Mason Core and College Requirements (2015-2016)

Effective with the 2014-2015 University Catalog, the university's general education program is renamed Mason Core.

All undergraduates need to complete Mason Core requirements. Students earning a BA or BS degree from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences or the College of Science must complete additional requirements described below.

The university offers two interdisciplinary programs for freshmen: New Century College's Cornerstones and, for a small group of outstanding students, the Honors College program.

Catalog Year

Catalogs from different years may contain different requirements. Students must graduate under the requirements published in one single catalog. Students have to have the same catalog year for all components of their degrees—the requirements for Mason Core, for college requirements, and for the requirements of their major and concentration, if any.

Students should be aware of their catalog year when planning their course of study. For questions about which catalog year applies, see an advisor.   

Requirements for Previous Catalog Years

See the pages in the General Education Archive below for requirements for earlier catalog years.

Requirements for Catalog Year 2015-2016

Where courses that meet a requirement are not listed, see the webpages at the end for lists of courses that are approved to meet that requirement.

Mason Core Requirements

  • Written communication (6 credits): ENGH 100 or 101 and ENGH 302
  • Oral communication (3 credits): COMM 100 or 101
  • Quantitative reasoning (3 credits)
  • Information technology (minimum 3 credits)
  • Literature (3 credits)
  • Arts (3 credits)
  • Natural science (8 credits): (Though the university requires 7 credits of natural science, the college requires 8 credits; for details see the Natural Science link below.)
  • Western civilization/world history (3 credits): HIST 100 or 125
    (Transfer students have other options for fulfilling the western civilization/world history requirement; see link below.)
  • Social and behavioral science (3 credits)
  • Global understanding (3 credits)
  • Synthesis or Capstone Experience (varies; minimum 3 credits)

Under some circumstances, students may use a single course to fulfill a Mason Core requirement and a college requirement or a requirement for the major. See your academic advisor for more information.

College Requirements for BS Students

Students receiving a BS degree must fulfill the requirement in natural science with an approved two-semester laboratory science sequence in a single science. See the approved sequences from the Natural Science link below. Students should consult the relevant science department if they have questions about the courses that form an approved laboratory science sequence.

College Requirements for BA Students

Students receiving a BA degree have the following additional requirements.

  • One course (3 credits) in philosophy or religious studies: Fulfilled by any course in PHIL or RELI except PHIL 323, 324, 327, 393, 460. PHIL 253 cannot be used to fulfill both the philosophy/religious studies requirement and the Mason Core literature requirement.
  • One course (3 credits) in social and behavioral science: 3 credits in addition to the university-wide requirement in social and behavioral science for a total of 6 credits. The two courses used to fulfill the combined college and university requirements must be from different disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. The courses used to fulfill this requirement must be in addition to the course used to fulfill the university requirement in western civilization/world history. This requirement may be fulfilled by any course in ANTH, CRIM, ECON, GOVT, HIST (except 100 or 125), LING, PSYC, or SOCI and these courses in GGS: 101, 103, 110, 301, 303, 304, 305, 306, 315, 316, 320, 325, 330, 357, 380.
  • One course (3 credits) in non-Western culture. The same course cannot be used to fulfill this requirement and the Mason Core requirement in global understanding. Students who have attended high school in a non-Western country for four or more years may be eligible for a waiver of this requirement. The webpage Waiver of the Non-Western Requirement has more information.
  • Proficiency in a foreign language through the intermediate level

Under some circumstances, students may use a single course to fulfill more than one college-level requirement. It is also possible under some circumstances to use a single course to fulfill a university general education requirement and a college requirement or a requirement for the major. See an academic advisor for more information.

Transfer Students

George Mason University has Guaranteed Admission Agreements with certain Virginia community colleges. Transfer students who are offered GAA admission and meet all of the terms of the GAA agreement with their Virginia community college may be eligible for a waiver of George Mason University's lower level Mason Core requirements. GAA students who receive the waiver are still required by the university to complete English 302 and a synthesis course. GAA students who receive the waiver and are pursuing a degree in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences are considered to have met all college requirements except for proficiency in a foreign language (required of BA students).