteria:
- Students must meet all eligibility criteria for their program as specified by the Center for Global Education, including minimum GPA requirements.
- Have completed the immediately preceding semester at Mason with a 2.00 or higher
- Have completed the necessary forms and have obtained all required signatures and course equivalencies
The Center for Global Education may have higher academic standards and students must meet all eligibility requirements.
Students in danger of probation, suspension, or dismissal should plan very carefully before requesting to study abroad. Students who are not in good academic standing will not be permitted to study abroad.
Courses for which a withdrawal is approved receive a grade of “W”.
Students are responsible for all courses in which they remain officially enrolled once the drop period has ended.
Instructors do not have the authority to withdraw students from classes. Withdrawals require the approval of the academic dean and are typically allowed only for full semesters at a time (all enrolled courses) and are only permitted for non-academic reasons. No withdrawals can be approved for academic reasons. When submitting a withdrawal request, students must provide verifiable, third-party documentation for the reason for the withdrawal. Requests for withdrawals should be submitted as early in the semester as possible, and never after the last day of classes.
Credits graded “W” do not affect a student’s GPA, but do count as attempted hours. The total attempted hours and cumulative GPA determine a student’s academic standing. If the cumulative GPA is below 2.00, withdrawals may affect whether a student will be on warning, probation, suspension, or dismissal. Students should be familiar with the Student Retention Categories in the Academic Policies section of the catalog.
Students should review the university policies regarding academic clemency under Academic Standing in the Academic Policies section of the catalog.
In extraordinary cases, students who (a) have been absent from George Mason for a minimum of three consecutive calendar years and (b) are currently in their first semester back at the university may request that their academic dean consider allowing clemency from up to 16 hours of coursework from previous semesters.
To be considered for this clemency, students must meet all of the following criteria:
- Be absent from George Mason for a minimum of three consecutive calendar years
- Provide a detailed explanation for why they were unsuccessful in those courses and how they have made changes to ensure their academic progress upon their return
- Submit their request within 12 months of the first day of the re-enrollment term
- In order to make this request, students should (a) enroll in at least 6 hours during their first 12 months back at George Mason and (b) earn a minimum GPA of 2.50 each semester back prior to making the clemency request, with no grade below 2.00. If these minimum academic requirements are not met during the first semester of return, then clemency will not be allowed under any circumstances.
Students may appeal departmental decisions concerning academic actions to the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. They may appeal decisions of the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs to the Dean’s Council, a committee composed of college deans and faculty members. Students may appeal decisions of the Dean’s Council to the COS Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs. These levels of appeal are subject to the limits below concerning the final level of appeal for each type of academic action. Students who feel that the college appeal process was conducted unfairly may appeal to the Provost’s Office as specified in the Academic Policies chapter of this catalog.
Grade appeals should be made to the department or program, following the process specified in the Academic Policies chapter of this catalog. If they are resolved within the department or program, that unit is the final level of appeal. The departmental decision may be appealed to the dean only on the basis of procedural irregularity. Such appeals should be made through the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. If the grade appeal is not resolved within the department or program, the chair makes a recommendation to the dean, who makes the final determination. The decision of the dean is not subject to review or further appeal.
Departments set the requirements for the majors and minors that they administer. Substitutions and waivers of requirements require the approval of the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. When a department denies a substitution or waiver of a requirement, this decision may be appealed to the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs on the basis of procedural irregularity only, and it is the final level of approval.
The Dean’s Council is the final level of appeal for course overloads, consortium registration, study elsewhere, and withdrawals after the drop deadline within the semester.
The COS Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs is the final level of appeal for COS college level requirements, retroactive adds, withdrawals, graduation, and return from suspension and dismissal.
There is no waiver or appeal of satisfactory performance standards (minimum grades or grade point average, GPA) that have been set by the department or program faculty for the courses in their major or minor.
Students should file all appeals in a timely manner, usually within the semester in which the original decision is rendered, but no later than the final day of classes of the following semester.
Grievances should be directed in writing to the Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs. The COS Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office may also provide guidance to students on how to resolve their concerns.
Admitted and enrolled transfer students who have completed an AA, AS or AA&S degree from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) with a curriculum grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75 are considered to have met all of George Mason University’s lower level general education requirements. They are still required by the university to complete ENGH 302 and a synthesis course. Transfer students who meet the conditions above and are pursuing a degree in COS are considered to have met all college requirements except for proficiency in a foreign language (required of BA students).
Students with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution who are pursuing a BA degree in COS are also considered to have met all college requirements except for proficiency in a foreign language.