2011-2012 University Catalog 
2011-2012 University Catalog

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Performing Arts Building, Room A407
Phone: 703-993-4551
Web: gmu.edu/cvpa
College Code: AR





Additional Academic Units

Arts Management 
Computer Game Design 
Film and Video Studies 

“Mason is deeply committed to the arts and educating our students about the significance the arts have in all our lives. This is why the arts are integral to our institution. We encourage active student participation in the many programs and related courses in the arts that are scheduled throughout the year. Students are able to receive a more balanced education, develop a deeper appreciation of the arts, and achieve a more enlightened perspective of the world.”

Alan G. Merten
President, George Mason University

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) creates an academic environment in which the arts are considered as individual disciplines as well as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Courses of study are designed to lead to careers as creators, performers, teachers, managers, and scholars of the arts, as well as prepare students for the challenges of a rapidly changing world. In addition to providing strong programs for arts majors and minors, CVPA strives to ensure that Mason’s entire student population has the opportunity to experience and study the arts as a key component of a well-rounded liberal arts education.

Studying the arts goes hand in hand with creation and performance. CVPA provides the theaters, studios, rehearsal spaces, computer laboratories, recital halls, and performance classrooms in which students hone their skills. Each major features strong academic preparation in the history and theory of the art form that supports discipline-based technique courses. Creative work and performance are at the core of most courses of study. The college’s faculty of practicing artist-teachers works closely with students in a variety of curricular and co-curricular creative projects. Once basic techniques are established, students are encouraged to stretch, grow, and experiment within this supportive environment. Students regularly perform, create, exhibit, and otherwise develop their art forms in a wide variety of public venues, enhancing their experience as working artists while enriching the cultural life of the campus community.

An education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists. The college is home to the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax campus and the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William campus, both of which include a variety of professional presenting and producing units that provide a diverse program of cultural experiences for the entire university community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C., area. Artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform in the Concert Hall and the Hylton Center, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies, and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. The accessibility and vitality of the Concert Hall, Hylton Center, TheaterSpace, the Art and Design Building and Johnson Center Galleries, Harris Theater, and other campus venues make the arts pervasive at Mason and in our larger community.


William F. Reeder, Dean
Linda G. Miller, Senior Associate Dean
Brian Marcus, Associate Dean, Development and Alumni Affairs
Victoria N. Salmon, Associate Dean, Graduate Studies
Scott Martin, Assistant Dean, Research, Technology
Andrew Bursten, Director Finance and Administration, CFO
Thomas Reynolds, Director of Artistic Programming, Marketing and Audience Services
Julie Thompson, Executive Director, Center for the Arts
Jean Kellogg, Executive Director, Hylton Performing Arts Center
Rick Davis, Artistic Director, Center for the Arts and Co-Artistic Director, Theater of the First Amendment

Undergraduate Degree Programs

The undergraduate degree consists of course work in university general education, a major area of study, and electives. To earn a bachelor’s degree, students must complete a minimum of 120 credits, of which at least 45 must be 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 requirement in quantitative reasoning are required to take the math placement test prior to enrollment.

Graduate Degree Programs

CVPA’s graduate programs offer highly focused study designed to prepare students for professional work in the arts and education. The requirements for each graduate degree are described in the sections that follow.

Academic Policies

The requirements for each academic program offered by the college are described in the sections below.  Students are ultimately responsible for their academic progress towards their degrees.  All students are subject to 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 should contact the CVPA Academic Affairs Office (Performing Arts Building, A407; 703-993-4551).

Academic Course Load

Undergraduate students earning degrees in CVPA may register for 18 credits per fall and spring semester without the dean’s permission. Students are advised that they will be required to pay additional tuition beyond the 16-credit, university full-time academic load. Graduate students earning degrees in CVPA may register for a maximum of 13 credits per fall and spring semester. Students should be cognizant of the time commitment when they register for their courses, especially if they register for high numbers of credits. Students are urged to consult with their advisor and familiarize themselves with Mason guidelines for work and academic load. Students are reminded that employment must not take priority over course work.

Accomodations 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 accomodations that may be available to them.


Students are assigned advisors and are strongly encouraged to meet with them periodically, and particularly when they achieve 75 credits, or are two semesters before expected graduation. Undeclared CVPA students and undergraduate students in academic difficulty (cumulative GPA under 2.00) are required to see an advisor prior to registration for the semester following registration restriction.

Minimum Cumulative GPA in Major

Undergraduate students earning CVPA degrees must earn a minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA in their major, or higher, if required by their program.


George Mason uses only Mason e-mail accounts to communicate with enrolled students.  Students should activate their Mason e-mail, use it to communicate with their school/ department/ program and other administrative units, and check it regularly for important information.

Foreign Language Requirement

Some degrees within CVPA require 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 higher level courses taught in the language) or achieving a satisfactory score on an approved proficiency test. International students should consult the CVPA Student Academic Affairs Office about a possible waiver of this requirement.

General Education Program

The baccalaureate degree requires students to take a range of courses that provide a broad knowledge of the world, develop the ability to think both conceptually and critically, acquaint them with many different methods of inquiry, and provide the skills to continue intellectual growth throughout their lives. Students select from a range of courses outlined in the University General Education chapter (University General Education ).  Students accepted  into the Honors Program in General Education fulfill their core general education requirements with completion of that program of study. Students are strongly advised to consult the University General Education chapter of this catalog for information concerning general education.


University policy states that students must earn 8 distinct credits that are not used for their major toward their minor. Some departments have more specific criteria for applying credits to a minor.

Physical Education Courses

Activity courses offered by the Health, Fitness, and Recreation Resources Department cannot be counted toward credits required for a degree in CVPA. Students may take nonactivity PHED courses for elective credit for CVPA degrees.


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.

Study Elsewhere

Students enrolled at George Mason University are expected to complete their coursework in residence.  Exceptions to this policy are rare and are considered only under extraordinary circumstances and 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 stuents 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 in residence.  Local community colleges are not part of the University Consortium, and requests to take community college courses are seldom approved.  Courses offered at Consortium Universities must be reviewed by the Consortium Coordinator in advance and will not be considered for general study elsewhere review.

Courses elsewhere that have been pre-approved by the dean’s office must be taken for a grade and be passed with a GPA 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 cannot.

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.

Transfer of Credit

Undergraduate students may transfer a maximum of 18 credits earned in nondegree status into a degree program.

Graduate credit earned prior to admission to a certificate, master’s, or doctoral program may be eligible to be transferred and applied to a CVPA graduate program, certificate or doctoral degree. Please see the Graduate Policies/Transfer of Credit portion of the catalog for more detailed information about the requirements.


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 to avoid an unsatisfactory grade.  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.

Undergraduates enrolled in degree programs are eligible to withdraw from three classes through the ninth week (of a fifteen week semester) without dean’s approval and at the student’s own discretion during their entire undergraduate career at Mason.  See University Academic Policies for further details.

Appeals Process

Appeals of Academic Procedures:

See Academic Policies  in George Mason University’s University Catalog.

CVPA Procedures for Grade Appeal:

Although faculty members are generally the best judges of student performance in their classes, circumstances may cause a student to believe that a professor is unfair.  Grade appeals are not accepted after the last day of classes for the following semester, as indicated in the Schedule of Classes (spring for fall grades, fall for spring and summer grades).  The following are the College’s steps in grade appeals:

  1. The student meets with the professor to discuss the grade and class performance; this meeting should occur within two weeks of the student’s written request for a meeting; if the instructor is no longer affiliated with the University, the appeal is made to the Department or Program Chair.
  2. The professor (Chair) responds to the student within three days of the meeting.
  3. If the student were to continue the appeal, the student must submit a written appeal to Academic Affairs Office.  The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs reviews all undergraduate appeals, and the Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs reviews all graduate appeals.

The Decision of the CVPA Associate Dean (undergraduate students), or Assistant Dean (graduate students) is final.

CVPA Procedures for Appeal of an Academic Action:

In exceptional circumstances a student may request a meeting to review the decision of an academic action.

  1. The student must state in writing the reasons for requesting further appeal of an academic action, and provide any additional or new information relevant to the appeal.
  2. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs reviews all undergraduate appeals, and the Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs reviews all graduate appeals.
  3. The dean will conduct  a review of the documentation provided by the student, and may request additional information in order to make an informed decision.
  4. A nonparticipating observer of the student’s choice may attend the meeting with the dean, and the dean may also have a nonparticipating observer attend.
  5. The student may follow University appeal procedures outlined in the University Catalog.

CVPA Procedure for Non-Academic Appeals or Grievance:

A student who intends to file a non-academic appeal, or intends to file a grievance against a faculty member, another student, or administrator follows the following steps:

  1. The student meets with the professor and Department Chair to discuss the non-academic appeal/grievance; this meeting should occur within two weeks of the student’s written request for a meeting; if the person is no longer affiliated with the University, the request is made to the Department or Program Chair only.
  2. The professor (Chair) responds to the student within three days of the meeting.
  3. If the student were to continue the non-academic appeal/grievance, the student must submit a  written explanation to Academic Affairs Office.  The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs reviews all non-academic appeals and grievances.

Academic Dismissal from a Graduate Program:

 The Registrar’s Office contacts students via e-mail if they earned an academic warning, or dismissal.  Students wishing to appeal should contact the CVPA Graduate Programs Office within three days of the e-mail date.  A deadline for the appeal documentation is determined, normally two weeks.  Students are to submit:

  1. a written statement explaining the circumstances that led to the dismissal, along with supporting documentation from employers, physicians, or other sources as necessary;
  2. evidence that the circumstances precipitating the unsatisfactory academic performance have been remedied;
  3. statement from department and program’s graduate coordinator supporting the student’s continued enrollment at the University.
  4. The CVPA Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs reviews the appeal.
  5. The final decision of the CVPA Assistant Dean is forwarded to the student and Registrar’s Office.
  6. The student may follow University appeal procedures outlined in the University Catalog.

For these, and any other academic concerns, students are encouraged to contact George Mason University’s Ombudsman for Student Academic Affairs.  The ombudsman is a neutral, independent, informal, and confidential party who provides assistance to students in resolving university-related concerns.  The ombudsman is an advocate for fairness and the equitable treatment of students, operates independently of all formal grievance processes at the university, and considers all sides of an issue in an impartial and objective manner.  The ombudsman has no authority to make exceptions or to grant requests but can perform informal investigations and, as a result, may recommend actions that lead to changes in processes and policies at the university.  Meetings with the ombudsman are confidential.  The ombudsman serves all undergraduate and graduate students at the university.  (Academic Policies).

CVPA Courses

Some CVPA courses transcend individual disciplines. These courses are administered by the Dean’s Office and are designated CVPA in the Courses  chapter of this catalog.