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FAQ

General Study Abroad

What is the Global Education Office (GEO)?

The Global Education Office (GEO) organizes a wide range of international study, research, service, and leadership opportunities for the George Mason community. The office provides expertise and assistance in managing the numerous administrative and operational concerns specific to study abroad. Study abroad activities include international programs for undergraduates, graduates, and professionals seeking knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the culturally diverse society of the twenty-first century. Mason GEO manages a variety of international programs in nearly fifty countries: short-term programs during the winter and summer breaks, semester and year-long programs (including faculty-led semester programs in Florence, Madrid, and Oxford), intensive language courses, and international internship opportunities. Mason GEO also organizes cultural tours for the Mason community.

You can contact the Mason GEO main office via phone at 703-993-2154 or by email at goabroad@gmu.edu.

Planning to Apply? Visit the MasonAbroad website for comprehensive listings and applications.

When should I study abroad?
All students are eligible to study abroad. When you choose to study abroad will depend on your academic program requirements and your education abroad goals. Most students study abroad during their junior year. However, more sophomores and seniors are taking advantage of the experience. Some complete general education requirements abroad before the requirements of their major take hold of their schedule. Others complete major credits or electives. Mason GEO's short-term study programs offered during the winter, spring, and summer breaks are open to George Mason University students, staff, faculty, and alumni, as well as to other university students and the general public. Participants must have at least a 2.25 overall GPA prior to departure to participate in a program for academic credit. Some short-term programs allow you to fulfill your general education language requirement. It's a great way to earn 1 to 12 Mason credits quickly while seeing the world! You must have earned at least 45 semester credits (George Mason University or Transfer) to participate in a semester/yearlong program. If you are concerned about participating in graduation or graduating on time, it is preferable not to study abroad during the last semester before graduation.
What are the GPA requirements?
GPA Requirement Program
2.25 or above cumulative GPA most Mason GEO winter break and summer short-term programs
2.50 or above cumulative GPA most bilateral exchanges, semester, and internship programs
3.30 or above cumulative GPA Oxford semester program participants
3.50 or above cumulative GPA Oxford semester program, Mason undergraduate students
3.80 or above cumulative GPA Oxford semester program, Mason graduate students
To check eligibility requirements for a specific program, check the Programs page.
Where can I study abroad?
The world is within your reach! Mason offers a vast array of study abroad programs worldwide (short-term, semester, and yearlong). If you have an academic need not addressed by Mason GEO's programs, you can join any properly accredited study abroad program through an External Study Abroad program.
When should I start?
The earlier the better! You should definitely start researching two semesters before you plan to go, and you must have picked a program well before the specific application deadlines. In other words, if you plan to go for the fall semester, you should start researching programs the previous fall. If you are interested in our short-term study tours, pick up the flier and application form at least a month before the application deadline and submit your materials before the application deadline to secure your spot.
How do I find study abroad programs? What should I consider when choosing a study abroad program?
You can meet with a peer advisor to discuss your options or search our database of programs by location, length, or subject area. If you are considering a program that is not a Mason program, contact the External Study Abroad Program Officer.

 

Type of Program
  • Summer program
  • Internship program
  • Semester program
Language
  • Full immersion
  • Some foreign language
  • Mostly in English
Housing
  • Homestay
  • Residence Halls
  • Apartments
  • Hotels
Independence
  • How much does the sponsoring institution provide?
  • Do they arrange everything?
  • Is there a contact here?
  • How much am I going to be on my own?
Cost
  • What can I afford?
  • What services do I want them to provide?
Credits
  • Will the program offer credits that I can apply towards my degree (major, minor, emphasis or concentration, general education) requirements?
  • If a non-Mason program, is the program/university accredited, and will I receive an official transcript upon completion of the program?
Sponsoring Institutions
  • Do I want to go through a U.S. university program or do I want to apply directly to a foreign university?
Instruction Type
  • Taught in a foreign language or in English?
  • With primarily U.S. students?
  • With foreign students?
  • By U.S. professors?
  • Host country professors?
After I have chosen a program, how do I apply?

If you are applying for a Mason program, create a profile or login to MasonAbroad and complete the application in the Mason Enrollment System. Once you have submitted the online application and paid your registration and processing fee, your Program Officer will e-mail you with further instructions as to what additional forms you need to submit to Mason GEO.

If you are applying for a program administered by another institution, you will need to make an appointment with the Program Officer responsible for the External Study Abroad process.

Can I drive while overseas?
Due to the major liability that this entails, we ask that participants on all programs refrain from driving any motorized vehicle while abroad. All participants sign the Motorized Vehicle Agreement form located within their MasonAbroad application.
Does my passport need to be valid for a specific period of time to travel to certain countries?
To be on the safe side while traveling on any program, you should make sure you have a passport with a minimum validity of six months from your return date to the US. Some countries will not issue visas or stamp passports if they expire before six months.

Financing Study Abroad

How much do study abroad programs cost?
The cost to study abroad varies greatly depending on the type of program, the length of program, and where the program is located. Some programs will be comparable to studying on campus for a semester. Others will be more expensive. Students should look carefully at the elements included in the program and where the program is and not just the published program fee.
Can I apply my financial aid?
Yes. Most financial aid can be applied to programs sponsored by U.S. accredited institutions, including Mason's programs. Make sure you speak with a Financial Aid counselor early in the application process to give yourself enough time for the aid to be processed.
Does Mason offer study abroad scholarships?
Yes. While there are limited scholarships through Mason for study abroad, there are outside sources for scholarships that we encourage you to research. The key is to start looking early!
What does the study abroad admin fee cover?
Mason GEO charges an administrative fee which enables the self-supporting office to run its operation and provide quality study abroad opportunities. The admin fee covers the costs of time and labor associated with administering study abroad programs across the board (i.e., study abroad mailings, advising, publications, marketing, staffing, study abroad special registration, transfer of study abroad credits, foreign transcript evaluation, coordination with numerous Mason units, orientations, program development, and many other related administrative costs).
What is the refund policy of Mason GEO?
  • All enrollment/application fees and deposits are non-refundable.
  • Mason GEO reserves the right to make any changes or alterations to the program including itineraries and fees, in cases of emergency, low enrollment, changed conditions or in the interest of the group. Should the University cancel the program for whatever reason, full refund of all fees will be made unless the cancellation is due to deteriorating security and safety conditions, including political unrest, natural disaster, technological failures, or other catastrophes beyond its control. In such cases the university will be able to refund only uncommitted and/or recoverable funds (lodging and/or meals, transportation deposits, airfare, and any other program-related non-recoverable expenses.)
  • In cases of insufficient enrollment, students withdrawing their participation prior to an official Mason GEO cancellation notice will not receive a refund.
  • All cancellations or withdrawals from a program must be made in writing. The charge on your student account will not be removed unless the Mason GEO office is notified of your intent to withdraw.
  • If a participant cancels/withdraws from a program for any reason between payment of the deposit and forty-five days prior to the program start date, the participant will be refunded all fees paid minus the deposit and any non-recoverable costs.
  • If a participant cancels or withdraws, voluntarily or involuntarily (including dismissal from the program), less than 45 days prior to the program start date or after the start of the program, no refund will be issued.
This policy applies to all participants including financial aid, scholarships, and/or loan recipients.

Mason and Academics

Will my study abroad credits transfer?

Yes, but within the following guidelines:

  • Courses MUST be pre-approved by your department and dean (get the appropriate form from Mason GEO)
  • Courses must be for graded credit
  • You must receive a “C” or higher to earn undergraduate credit or a B or higher for graduate credit
  • You must study abroad at an accredited institution
Will my grades transfer?

Yes and no.

Grades only transfer if you are going on a Mason GEO program with a Academic Director who serves as the "Instructor of Record". The short-term summer, spring break, and winter programs all provide this kind of credit called "resident credit". A few semester programs, including the Oxford Semester Program, also offer resident credit.

In the case of Direct Exchange Semester programs without a Mason Academic Director or non-Mason programs — the answer is no. Grades will show up on your host university transcript but will not be averaged into your Mason GPA. You will receive credit hours toward your graduation, and you still need to receive a “C” or higher to transfer undergraduate credits or a “B” or higher to transfer graduate credits. This is referred to as transfer credit.

How do I register for my semester when I have completed study abroad and return to Mason?

While you are overseas on your study abroad program, it is your responsibility to check for the upcoming schedule of classes and register for your next semester back using Patriotweb. If you do not have access to the Internet while overseas, please make arrangements to have a friend or family member register you for classes.

Mason GEO will register you for your semester(s) abroad. Do not sign up for classes during the period you are going to be studying overseas.

How do I reserve on-campus housing for my return to Mason?
It is YOUR responsibility to contact the Mason on-campus housing office before you study abroad to inform them you will be out of the country for a semester or two. They might have some forms you will need to fill out to reserve your space upon your return. Refer to their website.
What if I disagree with the grade I receive from a Mason faculty director?
Mason GEO cannot facilitate a dispute regarding grades posted by Academic Directors. To appeal a grade for a study abroad program with a Mason faculty member, follow the procedures from the Mason Academic Policies website.

Health Insurance

Do I need health insurance to study abroad?
Yes, students must be fully covered with comprehensive health insurance in order to study abroad. Students are responsible for checking with their health insurance provider to see if their coverage is adequate for overseas travel. All students studying abroad through George Mason University (including Mason students going on External Study Abroad programs) will receive international emergency insurance. See Students > Going Abroad > Health and Safety for more information on insurance.

In Case of Emergency

Call +1-703-993-7500

Can I study abroad if I am under medical or psychiatric care?
Mason GEO does not discriminate against students who are currently under medical or psychiatric care. Students under medical or psychiatric care are required to disclose their medical condition on the online application and provide their Program Officer with a Student Medical Evaluation [available upon request or when made availabe by the Program Officer] completed by their physician or mental health care provider. This information will remain confidential. The document is used as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of the student and the group.

Parents, Guardians, and Family Members

The Global Education Office (GEO) encourages parents, guardians and family members to review the answers to these commonly asked questions. Please feel free to contact us if additional questions arise and we will gladly offer assistance.

How can parents, guardians, and family members be involved?
Parental, guardian and familial support is essential in helping students assume responsibility for their time abroad. Students will need parents, guardians and familial advice and assistance, and encouragement is crucial to the success of a student’s study abroad experience. However, in order for students to get the most out of this experience, The Global Education Office (GEO) asks parents, guardians and families to let students act independently and take responsibility for this process. Studying abroad will help your student become an independent, global citizen, and it starts at the beginning. GEO will serve as a guide, but students should accept the responsibility for the process themselves.
What are the benefits of study abroad?
The benefits of studying abroad are tremendous. In addition to cultural, personal, social and academic growth, students who study abroad are more marketable upon graduation. In today’s world, employers and graduate schools increasingly value an overseas experience. Many employers – in banking, engineering, marketing, the computer industry, and many other areas – are looking specifically for overseas experience when evaluating applicants. Find out more about Benefits of Study Abroad
Where can parents, guardians and family find more information about the program?
Each program offered has its own brochure page on the MasonAbroad website. The program brochure contain a description of the location and/or university, and information regarding eligibility requirements, cost, accommodations, and more. Parents, guardians and family can find more information for any program by searching our website.
Can my student still graduate on time if s/he studies abroad?
Yes! Credit taken abroad on semester programs is transferable, provided the student passes the courses with the equivalent of a C or above and has pre-approval by the academic department. In addition, most Mason study abroad short-term, international internships and some semester programs offer resident credit, which is just like taking classes on campus. With careful planning, there is no reason why studying abroad should delay graduation.
How much does it cost to study abroad?
Costs for studying abroad vary depending on length and type of program. Most of the semester and year-long study abroad programs offered by GEO are exchanges, which involve international students coming here in exchange for Mason students going abroad. This means that students pay their regular tuition and usually pay for room and board to the host institution. Some semester and year-long programs are based on a direct enrollment model and may cost more than regular tuition. The cost of participating on an international internship or faculty-led program is determined by location, number of credits, and number of other factors. Extra costs for most programs will include airline tickets and any personal expenses or travel the student undertakes while abroad. Personal spending will vary, and we discuss budgets and travel in the pre-departure orientation.
What financial aid or scholarships are available for my student?
Financial aid (including loans, grants, and scholarships) can be applied to most GEO programs. Students who receive financial aid and are planning to study abroad need to contact the Financial Aid Office to determine their eligibility. GEO administers several scholarships including the Global Perspectives Scholarship, the Monroe “Chip” Whitton Scholarship, the Jacquemin Family Foundation Scholarship and the Diversity Grant. More details on each individual scholarship, eligibilty and award amounts can be found here . All eligible students are encouraged to apply for these opportunities. The deadlines are typically in late September/ early October and early-late March. Additional outside scholarships and personal fundraising resources are also available.
Will my student receive preparation assistance during the study abroad process?
GEO staff are available to help, answer questions, provide assistance, and support students every step of the journey. Students participating on semester and full-year programs are required to attend a general advising session, as well as meet with a study abroad advisor prior to applying to any program. In addition, GEO requires all students, including students studying abroad on an external program, to participate in a mandatory pre-departure orientation program where program participants are informed about topics including passports, visas, immunizations, housing, health and safety, and culture shock. Students can also obtain contact information from former participants or international students from the country in which they will be studying to ensure your student feels fully confident about their upcoming experience.
Will my student be safe while abroad?
Student safety is our highest priority. General safety issues, as well as any country specific precautions, are discussed at the mandatory pre-departure orientation and are included in the materials provided to the students by GEO. The office has developed an Emergency Abroad Protocol which is given to students during Pre-Departure Orientation as well online through their application. GEO also has an emergency number service (703-993-7500) which is available 24 hours a day. Most Mason study abroad programs either have a Mason faculty member or local staff at the host institution onsite to assist them in case of emergency. Students are strongly encouraged to register themselves with the US Department of State’s Smart Traveller Enrollment Program, and they are given the information on how to do so during orientation.
Will my student be covered by health insurance while studying abroad?
All students participating university-sponsored travel abroad are required to carry a special study abroad health insurance policy. This policy is included in the cost for all GEO administered programs. Information about health insurance, including cost and policy coverage.