College of Humanities and Social Sciences
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Academic Policies for Faculty

All instructors in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences should be aware of these important academic policies. For a complete list of policies, see the Academic Policies chapter of the University Catalog and the policies sections of the college chapter of the catalog.

  • Syllabus
    • Instructors must provide students with a syllabus the first day of class.
    • If a paper syllabus is not provided, faculty should ensure that all students in the course are aware of and know how to access the syllabus in electronic format and provide appropriate assistance if needed.
    • See below for information that should be included on every syllabus.
  • Class schedule
    • Classes need to meet in the times and places that have been scheduled by the Office of the Registrar, except for occasional alternative arrangements (such as one-on-one or small group consultations or where project work legitimately interrupts regular class sessions).
    • Instructors are expected to be available to students on campus throughout the entire semester.
    • Faculty who plan to miss more than one scheduled class need prior permission of the chair and should make alternative arrangements for the class that are approved by the chair.
    • Instructors cannot require additional course meetings beyond those officially scheduled by the the Registrar.  In the event of classes cancelled by the university, the Office of the Provost will notify faculty about any changes to the schedule to compensate for missed class time.
  • Registration and class rosters
    • Instructors should periodically remind students that they are responsible for the accuracy of their own schedules. Students need to be reminded to check PatriotWeb (patriotweb.gmu.edu/) regularly to verify that they are registered for their classes. This is particularly important since students are not dropped for nonpayment of tuition and fees.
    • Late adds, which are registrations after the add deadline, require the approval of the department chair of the course being offered up until the drop deadline specified in the calendar for that semester. After the drop deadline, a late add requires dean's level approval. These requests are approved only for extenuating circumstances that would warrant an exception to policy (such as a documented university error).
    • Faculty members are responsible for verifying that students attending their classes are officially enrolled.  You may view and/or print your class lists via Patriot Web to verify official enrollments.  Please remind students that they must register for classes they are attending by the Last Day to Add (see the calendar for that semester for specific deadline dates). 
    • Faculty should not allow students to take exams or turn in assignments if they are not officially enrolled after the Last Day to Add deadline has passed. This leads students either to think they are registered when they are not or to expect that they will be able to add the class later, which may not be the case.
    • Requests for retroactive adds (adds after the last day of classes) and for non-selective withdrawals (withdrawing from all courses in the semester) must be approved by the student’s academic dean. In the case of students whose major is in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, this is the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs (Robinson Hall A 255; 703.993.8727; chssdean@gmu.edu).
  • Final exams
    • If instructors give a final exam, they must give it at the time and place listed in the calendar for that semester.  This time is set by the Registrar, and instructors are not free to change it. Students plan their schedules around the published dates, and it is important to follow them.
    • Final exams cannot be given during the final week of classes. This reduces instructional time and the time students have been given for review.
    • If an exam time for a particular class is not listed in the calendar for that semester, the instructor should contact the Registrar's Office at the start of the semester to schedule one.
    • Instructors should allow students the entire scheduled exam time to complete the exam unless they give advance notice that less time will be allowed.
  • Grading notes
    • Once final grades have been recorded, instructors should never accept any additional work from a student to change a grade. Grade changes may be made only when there is a calculation or recording error.
    • An incomplete grade (IN) should be used only if the student requests it in writing. An IN counts as a failing grade until completed, and it automatically turns into an F if a grade is not turned in by the deadline listed in the calendar for that semester. Some students may prefer a C or D to an IN, and instructors should not assume that the student wants an IN rather than a grade or that it is in the student’s best interest to get an IN.
    • Instructors should assign an incomplete only if the student has a very limited amount of work to complete and there is a non-academic reason that prevents them from completing the work within the semester.  The student should stand a good chance of passing the course by finishing the incomplete work satisfactorily. Typical situations for giving incompletes involve a final exam missed due to illness or a final paper not completed because of a family emergency.
    • Instructors should not assign an incomplete if the student has missed a substantial portion of the work of the semester and wants extra time to do it.
    • Instructors should not assign an incomplete to give a student time to improve on work already completed.
    • Instructors should not agree to give incompletes unless they will be available to grade the work and submit a grade by the official due date. If the instructor will be going on leave or leaving George Mason, this might not be possible.
    • Instructors are never obliged to give an IN.
    • Whenever a grade of IN is assigned, instructors are strongly encouraged to complete an Incomplete Application, which can be found on the CHSS Undergraduate Academic Affairs office website.
    • Instructors may set an earlier due date for the unfinished work than the due date specified in the  calendar for that semester. When setting an earlier deadline, instructors are required to complete an Incomplete Application with the student.
    • Instructors are urged to include a written description of the work that is outstanding and the date by which it is due.
  • Syllabus notes
    • Syllabi should include contact information and office hours and location. It is university policy that Mason email must be used for all official correspondence. Here is suggested wording to add to the syllabus: "Mason uses only Mason e-mail accounts to communicate with enrolled students. Students must activate their Mason e-mail account, use it to communicate with their department and other administrative units, and check it regularly for important university information including messages related to this class."
    • Syllabi should mention course goals and objectives and learning outcomes.
    • Syllabi should be explicit as to course assignments, examinations, grading policies, and other expectations.
    • Instructors should include on their syllabi the following statement about accommodations for students with disabilities: "If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact Disability Services at 703.993.2474 or ods.gmu.edu. All academic accommodations must be arranged through that office."
    • Instructors should include on their syllabi the add and drop deadlines for classes. These dates differ for courses that meet less than the full semester. See the calendar for that semester for those dates.
    • Once the add and drop deadlines have passed, instructors do not have the authority to approve requests from students to add or drop/withdraw late. See below.
    • See link to right for more complete syllabus guidelines.
  • Students with Disabilities
    • In addition to including information for students with disabilities on their syllabus, instructors should emphasize that the need for accommodations should be identified at the beginning of the semester. The specific accommodation must be arranged through Disability Services (ods.gmu.edu).
    • Faculty should never provide accommodations to students on their own (e.g. allowing a student extra time to complete an exam because the student reports having a disability).
    • If pressured by a student or parent, the faculty member should contact the office or Ruth J. Townsend, the ADA Coordinator for George Mason University (703.993.8730).
  • FERPA
    • Federal law (a law known as FERPA) requires us to protect the privacy of student information. Instructors should not speak about a student’s record with anyone other than the student. The record includes how a student is doing in a course, whether a student has attended class, information about performance or grades, whether a paper has been turned in, etc. This prohibition includes parents, siblings, spouses, anyone.
    • If instructors have questions about whether to respond to an inquiry about a student or about FERPA in general, they should contact Dr. Vita Vock in the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs (vvock@gmu.edu; 703.993.1060).

 

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