College Code: LA
Departments and Schools
Deborah Boehm-Davis, Dean
Robert Matz, Senior Associate Dean
Vincent Kiernan, Associate Dean for Graduate Academic Affairs
Vita Vock, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs
Michele Schwietz, Associate Dean for Research
Katie Clare, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs
Kevin Augustyn, Director of Development
Daniel Collier, Director of IT and Web Development
Leslie Dyre, Director of Finance and Human Resources
Anne Reynolds, Director of Communications
About the College
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) is composed of 10 departments and 10 major interdisciplinary programs. The college is also home to the School of Integrative Studies, which offers an innovative interdisciplinary major. The college has a distinguished faculty of more than 400, including recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and Guggenheim Fellowship.
At the undergraduate level, all programs emphasize challenge, opportunity, and success. They challenge students to think critically and creatively and to go beyond what is required by pursuing research experiences, minors, double majors, honors in the major, and accelerated master’s degree programs, which enable them to earn both an undergraduate and a graduate degree, often within five years. They provide many opportunities beyond the classroom including study abroad programs, service learning, internships, and career-enhancing courses and minors, all of which will help prepare them for success beyond college.
At the graduate level, programs of study provide opportunities for career development and advancement, professional education, participation in research, and personal fulfillment.
All programs encourage the exploration of contemporary issues through a dynamic curriculum that fosters an informed understanding of real world problems. The college provides students with an education that enables them to think critically, adapt to the changing conditions of society, and provide informed leadership to future generations.
Policies for All Students
The requirements for each academic program offered by the college are described in the sections for the sponsoring departments and programs. All students are subject to the policies stated in the Academic Policies section of this catalog. Additional policies and procedures for students in the college are presented in this section.
Mason uses only Mason e-mail accounts to communicate with enrolled students. Students should activate their Mason e-mail account, use it to communicate with their department and other administrative units, and check it regularly for important information.
Registration and Degree Audit
Students are 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, and students may not sit in on classes for which they are not registered. All students should verify the accuracy of their enrollment before the end of the add period and should check Patriot Web to verify that they are registered for the classes that they think they are.
All students are responsible for reviewing their own transcripts and degree audits regularly to ensure that they are correct and that they are on track to meet all their 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 after the published deadlines require the approval of the relevant dean (undergraduate academic affairs or graduate academic affairs) and are allowed only for full semesters at a time (a withdrawal from all enrolled courses). Withdrawals 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; withdrawal requests submitted after the last day of classes are rarely approved.
Grade appeals should be made to the department or program following the process specified in the Academic Policies section 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. Undergraduate students should address such appeals through the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs and graduate students through the Office of Graduate 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.
Formal complaints should be made in writing to the associate dean.
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Students with documented disabilities should contact the Office of Disability Services to open a file and learn more about accommodations that may be available to them.
Policies for Undergraduate Students
The college offers 17 bachelor of arts (BA) degrees, 5 bachelor of science (BS) degrees, a bachelor of fine arts in creative writing (BFA), and a bachelor of individualized study (BIS) degree. The undergraduate degree consists of course work in four areas: Mason Core requirements, college requirements for the bachelor’s degree, requirements specified for the chosen major, and electives. All 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.”
Students should consult the Mason Core and College Requirements for information concerning the ways they can fulfill Mason Core and college requirements for undergraduate degrees. 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.
The college cooperates with the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (SCAR) to provide courses from various disciplines in the college toward a BA, BS, and minor in conflict analysis and resolution. More information about SCAR undergraduate degree programs can be found in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution section of this catalog.
Questions about Academic Policies for Undergraduates
Students with questions about exceptions to academic policies and about college requirements should contact the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs (703-993-8725; email@example.com).
Additional policy information and forms are available online from the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
Students should review 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 no course grades below “C” and with a minimum term GPA of 2.50
- Have a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or higher
- Have demonstrated the ability to handle an increased and demanding courseload while maintaining high performance in a previous semester at Mason
- Have no remaining incompletes (INs) from a previous semester
Freshmen and transfer students in their first semesters are not given permission for overloads as they have yet to establish an academic record at George Mason University.
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.
Excluded Courses and Credits
Physical Education (PHED); Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies (PRLS); and Recreation (RECR) activity courses cannot be used for credit for a degree in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Only MLSC courses at the 400-level can be used for credit for a degree in the college; credit for other MLSC courses may not be used toward a CHSS degree.
Qualifying CLEP credits may apply to a degree in the College of Humanities and Social Science if those credits were awarded and reported prior to matriculation at Mason. After matriculation, students are limited to taking and applying credits for the CLEP exam in “Information Systems & Computer Applications”. Students with a qualifying score on this exam will be awarded credit for IT 103T. Students receiving credit for IT 103T must still meet the university Information Technology ethics requirement (see Mason Core section of the catalog). Credit for other CLEP exams awarded after matriculation may not be applied to a degree in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Students should review university policies regarding the University Consortium under Special Registration Procedures in the Academic Policies section of this catalog. Students who have attempted or 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 at Another Regionally Accredited U.S. Institution
Once enrolled in degree status at Mason, students with fewer than 60 hours of transfer coursework (not including registration through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area or coursework completed through the Center for Global Education) may take up to 8 hours of coursework in CHSS disciplines at another institution. Students with 60 or more hours of transfer coursework are not permitted to take additional coursework in CHSS disciplines at another institution. A student may seek permission for additional hours beyond these limits for summer registration if his/her permanent residence is more than 50 miles from the George Mason University Fairfax campus. See the university Permission to Study Elsewhere policy for additional information.
In addition to the university cumulative GPA requirement of 2.00, CHSS students requesting course elsewhere permission must have a previous semester GPA of 2.00 or higher.
In order to be considered for study through Mason Study Abroad, students must plan well in advance and receive prior, written permission from the dean. Students must also meet all of the following criteria:
- Meet all eligibility requirements for their program as specified by Mason Study Abroad including course prerequisites and minimum GPA
- Must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.50 after prior semester grades post to record
- Have completed the necessary forms and have obtained all required signatures and course equivalencies
Students in danger of probation, suspension, or dismissal should plan very carefully before requesting to study abroad. Students with a cumulative GPA below 2.50 (after grades from prior term are posted to transcript) will not be permitted to study abroad.
Leave of Absence
All undergraduate students who are planning an absence from George Mason University must submit a formal request for Leave of Absence to the Office of the University Registrar. See Academic Policies for full university policy.
Students should review the Withdrawal section in the Academic Policies section of this catalog. Courses for which a withdrawal is approved receive a grade of “W.”
Students should be aware of the potential consequences of withdrawing on their academic standing. Though credits graded “W” do not affect a student’s GPA, they do count towards the total attempted hours. The total attempted hours and cumulative GPA together determine a student’s academic standing. These are explained in the Academic Standing section of Academic Policies .
Students should review the university policies regarding academic clemency in the Academic Standing section of Academic Policies .
To be considered for 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
- Complete at least 6 credits during their first 12 months back at George Mason
- Earn a minimum GPA of 2.50 each semester back prior to making the clemency request with no individual grade below 2.00
If the last three minimum academic requirements are not met, 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 Student Policies and Appeals Committee, a standing committee elected by the college faculty. 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 section of this catalog.
The grade appeal process is discussed above.
Departments set the requirements for the majors and minors that they administer. Substitutions and waivers of these requirements require the approval of the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. When a department denies a substitution or waiver of a requirement, the denial may be appealed to the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs on the basis of procedural irregularity only. That office is the final level of appeal.
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. Appeals of these decisions may be made to the Student Policies and Appeals Committee on the basis of procedural irregularity only, and the committee is the final level of appeal on procedural grounds.
Student Policies and Appeals Committee is the final level of appeal for college-level requirements, retroactive actions (adds, withdrawals, and graduation), and return from suspension and dismissal. This committee is the final level of approval.
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.
Students who plan to seek teacher licensure and become K–12 teachers should consult the College of Education and Human Development section of this catalog and attend an information session early in their undergraduate career. For more information, call 703-993-2892, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or see the College of Education and Human Development web page.
Second Bachelor’s Degree
Students should review the university policies regarding second bachelor’s degrees in the Undergraduate Admissions Policies and in Academic Policies/Requirements for Undergraduate Programs sections of the catalog. Students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree concurrently with their first bachelor’s degree at Mason must meet all the college-level requirements if they differ from the requirements in the college of their first major.
Students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in the college after already having received one or more bachelor’s degrees are considered to have met all of the Mason Core requirements. Students pursuing a bachelor of science degree do not have additional college-level requirements. Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the college must complete these additional college-level requirements: one additional 3-credits course each in philosophy or religious studies, in social and behavioral science, and in non-western culture (for a total of 9 credits). They must also demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language through the intermediate level. For more information about college-level requirements see Mason Core and College Requirements.
Students may elect to take a minor in addition to their major field of study. For policies governing all minors, see the Academic Policies section of this catalog. Students interested in earning a minor should complete the appropriate section of the Change/Declaration of Academic Program form and submit it to the Office of the University Registrar. See All about Minors for more information.
College-Level Requirements for Undergraduate Students
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 Mason Core program, students pursuing a BA degree must complete the course work below. Except where expressly prohibited, a course used to fulfill a college-level requirement may also be used simultaneously to satisfy other requirements (Mason Core requirements or requirements for the major).
- Philosophy or religious studies: 3 credits fulfilled by any course in philosophy or religious studies (PHIL, RELI) except for PHIL 323, 324, 327, 393, 460. PHIL 253 and RELI 235 cannot be used to fulfill both the philosophy/religious studies requirement and the Mason Core literature requirement.
- 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 .
- 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 higher level courses taught in the language) or achieving a satisfactory score on an approved proficiency test. A three course sequence in American Sign Language (EDSE 115 - American Sign Language (ASL) I , EDSE 116 - American Sign Language (ASL) II , and EDSE 219 - American Sign Language (ASL) III ) will also meet the foreign language requirement. Students who are already proficient in a second language may be eligible for a waiver of this requirement. Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
- 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 Mason Core requirement in global understanding. A course used to fulfill the Mason Core 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 (Mason Core requirements, college-level requirements, or requirements for the major). Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
Requirements for each major are listed in the departmental sections at the top of this page.
Bachelor of Science
The BS degree provides students with a more intensive approach to the core technical questions of their majors. 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 in Humanities and Social Sciences pursuing a BS must complete the Mason Core program. Requirements for each major are listed in the departmental sections at the top of this page.
Admitted and enrolled transfer students who have completed an AA, AS, or AA&S degree from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) and have been offered admission to Mason by the Office of Admissions may be eligible for a waiver of all George Mason University’s lower level Mason Core requirements in accordance with the Guaranteed Admission Agreement. Students eligible for this waiver are still required by the university to complete English 302 and a synthesis course. Transfer students who have been offered admission under the terms of the Guaranteed Admission Agreement and are pursuing a degree in this college are considered to have met all college requirements except for proficiency in a foreign language (required of BA students).
Policies for Graduate Students
The college offers 14 master’s degrees, plus a master of arts in interdisciplinary studies (MAIS) , a master of fine arts in creative writing (MFA) , and 9 doctoral degrees.
Admission decisions are made by the faculty committee of the respective graduate program. Denial of admission is not subject to appeal. Applicants denied admission to a program are not permitted to enroll in courses in that program.
If an applicant is offered graduate admission, the college reserves the right to withdraw that offer of admission if:
- During his or her academic studies, the admitted applicant has a significant drop in academic performance or fails to graduate with a degree prior to the first day of classes for the term admitted.
- There has been a misrepresentation in the application process.
- Prior to the first day of classes for the term admitted, the college learns that the admitted applicant has engaged in behavior that indicates a serious lack of judgment or integrity, irrespective of the outcome of any disciplinary process related to such behavior.
- For students admitted to an accelerated master’s program, the student does not maintain satisfactory progress in his or her undergraduate program, does not receive a minimum grade of 3.00 in the graduate classes taken as an undergraduate, or otherwise does not meet the conditions specified on the application and admission letter.
The university further reserves the right to require the applicant to provide additional information (and/or authorization for the release of information) about any such matter.
Students provisionally admitted to their graduate degree program are not eligible to enroll in consortium course work or study at another institution until the conditions of the provisional contract have been met. Provisionally admitted students are also not eligible to participate in any study abroad programs until the conditions of the provisional contract have been met. Transfer of credit requests for course work taken in non-degree status at Mason or from another institution prior to admission will not be considered until the provisional contract has been fulfilled.
Graduate students can enroll in up to 12 credits of course work each semester. Non-degree students can enroll in up to 10 credits of course work each semester.
Applicants who have been denied admission to a graduate certificate, master’s or doctoral program are not permitted to take graduate courses in that discipline as a non-degree student.
Graduate non-degree students may enroll in 500-, 600-, and 700-level courses. In exceptional cases graduate non-degree students in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences may request to enroll in an 800-level course if they have an appropriate academic or professional background and have the written permission of the course instructor, director of the graduate program offering the course, and the graduate dean.
Students should review university policies regarding the University Consortium under Special Registration Procedures in the Academic Policies section of this catalog.
Eligible students may enroll in courses at any of the institutions in the Consortium of Universities in the Washington Metropolitan area. Students are limited to one consortium course per semester, with a career maximum of 6 credits. To register for a consortium course, students must have an overall GPA of at least 3.00 and be in good academic standing. Students with grades of IN on their record or who earned grades of C or F in the most recent semester are not eligible to register for a consortium course. Students who have received a grade less than 3.00 in a consortium course are not permitted to enroll in additional consortium courses. Newly admitted graduate students are not permitted to enroll in consortium courses during their first semester of graduate study. Students who wish to enroll in consortium courses during their second semester of study must wait until the grades for the previous semester have been posted.
Transfer of Credit
To be eligible for transfer, credits must have been earned at an accredited graduate degree-granting institution (and applicable to a graduate degree at that institution) or at Mason while in non-degree status. Courses accepted for transfer credit must have been completed within six years of the admission term and with a minimum grade of 3.00. Courses with grades of P or S are not accepted for transfer unless the official transcript indicates that the grade is equivalent to a 3.00 (B) or better. Some programs have more stringent standards on transfer of credit; students should contact their graduate program for specific information.
Reduction of Credit
Doctoral and master’s students in the college may request a reduction of credit based on a previously conferred graduate degree. Not all master’s programs in the college permit reduction of credit and some programs limit the number of credits that can be reduced. Students should carefully review the university policies regarding reduction of credit (AP.6.5.2 ) and the policies of their program.
Credit from Other Institutions
Students must obtain all approvals, including course equivalencies, prior to enrolling in any course work at another institution. All appropriate paperwork must be submitted to the Office of the University Registrar by the last day to add during the academic term the course meets. Students enrolling in courses at other institutions with different drop/add timetables must still abide by Mason’s drop/add deadlines in terms of acquiring necessary approvals.
The college follows university policies regarding dissertation committees. See Dissertation Committee in the Requirements for Doctoral Degrees section of the Graduate Policies section of this catalog.
Dissertation (999) Registration
Doctoral students must be advanced to candidacy before they may enroll in 999. Students must register for 999 before the add deadline published in the Academic Calendar by the Office of the University Registrar. Once doctoral students begin registering for 999, they must enroll in at least 3 credits of 999 each semester (excluding summers) until they have completed the total number of dissertation credits required on their individual program of study. Once enrolled in 999, all doctoral students must maintain continuous enrollment in 999 until they deposit their approved dissertation in the University Library. If they have completed the number of dissertation credits required on their program of study, they may maintain continuous enrollment by registering for only 1 credit of 999. See Dissertation Registration in the Requirements for Doctoral Degrees section of the Graduate Policies section of this catalog.
Time Limit for Doctoral Students
Total time to degree will not exceed nine (9) calendar years from the time of first enrollment as a doctoral degree-seeking student in a program of the college. Doctoral students are expected to progress steadily toward their degree and to advance to candidacy within no more than six (6) years.
Students who do not meet published time limits because of compelling circumstances may petition their program and the graduate dean for a single extension of one calendar year at any point during their program. If such an extension is granted, the total time limit for completion of the degree will not exceed ten (10) years. Requests for extension of time limits should explain the extenuating circumstances that prevented timely completion of the degree and a timeline for completing the remaining work within the limits of the extension. The request should include a letter from the student’s graduate program director indicating program support for the extension and confirmation that the work can be completed within the limits of the extension.
Additional guidelines are available in the AP.6 Graduate Policies section.
Graduate Appeals of Termination
All graduate students should be familiar with the university polices on termination as stated in Graduate Academic Standing section of the Graduate Policies section of this catalog. Students who meet the criteria for termination may submit a written appeal to the Office of Graduate Academic Affairs. Appeals should include all relevant information on the basis for appeal, as well as any appropriate documentation. Appeals of termination are reviewed at the beginning of each semester by a faculty committee. The ruling of that committee represents the final decision of the college.
Accelerated Master’s Degree Programs
Many graduate programs in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences offer highly-qualified undergraduates the opportunity to apply to accelerated master’s degree programs. Students accepted into an accelerated master’s degree program obtain both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree after satisfactory completion of 144 - 150 credits (number of required credits depends on the degree program).
Students admitted to an accelerated master’s degree program may use up to six graduate credits (courses at the 500 or 600 level) in partial fulfillment of requirements for the undergraduate degree. Upon completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree with satisfactory performance in graduate courses (minimum grade of 3.00 in each), students are given advanced standing in their master’s program. Once admitted to an accelerated master’s pathway, undergraduate students must maintain a semester GPA of at least 3.0 and an overall cumulative GPA of 3.25. Individual programs may have higher performance standards; students should familiarize themselves with the standards of their intended program.
Undergraduates may take a maximum of six additional graduate credits while undergraduates and mark them for reserve graduate credit. These credits are not used to fulfill undergraduate degree requirements but can be applied to the master’s degree. See the section on Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates . Courses taken for reserve graduate credit must be approved in advance by the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs and the appropriate paperwork filed with the Office of the University Registrar.
Students must fulfill all other master’s degree requirements. For more information see Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Degrees .
The college offers accelerated master’s degrees in these disciplines: