VSE Graduate Student Handbook

The purpose of the Mason Engineering Graduate Student Resources page is to provide student handbook-like access to Volgenau Graduate Academic Affairs policies, processes and criteria.  This page is supplemental to University Policy as well as the Volgenau Graduate Policies section of the University Catalog and cross-referenced when appropriate. 


See Also: George Mason University Graduate Student Handbook


Admission & Readmission


Admission decisions are made by the faculty committee or graduate coordinator 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 graduate program, though they may apply for either non-degree enrollment or admission to another 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 school 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.
  • Students admitted to an accelerated master's program do not maintain satisfactory progress in his or her undergraduate program, do 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.



Graduate students who have been terminated or have resigned from a program in the Volgenau School and want to reapply to the same program must wait five (5) semesters (Fall/Spring) before submitting a new application for admission. A full application for admission as well as all application materials required of that program must be submitted (or resubmitted). GRE scores, if required, cannot be older than five years. Previous admission to a program does not guarantee readmission to the same program. The circumstances of the prior termination or resignation will be a factor in the decision-making process.  Graduate credit earned prior to termination may be applied to the degree program as long as the requirements are satisfied for Transfer of Credit.

Academic Progression (Satisfactory Academic Progress )

Graduate students must make satisfactory progress toward a degree.  At a minimum, this requires maintaining enrollment in at least one term per academic year and a GPA of 3.0 or higher.  Inability to make satisfactory progress toward a degree may result in termination.  Academic programs of study are entitled to enforce more stringent criteria which may include specific grade requirements in courses, successful completion of doctoral qualifying exams, etc.  Please refer to your program for additional information.

Academic Warning

Academic Warning is a notation on your transcript to denote an unsatisfactory grade (C and F) or an Incomplete.  In the case of an Incomplete, and if the outstanding work is completed with a grade of B- or better, the notation will be removed.

Also found in the University Catalog, AP.6.6.1.


Students electing a degree concentration, post-admission, must do so in consultation with the graduate program advisor, via formal paperwork approved by the department/school, submitted and processed by the Registrar. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their intended concentration is reflected on their transcript prior to graduation.

Doctoral Change of Program

Students in Volgenau School of Engineering doctoral programs are not permitted to change doctoral programs without a new, formal PhD admission application submitted in accordance with the established requirements and deadlines. 

Finding a Faculty Advisor to Supervise Your Research

A PhD student’s dissertation research is supervised by a VSE faculty member, and must therefore align with faculty interests, expertise, and the willingness of faculty to supervise a student’s research.  VSE Faculty Research Interests are described here

Students are encouraged to interact with faculty as early as possible in their PhD studies with the goal of identifying faculty members by whom they may wish to be supervised, and who are willing to supervise them.  This allows students to undertake a program of study that will ultimately support their research.  Faculty expectations for student research performance should also be discussed early in this search process to ensure a common understanding of goals, timelines, and research outcomes. 

Recruitment of a PhD dissertation advisor is ultimately the responsibility of the student.  A faculty member cannot be assigned to supervise a student and his/her research.  

Grade Appeals

Graduate Grade Appeal Process and Criteria 2019

The Volgenau School of Engineering adheres to the University Grade Appeal Policy, AP.3.9.  The attached Volgenau Graduate Grade Appeal Process and Criteria is supplementary only, for the benefit of Volgenau School students.

Inactive Students

The University inactivates a student after two consecutive semesters (Fall/Spring) of missed registration. This is a University service distinction that has a number of academic implications including VSE's satisfactory academic progress, doctoral students in the 999 sequence ( AP.6.10.6),  re-enrollment paperwork to return, etc. Inactivation does not impact time limit expectations. If you do not intend to complete your degree, you should end your academic record by voluntary resignation. The appropriate form can be found at: https://registrar.gmu.edu/forms/graduate/. Without formal closure of your degree program (degree conferral, voluntary resignation or academic termination) the school will initiate formal Inactive Student Time Limit Termination procedures using catalog guidelines ( AP.6.8 Requirements for Graduate Certificates; AP.6.9 Requirements for Master's Degrees; AP.6.10 Requirements for Doctoral Degrees) and the school-specific Inactive Student Time Limit Termination policy.

See also: Time Limit Termination Exception Request Process and Criteria.

INTO Exception Process and Criteria

Click here to learn more about the INTO Exception Process and Criteria.

Non-Degree Status

Admission Policies: https://catalog.gmu.edu/admissions/non-degree-enrollment/

Students may begin taking classes in non-degree status while they apply to a specific degree program. Please note that only 12 credits taken in non-degree status can be transferred to a Master's degree program. Allowable transfer is only 3 credits for Certificate programs. Please refer to the University policy for specific information. Non-degree graduate students taking courses in the Volgenau School may not register for classes numbered 700 or higher. 


Graduate students who have not attended for two or more consecutive semesters are automatically inactivated by the University.  If you met academic standards when you stopped enrolling and are not in jeopardy of exceeding your time limit, please complete the Re-Enrollment Application that can be found on the Registrar’s website at https://registrar.gmu.edu/forms/graduate/. If you were a Non-Degree student, please be sure to use the Non-Degree form.

Students who have been inactive more than one year, may be required by their program to graduate under a catalog in effect after they have been granted permission to re-enroll. 

Requesting an Academic Exception

Questions about Academic Exception Requests should be directed to the Senior Director, Office of Graduate Academic Affairs, Jennifer Skorzawski-Ross.

Process: Students requesting an academic exception should first speak with their faculty advisor and/or program director.  If the student is not satisfied, the next level in the conversation is with the department.  Again, if the student is not satisfied, (s)he can reach out to the Senior Director for Graduate Academic Affairs. 

Many academic exception requests require Provost’s Office approval.  In cases that require Provost Approval, if the exception request is supported by Volgenau, the school will forward the request to the Provost’s Office for final consideration.  However, if the exception request is denied by Volgenau, the student has the right to appeal to the Provost’s Office. If a school supported exception request is denied by the Provost’s Office, the student has the right to appeal one-level beyond. For more information, please visit the Provost’s Office website

Note: The Office of Graduate Academic Affairs will not approve any academic action (retroactive adjustments, changes of program, etc) for students who have had their academic record ended through resignation, termination or graduation.

Retroactive Enrollment Adjustment Exception Criteria (Also followed for Late Schedule Adjustment Requests)

Click here to learn more about the Retroactive Enrollment Adjustment Exception Criteria (also followed for Late Schedule Adjustment Requests).

Statement on External Scholarships

Mason Engineering is an inclusive environment that welcomes and actively recruits highly qualified graduate candidates from around the world. Some students are fortunate to receive financial incentives from an employer, outside agency or country of origin.  However, these funding opportunities are a contract between the individual and an outside agency or country; no formal agreement has been made with George Mason University.  Admitted students are offered admission to a particular program with no optional degree paths (e.g., thesis) guaranteed. All program requirements are established in the student’s Catalog of first matriculation.  Despite our support of external funding opportunities, Mason Engineering will not alter or compromise established curriculum to accommodate outside scholarship provider demands.  The academic rigor of our degree programs is paramount to our success and the value of the degree we bestow.   

Study Elsewhere; Graduate Permission to Study at Another Regionally Accredited U.S. Institution

Students wishing to study at a regionally accredited US Institution that is not through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area may request to do so through their department using the Study Elsewhere form for Graduate Students available from the Registrar’s Website: https://registrar.gmu.edu/forms/graduate/

All forms must be submitted to the Volgenau Graduate Academic Affairs (VOGAA) Office with a rationale and departmental approval (e.g., email, letter of support, etc.).  Only students in good academic standing will be considered for study elsewhere.  Criteria include, but are not limited to, the student being in active status, a cumulative GPA over 3.0, and a bona fide rationale as to why the course cannot be taken at Mason.  Please note that the Mason Equivalent Course may not be a course that you have already taken.

Termination, Academic

  • Academic Termination Process and Criteria 1-2021
  • The University policy on Academic Termination can be found in the University Catalog, under AP.6.6.2.
  • International students: OIPS will be notified throughout the process.  Discuss your situation with them and find out if you have any non-academic deadlines to consider.
  • Grade Appeals - If a faculty member has initiated a change of grade, please let the person notifying you of termination know.  In most cases, time consideration will be given.  However, if you are involved in a formal Grade Appeal, termination will be suspended until an outcome has been reached.  NOTE: the student assumes the academic and financial responsibility of waiting for the outcome.  For example, if the outcome of the grade appeal is not in your favor, but is after the final drop deadline, you will be responsible for tuition and fees and be terminated.  Information regarding Grade Appeals can be found in the University Catalog  as well as in the content portion of this Blackboard site.
  • Termination supersedes degree conferral.  If you are eligible for termination in your last semester, even if the grade you receive is in a course that will not count toward your degree, you will be subject to termination.  Your degree will not be conferred unless an academic exception request has been approved by the Associate Provost. 

Time Limits

Every degree seeking student has a maximum amount of time to confer a degree. Time Limit deadlines are governed by:

Students are responsible for knowing their time limits.  Please see https://registrar.gmu.edu/forms/timelimit/ for instructions on how to determine your initial deadline. Students requesting an extension have until the last day of class of their time limit semester to submit a Time Limit Exception Request.

See also: 

Inactive Student Time Limit Termination Policy

Time Limit Termination Exception Requests

VSE 794 - Graduate Internship Course

VSE 794 is a graduate internship course designed for degree-seeking students within the Volgenau School of Engineering who have been offered an opportunity to participate in an Internship/Externship/Co-Op opportunity outside of the University.  The course links the practical experience of the Internship/Externship/Co-Op with an academic deliverable. Students choose to register for 1-3 credits per registration and the course may be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits.  VSE 794 does not fulfill any program-specific requirements, although use of VSE 794 toward program requirements is at the discretion of the program.

Finding a Faculty Member to Supervise the Experience:
Students who have been offered an Internship/Externship/Co-Op opportunity and would like to have that experience documented on their academic transcript need to seek approval from a faculty member to oversee the required academic deliverable.  The faculty member and student must come to an agreement on the specific academic deliverable.  A final grade for the course is to be entered by the deadlines specified in the University Calendar for the term.

Obtaining a CRN:
Once a student has found a faculty member to supervise their experience, the student should request a CRN from their department or program.  The department/program is then responsible for making a request to the Graduate Academic Affairs Office (vsephd@gmu.edu) for a faculty-specific CRN.  Once processed, the department/program will be provided a CRN for the student to self-register.  University Calendar deadlines must be observed.


Course Withdrawal Policy

VSE Withdrawal Process and Criteria 2019

After the drop deadline, graduate students may request to withdraw from a course before the last day of class.  Full policy attached.  This request can only be made for non-academic reasons and does not imply any tuition refund.  International students dropping below full-time status may have adverse implications and should consult OIPS before making a request to withdraw.

Please see your department or the Volgenau Office of Graduate Academic Affairs (Email vsephd@gmu.edu) for more information and the form that is needed to withdraw.


Program Withdrawal

As graduate students and graduate professionals, we all understand that sometimes life has to come first.  If you are making the hard decision to resign from your current Graduate Program, please make sure to do so with guidance from your department or the Office of Graduate Academic Affairs (Email vsephd@gmu.edu).  Many policies come into play and assessment of your particular situation may be invaluable, especially if you’d like to come back and finish at a later time. 


Additional Information

GTA and GRA Contacts

Looking for a position?

Department contacts:

Already have a position and have questions?

  • Start by contacting the faculty member/department who is funding your position.
  • Jennifer Lee,Personnel Assistant, Volgenau School of Engineering, hlee77@gmu.edu

Registrar Tutorials

The Registrar's Office offers tutorials to help you resolve common registration problems, including how to adjust variable credit, which is our most often asked question. Click here to learn more.


Exception Clause

The Associate Dean for Graduate Programs or her designee has the discretion to modify or deviate from Volgenau policy, if necessary, for extenuating circumstances or if necessary to comply with other University or College policies.

Last updated February 9, 2021.