Office of Student Affairs

Areas of Responsibility

Office of Student Affairs

Appeals, Grievances

Student Affairs Contacts

Rm 1000
Peterson Bldg.

I.   Admissions

The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) works collaboratively with Mason’s central offices of Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions to ensure prospective students have a seamless application process.  OSA also works with College departments to support recruitment efforts, review admissions criteria, define enrollment targets, and communicate with prospective students at all stages of the admissions process.

A. Undergraduate

1.   Academic Program Edits and Prospective Students
Making changes to undergraduate program offerings available to prospective students requires assistance from Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Mason’s central Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Changes are compiled during the summer term.  Once applications are live, changes cannot be made to program offerings, as students are actively applying, and being admitted to programs.  Faculty and/or Program Coordinators wishing to make changes to their programs should have approval from their Department Chair prior to requesting modifications through Student Affairs.

Suspending Admissions - Once students have been admitted to Mason, their admission decision cannot be changed, unless criteria for rescinding admission are met.  If a program is no longer offered, it is possible to offer students the opportunity to pursue another major, while retaining their admission to Mason.

2.   BSN Admission process
The undergraduate Nursing programs have a limited number of spaces due to classrooms, course offerings, and clinical spaces.  Although the Office of Student Affairs works with the School of Nursing to maximize the number of spaces available, the number of incoming freshmen and transfer students wishing to pursue a BSN routinely far exceeds the program capacity.  For this reason, students wishing to pursue the BSN apply through a second-gate application detailed below.

a)  The Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator and the BSN Application Specialist manage the BSN application process. (It is completely separate from that of the central Undergraduate Admissions Office.)
b)  Applications are due January 15.
c)  BSN applications are processed to ensure all required materials are present and information is accurate beginning after Winter Break in January.
d)  Complete applications are shared with School of Nursing faculty for review.
e)  UG A&R Coord and BSN App Specialist work with the School of Nursing to complete the final stage of the review process including making admit decisions and notifying applicants.
f)  Applicants are notified of the admission decision (ideally before Spring Break).

3.   Virtual Prospective Student Hours
Students considering applying to any undergraduate college program are welcome to join the Office of Student Affairs for a virtual  appointment with a member of the college Undergraduate Admissions team.  These virtual prospective studenthours are held via Zoom every Wednesday between 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.  On the day of the event, please visit this link to reach the Undergraduate Admissions team. Please be patient because participants will be answered on a first-come, first-served basis. Wait time will depend on the number of participants.

B. Graduate

1.   Academic Program Edits and Prospective Students

a)  Making changes to graduate program offerings available to prospective students requires assistance from Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Mason’s central Office of Graduate Admissions. Changes are compiled during the summer term (deadline for changes in the following academic year is typically in early August).  Once applications are live, changes cannot be made to program offerings, as students are actively applying, and being admitted to programs.  Faculty and/or Program Coordinators wishing to make changes to their programs should have approval from their Department Chair prior to requesting modifications through Student Affairs.
b)  Programs with applications in Central Admissions Systems (CAS) - Applications in CAS systems such as SOPHAS and HAMPCAS have an additional set of deadlines for program edits.  Program Coordinators and Chairs should work with the College Graduate Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator to ensure information is updated on the appropriate timeline.
c)  Suspending Admissions - Decisions to suspend admissions to a program must be made prior to the deadline, in consultation with the Department Chair, the Office of Student Affairs (Associate Dean and Coordinator of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment), and the Office of Academic Affairs. Once graduate students have been admitted to CHHS programs, their admission decision cannot be changed, unless criteria for rescinding admission are met.

2.   Provisional Admission

a)  Programs have the option to admit students provisionally.  Provisional admission is intended for those applicants who have provided evidence that suggests they are able to pursue graduate coursework, but have not taken foundational or pre-requisite coursework requirements, or do not meet GPA minimum requirements.
b)  The terms of the provisional admission must be specified in the admission letter.
c)  Once the student has satisfied the provisions specified in the offer of admission and submitted all admission credentials, the student’s department chair must submit a Removal of Provisional Admission Qualifier form to the Registrar’s Office to remove the provisional qualifier from the student’s record.
d)  A copy of the signed Removal of Provisional Admission Qualifier form should be sent to the Coordinator of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment.
e)  Written confirmation indicating the removal will be sent to the student from the department chair.
f)  Students who fail to meet provisional admission requirements may appeal to remain enrolled by contacting the AD for Student Affairs.

3.   Changing Admissions Decisions
Per the university catalog, admissions decisions cannot be rescinded, unless specific conditions are met. Specifically, to rescind admission, the admitted student must have failed to (1) successfully complete their current academic program, (2) maintain grades that meet the requirements for admission to George Mason University, and/ or (3) exhibit exemplary personal conduct prior to enrollment.

C. Deferrals

1.   Undergraduate
Admitted undergraduate students should contact central Undergraduate Admissions to request a deferral.

2.   Graduate
Admitted graduate students may only defer their admission one time, up to one year.  Some programs may only allow students to defer for one semester.  Students wishing to defer their offer of admission should contact the Graduate Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator via email to request a deferral.

D. Recruitment and Enrollment Planning

1.   Recruitment Planning
UG and GR recruitment calendars are shared on MESA in the college.openspace folder. If you would like to suggest other recruitment opportunities, please contact the UG or GR Recruitment Coordinator.

2.   Recruitment Events
If faculty/staff outside of OSA are attending a recruitment event on behalf of a specific program or college, they should coordinate with the UG or GR Recruitment Coordinator in Student Affairs to request recruitment materials and to ensure prospective student information is collected.

3.   Enrollment Planning
OSA personnel provide planning support to academic units for annual and future admission planning and to support recruitment priorities. OSA will work with units each year to review current enrollments, admissions data, and develop strategic enrollment targets to inform department recruitment strategy.

E. Requesting Admissions Data

Many accreditation reports require programs to provide admissions data with details about the volume and characteristics of applicants and admitted students.  Please contact the AD for Student Affairs and the College Data Analyst for assistance with these requests.

II.  Advising

Holistic academic advising is a hallmark of the College.  Both undergraduate and graduate students should identify their academic advisor early, and be sure that they are developing academic and co-curricular plans in line with their future goals. Many College advising policies are dictated by the University Catalog.  See for detailed academic and advising policies.  Some units may have more stringent policies than the University advising policies.

A. Undergraduate

Beginning in Spring 2020, all undergraduate College students will be advised by full-time professional advisors in the Office of Student Affairs.

1.  Mandatory Advising
Undergraduates in their first year at Mason (freshmen or transfer) are required to see their advisor during their first semester. Students experiencing academic difficulty (e.g., probation, returning from suspension) are also required to see their advisor.  For students with mandatory advising requirements, failure to see an advisor will result in an advising hold that prevents registration in future semesters.

2.  Orientation Advising (including pre-orientation advising)
All incoming students are provided general information about their major, and assisted with identifying and registering for their first semester of courses at Mason.  Orientation Advising is supported by College advisors and faculty, and does not fulfill the mandatory advising requirement.

3.  Scheduling an Advising Appointment
Students can schedule advising appointments online through the OSA website, via phone, or in person in Peterson Hall, Suite 1000.

4.  Walk-In Advising Hours
Students are invited to come to walk-in hours without an appointment on Wednesdays between 9:00am-11:30am. Walk-in appointments are intended to be brief, 15-minute consultations to resolve holds or answer specific questions.  Students with more complex requests are encouraged to make individual appointments with academic advisors.

5.  Advising Workshops
Beginning in Spring 2020, OSA will offer advising workshops to address common issues faced by students in College majors.  The focus of the workshops may be on specific advising tools (e.g., Degree Works), or more general topics (e.g., getting involved in research or other co-curricular opportunities). Workshops are not intended to replace individual advising, but in some cases may be used to fulfill mandatory advising requirements.

The UG A&R Coord works with program coordinators for all College UG majors to offer an event to BPRE students to help them learn about alternative majors.

B. Graduate

Faculty Advisors - Graduate students are assigned faculty advisors in their program, who provide both academic and professional guidance.

C. Tools and Resources

1.   Degree Works
Degree Works is used for degree audits and advising notes to be viewed by other advisors and the Office of the Registrar. Students should review their degree audit early and often to ensure that their courses are counting in the way that they expect. Advisors use this in every advising session, and teach students how to access and use it themselves.

2.   Navigate Mason
This system is used for scheduling advising appointments, sending retention campaigns to targeted groups, and housing advising notes.

Getting started:
Click for Navigate Mason information. New advisors must do the following to gain access:

  1. Attend FERPA training
  2. Attend BANNER training
  3. Submit the Navigate Mason User Request form.
  4. Attend Navigate Mason training

3.   Banner
Banner is the information system behind many of the student and advisor-facing tools here at Mason, housing everything from HR data to student records to financial information. Advisors commonly use Banner to access admissions data or research issues with students’ records. A full list of Banner screens commonly used by advisors is available on the OSA shared drive: M:\shared\college.osa\3. ADVISING\BANNER

4.   Program Planning Forms
The College planning forms are updated each spring so that they are ready for the first transfer student orientation in May. The College Scheduling Coordinator provides access to view the catalog for the upcoming academic year prior to its publication date so that program planning forms can be updated in a timely fashion.

Process: The advisor responsible for updating program planning forms works with each program’s faculty coordinator to finalize the updated program planning forms. This process begins in early March and is finished by early May in time for the first transfer orientation. Any edits to the program planning forms for the following academic year should be submitted to College Student Affairs no later than March 30.

The program planning forms are available in the shared drive and in two places online:

5.   Catalog
The University catalog provides detailed information about University policies relevant to undergraduate and graduate students. The catalog is accessible via

6.   University Advising Website
University-level advising resources, including the “Find My Advisor” page, resources for students and advisors, and degree plans are available at

7.   Registrar’s Website contains electronic copies of forms for most exceptions to policy, academic calendars, and points of contact for appeals in each college.

III.  Exceptions, Appeals and Grievances

The Office of Student Affairs works with College departments, the Registrar’s Office, Student Accounts, and central Admissions to resolve issues affecting students’ ability to progress in their programs.  Records of all exceptions, appeals, and grievances are maintained in the Office of Student Affairs, and archived in accordance with timelines defined by University Records Management.

A. Exceptions to Policy

Exceptions to policy are routed through the relevant College department, the College Office of Student Affairs, and the Office of the Registrar.  The AD for Student Affairs and/or the Director of Student Success sign exception forms on behalf of the Dean.  Most exceptions are approved in the Registrar’s Office; exceptions with issues are routed back to OSA. In some cases (noted below), Associate Provost approval is required for exceptions.

Common exceptions to policy are listed below.  For assistance with requesting an exception, or to check the status of an exception request, please contact or any administrative staff member in Student Affairs.

  • Study elsewhere
  • Individualized study
  • Reduction of credits
  • Academic clemency
  • Course overloads
  • Change of program (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Re-enrollment
  • Reserve graduate credit
  • Special registration (ZReg)
  • Retroactive schedule adjustment
  • Substitutions/Waivers - Waivers of Mason Core courses require Associate Provost approval.
  • Time limit extension
  • Reduction of Credits  - Associate Provost approval is required if credits are outside of Mason or were taken simultaneously with current graduate program.
  • Residency waivers
  • Time limit extensions
  • Repeating courses more than three times

B. Non-Academic Withdrawals

Students experiencing a non-academic situation that is affecting their ability to complete courses after the last day to withdraw on their own may request a non-academic withdrawal through their major college. The situation must be verified through third-party documentation. Students wishing to request a non-academic withdrawal should take the following steps:

1.  Fill out a College Student Academic Request Form, which can be obtained online or from the College Office of Student Affairs explaining the specific request and reasons.
2.  Submit a completed request and supporting documentation to the College Office of Student Affairs in person or via
3.  Continue attending all classes and complete the required coursework until written approval for a withdrawal has been received. If permission is granted, the student will need to confirm that there are no holds on their record for the withdrawal to be processed.

Non-academic withdrawals are typically granted for all courses in a given semester.  If a student wishes to pursue a non-academic withdrawal for a single course, they should provide an explanation detailing reasons why only one class was affected.

Non-academic withdrawals are reviewed and decided by the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and/or the Director of Student Success and processed through the Office of the Registrar.

C. Grade Appeals

Students are encouraged to resolve disputes in assignment or course grades directly with their instructors.  In the event that the student and instructor are unable to resolve grading disputes, the student can initiate a formal grade appeal.  The appeal process is intended to give the student an opportunity to have a balanced review of circumstances leading to their dispute.

When initiating a grade appeal, the student should request a grade appeal form from the Department Chair of Office of Student Affairs and submit the form and supporting documents to the Department Chair or Program Director for review.  Appeals can also be submitted through the Office of Student Affairs, but will be routed back to the Department for initial review.  The student should provide as much documentation as possible, including email communications with the instructor, the course syllabus, graded assignments, and any other supporting documentation.

The timeline for grade appeals can vary, however the entire process should take no more than 30 days from the date of submission.  The full process is outlined as follows:

1.  Academic unit head decides whether there is sufficient merit to warrant a review by a faculty committee.
a)  If the unit head decides that there is sufficient merit to warrant a faculty review, he or she will form a review committee of three faculty members who are peers of the instructor who assigned the grade. The instructor and the student may each challenge and have replaced one of the three members of the review committee without giving a reason for the challenge. Go to Step 3.
b)  If the unit head determines that the appeal does not have merit, go to Step 2.

2.  Associate Dean for Student Affairs decides whether there is sufficient merit to warrant a review by a faculty committee.
a)  If the Associate Dean feels there is merit to the complaint, a review committee will be formed as above and then the process continues from Step 3.
b)  If the Associate Dean for Student Affairs concludes the student’s appeal does not have merit, no review is conducted and the grade remains.  The Associate Dean notifies the student of the decision and places appeal materials in the student’s file.

3.  The Review committee issues a recommendation.
a)  The review committee will meet separately with the instructor and the student to explore the full particulars of the case. One nonparticipating observer of the student’s choice may attend the meetings. The committee’s review of the case will deal with the fairness of grading policies in the syllabus or how procedures were applied to all students in class. After the committee has reviewed the case thoroughly, it will issue a written recommendation and reason for its findings about the matter to the unit head (with a copy to the faculty member).
b)  If the review committee supports the appeal, go to Step 4.
c)  If the review committee does not support the appeal, go to Step 5.

4.  The faculty member takes the recommended action, if any.
a)  If the faculty member takes the action recommended by the review committee, a new grade is submitted and the review process ends.
b)  If not, go to Step 5.

5.  Unit head submits their recommendation to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
If the matter is not resolved at this point, the unit head will consider the review committee’s recommendation and forward his or her own recommendation to the College’ Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Go to Step 6.

6.  Associate Dean for Student Affairs reviews the appeal and makes a final decision. The decision of the Associate Dean is not subject to further appeal.
a)  If the Associate Dean decides that a change of grade is appropriate and the faculty member refuses to make the change, the Associate Dean may direct the Registrar to do so. A new grade is submitted and the review process ends.
b)  If the Associate Dean decides that a change of grade is not appropriate, the grade remains and the review process ends.

D. Terminations

Students can be terminated from the University or their academic program for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, unsatisfactory academic progress, exceeding time limits, and conduct or academic integrity violations.

1.  Suspension or Dismissal from the University (Undergraduates)
a) Suspension and Dismissal guidelines for undergraduates are detailed on the Registrar’s website.

b) Dean’s Override - Undergraduate students and/or their academic advisors can contact the AD for Student Affairs to request a Dean’s Override, to allow the student to register for a limited number of credits (9-13) despite suspension.

2.  Termination from the Program
a) BSN Program - At the undergraduate level, the School of Nursing has more stringent requirements than the University termination standards. Termination criteria are outlined in the School of Nursing’s Student Handbook, and undergraduate students may be reviewed for possible termination by the Program Director and AD for Student Affairs according to the published policy approved by the major program.

Per the University catalog, students eligible for termination must be informed a semester in advance and given a chance to meet the standard or appeal according to published college procedures.

Once a termination decision has been made, a letter of termination is sent to the student by the dean and notification of termination from the major is affixed to the student's academic record. Students who are terminated are no longer eligible to pursue that major, but may declare a different major within the university to complete their undergraduate degree.

b)  Graduate Programs - Graduate students can be terminated from their program for a number of reasons detailed in the University Catalog (Ap.6.6.2). 

  1. The Registrar’s Office notifies OSA of students eligible for termination.
  2. The AD for Student Affairs or Director of Student Success shares the list with Department Chairs in case there are errors or other students eligible for termination.
  3. OSA confirms students eligible for termination with the Office of the Registrar.
  4. The Registrar and the AD for Student Affairs or Director of Student Success send an official notice to the student, with instructions to appeal.
  5. The student has 10 business days to appeal the termination.
  6. After 10 days, the student is terminated by the Office of the Registrar.

IV.  College of Health and Humans Services Events

Faculty/Staff from College Student Affairs participate in numerous university-wide events throughout the year from recruitment and admissions to advising and student involvement to university commencement, however there are a few signature events organized by Student Affairs:

A. Student Awards Ceremony

This annual student awards ceremony in late April is planned by OSA, with nominations and award categories from College departments and programs.  All OSA staff participate on the day of the event.

1.  Awardee Selection Process
The AD for Student Affairs or another OSA representative will contact Department Chairs and program directors to confirm award details and recipients.  OSA compiles the award information and works with College Marketing and Communication to manage printing and logistics for the event.

2.  Scholarship Awardees
Graduating College Scholarship awardees may be recognized at the event, with input from the College Development team.

3.  Invited Speaker
The Awards Ceremony Speaker is selected by the AD for Student Affairs, with input from the Dean, faculty, and College Development team.

B. Degree Celebration

In addition to the University Commencement, OSA hosts a Degree Celebration to recognize College graduates. OSA is responsible for defining the program, ensuring graduate lists are accurate, communicating with faculty, and identifying a gift for graduates. The College Events Manager will assist with logistics for the event.

1.   Student Speaker
Graduating College students are invited to apply to speak at their Degree Celebration.  Prior to the Degree Celebration, the Office of Student Affairs will invite students to submit brief speeches, and one student speaker will be selected by a committee of College students and faculty/staff.

2.   Invited Speaker
The invited speaker is identified and selected by the Dean, with input from the Administrative Council and faculty of the College.

3.   Reception
Graduates and their guests are invited to attend a reception following the Degree Celebration. The reception is typically held in Peterson Hall, and organized by staff in OSA, College Marketing and Communications, and College Development.

C. Graduate Student Orientation

Graduate student orientation is organized by the Coordinator for Graduate Admissions and Recruitment, and provides information about resources available to College graduate students. College departments also host sessions to inform incoming students of the academic requirements of their programs, other resources, and networking and career development opportunities, and to introduce them to other students, faculty, and staff in their programs.

D. Welcome Event(s)

OSA (on behalf of the College) and some academic units hosts meet-and-greet events in the early part of the fall semester as part of Welcome2Mason.

F. BSN Application Workshop

Each fall in early October, the UG A&R Coord plans and offers a workshop for Mason students who will be applying to the traditional pathway during winter break.

G. Career Preparation Events

OSA collaborates with the Health Industry Advisor in University Career Services to offer events for undergraduate and graduate students in our college.  OSA also helps promote and support the annual Health Careers Week each April.

V. Committees and Student Representation in Governance

A. Student Representatives

Students are represented in many College committees, including Student Affairs, Faculty Development, Curriculum, and the Advisory Board. 

1.  Students are invited to nominate themselves to serve as a representative through a survey issued each spring. 
2.  Student representatives are selected by the AD for Student Affairs based on their interest and availability to meet during committees’ regular meeting times.
3.  Representatives serve in one-year terms, spanning April to April.

Some academic programs also have student participation/representation on matters such as curriculum, program evaluation and activities and meetings with alumni.

B. Student Affairs Committee

The Student Affairs Committee is defined in the College bylaws, and includes faculty representatives from each College department, an advising representative, and a student representative.  The Committee is convened by the AD for Student Affairs and is responsible for reviewing scholarship applicants in collaboration with College Development and for providing feedback on other student-focused initiatives in the College.

C. Student Advisory Board

The Student Advisory Board is comprised of College Student Representatives and other students in the College.  The group is intended to serve as a sounding board for ideas and feedback on initiatives in the College. Interested students are invited to participate through the same survey used to identify Student Representatives.