Graduate Admissions FAQ


I’d like to speak or meet with someone in Admissions; how do I set up a meeting?

Schedule a one-on-one appointment with a member of the graduate admissions team directly. Please note that meetings are informational only. We do not conduct interviews. You may also browse our schedule of upcoming open houses and events. At these events, you will have the opportunity to meet with Admissions staff, program faculty, and current students.


How do I apply?

To begin your application, visit the Graduate Application page and click sign up. You will be prompted to enter your name and email address. Once you have done so, hit submit, and an email with your username and a link to create a password will be sent to you. Follow the prompts to create and confirm your new password. Your application portal will now be set up with the option to start a new application.

Start your application under Degree-Seeking for a PhD, master's, certificate, or accelerated master's program. Start your application under Nondegree for nondegree studies.

What accredited degree is acceptable to apply?

To be considered for our graduate programs, university graduate admissions standards require applicants to hold a baccalaureate degree from a US institution of higher education accredited by one of the organizations found on the list below, or international equivalent.

George Mason University only accepts applications for graduate and nondegree programs from colleges and universities that hold the following accreditation:

  • MSA - Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education
  • NWCCU - Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • HLC - Higher Learning Commission
  • NEASC-CIHE - New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
  • SACS - Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • WASC-ACCJC - Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
  • WASC-ACSCU - Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities

How can I strengthen my application? What can I do to stand out?

Many courses at our school assume a solid foundation in subjects such as economics, statistics, and political science. If you have not taken courses in these subjects, did not perform as well in them as you would have liked, or just need a refresher, we suggest taking them at the undergraduate or community college level before applying to our graduate programs. You may also apply as a nondegree seeking graduate student. Please be sure to send us your transcript from this coursework.

Who should write my recommendation letters?

Your recommendation letters should come from people who can attest to your academic potential for graduate study. Ideally, at least one recommendation would be from an individual who is familiar with your academic work – a faculty member with whom you took classes, collaborated with on research, participated in a study abroad or experiential learning immersion, etc.

We recognize, however, that many of our applicants are somewhat removed from an academic setting and that relationships with previous professors are not always sustainable over time. Therefore, we request that letters of recommendation come from recommenders who can attest to both academic capability within the capacity they have supervised/observed/worked with you, elaborating on quantifiable characteristics including (but not limited to) intelligence, motivation, diligence, work ethic, academic interest, writing competence and analytical capability.

What should I include in my written statement?

For our goals statement we advise: 750-1000 words on your goals and interest in this program. The goal statement while broad, should indicate your relevant educational and professional background, why you are choosing Mason and this program in specific, your future goals, and how you hope this program could help you obtain your future career goals. 

If I am not sure what my undergraduate GPA is, what should I enter on the ‘Previous College’ screen of the online application?

You can leave the GPA box blank and proceed with the rest of the application. When our office receives your transcripts, we will enter your GPA information into the application.

Where do I send my transcripts?

Most application documents should be submitted via the online application portal. For application review purposes, you must upload an unofficial copy of your transcript from all universities attended in the U.S.

If admitted, you will be required to supply official transcripts. Official transcripts should be mailed to our office directly from the institution(s) attended. If transcripts arrive unsealed in the original envelopes, they are not considered official and will affect your enrollment status as a student for future terms. Please send all transcripts to:


Mailed transcripts:

Office of Graduate Admissions
4400 University Drive, MS 4C8
Fairfax, VA 22030

Where do I send my transcripts if I studied outside of the U.S.?

Applicants with international credentials may upload unofficial documents to the application portal. Official documents must be sealed and sent via mail to the Office of Graduate Admissions. For more information, please review the International Applicant Requirements page. 

Please send all transcripts to:

Office of Graduate Admissions
4400 University Drive, MS 4C8
Fairfax, VA 22030

How do I submit my resume and goals statement?

Your resume and goals statement should be uploaded directly into the online application portal. Only if you have technical trouble with uploading your documents should you email them to us at If you must email these documents, please be sure to put your full name, birth date or G number (if known), and the program that you are applying to as a header at the top of each page.

My recommenders deleted or never received their email…

If you would like to send your recommenders a reminder email to upload their letter, please complete the steps below:

  • Log into your application portal.
  • Click on the application that you need the recommendation letter for.
  • Click “Send reminder.”
  • A pop-up dialog box will appear asking if you want to send a recommendation reminder to the recommender. Click “Send.”

My domicile status is incorrect or has changed; how do I change my status?

Please visit the George Mason University Domicile Office website for instructions on how to change your domicile status with the university. If you have questions regarding initial domicile classification, you may reach out to the Office of Graduate Admissions directly at

If I am an out-of-state student my first year at Mason…

It is extremely difficult to qualify for in-state tuition if you are an out-of-state student at the time of your application and matriculation into graduate school. You may petition for reclassification of your status. Please note, living in Virginia for the purpose of attending graduate school is insufficient to establish domicile status. A student seeking reclassification should consult the Domicile Office website.


I am an international student and have questions regarding my visa; who do I contact?

The Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) can assist international students with visa information, as well as other issues relevant to international students.

What is required for international students for the admissions process?

We have additional requirements for applicants who have international credentials. For an extensive breakdown of requirements that you would have to meet, please visit our International Applicant Requirements page. We understand the application process for students with international credentials can lead to many questions, and we encourage you to reach out to us at and we will work with you.

How do I demonstrate English language proficiency for my application?

Per George Mason University’s policy, all Mason students must have a full command of academic English to be successful in their studies. For this reason, Mason requires applicants to demonstrate English proficiency for admission consideration, regardless of citizen. For more information on university requirements, we encourage you to visit the English Proficiency Requirements page and our International Applicant Requirements page.


When are admissions deadlines?

Deadlines for all of our programs can be found on our admissions pages. All program applications, excluding PhD, are reviewed on a rolling basis, and students are strongly encouraged to submit applications in advance of these deadlines.


How do I check my application status?

To check your application status, you can log into your application portal. "My Applications" will show the completeness of all of your started applications. If the application has not been submitted, it will be less than 100%. If it has been submitted, it will show as 100%. If you click on an unsubmitted application, you will be able to finish the application. If you click a submitted application, the checklist on the right will show you the status of your requirements.

When is the final admissions decision? How do I find it?

Applicants to our master's and certificate programs will be notified to view their admission decision via their application portal in approximately 2-6 weeks after the application has become complete, meaning that the Schar School has received all application materials. PhD admission decisions are usually available to view in their application portal in mid-March.


How long does the degree program take to complete?

For master's programs: If you attend as a full-time student, it takes, on average, 2 years to complete the program. If you attend as a part-time student, it takes about 3 years to complete the program. Please note that the University imposes a degree time limit. All master's students are required to complete all degree requirements within 6 years of the date of initial course registration.

For certificate programs: If you attend as a full-time student, it takes 1 year to complete the program. If you attend as a part-time student, it takes 1.5 years to complete the program.

For PhD programs: If you attend as a full-time student, it takes, on average, 4-5 years to complete the program. If you attend as a part-time student, it takes, on average, 6 years to complete the program. Please note that the University imposes a degree time limit. All PhD students are required to complete all degree requirements within 10 years of the date of initial course registration.

When and where are classes held?

Most master's classes are held Mondays–Thursdays in the late afternoon and evening on either Mason Square or the Fairfax Campus, depending on the program. The Master's in Organization Development and Knowledge Management program is an executive format and meets selected weekends throughout the year. The core curriculum for the PhD in Public Policy is offered solely on Mason Square. The core curriculum courses for the Political Science and Biodefense PhD programs are offered at the Fairfax Campus. 

Many of master's degree and certificate programs also offer an online option. More information is found on individual program pages.

How can I transfer courses or credits from another institution?

You are allowed to transfer a maximum of 12 credits into our master's programs and 3 credits into our graduate certificate programs if they are deemed relevant to the curriculum. The remainder of credits must be completed through the Schar School.

For our PhD programs, you are eligible for up to a 30-credit reduction with a conferred master's degree. After matriculation, PhD students may take a maximum of 12 credits at other accredited institutions, and the student must receive approval from the program director in advance.

Any possible transferring of credit is up to the discretion of the academic advising team and program director of the program, and any possible awarding of credit would happen after the admissions process is completed.


How much is tuition? How much does it cost per credit hour?

Tuition for each program can be found on the Tuition and Financial Assistance page of the Schar School website. To find out more about in- and out-of-state tuition, please visit the Domicile Office website.

How do I apply for merit-based scholarships from the Schar School?

The Schar School offers a select number of merit-based scholarships for high-achieving students with strong academic credentials. First, we encourage students to review our priority application dates for your specific program, and you can find more information at the links below.

These amounts will not cover the full cost of tuition, so we recommend that international applicants search for additional resources of funding to aid in paying for tuition. You can find more information and view resources provided by the Schar School for how to finance your education at our Tuition and Financial Assistance page.


What precautions is Mason taking?

Detailed information regarding COVID-19, including precautions, reporting, and FAQs can be found on Mason’s COVID-19 page

Will courses be offered online or in person in the future?

At this time, George Mason University is continually monitoring the situation for future semesters. If any changes need to be made for future semesters, all current and incoming students will be promptly notified.

Will there be events throughout the semester?

Many of our events are announced through email, so keep an eye on your Mason email! You may also find more information on Schar School wide events on our News and Events page.


Do I have to submit an application if I want to take a class, but am not interested in pursuing a degree?

Yes, the Schar School of Policy and Government requires that all students wishing to take classes apply to the Schar School. If you are not interested in seeking a degree through the Schar School, you can apply to take classes through our school as a nondegree seeking student.

Can I defer my offer of admission?

Students who are accepted to Schar School certificate and master’s programs are eligible for a one-time deferral of their admission to the following fall or spring semester. Admitted ODKM students may only defer to the following fall semester.

Where is the tuition deposit credited?

The deposit for master's students is credited towards your tuition.

What type of career opportunities are available with a Schar School degree?

The Schar School offers an in-house career services team for all current Schar School graduate students and alumni. To view more career information, visit the Employment Profile page.

Have additional questions?
Have a question that isn't answered on this FAQ page? Contact the Schar School's Office of Graduate Admissions at - we're here to help!