Graduate Policies, Procedures, and Forms

Costello College of Business Policies for Graduate Students

If you have any questions concerning a particular policy or procedure, please contact the Graduate Programs Office, Room 402 of Van Metre Hall, or call (703) 993-8006 for clarification, or to schedule an appointment with your academic advisor.

Academic Responsibilities and Expectations

Graduate students at Mason's Costello College of Business are expected to attend all class periods of courses for which they are registered and to meet their academic load as well as maintain their family and professional obligations. It is very important that family members and employers understand the intense nature of your program and provide you with a supportive environment.

Academic Termination

A graduate student is terminated upon accumulating grades of F in two courses, accumulating nine credits of unsatisfactory grades in graduate courses (C’s or F’s), or failing to make satisfactory progress toward degree. The notation of academic termination is affixed to the graduate student's official record. A student who is terminated may not take additional course work at the university unless a new graduate program application has been submitted and the applicant has been admitted to graduate study (see University Catalog policy AP.6.6.3).

Academic Termination Exception Request

Termination from a graduate program is considered a serious action by the Costello College of Business (CCB). The college’s faculty recognizes that sometimes extenuating circumstances beyond a student’s control may justify granting an exception to the academic termination policy. 

  • Students eligible for termination may submit a written request for an exception to policy to the CCB director of Graduate Academic Services (DGAS). Students should complete the graduate termination appeal form and include the required attachments in the request submitted to the DGAS. The exception request must be received within five business days of the academic termination notice. If a student does not submit an exception request by this deadline, the student will be terminated from the college.
  • All requests for an exception received within five business days will be forwarded to the chair of the CCB Graduate Policy Committee (GPC). The chair will communicate the request to the CCB Graduate Academic Appeals Committee (GAAC). The CCB GAAC is comprised of three faculty members from the GPC. If a member of the GAAC has a potential bias related to the request, e.g., has taught the student, that member shall recuse himself and another member of the GPC shall be selected to serve in his place.
  • The committee will make an assessment as to whether extenuating circumstances beyond the students control justify granting an exception to the academic termination policy. Extenuating circumstances are extraordinary, beyond a student’s control, and provide a reasonable basis for justifying the student’s academic performance. Reasons related to professional responsibilities are NOT considered extenuating circumstances (e.g., new job, additional responsibilities). 
  • In-person meeting: In person meetings are not granted for Academic Exception Requests.
  • Once a decision is made, the CCB GAAC will send their decision and rationale to the GPC chair and the DGAS, who will notify the student of the outcome in writing.
  • All requests for exception to termination policy that are approved by the CCB GAAC must also be approved by the associate provost for Graduate Education (APGE). The DGAS will submit the documents reviewed by the academic appeal committee and rationale to the APGE.  
  • If a request is denied, the student has the option to appeal the denial within five business days to the APGE. Appeals are submitted by the student directly to the APGE ( Find more information on Graduate Education processes here.

Academic Warning

A notation of academic warning is entered on the transcript of a graduate student who receives a grade of C or lower.

Adjunct Tuition Waiver

Because adjunct faculty are only permitted to utilize the employee tuition exemption benefit when in non-degree status, and because students in non-degree status are not permitted to enroll in graduate Costello College of Business courses, adjunct faculty are not able to utilize the employee tuition exemption benefit in graduate College of Business courses.

Applying for Graduation

Graduation is not an automatic process. Students should apply to graduate no later than the application deadline each semester. You must be in good financial standing with the university and have no holds on your account to receive your diploma. Please note that if you have courses left to take in a summer term but are walking in the spring ceremony, you must apply for summer graduation. Learn more.

Auditing a Course

Graduate Costello College of Business courses may not be audited.

Change of Final Grade

Once the Registrar has recorded a final grade in a course, it can be changed only in cases of computational error or other justifiable cause approved by the program director and the associate dean for Graduate Programs. All changes of final grades must be initiated, approved, and recorded prior to the last day of classes of the next regular semester (spring for fall grades, and fall for spring and summer term grades).

Course Waiver Policy

All graduate Costello College of Business students are expected to follow the curricula established by the college’s faculty. In extraordinary circumstances, the program director may waive a requirement of this approved curriculum for individual students consistent with the overall objectives of the program. The waiver request must be submitted in writing to the program director one semester prior to when the course is scheduled. However, waivers of a specific course shall not reduce the overall total number of required credits of a program but be replaced by an appropriate course.

Degree Evaluation

The College of Business uses Degree Works for degree auditing and requires that students learn how to read and use this system. We recommend students follow the tutorial on the Registrar’s website

Degree and Certificate Requirements

Master’s and doctoral degree candidates are required to complete all course requirements with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0, which may include no more than six credits in which a C is earned. Only graduate-level courses may apply toward the degree.

Certificate candidates are required to complete all course requirements with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0, which may include no more than three credits in which a C is earned. Only graduate-level courses may apply toward the certificate.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that gives protection to student educational records and provides students with certain rights. 

  • For anyone at George Mason University to communicate with a third party (including but not limited to parents, guardians, siblings, etc), the student must grant permission by completing a FERPA document
  • Due to FERPA, students must communicate with the university through their Mason email address. 

Final Examination Policy

Final examinations are held at the end of each module or semester. Absence from an examination must be approved by the faculty member. If the absence is unexcused, the grade for the exam is entered as F.

A student whose absence from an examination is excused may take a special examination within a 10-day period on a date to be arranged between the student and the instructor in charge of the examination. If the examination is not taken within 10 days of the regularly scheduled exam date, the grade for the course is entered as F.

Global Residency

Most graduate Costello College of Business master’s degree programs include or require a seven to 10 day international residency. These residencies give students exposure to how business is conducted outside the United States. Meetings with government officials, senior executives, and industry experts provide students with a thorough understanding of the economic and cultural forces that influence global business. The primary benefit of this course is that it provides an international perspective that is firsthand, relevant, and personal. In addition to development of a global network of contacts and friends, one of the goals of this course is to provide students a competitive edge in the workplace.

While travel to the residency is not included, many travel costs during the residency, lodging, and some meals are included in the tuition costs.

Policy states that spouses, significant others, family, and friends may not accompany students on the residency for any of our graduate programs.

Grade Appeals

Although generally the individual faculty member is the best judge of student performance, a student may occasionally believe a grade has been assigned unfairly. Reasons such as missed deadlines, lack of curving, non-use of +/- are not acceptable criteria for appeal.

You should first contact your professor to discuss the grade. If you are unable to resolve the issue with the professor, please contact the area chair responsible for the class. See the full process for a grade appeal here. If you are unable to identify which area is responsible for your class, please contact the Costello College of Business Graduate Programs Office (703-993-8006).

Please note that the College of Business handles grade appeals only for those classes taught by College of Business professors. If the course in question is taught by another department, you should contact that department for their grade appeal procedure. Also, please note that you may request a delay from the dean in imposing an academic suspension if the results of a pending grade appeal could change your academic status. An approved delay allows you to register while the appeal is in process. See Catalog Academic Policy AP.3.9.1.

Grade appeals must be submitted before the last day of classes for the following semester (spring for fall grades, fall for spring and summer grades).

Grading System

The university-wide graduate grading system is as follows:

Letter Grade      Grade Points      Status

























Graduate Assistantships

Each year, the Costello College of Business appoints a number of graduate students as graduate research assistants (GRAs) and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). In addition to helping students cover their expenses, these positions offer outstanding exposure to the Collegel's educational and research programs.

All GRA and GTA positions include a partial tuition waiver in addition to a stipend. Stipend rates are determined by the Provost’s office. An assistantship is awarded to select graduate students who demonstrate intellectual promise in the business field through past academic performance and relevant work experience.

Positions are listed and students apply through Handshake. Candidates must meet all criteria as stated in the job announcement.

Honor Code Violations

The following Costello College of Business recommendations for honor code violations in graduate programs were approved by the business faculty in spring, 2019:

Honor Code Violation Recommended Sanction
For example: lying, plagiarizing, cheating, or stealing in academic matters An F in the class
If the violation is considered to be egregious*  An F in the class, and consideration for dismissal from the College of Business

* Preliminary determination of nature of violation qualifying as "egregious" is made by faculty and referred to the program director and associate dean of graduate programs for further consideration if found in violation by the Office of Academic Integrity.

Independent Study

Graduate College of Business students may register for an independent study for academic credit with approval of a prior written proposal submitted to their graduate degree program office. This course requires a syllabus, work plan, and course deliverables, such as a research paper or business plan. The purpose of the independent study is to allow students to further develop expertise on a topic of their substantive interest that is not available as a regular course offering. Independent work must be done under full-time faculty supervision and with the approval of the Program or Academic Director. Independent study courses may not substitute for core courses. The maximum number of independent study credits that can be applied toward a program depends on the graduate degree. See the catalog pages for ACCT 696, MBA 796, and REAL 796 for details related to the MS in Accounting, MBA, and MS in Real Estate Development programs, respectively.

Approval is based on the student creating a detailed proposal in consultation with the lead faculty member that outlines what they will read, learn, and produce during the course. The proposal should include the following elements:

  1. Statement of purpose/Rationale
  2. Learning objectives and how they support the program’s learning goals
  3. Course materials
  4. Course schedule
  5. Deliverables and assessment

As a general guideline, it takes 10-25 hours of serious effort to develop a viable proposal, and students should have a completed proposal prior to the beginning of the term. A 3-credit independent study project should amount to at least 100-150 hours of work. Students will need to submit their proposal for approval no later than one week prior to the start of the term to the Graduate Academic Services Office via to be reviewed by their Program or Academic Director. The proposal should be signed by both the student and faculty member; if approved, a copy of the proposal should be provided to the faculty member as well.

Individualized Dual Master’s Degree Program of Study

George Mason University students have the option to pursue two master's degrees simultaneously. Students are eligible to pursue a second master's degrees after they have completed one semester in their initial master's program. Interested students must apply and be admitted to the second master's degree within one year of matriculation in the initial program. A restricted number of credits may be shared across dual degree programs -- see University Policy 3007 to determine the maximum number of credits that may be shared across component degree programs. Note that credit may be shared across two programs only -- see University Policy 3007 for more information on credit-sharing limitations. Students interested in an Individualized Dual Master's Degree Program of Study should submit a written request to their graduate program’s office and the second master’s graduate program’s office for consideration within their first year of matriculation into the initial program. See catalog policy AP.6.9.6 for more details.

Laptop Policy

All Costello College of Business graduate students must have access to a portable computing device that meets the following minimum standards. Students are required to bring their laptops to class if asked by the instructor. Phones of any sort are not acceptable in place of a laptop.

  • Operating System: Windows 10 is strongly recommended.

    • Some business courses may require the usage of software that runs exclusively on Windows. In such cases, it is the responsibility of Mac users to create a Windows partition on their devices. Windows 10 is available to all GMU students for free through the Azure Education Portal.
    • Macs with the M1 CPU (released late 2020) do not support Windows partitions. Students must use a Windows computer or older Mac if class requires Windows-only software. Learn more about Apple-supported partitioning using Bootcamp to install Windows. Citrix Virtual Lab is also available for use by students to access Microsoft products:
    • Minimum 8 GB of memory. (recommended 12GB or higher)
    • For online courses, hybrid courses, or in the event courses need to shift online for extraordinary circumstances, students should have a video camera and microphone that feed or stream audio and video in real-time to or through the internet. Instructors may ask students to activate the camera and microphone for class activities.
    • At least 120 GB of hard drive free space (recommend 250 GB free space or higher)
    • Wireless network capability required
  • Minimum Software Recommendations and Resources:

The cost of a computer can be included in the student’s estimated cost of attendance. In order to do this, students must provide a copy of their receipt or purchase order for their computer to their assigned financial aid counselor. This can be done once during the student’s academic program. Learn how to contact your financial aid counselor here

Late Add into a Course

Student Appeal to Late-Add into a Course Policy

The last day to add a course can be found on the University Registrar’s website. If you wish to add a class after the University deadline, please review the process below to submit this exception request. The Costello College of Business does not approve late-add requests in the following instances:

  • After the first week of classes has ended for courses shorter than the full semester.
  • After the second week of classes has ended for semester-long courses.

Failure to know deadlines will not be considered as an acceptable reason for approving a late add.

For College of Business courses, students should meet with a College of Business academic advisor to discuss the situation. Students will then need to:

  • Fill out the Student Late Add Request Form and attach a letter of explanation detailing why the registration did not occur during the regular schedule adjustment period. Included with this form should be a detailed explanation of your request and the reasons for it.

    • All supporting documentation should also be included.
    • Only written materials and verifiable, third-party documentation can be used to reach a decision.
  • All documentation must be submitted to Office of Graduate Academic Services for the Assistant Dean’s review. You may email materials to
  • The Student Late Add Request Form is a request, not a guarantee.

Please note:

  • Late add requests into closed classes are prohibited and will be denied.
  • This process is to request an exception to University deadlines related to adding courses.
  • If your request is denied, you can appeal to the Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, whose decision is final. In the appeal, the burden rests on the student to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that:
    • (1) There were material and substantial procedural irregularities during the Assistant Dean’s review process (i.e., the Assistant Dean deviated from the documented academic policy exception review procedures in a material and substantial manner during the review of the request); and/or
    • (2) New and material information arose after the Assistant Dean’s review that was not available for presentation to Assistant Dean prior to the issuance of the adverse decision
    • Note on Provost’s Office: The Provost’s Office does not consider late add appeals. The decision of the Associate Dean of Graduate Programs is final.
  • Failure to know deadlines is not an acceptable reason for requesting a late add.
  • Students wishing to late add a non-College of Business course in which seats are available should contact the department teaching the course.

MBA Elective Registration Requests for Non-CCB Students

Any non-College of Business student wishing to register for an MBA elective (MBA 7XX) should first consult the university catalog to ensure that they have taken the necessary pre-requisites for the course. If you have completed the required pre-requisites, please contact to request an override, including the following information in your email:

  • G number
  • Course information
    • Course number and section (e.g., MBA 701 001)
    • Course instructor (e.g., Professor Smith)
    • Course registration number (e.g., 11111)
    • Course term (e.g., Fall 2023)
  • Mason transcript
  • Current resume

Your request will be reviewed by the course instructor and Program Director. If given permission to register, the MBA Program will issue an override and notify you via your Mason email address.

Non-Degree Status

Students in non-degree status are not permitted to enroll in graduate College of Business courses

Previously Earned Mason Coursework

For students completing a graduate degree or certificate in the Costello College of Business, unsatisfactory coursework earned at Mason prior to enrolling in the Costello College of Business program will count toward the academic termination threshold in the following situations:

- Graduate certificates that stack into a Costello College of Business degree program (e.g., Business Fundamentals to MBA or MS in Management; Forensic Accounting to MS in Accounting; a graduate certificate from another Mason College or School to MS in Management)

- Graduate coursework earned in another College or School that is approved to count toward the Costello College of Business degree or certificate program If none of the previously earned coursework will count toward the Costello College of Business program, then it will not be counted toward the academic termination threshold for the Costello College of Business program.

Reduction of Credits

We will consider reducing the total number of credits required for a Costello College of Business graduate degree for students who previously earned a graduate degree from Mason-recognized U.S. institutional accrediting agencies. To be considered for a reduction of credits, previous credits must have a grade of B or better and cannot have been applied to a joint bachelor’s/master’s program. See catalog policy AP.6.5.2 for additional information. Students should submit a written request to their graduate program’s office to have their prior degree evaluated for a possible reduction of credit. Course descriptions and/or syllabi must be submitted for each course to be evaluated for a reduction of credits.

Repeating a Course

Graduate College of Business students may repeat a course in which a grade of C or lower has been earned. Permission to repeat the course must be obtained from the program director. The procedure for repeating the course will be established by the program director. When a course is repeated, all hours attempted are used in the GPA calculation and toward probation or dismissal. The transcript shows both the original and repeat grades, and only one grade per course may be presented on the degree application.

Study Elsewhere

Some graduate College of Business programs allow up to six credits of coursework (typically electives) to be taken from outside the degree program, either in other Mason graduate programs or through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Students submit a written request to the graduate program office with justification for taking the course and must include a course description and/or syllabus. The program director must approve these credits before registration. Students need to remember that under consortium, they become a guest at another university, subject to that school’s regulations and policies. Students who have already transferred six credits taken prior to their enrollment in the degree program will not be allowed to take further courses outside the program. Consortium courses cannot be taken at satellite campuses or online. Consortium courses cannot be taken if a course with similar or matching course description is offered at George Mason University.

Temporary Grade: Incomplete

For causes beyond reasonable control, a student may be unable to complete a course on schedule. In such cases the instructor may assign a temporary grade of Incomplete (IN). If the student fails to complete all requirements in time for the instructor to assign a regular grade by the end of the ninth week of classes in the next semester (excluding summer session), the mark of IN is changed by the Registrar to F. In the case of graduation, IN coursework must be graded by the end of the sixth week following the university degree conferral date. The student is responsible for submitting work to the instructor with sufficient time for its evaluation. Incompletes are given infrequently. Because of the fast pace of the graduate College of Business programs, students are strongly encouraged to complete work within the allocated time frame.

Time Limit

Master's degree students have six years from the time of first enrollment as a degree-seeking student to complete their degrees. International students attending in F-1 or J-1 status have more restrictive time limits; contact the Office of International Programs and Services for information. Students who are given permission to re-enroll following an absence from Mason may not count the six-year time limit as beginning on the date of re-enrollment. Students who will not meet published time limits because of circumstances beyond their control may petition for an extension. Failure to meet the time limits or to secure approval of an extension request may result in termination from the program. See detailed information regarding how to determine the initial deadline and petition for an extension.

Transfer Credit

We will consider transferring graduate coursework earned from Mason-recognized U.S. institutional accrediting agencies and AACSB accredited programs. Transfer credit may be given for core courses or electives. To be considered for transfer, previous credits must have been earned within six years prior to enrollment at Mason, may not have been applied to a previous degree, and must have a grade of B or higher. See catalog policies AP.6.8, AP.6.9, and AP.6.10 for limits on the number of credits that can be transferred or earned outside of Mason for certificate, Master’s, and doctoral programs, respectively. Students should submit a written request to their graduate program’s office to have their transcript evaluated for possible transfer credit. Course descriptions and/or syllabi must be submitted for each course to be evaluated. At the discretion of the program director, the student may be given a waiver of a core course rather than credit for the course. In the case of a waiver, the student is required to make up the credits by taking additional elective credits to complete their degree.

Withdrawal from Classes

Graduate students may drop from any or all courses during the drop period and withdraw from any or all courses during the unrestricted withdrawal period. See the Office of the University Registrar’s Calendars website for deadlines.

After these deadlines have passed, students may request a retroactive drop or retroactive withdrawal. Click here to review the requirements and process to request a retroactive drop. Click here to review the requirements and process to request a retroactive withdrawal.

Graduate College of Business students who stop attending classes without the program director’s approval will receive F’s in those courses.