AP.1 Registration and Attendance

Registration for the next semester or summer term begins after mid-semester of fall or spring semesters and is opened to various groups according to priority (graduate students, seniors, juniors, and so on). The Office of the University Registrar assigns each student a time ticket, which is a specific date and time after which a student may register. The time ticket is based on the number of credits earned. Thus, the time ticket will not be the same for all students within a particular priority group. Students should consult the Office of the University Registrar and Patriot Web for information about their registration date and time.

AP.1.1 Academic Calendar

The academic calendar may be accessed at the Office of the University Registrar. Mason runs on a semester schedule, including an active summer term.

AP.1.2 Academic Load

The minimum full-time load for undergraduate students is 12 credits per semester. For graduate full-time classification, see AP.6 Graduate Policies. For planning purposes, applicants for admission are asked to indicate their preference for full- or part-time status, and day or evening classes; however, they may freely choose between evening and day sections of courses and may change their full- or part-time status.

Although many students must work to meet living expenses, employment must not take priority over academic responsibilities. Students employed more than 20 hours a week are strongly urged not to attempt a full-time academic load. Students employed more than 40 hours a week should attempt no more than 6 credits per semester. Students who fail to observe these guidelines may expect no special consideration for academic problems arising from the pressures of employment.

Although 12 credits per semester represent a minimum full-time undergraduate load, students planning to graduate in four years need to carry an average of at least 15 credits per semester. Written approval must be submitted to the Office of the University Registrar before students can register for more than the maximum allowable credits. Undergraduate and Nondegree Undergraduate students should contact their Dean for permission. Graduate and Nondegree Graduate students should contact their department for permission.

Student Status Maximum Credit Limit
Undergraduate 18
Undergraduate on warning, probation or returning from suspension 13
Graduate 12
Nondegree 10

AP.1.2.1 Financial Good Standing; No Holds on Record

Financial good standing and a university record clear of holds are required for students to receive academic services. Services, including, but not limited to, transcript issuance, diploma release, and class registration (add, drop, withdrawal, and such) will not be provided to students with a financial balance due or a hold of any kind on their record. Holds are based on outstanding obligations and may be financial. Examples include fines owed for traffic or parking violations, incomplete immunization records, fines owed to the Mason or consortium libraries, and other administrative holds.

AP.1.3 Registration Procedures

Patriot Web will list specific course information before priority registration each semester. Courses listed may be canceled for insufficient enrollment. Mason reserves the right to change the class schedule and adjust the individual section enrollment as necessary.

Registration is usually accomplished using Patriot Web; however, if a section is closed or registration into a selected section is controlled, permission to enroll must be obtained from the academic program offering the course. Various schools and departments have their own processes for granting this permission. For some courses, the student must submit a completed and signed course permit form in person to the Office of the University Registrar. Students may not attend classes for which they are not registered.

Students must be present at the first meeting of every laboratory course (lecture and laboratory) to validate their registration. If students cannot attend the first meeting, they must notify the instructor beforehand if they intend to continue in that section. Otherwise, their name may be removed from the class roll in both lecture and lab.

Students are responsible for registering properly and paying by the deadline. Students should confirm the correctness of their enrollments (including drop and add) via Patriot Web. Incorrect enrollments may result in academic and financial penalties.

Students are responsible for tuition payments and grades received for all courses in which they are registered unless registration is canceled administratively because of suspension, dismissal, or termination; the section is canceled; or the student drops the course before the tuition liability begins. See Office of the University Registrar for deadlines.

AP.1.3.1 Course Prerequisites, Corequisites

Course prerequisites or corequisites state requirements for student entry into courses and reflect necessary preparation for attempting the course. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of these as stated in the catalog and to have taken prerequisites recently enough to be of value. The administrator of the academic unit in which the course is taught or the instructor of the course may summarily drop students who have enrolled in a course for which they have not met the prerequisites. Graduate course prerequisites are normally met with a grade of B- or better; undergraduate course prerequisites are normally met with a grade of C or better. Individual programs may have higher standards. Questions should be addressed to the local academic unit or course instructor.

AP.1.3.2 Changing Registration

Registration changes must be completed within the schedule adjustment period defined below. Changes to registration are usually made via Patriot Web.

The last day for adding a 14-week course is eight calendar days after and including the first day of classes. The last day for dropping a 14-week course is five calendar weeks after the first day of classes (including the first day). Courses meeting for fewer than 14 weeks have add, drop, and tuition-liability dates proportional to their length. These dates are published on the Office of the University Registrar web site each semester. Students who drop all courses during the drop period will have no entry on their transcript for that semester and will not be considered an enrolled student for that semester. If it is the student's first semester, the student will not have a Mason transcript and must contact Admissions regarding enrollment in a future semester.

All students are expected to complete their initial enrollment before the first day of classes for the semester. Any additions to that enrollment must be processed by the end of the add period through official registration procedures. Students will not receive credit for courses unless their names are on the official class rosters and final grade sheets. Retroactive credits will not be awarded to students who report that they attended classes but were not on the official rosters. After the last day to add, students will not be added to courses except in unusual circumstances beyond the student's control; such actions require approval by the administrator of the local academic department offering the course.

All students are expected to drop (by the end of the drop period) those courses they do not intend to continue. Registration is not canceled for failure to drop courses properly. Furthermore, registration is not canceled for failure to attend classes unless stated otherwise on Patriot Web. All classes in which a student is enrolled past the drop deadline will remain part of the official academic record. For more information, see AP.3.3 Additional Grade Notations. After the drop deadline, withdrawal approval is granted only for nonacademic reasons by the student's academic dean. This approval is typically given for all courses at once, constituting withdrawal from a semester. For more information, see AP.1.5 Withdrawal.

No change of registration transaction is complete until it is submitted through Patriot Web or processed by the Office of Student Accounts and the Office of the University Registrar through in-person procedures.

Students will not receive written confirmation of schedule changes and are responsible for checking their schedules via Patriot Web before the end of the add or drop period to verify that their schedules are correct and they are properly enrolled. Students will not be allowed to remain in classes unless they are properly enrolled. Students are responsible, both financially and academically, for all courses in which they remain officially enrolled.

AP.1.3.3 Canceling Registration

Students who cannot attend classes during the semester for which they have registered should cancel registration using Patriot Web prior to the first day of classes for the semester.

Refunds of tuition on and after the first day of classes are made according to the tuition-liability dates published in this catalog and the Office of the University Registrar.

AP.1.3.4 Repeating a Course

Effective July 1, 2011 Federal Regulations no longer allow federal student aid funds to apply to courses that a student has already taken twice with a passing grade. This limitation does not include courses that are "repeatable for credit," as described below. Students should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to determine how repeated course work would affect their financial aid eligibility.

Some courses are annotated in the catalog as "repeatable for credit." These are courses which students may repeat and receive additional credit for each time the course is taken. The maximum number of credits is specified in each course's description. Special topics and independent study courses are examples. For all other courses, the following conditions apply:

  • Graduate students who have passed a course with a satisfactory grade are not permitted to repeat the course for replacement credit. Grades of B- are considered satisfactory, unless the academic program specifies a higher minimum satisfactory grade. Students must obtain permission from their academic program to repeat a course in which they have earned an unsatisfactory grade. Each unit establishes procedures for granting such permission. Duplicate credit is not earned.  When a course is repeated, all credits attempted are used to determine warning, termination, or dismissal; the transcript shows grades for all courses attempted; and only one grade per course may be presented on the degree application.
  • Some courses, such as special topics courses, are repeatable for a limited number of additional credits. As long as students do not exceed the maximum allowable credits for repeatable courses, all takings of the course count for credit and in the student's GPA. In cases where the student has exceeded allowable credits in a repeatable class, the transcript will exclude the grade and credits of the earliest taking of the class.
  • For undergraduate classes not repeatable for credit, undergraduate degree students may repeat courses for which they seek a higher grade. Academic programs may restrict repeats of certain departmental or college courses in the major. Excessive repeats may result in termination from the major by a student's dean. A grade received in a repeated course will replace the grade in a prior takings of the same course in the calculation of the cumulative GPA, even if the more recent grade is lower. Duplicate credit is not given. Repeat rules apply to taking the same course and courses designated in the catalog as equivalent. Repeat rules apply throughout a student's academic history. All instances of courses and their grades remain part of the student's transcript. No adjustment to the cumulative GPA will be made when the grade in the repeated course is W. A grade in a Mason course will not be excluded from the cumulative GPA based on a subsequent taking of an equivalent course via study elsewhere. The exclusion of earlier grades of repeated courses will not change the academic standing or dean's list notations for the earlier semester. Note that individual programs may disallow students from retaking certain high-demand courses simply for the purpose of improving their grade. Programs may also require departmental permission for students to repeat certain department, school, or college courses. 

AP.1.3.5 Auditing a Course

Auditing a course requires the instructor's permission. Audit forms are available at Office of the University Registrar. A previously-audited course may be taken again for credit in a later term. Students may also audit a course previously taken and passed; however, students may not change from credit to audit status or from audit to credit status after the end of the drop period, as defined above. The usual tuition and fees apply to audit status.

AP.1.4 Special Registration Procedures

AP.1.4.1 Advisor's Permission to Register

All newly-admitted students, undeclared undergraduates on academic warning or academic probation, and undergraduates returning from suspension, are required to obtain an advisor's approval for registration. All students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisors concerning course registration each semester.

AP.1.4.2 Permission to Study Elsewhere

Currently enrolled George Mason University students who wish to take courses at another regionally accredited U.S. institution must obtain advance written approval. This process permits a student to enroll elsewhere in a suitable course unavailable at Mason or through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Students who wish to study abroad must contact the Mason Study Abroad. Students wanting to pursue study through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area should contact the Office of the University Registrar.

  • The Permission to Study at Another Regionally Accredited U.S. Institution form can be found at the Office of the University Registrar. Submission of this form does not guarantee approval.
  • Catalog numbers and descriptions of courses to be taken elsewhere must be submitted with the request for approval.
  • A minimum course grade must be achieved; however, grades themselves do not compute into any Mason GPA. For undergraduate courses, a minimum grade of C (2.0 on a 4.0 scale) is required. For graduate courses, a minimum grade of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) is required.
  • Graduate students must obtain advance written approval from the director of their graduate program and the graduate dean of their school/college. Undergraduate students must obtain advance written approval from their academic advisor and the academic dean of the school/college offering the course to be taken elsewhere.
  • Upon course completion, students must submit to the GMU Office of the University Registrar an official transcript from the visited institution for all coursework taken elsewhere.
  • Advance approval to study elsewhere is required.
Special instructions for undergraduates:
  • Once enrolled in degree status at Mason, students may request permission to take a limited number of credits at another regionally accredited institution.
  • Students must be in good standing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 in their Mason courses to request permission to study elsewhere.
  • Individual colleges/schools/institutes determine restrictions on the number, type, mode of delivery, location and offering patterns of courses that can be taken at another institution.
  • Freshmen and transfer students in their first semester at Mason are not permitted to study elsewhere.
  • Courses previously attempted at Mason (including withdrawals) cannot be taken elsewhere.
  • Students must meet the minimum 30-hour residency requirement at Mason.

AP.1.4.3 Permission to Register as Graduate Student

Registration for courses in a graduate program is permitted only after the student has been notified of admission. Students admitted to degree programs are given preference over nondegree students through the registration process. Dual registration (for example, as a graduate student and nondegree enrollee) is not permitted. The graduate student is responsible for being properly registered and aware of all regulations and procedures required by a program of study. Regulations and degree requirements are not waived nor are exceptions granted because of ignorance of any regulations. Registration in graduate-level courses is restricted to admitted graduate degree students and nondegree graduate students (unless excluded by program). Undergraduate degree students may register for graduate courses only with special approval (see section below). Nondegree undergraduate students may not enroll in courses numbered 500 or above. Courses numbered 800 and above are available only to admitted graduate degree students.

AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates

Courses numbered 700 and above are closed to undergraduates. Undergraduates in degree programs may enroll in graduate-level courses 500 to 699 only with written permission, which must be obtained before registration. Forms are available at Office of the University Registrar. Written permission is waived for undergraduate students admitted to combined bachelor's/accelerated master's programs.

To enroll in graduate courses for credit applicable to an undergraduate degree, undergraduates must have completed all course prerequisites, have exhausted all upper-level undergraduate courses relevant to their educational objectives, and be able to demonstrate the level of maturity required for graduate courses.

Approval to register for reserve graduate credit (earned credit held in reserve to apply later toward a graduate degree) is given only to Mason seniors within 15 credits of completing undergraduate study who have successfully completed all course prerequisites. In addition, this privilege is normally extended only to seniors who have completed at least 12 credits at the university, have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or better, and have a major in the department offering the course. Approval for reserve graduate credit is limited to 6 credits and does not imply approval for admission into a Mason graduate program or that credit earned will be accepted at another graduate school.

Undergraduates enrolled in graduate courses are eligible to receive only those letter grades applicable to graduate grading. For more information, AP.3 Grading. Credit for the same course may not be applied to both graduate and undergraduate degrees.

AP.1.4.5 Special Registration for Nonenrolled Students

Degree-seeking students not enrolled in a credit-bearing course but whose academic unit certifies that they are pursuing an activity related to their Mason enrolled program can retain active status by registering for Special Registration (ZREG 200) for a $45 fee. Written approval from the student's advisor and the local academic unit is required. Special registration allows students to retain library and computer privileges, receive a student ID, and buy a parking decal. Students must have active status to apply for or receive a degree, take an exam, or participate in cooperative education.

AP.1.4.6 Enrolling for Credit Without Grade Points (Satisfactory/No Credit)

Courses normally graded as satisfactory/no credit (S/NC) are annotated in the catalog, but students may elect to take credit without grade points. Undergraduates may take up to 6 credits to be graded S/NC; this option applies only to electives outside the field of the major, concentration, minor, general education requirement, or certificate program. Graduate students may elect the S/NC grade option only for courses that do not apply to the degree or certificate requirements. S/NC grading will also be used for courses numbered 998 and 999. For more information, see AP.3.3 Additional Grade Notations.

AP.1.4.7 Senior Citizen Waiver Program

Under terms of the Senior Citizen Higher Education Act of 1974, eligible Virginia residents 60 years of age or older, with a taxable income not exceeding $15,000, are entitled to enroll in courses offered for academic credit on a space available basis without paying tuition and enrollment fees via the Senior Citizen Waiver Program. In order for this to occur, the applicant must meet all admission requirements. Senior citizens who meet all admission requirements, the income eligibility requirement, and have completed a minimum of 75 percent of degree requirements may enroll in a degree program during normal registration periods without paying tuition and enrollment fees. The admissions application fee cannot be waived, but students who qualify to have all tuition and fees waived will have the application fee reimbursed. For specific information about the program, please visit the Office of the University Registrar Senior Citizen Waiver Program.

Citizens who wish to take advantage of this act must complete the appropriate online non-degree or degree application found at Admissions and submit all required transcripts and documents. If the application for admission is approved, qualified senior citizens can request a waiver of tuition and enrollment fees by completing the Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver Form, available from the Office of the University Registrar. To facilitate processing, senior citizens should provide their Mason student identification number on the waiver form.

In addition, the act allows admissible senior citizens to audit courses (no academic credit is received) and enroll in up to three noncredit courses per semester without paying tuition and enrollment fees, regardless of the taxable income level. Students seeking to audit a class must notify the Office of the University Registrar when registering for classes. Fees for course materials may apply to senior citizen enrollees, and tuition may be charged for courses designed exclusively for senior citizen groups. Senior citizens must adhere to all admissions and registration policies and processes and follow normal procedures to add and drop courses within the deadline dates outlined in each semester's academic calendar.

AP.1.4.8 Summer Term

Phone: 703-993-2441
Web: registrar.gmu.edu/summer

Summer enrollment provides an opportunity for eligible undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree students to begin or continue the pursuit of their academic goals. Courses are offered in intensive five to twelve-week sessions, as daytime and evening classes and as distance education courses.

Summer registration for current Mason students begins in mid-March while registration for non-degree students begins in late March to early April. Students who are new to Mason are required to apply and be evaluated for admission. Prospective students may contact the Office of the University Registrar at 703-993-2441.

AP.1.4.9 University Consortium

Mason is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes American University, The Catholic University of America, Corcoran College of Art and Design, Gallaudet University, The George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Marymount University, National Defense Intelligence College, National Defense University, Trinity Washington University, the University of the District of Columbia, and the University of Maryland-College Park. Eligible Mason students may enroll in courses at any of the consortium institutions. The consortium's cross-registration arrangement permits students enrolled in eligible degree programs at one member institution to take a course at another member institution.

Participation in consortium cross registration is available to degree-seeking juniors, seniors, and graduate students in good standing and currently enrolled at Mason. Participation is limited to courses that are approved by the student's local academic unit and dean, apply to the student's program of study, are not offered during that semester at Mason, and have space available at the visited institution. Additional restrictions apply. Students may take one consortium course per semester, with a career maximum of 6 credits for undergraduates (9–12 if foreign language study is approved) and 6 credits for graduate students. Credit earned through the consortium is considered resident credit, so grades count in the Mason GPA.

Information and regulations, including restricted and excluded courses, for both outgoing and incoming Mason consortium students are available on the web. Information pertaining to all member institutions is available here. Questions may be directed to the consortium coordinator in the Office of the University Registrar at 703-993-2436.

AP.1.4.10 4-VA

4-VA began in 2010 as a collaborative of four universities: George Mason University, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In 2015, Old Dominion University joined the collaborative. The presidents of these universities organized 4-VA in order to meet the needs identified by the Governor's Higher Education Commission and his Commission on Economic Development & Job Creation.

4-VA's mission is to promote inter-university collaborations that leverage the strengths of each partner university in order to accomplish much more than any individual university could achieve alone. 4-VA strives to: define instructional models, including the clear definition of instructional costs; significantly expand access for all Virginians to programs preparing them for rewarding careers; increase research competitiveness, and enhance the success rate of students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses and programs. For more information, visit their website.

AP.1.5 Withdrawal

AP.1.5.1 Selective Withdrawal for Undergraduates

Undergraduates enrolled in bachelor's degree programs are eligible to withdraw from a limited number of classes without the dean's approval and at the student's own discretion. Students may process a maximum of three such selective withdrawals during their entire undergraduate career at Mason. The three classes may have any number of credits. The academic calendar for each semester will include an open withdrawal period beginning the day after the last day to drop the class and extending through the ninth week. For classes shorter than a semester (14 weeks), the period will be set in proportion to the length of the class.

AP.1.5.2 Course Withdrawal with Dean Approval

For graduate and nondegree students, withdrawal after the last day to drop a course requires approval by the student's academic dean, and is permitted only for nonacademic reasons that prevent course completion. For undergraduate students, withdrawal after the open withdrawal period, for cause within the period, or after a student has used all three selective withdrawals, requires approval by the student's academic dean and is typically permitted only for nonacademic reasons that prevent course completion.

AP.1.5.3 Semester Withdrawal with Dean Approval

Undergraduates taking three or fewer classes may use the selective withdrawal for all courses for a semester; see the Selective Withdrawal for Undergraduates section. Otherwise, students may withdraw from a semester after the end of the drop period without academic penalty only for nonacademic reasons with the approval of the academic dean. Withdrawal forms are available at the appropriate academic dean's office. Students who stop attending all classes without the dean's approval and without processing selective withdrawals, if eligible, will receive a grade of F in all courses.

AP.1.5.4 Effects of Course or Semester Withdrawal

Approved or selective withdrawal results in a grade of W on the student's transcript for the withdrawn course(s). While a grade of W does not affect the GPA, undergraduate students should note that withdrawn courses are part of "attempted credit hours," which serve as the basis for the student's credit level. In the university's undergraduate retention system, GPA standards increase according to credit level. See AP.5.2.3 Student Retention Categories.

AP.1.6 Attendance Policies

Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they are registered. In-class participation is important not only to the individual student, but also to the class as a whole. Because class participation may be a factor in grading, instructors may use absence, tardiness, or early departure as de facto evidence of nonparticipation. Students who miss an exam with an acceptable excuse may be penalized according to the individual instructor's grading policy, as stated in the course syllabus.

AP.1.6.1 Absence for Religious Observances or Participation in University Activities

Mason encourages its faculty to make a reasonable effort to allow students to observe their religious holidays or to participate in university-sponsored activities (e.g., intercollegiate athletics, forensics team, dance company, etc.) without academic penalty. Absence from classes or exams for these reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the absence. Students who miss classes, exams, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance or for participation in a university activity will be provided a reasonable alternative opportunity, consistent with class attendance policies stated in the syllabus, to make up the missed work. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty, within the first two weeks of the semester, with the dates of major religious holidays on which they will be absent, and the dates for which they are requesting an excused absence for participation in any university-sponsored activity scheduled prior to the start of the semester, and as soon as possible otherwise. Students requesting an excused absence for participation in a university- sponsored activity must provide their instructor with a letter from a university official stating the dates and times that participation in the activity would result in the student missing class. Faculty members are encouraged to take religious observances into consideration when constructing class schedules and syllabi.

AP.1.7 Re-enrollment After Previous Attendance

Undergraduate students who have missed one or more consecutive semesters must follow the requirements detailed in the Enrollment after Previous Attendance section in the Undergraduate Admission Policies section of the catalog. Graduate and Non-Degree students who have missed two or more consecutive semesters must re-enroll. All graduate students must receive departmental approval prior to re-enrollment. Students may find the re-enrollment form at the Office of the University Registrar.

AP.1.8 Undergraduate 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.

Eligibility Requirements

A student must:

  • Be eligible to register for classes
  • Be a degree-seeking undergraduate student
  • Be registered during the semester immediately prior to the beginning of the Leave of Absence
  • Have no holds (e.g., disciplinary, financial, etc.) which would restrict registration
    • The maximum time allowed for a Leave of Absence is two years.
    • A new admission application will be required if a student is away for more than two academic years. Re-admission is not guaranteed.
    • Prior approval is required. Advisors approve one-semester requests. Advisor and Dean approval is required if the leave of absence requested is for more than one semester.
    • Students are not permitted to study elsewhere while on a Leave of Absence.
    • A student who was admitted as a new first semester freshman or transfer student but did not attend will not be eligible for a Leave of Absence. Instead, he or she must contact Undergraduate Admissions.
    • A student who was re-admitted but did not attend will not be eligible for a Leave of Absence. He or she must contact Undergraduate Admissions.
    • Requests for extensions on a previously submitted Leave of Absence require submission of a new Leave of Absence form.