George Mason University
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George Mason University

Spring 20 COVID-19 Updates

In response to the unusual and challenging circumstances that instructors and students are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate Council in partnership with academic units, the Office of the University Registrar, Office of Graduate Life, Faculty Senate and GAPSA, has approved the following policy and/or procedural changes for active Spring 2020 graduate courses. Classes that ended on or before March 9, 2020 are not eligible for any changes on this page.

  • Each student registered in spring 2020 A-F graded graduate courses is able to decide, individually, on a course-by-course basis, whether they want to receive a letter grade in the class or an alternative grading mode option as detailed below.
  • Students enrolled in graduate courses will be permitted to change to an alternative grading mode option through Friday, May 22, 2020. Some graduate programs’ classes end prior to the end of the term, and therefore the deadline to select the alternative grade mode option may differ. See here for specific program deadlines.

The alternative grading mode designations for graduate courses for Spring 2020 classes will be as follows:

  • XS (Extraordinary Circumstances – Satisfactory) – The student earns credit in the course by meeting a minimum grade threshold; at the graduate level it would be a B- or higher. 
  • XP (Extraordinary Circumstances – Pass) – The student earns credit in the course but has not met a minimum grade threshold to apply the course to requirements with a minimum grade requirement; at the graduate level this would be a C grade.
  • XN (Extraordinary Circumstances – No Credit) – The student does not earn credit in the course.

All should be aware:

  • None of the above alternative grading mode options (XS, XP, XN) will count towards a student’s GPA;
  • There will be a transcript key for Spring 2020 indicating the meaning of any alternative grading mode option indicated.

Implementation

The Office of the Registrar has communicated that students in A-F graded classes will be able to log into Patriot Web and select the alternative grade mode on a class-by-class basis. Students do not have to select it for every class, they can pick and choose. If a student takes NO ACTION, the grading mode will default to A-F grading, as originally registered in the class. For graduate students who elect alternative grading, the grade submitted by the faculty will then be converted by the Registrar to the appropriate alternative grades. Additional details can also be found on the Office of the University Registrar - Spring 2020 Grading Options webpage.

In addition, the Graduate Council has approved the following accommodations for the Spring 2020 semester:

  • Withdrawal (XW) Students may withdraw from any graduate courses in which they are enrolled in Spring 2020 by the specific deadlines found here. These withdrawals will appear with the notation "XW" on their official transcript. Note: electing the withdrawal option (XW) is a final grade and cannot be changed. Once a student withdraws, they cannot be reinstated into the class and cannot elect an alternative grade mode as described above.
  • IN (Incomplete Grades) - Incomplete grades may be given by instructors to graduate students who are passing a course but who may be unable to complete scheduled coursework by the end of the semester due to extenuating circumstances. Instructors should be flexible in awarding Incompletes if the student requires additional time to finish coursework. The deadline for completing work related to an Incomplete grade received in Spring 2020 has been extended to the end of the Fall 2020 semester.

To ensure graduate students make the best selection for themselves and maximize their potential for long-term academic and professional success, we strongly encourage:

  • Graduate students to seek advising and guidance from their advisor, mentor, coordinator, and/or College/School's Academic or Student Affairs office prior to making any decision about their courses; 
  • Graduate students to determine the impact electing an alternative grading mode option, Withdrawal, and/or being awarded an Incomplete may have on financial aid, academic standing, licensure, admission to professional programs, scholarships, fellowships, amongst other issues before making a decision; 
  • All instructors teaching graduate courses to provide their students with feedback on their academic progress in the course regularly until the end of the semester.

Special Consideration for International Students

If you are an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, please be aware that withdrawing from a course will reduce your credit load.  F-1 and J-1 students must enroll full-time in the fall and spring semesters in order to maintain their SEVIS record. Full-time status is defined by the Registrar.  Even for those students who have left the United States, full-time enrollment is required to keep the SEVIS record active.  The University is required to terminate the SEVIS record of any student who drops below full-time, unless the student has permission in writing from the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) prior to dropping classes. Students who cannot enroll or remain full-time should contact an OIPS advisor for guidance.  F-1 and J-1 students do not need permission to choose an alternative grading option as long as they maintain full-time enrollment.  Further information is available in the Self-Service Center at https://oips.gmu.edu/.

Additional Changes

Graduate Council and partners have altered the following graduate policies for Spring 2020:

  • For the Spring 2020 semester, the academic termination policy has been altered for all graduate students. All letter grades “C” or the equivalent alternative grades “XP” received in graduate courses will not count towards the number of unsatisfactory credits stated under AP.6.6.2 Academic Termination. Graduate students, who think they may receive letter grades of “F” or the equivalent alternative grades “XN”, should consider the available withdrawal option by the program deadlines here as the effect of these non-passing grades on AP.6.6.2 Academic Termination will remain unaltered.
  • The GA hiring procedures have been altered for all graduate students who may be offered a graduate assistantship for Fall 2020. Students must be in good academic standing, maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA, and not have any unsatisfactory grades at the end of Fall 2019 nor any letter grades “F” or the equivalent alternative grades “XN” at the end of Spring 2020. Letter grades of "C" or the equivalent alternative grades of "XP" earned during Spring 2020 should not be considered when making GA hiring decisions.
  • For the Spring 2020 semester, the coursework requirements policy for accelerated master's students has been altered. Letter grades “A-C” or the equivalent alternative grades “XS” and “XP” received in graduate courses will count towards the number of credits that can be applied to the undergraduate degree and provide the student advanced standing in the related Mason master's program. Letter grades “F” or the equivalent alternative grades “XN” will not count.
  • For the Spring 2020 semester, the change from nondegree status policy has been altered. Letter grades “A-C” or the equivalent alternative grades “XS” and “XP” received in graduate courses will count towards the number of credits that can transferred to the degree program. Letter grades “F” or the equivalent alternative grades “XN” will not count.     

Rest assured your health and well-being is our primary concern. Additional information and guidance will be sent to instructors, staff, and student advisors; we are very grateful to them for the additional effort that will be required of them to help implement these changes.

For more important and related information, visit the Graduate Education - Spring 2020 COVID-19 Updates and the Office of the University Registrar - Spring 2020 Grading Options webpages. 

More general information for graduate students are also available in a series of FAQs that you may find helpful.