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

Schar School of Policy and Government (formerly SPGIA)

Founders Hall
3351 Fairfax Drive, MS 3B1
Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: 703-993-2280

Robinson Hall A201
4400 University Drive, MS 3F4
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-993-1400

College Code: PP

Effective August 1st, the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs (SPGIA) has been renamed to the Schar School of Policy and Government.

The School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs (SPGIA) prepares undergraduate and graduate students to be leaders who advance the public good in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. SPGIA was created by a merger in 2014 between the School of Public Policy and the Department of Public and International Affairs.  Through research and education in policy, government, and international affairs, SPGIA allows Mason to more effectively serve the region, Commonwealth, nation, and world.

The SPGIA faculty combines original research with real-world experience to connect theory and practice for the benefit of students and wider constituencies.  The School employs approximately 80 full-time faculty members across a wide range of disciplines, including political science, public administration, international relations, economics, management, geography, engineering, sociology, anthropology, and law. SPGIA is a major research unit of the University, with approximately $3.5 million per year in sponsored funding.  SPGIA faculty members frequently advise governments, companies, and non-profit organizations, appear in the national and international media, and participate in public debates on critical issues of the day.

SPGIA offers two undergraduate majors, ten master’s degree programs, three doctoral programs, and a range of undergraduate minors and graduate certificates.  Collectively, these programs enroll approximately 2000 students.  SPGIA offers classes on Mason’s Fairfax and Arlington campuses, and its faculty members have offices on both campuses.


Mark J. Rozell, Acting Dean
Robert L. Dudley, Associate Dean
Matthys van Schaik, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Ming Wan, Associate Dean
Elizabeth C. Eck, Assistant Dean for Graduate Program Management
Jill V. Emerson, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Services
Ann M. Ludwick, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs


Professors:  Abramson, Acs, Button, Clower, Conant, Conlin, Cronin, Dinan, Dudley, Earle, Fuller, Gifford, Goldstone, Hart, Hughes Hallett, Katz, Malawer, Mandaville, McNeely, Pfiffner, Posner, Rajan, Regan, Reinert, Rhodes, Root, Rozell, Ruth, Shelley, Slavov, Sockett, Stough, Thatchenkery, Travis, Wan, Wedel

Associate Professors:  Addleson, Anacker, Arias, Auerswald, Balint, Burt, Dueck, Haddad, Koblenz, Koizumi, Listokin, Lopez-Santana, Mayer, McGlinchey, Miller, Schintler, Sommer, Thrall, Toepler, Victor, Zolnik

Assistant Professors:  Butt, Destler, Gest, Hunzeker, Marvel, McGrath, Ouagrham-Gormley, Pham, Robbins, Scherer, Terman, Washington

Research and Term Faculty:  Burroughs, Daigle, Deitz, El Shazli, Ericson, Finkelstein, Griffin, Habayeb, Hayden, Kauzlarich, LaPorte, Malur, Nicogossian, Peters, Pommerening, Schneider, Shafroth, Srikantsia, Stabile, Walker


SPGIA offers courses designated BIOD, GOVT, ITRN, ODKM, PUAD and PUBP in the Courses  section of this catalog.

Academic Policies

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 the catalog.

Undergraduate Programs

SPGIA offers two degrees for students interested in political science, government, and international relations: a BA in Government and International Politics and a BS in Public Administration and Policy (pending  SCHEV approval). Majors in Government and International Politics take core courses in American political institutions, the political systems of other countries, and international relations. Students can focus their electives to earn a concentration in American politics, international politics, political theory and law, public policy, or a higher credit concentration in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Majors in public administration and policy take courses in government, management, policy, and administration. Concentrations are offered in administration and management, public policy, nonprofit management, US government institutions, and economic policy analysis.

Students have an opportunity to do internships as part of their degree programs, gaining valuable work experience while earning academic credit.

Honors in the Major

Highly qualified students majoring in Government and International Politics and Public Administration and Policy may pursue advanced work leading to graduation with honors in the major. Those students selected for participation in this program take a two-course sequence: GOVT 491  and GOVT 496 . To graduate with honors in the major, students must complete these courses with a minimum GPA of 3.50.


SPGIA offers minors in American government, international/comparative studies, international security, legal studies, and public policy and management. In addition, faculty from the School coordinate or participate in the Asia-Pacific and Northeast Asian Studies Minor Global Systems Minor , Latin American Studies Minor Middle East Studies Minor , Islamic Studies Minor , and Urban and Suburban Studies Minor  . It participates with the Philosophy Department in the Political Philosophy Minor  and with the Communications Department in the Political Communication Minor (CHSS) . See Minors and Interdisciplinary Minors below.

Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Programs

The School offers qualified undergraduates in any major the opportunity to apply to several accelerated master’s degree programs. If accepted, students will earn both an undergraduate and a graduate degree after satisfactory completion of 150 credits, sometimes within five years. More information about the degree options and application process may be found here.

Policies for Undergraduate Students

The undergraduate degree consists of course work in four areas: (a) Mason Core  requirements, (b) School requirements for the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs, (c) requirements specified for the chosen major, and (d) 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.” In SPGIA, GOVT 490 or 491 will satisfy this requirement.

The School requirements, (b) above, are the same as the additional requirements for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. For the BA in Government and International Politics, there is one class in Philosophy or Religion, one additional class in social and behavioral science, one class in non-Western culture, and demonstrated foreign language proficiency at the intermediate level. Students should consult the Mason Core and College requirements page for a detailed listing of the School/College requirements.

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.

Students with questions about exceptions to academic policies and about School requirements should contact SPGIA Undergraduate Student Services (Robinson Hall, Room A201; 703-993-1400; or

Additional policy information and forms are available on the SPGIA web site.


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 official add period.

Academic Load

Students should review university policies regarding academic load in the Academic Policies  section of this catalog.

In order to be considered for a credit 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 courseload while maintaining high performance
  • 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 School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs.

Only Military Science (MLSC) courses at the 400-level can be used for credit for a degree in the School; credit for other MLSC courses may not be applied toward a degree in the School.

Once matriculated at Mason, students may not take CLEP exams and apply credits from those exams to degrees in the School. Students may apply credits from CLEP exams to degrees in the School only if those credits were awarded and reported prior to admission.

University Consortium

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 SPGIA Undergraduate Student Services 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 SPGIA disciplines at another institution. Students with 60 or more hours of transfer coursework are not permitted to take additional coursework in SPGIA 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.

Study Abroad

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 Dean. Students must also meet all of the following criteria:

  • Meet all eligibility requirements for their program as specified by the Center for Global Education including course prerequisites and minimum GPA.
  • Have completed the immediately preceding semester at Mason with a minimum GPA of 2.00.
  • 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 who are not in good academic standing will not be permitted to study abroad.

Leave of Absence

All undergraduate students who are planning an absence from George Mason must submit a formal request for Leave of Absence to the Office of the University Registrar.  Students do not need to complete the Leave of Absence form if they are participating in a George Mason University sponsored study abroad program or have received permission to study elsewhere.

The maximum time allowed for a Leave of Absence is two years.  A new admission application will be required if a Leave of Absence extends beyond two years.  If a Leave of Absence form was not submitted, a new admission application will be required if a student misses two graded semesters, excluding the summer term. Re-admission is not guaranteed.  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. Although 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 .

Academic Clemency

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.

Appeals Process

Undergraduate students may appeal decisions concerning academic actions to the SPGIA Office of Undergraduate Student Services. They may appeal decisions of the Office of Undergraduate Student Services to the Dean’s Council, a committee composed of SPGIA directors and chairs. Students may appeal decisions of the Dean’s Council to the Associate Provost, Undergraduate Academic Affairs and Programs. Students who feel that the School’s 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 occurs at the Dean’s Council level as discussed above.

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.

Second Bachelor’s Degree

Students should review the university policies regarding second bachelor’s degrees in the Undergraduate Admission 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 additional requirements for the School (see second paragraph of the Policies for Undergraduate Students section) if they differ from the requirements in the School or College of their first major.

Students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in the School 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 School-level requirements. Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in the School must complete these additional School-level requirements: one additional 3-credit 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


Students may elect to take up to two minors 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.

Concentration Courses and Minors

Students may elect to declare a concentration, which requires four of their major field electives to be from the same designated field. Students should be aware that minors usually require between 15 and 21 credits of study, at least 8 of which must be applied only to that minor and may not be used to fulfill requirements of the student’s major, concentration, an undergraduate certificate, or another minor.

Graduate Programs

SPGIA offers three doctoral degree programs and a number of master’s degree programs, as well as numerous graduate certificate programs.  Specific information on each program may be found by scrolling down to the bottom of this page.

The School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs and the Antonin Scalia Law School offer a joint JD/MPP degree program in law and public policy studies. For more information, go to

Graduate students can take advantage of Master’s International (MI), a joint program between Mason and the Peace Corps, which enables participants to combine Peace Corps volunteer service with the master’s degrees in political science or public administration. See the degree programs below for more details.

Graduate Student Appeal and Grievance Procedures

Graduate student appeal and grievance procedures are based on George Mason University’s honor system.  Students are responsible for understanding the provisions of the code described in detail in the Academic Policies  section of this catalog and in SPGIA’s graduate student guides.

Students with grievances should direct them in writing to the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Services, who will provide guidance on how to resolve their concerns in accordance with established procedures.

Students may appeal decisions concerning academic actions, including termination.  Written appeals must be submitted to the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Services.  The merit of these appeals will be reviewed by the Dean or Dean’s designate.

Grade appeals are made to the Dean.  Students should contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in writing to initiate the process.  The Dean’s decision is final.

A student who is facing termination from the program for non-academic reasons may appeal the decision to the Dean.  This appeal must be in writing and must be received within 30 calendar days of the date on the notice of dismissal or termination.  The Dean or Dean’s designate will make a final determination.  This determination may not be appealed.

Research Centers

The School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs’ research centers focus on a wide range of issues and areas.  For a full listing, see Research Centers .


Undergraduate Degree(s)

Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Minor(s)

Undergraduate Minor(s)

Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Program(s)

Master's Degree(s)

Master's Level Certificate(s)

Doctoral Degree(s)