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George Mason University
    George Mason University
2016-2017 University Catalog 
2016-2017 University Catalog

Mason Core

Janette Kenner Muir, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
Office of the Provost
Phone: 703-993-8722

All undergraduates seeking a baccalaureate degree must complete the Mason Core requirements. Additional requirements for specific degree programs can be found in the college or school sections of this catalog. At Mason, we have created several distinctive ways to develop your liberal education: the Mason Core, detailed in the following pages, and, for a small group of outstanding students, the Honors College .

The Mason Core at Mason

George Mason University, in fall 2013, approved a new Vision Statement that articulates the characteristics important for any student graduating with a Mason degree. The Mason Graduate should be: an engaged citizen, a well-rounded scholar, and someone who is prepared to act for the world. In 2014, the Mason Core was created to reframe the university general education program to better illuminate the full range of coursework that prepares students for work in their major and to align with the Mason Graduate goals. In essence, the Mason Core is the foundational aspect of a student’s academic career.

Beginning in Fall 2016 with the entering freshman class, the Mason Core: Engagement Series (ENCORE)  will provide an optional pathway for students interested in combining academic coursework with co-curricular activities towards a completion certificate in a specific area of engagement.

The Mason Core is comprised of elements important to all students pursuing a liberal arts education that map to the key characteristics of the Mason Graduate. The Core consists of two major areas: general education requirements and a writing intensive course in one’s major. These courses are designed to complement work in a student’s chosen area of study. The classes serve as a means of discovery for students, providing a foundation for learning, connecting to potential new areas of interest and building tools for success in whatever field a student pursues. Learning outcomes are guided by the qualities every student should develop as they move toward graduating with a George Mason University bachelor’s degree. Through a combination of courses and experiences, the Mason Core is designed to help student become:

Critical and Creative Scholars

Students who have a love of and capacity for learning. Their understanding of fundamental principles in a variety of disciplines, and their mastery of quantitative and communication tools, enables them to think creatively and productively. They are inquisitive, open-minded, capable, informed, and able to integrate diverse bodies of knowledge and perspectives.

Self-Reflective Learners

Students who develop the capacity to think well. They can identify and articulate individual beliefs, strengths and weaknesses, critically reflect on these beliefs and integrate this understanding into their daily living.

Ethical, Inquiry-Based Citizens

Students who are tolerant and understanding. They can conceptualize and communicate about problems of local, national and global significance, using research and evaluative perspectives to contribute to the common good.

Thinkers and Problem-Solvers

Students who are able to discover and understand natural, physical, and social phenomena; who can articulate their application to real world challenges; and who approach problem-solving from various vantage points. They can demonstrate capability for inquiry, reason, and imagination and see connections in historical, literary and artistic fields.

Mason Core Requirements

The Mason Core is divided into three sections: foundation, core and synthesis. Each section contains courses that have specific learning outcomes for students and are assessed on a regular basis.

Foundation Requirements (15-19 credits)  

Core Requirements (22 credits)  

Synthesis or Capstone Experience Requirement (varies; minimum 3 credits)  

Total: 40 credits

Writing-Intensive Course Requirement

As part of the university’s commitment to student writers in all undergraduate programs, at least one upper-division course in each major has been designated as fulfilling the “writing intensive” (WI) requirement. While other courses in the major may require written projects, teachers of the designated WI courses will devote class time to instruction on how to complete assignments successfully, assign and grade a minimum of 3500 words, provide constructive feedback on drafts, and allow revision of at least one graded assignment. See the description of each major for the specific course or courses that fulfill the WI requirement; select the following for a complete list: