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Incoming Exchange

Incoming Exchange


George Mason University

Located just outside of Washington, DC, the capital city of the United States, George Mason University is an innovative and entrepreneurial institution with a growing and diverse student body and exceptional faculty of enterprising scholars. International students may spend a semester or a full year living and learning on the Fairfax Campus.

International students who are interested in applying to the exchange program with George Mason University (Mason) must be nominated by their home university. Please contact the international office at your home institution to see whether an exchange at Mason is available. 

The Global Education Office (GEO) is responsible for academic matters such as course scheduling, housing, providing the students’ academic transcript for their time at Mason, and providing information about the exchange agreement. The GEO contacts for incoming exchange students  are:

Area Universities Located in Africa, Asia, Ireland, Oceania, Russia, Scandinavia, or United Kingdom Universities Located in the Americas, Caribbean, Continental Europe (excluding Russia & Scandinavia), the Mediterranean, and the Middle East
Program Admin Dianna Leonard Mikaela Spencer
Phone 703-993-3604 703-993-2641

The Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) is responsible for items pertaining to the students’ J-1 immigration documents including the DS-2019, visa related questions, and pre-arrival information. The GEO contact at OIPS is Christine Bodziak who can be reached at (703) 993-3928 or
Important Dates Fall Semester Spring Semester
Nomination by Partner Institutions Due March 1 October 1
Application Deadline March 15 October 15

Students who attend Mason on exchange do so as a non-degree students. Most exchange programs take place at Mason’s Fairfax campus.

Admissions Criteria and Visa


All bilateral exchanges are offered in the spring or fall semesters only. No summer exchanges are possible.

  • Bilateral exchanges are open to international undergraduate students from the universities listed here.
  • You should consult with the study abroad office at your home university to determine your eligibility and application requirements prior to applying.
  • Undergraduate Students: You must have completed at least one year and have the equivalent of a 2.50 cumulative GPA or higher.
  • Graduate Students: You must be at least in your second semester and have the equivalent of a 3.00 cumulative GPA or higher.

English Proficiency Requirements

Non-Native English speakers must provide an official score report for TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Test results MUST not be older than two years.

Internet-based Academic
Undergraduate Graduate Undergraduate Graduate
80 points 88 points 6.5 score
Required minimum in each section is 18 points. Required minimum in each section is 20 points. Required minimum in each subsection is 6.0.

Unfortunately, we cannot accept the Institutional Testing Program (ITP) exam.

View full list of English Proficiency requirements set by the Office of Admissions.

Obtaining J-1 Visa

Only after you are officially accepted as an exchange student by George Mason University will you be sent the DS-2019 paperwork. If you have questions about your visa, contact the Office of International Programs.


Quick Facts

  • You must check-in with the Office of International Programs and Services at the beginning of the semester.
  • You must have a travel signature from the Office of International Programs and Services to leave the country. If you travel without a travel signature, you may not be able to come back to the U.S. 
    • The travel signatures are valid for one year. Students need to have a valid travel signature on their DS-2019s before leaving the country, so if they already received one and plan to return to US before it expires, they do not need another one.
  • Students are allowed to stay in the country for a 30 day grace period after the end date of their program listed on the DS-2019 form. However, they are not allowed to work or to take classes during that 30 day grace period.
  • You must be enrolled full-time for the entire duration of your stay in the U.S. That means being enrolled in at least 9 credits for graduate students and at least 12 credits for undergraduate students. If you are registered for less than the required amount of credits even for 1-2 days during your stay in the U.S., you risk immediate visa termination. NOTE: Fully online courses are not allowed to count toward the number of credits registered.

Cost Estimate

Item Cost Description
Administrative Fee $500 to be paid to the Global Education Office (GEO) upon arrival
On-campus housing* (guaranteed for undergraduate students) $3,360-$4,615
per semester (double occupancy)
per semester (single occupancy)
Off-campus housing (on-campus housing is not available for graduate students) $550-$1,000
per month (room in a shared apartment)
per month (studio or one-bedroom apartment)
Health Insurance: Fall $1,236 coverage period 1/16/17 through 1/4/18
Health Insurance: Spring $1,918 coverage period 1/5/18 through 8/15/18
Food Expenses $400-$700 per month
Required Meal Plan $2,135-$2,535 required meal plan - for students living in residences without a kitchen (see Dining)
Optional Meal Plan $250-$1,100** optional meal plan** - for students living in residences with a kitchen (see Dining)
Shuttle Service Free with Mason ID Campus shuttle and local CUE buses
Metro $3-$5 /one-way Metro train to Washington, D.C.
Personal Expenses $350-$450 per month
Books $600 per semester (some books can be bought used or rented for less)

* See Housing Rates (Please note: Traditional Halls are reserved for first-year students only)

** Optional plans offer between 25 and 100 meals per semester.


Courses Available to Incoming Exchange Students

Students coming to Mason are strongly advised to pay close attention to the prerequisites for each course and to make sure that any such equivalents have been completed at their home institutions prior to course registration. Prerequisites are listed in the Mason Course Catalog.

  • Course Restrictions:
    • Undergraduate Nursing courses
    • Courses offered at the Antonin Scalia Law School
    • BMGT courses in the Master of Science in Management Program
Patriotweb Schedule of Classes  Mason Course Catalog

Five Levels in the Education System

Level Description
100 Level Courses undergraduate - introductory level
200 Level Courses* undergraduate - intermediate level
300 Level Courses* undergraduate - advanced level
400 Level Courses undergraduate - advanced level
500-800 LEVEL COURSES** graduate level
* Most exchange students take courses at the 200, 300, or 400 levels, but you are advised to consult with your advisor at home prior to selecting courses to ensure that you can transfer your credits upon completion of your study abroad.
** IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO COMBINE GRADUATE AND UNDERGRADUATE COURSES: If you apply as an undergraduate student, you are required to take classes numbered 100-499; if you apply as a graduate student, you are required to take classes numbered 500 and above.


  • Undergraduate students at Mason generally take 4-5 classes per semester; graduate students take 3 classes per semester.
  • Most classes count as 3 credits, which equals a total of 12-15 credits per semester for undergraduates and 9 credits per semester for graduates.
  • Undergraduate students must enroll in at least 12 credits to maintain proper visa status but no more than 16 credits. Graduate students must enroll in at least 9 credits to maintain proper visa status but no more than 12 credits (9 credits is the recommended course load).

Student Work Load

Exchange students must be enrolled full-time at George Mason University.

  • The full-time undergraduate course load is 12-16 credits per semester.
  • The full-time graduate course load is 9 credits per semester.
  • Credit points apply to all subjects and represent a measure of the student workload by subject.
  • A credit normally represents one hour per week of lecture or recitation or not fewer than two hours per week of laboratory work throughout a semester. The number of credits is a measure of the quantity of work required. In general, 15 contact hours equals one credit at Mason.


  • A 3-credit course can be 3 hours of lecture and / or one seminar per week for the duration of one semester.
  • A 4-credit course can be 4 hours of lecture and / or one seminar per week for the duration of the semester.
  • One semester usually equals 16 weeks.
  • Credit value does not take into account individual study required outside of class. These studies are a necessary for academic success at Mason.
General ECTS/US credit conversion
1 US credit 2 ECTS credits

Grading System

Grades are a measure of the quality of the student’s work. The faculty of record (the professor assigned to teach the course) must assign a grade to all enrolled students at the end of the semester, term, or part of term. For grades applicable to graduate courses, see the Graduate Grading section. The university-wide system for undergraduate grading is as follows:

A+ 4.00 Passing
A 4.00 Passing
A- 3.67 Passing
B+ 3.33 Passing
B 3.00 Passing
B- 2.67 Passing
C+ 2.33 Passing
C 2.00 Passing
C- 1.67 Passing
D 1.00 Passing
F 0.00 Failing

No credit toward graduation accrues from a failing grade or a grade that is replaced by a retaken course. While this is the official George Mason University academic policy, your home institution may have different requirements for grades transferred from Mason. Make sure you check the transfer credit grading policy with your home institution's study abroad coordinator and your academic counselor.

More detailed information on George Mason University's academic policies may be found in the University Catalog.

Schedule of Classes

Spring Semester Courses Fall Semester Courses
available in October available in March
Patriotweb Schedule of Classes

Course Registration

The Global Education Officer has a Registration Specialist who will assist you in registering for classes. For assistance, please contact

  • Undergraduate students must be registered for 12-16 credits
  • Graduate students must be registered for 9 credits.
How to Register Wait List Explanation Common Registration Errors

Step 1: Access to Patriot Web

  • Patriot Web allows you to register for classes and make payments.

Step 2: Register or Complete the Course Override Request Form

  • If you plan on registering for a class that does not have prerequisites, go ahead and add that to your schedule.
  • If you’d like to register for a course that has prerequisites, fill out the Course Override Request questionnaire (see Prerequisites). The Registration Specialist will obtain registration approval from the appropriate department and let you know once you are approved to register for the course.
Registration Guide Schedule of Classes Course Catalog Calendar and Dates

Common Abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
M Monday
T Tuesday
W Wednesday
R Thursday
F Friday
TBA To Be Announced
NET means that at least a portion of the course is taught online.
Mason Building Codes


Prerequisites are classes you must complete before enrolling in the class you want to take. It is NOT possible to take a course and its prerequisite at the same time. You must take the prerequisite first. You will not be allowed to register for courses if you have not taken courses equivalent to the prerequisites at your home institution prior to studying at Mason. Prerequisites are listed in the Mason Course Catalog.

Example 1

Course Prerequisite
COMM 301 – Foundations of Interpersonal Communication COMM 200 with a grade of C or better

This means that you must have completed an equivalent of Communication Theory (COMM 200) with a grade equivalent to a C or better before you can take COMM 301.

Example 2

Course Prerequisite
FNAN 301 - Financial Management ECON 103, ACCT 203, and OM 210 with C or better; sophomore standing

This means that you must have completed an equivalent of Contemporary Microeconomic Principles (ECON 103), Survey of Accounting (ACCT 203), AND Statistical Analysis for Management (OM 210) at your home university with an equivalent of a C or better in all three. You also need to be at least in your second year of your bachelor’s degree program.

Question Y/N Explanation
Can I take ECON 103 and FNAN 301 in the same semester?


you have to complete ECON 103 before taking FNAN 301
Can I take ACCT 203 and FNAN 301 in the same semester?


you have to complete ACCT 203 before taking FNAN 301
Can I take FNAN 301 if this is my first year of being a college student?


you have to be at least in your second year of university studies to take this class
Can I take ECON 103, ACCT 203, and OM 210 in the Fall, and then take FNAN 301 in the Spring?


provided you fit the prerequisites for ECON 103, ACCT 203, and OM 210 (OM 210 has a Math prerequisite)


The Global Education Office (GEO) at George Mason University provides one transcript per student free of charge.

You may order additional transcripts through the University Registrar's Office.

Cost of Transcript

Transcript Cost of international Shipping
$10 $41*
* To save on international shipping, you may order your transcript once your final grades are in (usually 48 hours after your last final exam) and request it to be "held for pickup" instead. Printing takes about two hours. You may then pick up your transcript at the Registrar's Office in SUB I, Room 2101.

How to Apply

A successful education abroad experience starts with thoughtful research, planning, and preparation. While at first the process may seem overwhelming, it is really quite simple. Follow these step-by-step procedures and soon you'll be studying abroad! Remember, the Global Education Office (GEO) staff is here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions or concerns.

Step 1: Talk to Your Study Abroad Coordinator

Your application process begins at your home institution. Contact your study abroad or international education office and tell them about your interest in becoming an exchange student. Once your home institution nominates you, you will start working with George Mason University's Global Education Office (GEO).

Step 2: Determine Eligibility

Please consult with the study abroad office at your home university to determine your eligibility and application requirements. You must be at least in your second year of your bachelor’s degree program and have the equivalent of a 2.50 cumulative GPA or higher.

"...Mason has a high standard of English proficiency for admission. Mason requires applicants to meet that English proficiency standard. Students who have completed a full high school degree/diploma program from a regionally accredited university in the United States, Canada (excluding province of Quebec), United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand are considered to have met that standard. All other applicants are required to show further evidence of English proficiency..."

Source: Mason Office of Admissions


Step 3: Submit Your Application

Submit the MasonAbroad Online Application. Click on "Apply Now" to apply. You will need to create a profile and follow the instructions given by the application system. Note that you will be asked to upload a copy of valid passport(s) and any required visa documentation including:

  • Official TOEFL, IBT, or IELTS score report. Electronic copy of TOEFL to be sent to testing code is 5827
  • Certificate of Financial Responsibility (click on the green link in the middle of the page to access the form). Please note: exchange students come on a J-1 visa and will request form DS-2019.
  • Proof of funding documents (see here for acceptable documentation)
  • Official academic transcripts in English from all higher education institutions you have attended (your study abroad coordinator at your home institution can email these to your program officer at Mason GEO).

Once these documents have been received and reviewed by the Global Education Office (GEO), instructions will be sent to you regarding your next steps.

Step 4: After Acceptance

If accepted, both you and your study abroad office will be notified by email. Once your DS-2019 is ready, you will be issued an official acceptance packet by postal mail which will include the appropriate documents to support your application for a J-1 visiting student visa at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

It is your responsibility to log on to the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) website, pay your SEVIS fee to the Department of Homeland Security, and schedule your visa interview as soon as you learn that you are accepted.

You are advised to wait until after receiving your visa to purchase your airfare.

After being accepted to study abroad at Mason, you will need to fill out the Immunization Record Form and select your housing and dining options.

Requesting an Extension

Many students go abroad with the intention of staying one semester, but end up so excited with their program that they want to stay another semester. If you wish to extend your semester or exchange program abroad, you MUST contact your Program Officer. The program extension form is available at Mason's Office of International Programs and Services.

Please note: circumstances such as other competitive applications and exchange program balances must be considered before your application can be approved. Consult with your Program Officer immediately.


Orientation for incoming exchange students is mandatory.

If you are unable to attend orientation, please email your Program Officer explaining the reasons for which you cannot attend. Alternative arrangements will need to be made with your Program Officer and OIPS. Students will receive information about the orientation date with their acceptance information.


Student Email

When you are admitted to George Mason University, you are assigned a Mason email address. The system is called MasonLive. All official communication from Mason faculty and staff will be sent to that email.


Medical Aid

The U.S. insurance system may be tricky for those who are new to it.

How it Works

  • If you need any medical assistance (whether it’s a simple sore throat or appendicitis), go to the doctor recommended by your insurance provider.
  • Pay a “deductible” – an amount that you always have to pay once a year to start using insurance services.
  • You will also pay a certain percentage of the price of the doctor’s appointment and any services you’ve received.
  • The rest of the costs are covered by insurance.
  • Make sure to look at the details of your plan to get the exact percentages and coverage limits.

If you have a health concern, it might be good to start with the George Mason University Student Health Services. Conveniently located on campus, Student Health Services has a staff of health professionals who can perform many services, including initial check-ups and many lab tests.

  • Call and make an appointment.
  • You will need to bring your Mason ID and your student insurance ID number with you.
  • Seeing a health professional at Student Health Services is free for full-time exchange students, and lab fees are fairly low, with the most expensive lab test costing $40.

If Student Health Services are unable to perform a test you need (for example, they do not provide x-ray services), they will refer you to the nearest clinic that will accept your student insurance policy. In all, Student Health Services is a great place to start if you have a non-emergency health concern.

Medical Emergency Numbers

Free After-hours Nurse Advice Line 703-993-2831
Aetna Customer Service 800-878-1945
Emergency Number 911

Psychological Services

Counseling and Psychological Services at George Mason University are an excellent free-of-charge tool to enhance your semester at Mason.

College life and life in another country on exchange offers students tremendous opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. To assist students in taking advantage of these opportunities, the university provides counseling services, which enable students to develop effective tools to overcome obstacles to their academic progress, examine personal and intellectual strengths and weaknesses, and learn skills that promote personal and intellectual development.

Links and Resources

Mandatory Insurance Information

Be advised that as an exchange student, you will be required to purchase health insurance from Mason.

More information

Insurance Details

Insurance fee payment is due the first day of classes (payment methods). Once you've paid the insurance fee, print your insurance ID card, and carry it with you.

Coverage Periods

  • Fall semester coverage starts on August 16th of every year at 12:00am. Fall semester coverage ends on January 4th of every year at 11:59pm.
  • Spring semester coverage starts on January 5th of every year at 12:00am. Spring semester coverage extends through summer and ends on August 15th of every year at 11:59pm.


How to Obtain an Exemption from George Mason University Health Insurance

This exemption is rarely granted. If you do not have insurance purchased through your U.S. employer or the U.S. government, you have to purchase Mason insurance.

According to Mason's Student Health Services, an international student may apply for a waiver/exemption in the following cases:

  • If the student has a scholarship, or government sponsored program that provides an U.S. health insurance plan for the student. National health coverage and/or travel insurance do not meet these criteria. OR
  • If the student, student’s spouse, or parent has a U.S. employer who provides health insurance for the student. OR
  • If the student has a plan obtained through the Health Insurance Marketplace as referenced at
Waiver Information

Reasons Why Insurance Is Mandatory

Exchange students come to Mason on a J-1 visa. All J-1 visa students are required under Federal mandate to have health insurance in order to attend classes. George Mason University requires J-1 and F-1 visa status students to have health insurance coverage under University Policy #6002. Therefore, the Insurance Office will automatically enroll F-1 and J-1 visa students into the school selected health plan.

Please direct all insurance-related questions to

Mandatory Immunization Information

Immunization Record Due Dates

Fall Semester Spring Semester
October 1 March 1

During your first few weeks on campus, you will need to bring the originals of your immunization record forms to the Mason Immunization Office, located in the Student Union Building I (SUB I), Rooms 2347 and 2348. 

Links and Resources

You may also opt out of (choose not to receive) some recommended immunizations. If you opt out, you will need to sign a waiver that states that you understand the risks of not receiving the immunization but choose not to receive it anyway.

If you are missing some immunizations, you may receive them at the Student Health Services for a modest fee.


Housing Move-in Dates
Housing Move-out Dates
Go to International student orientation

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate exchange students are guaranteed housing in residences on our main Fairfax Campus. International students will be assigned to housing with Mason domestic or other international students.

Securing Housing - Upon Acceptance Only

Upon acceptance, you will be given instructions on how to secure on-campus housing. You will not be placed in Traditional Halls (Presidents Park and The Commons) as those are reserved for first-year students. Although the Global Education Office (GEO) will facilitate this process,  it is your duty to follow all instructions and complete information required during specific dates and times. In addition, please keep in mind that housing on campus is very limited and that we cannot guarantee your first choice.

Shared Housing

Only 10% of all rooms on campus are singles (and are primarily reserved for students with disabilities).

Housing and Meal Plans

If your residence hall doesn't have a full kitchen, you will be required to purchase the Anytime Dining meal plan to be used on campus.

Read more about Dining Options

Summer Housing

  • Summer housing is unavailable unless you choose to take (and pay for) summer classes.
  • If you choose to stay in the United States over the summer (and your visa allows it), you will need to make your own housing arrangements from mid-May until the end of August.

Winter Break

  • You can stay in several dormitories on campus over winter break without an additional fee. However, you will have limited access to Mason dining and public transportation.

To request an individual extension, email your Program Officer.

Room Description

You can compare housing facilities and see the amenities listed for each at Mason Housing. Some residence halls have kitchenettes and en-suite bathrooms.

  • bed
  • desk
  • dresser
  • closet
  • bed linens
  • towels
  • toiletries
  • other personal items

There are several shopping centers located a short bus ride from campus where you can buy these items once you arrive. No matter which option you choose, you will find that living on campus is a great way to make friends and allows you easy access to classes, sports facilities, and the many activities that are available at Mason.

Graduate Students

Graduate exchange students must find their own accommodations. However, the Global Education Office (GEO) will provide you with some helpful information to aid your search. There are many houses and apartments near campus that often rent rooms to students temporarily but we recommend you begin looking for housing as soon as you confirm your acceptance.


Meal Plans

If your residence hall doesn't have a full kitchen, you will be required to purchase the Anytime Dining meal plan to be used on campus.

Catering to a diverse student population, Mason Dining Services can accommodate nearly everyone, including vegetarians and those with special dietary needs.

Residence halls without a kitchen that require you to purchase a meal plan are listed below:

Residence Halls that require a meal plan
  • Blue Ridge/Sandbridge
  • Commonwealth
  • Dominion
  • Eastern Shore
  • Hampton Roads
  • Piedmont/Tidewater
  • Whitetop

Residence halls without full in-suite kitchens may have kitchenettes (refrigerator, sink, and garbage disposal) or shared floor kitchens that you can reserve for use if you like to cook for yourself occasionally.

You do not have to purchase a meal plan if your residence hall has a full kitchen, like the residence halls listed below:

Residence Halls that do not require a meal plan
  • Apartments
  • Liberty Square
  • Northern Neck
  • Potomac Heights
  • Rogers
  • Townhouses

Adding, Changing, Dropping a Meal Plan

If you wish to add, drop, or change your meal plan, email the Mason Card Office from your account. Include your G number and meal plan option. You will receive a confirmation email once the request has been processed.

Campus Life

Your semester or year will begin with an orientation program hosted by the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) and the Global Education Office. During the orientation you will be introduced to campus life, academics, health services, student activities, and more. Orientation is also a great opportunity to meet other international students at Mason. Once classes begin, you will take courses and can participate in any of the many student organizations and recreational sports teams on campus - there are hundreds to choose from, no matter what your interests!

Type Description
Student Organizations Log into GetConnected with your Mason username and password to view the list of student organizations at Mason. Also, Facebook is a good tool to use when searching for an organization.
Sports and Recreation Sports facilities are free for full-time students.
You only need to pay for yoga and pilates classes ($50 per semester). You may also join sports teams - even if you're here only for one semester.
Events There is always something going on at Mason!
Today @ Mason helps you find events and activities across campuses.
Finding Offices and Departments If you need to locate a person or a department, use People Finder. Log in with your Mason username and password to view email addresses.
Library Library and Library Services
IT Services IT Services for Students
Printing Services Printing Services
Forms Registrar's Forms
Student Resources Student Resources

Part-time Jobs and Internship Information

For detailed information on employment opportunities for J-1 students, visit here. If you have any questions, contact the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS).

Immigration is a complicated subject and there are lots of requirements for international students who want to work in the United States.

You may consider doing an internship after your first semester here – there won't be enough time for you to develop the network and/or file the necessary paperwork to do an internship during your first semester at Mason. Finding an internship for your second semester at Mason or for summer needs to start the minute you land in the U.S.

If you want to do an internship, your first step would be to talk to the Office of International Programs and Services. Then you should visit University Career Services.

There are two ways to obtain an internship: FOR CREDIT and NOT FOR CREDIT.

For Credit Not For Credit

If you find an internship, then you need to find an academic department through which you can get academic credit. You'll need to work with the University Career Services to find out more details.

When you receive an internship offer, bring the original offer letter to our immigration specialist at OIPS. Your J-1 visa advisor will ask you to have it approved as related to your major by our Advising Office. The Advising Office writes a letter in support of your internship, and you bring an offer letter and that letter of support back to OIPS.

OIPS evaluates both letters and writes a letter to the U.S. Government. U.S. Immigration Services then decides whether to grant you permission to proceed with the internship; if they do, you are issued a new DS-2019 that allows you to do this specific internship, which is now called "academic training".

It takes about two months from the day you are offered an internship to the day you can start to complete all of this paperwork.

Links and Resources

Hire Mason

The HireMason web site is not available for exchange students - you simply won't be able to register. Instead, you will need to sign up for the On-Campus Jobs Listserv. Here is how:

  1. Please email Nora Gerrity from your Mason email.
  2. Subject Line: “J-1 On-Campus Jobs Listserv”.
  3. Career Services sends out a list/publication of on-campus jobs weekly.
  4. Students may follow the instructions on the job description to apply. In the event the job description asks the student to apply using HireMason, the student is responsible for reaching out to the office directly to apply.

If you have any questions, contact OIPS.



Step 1: Complete the Pre-Arrival Checklist

View the J-1 undergraduate or graduate pre-arrival checklist. The checklist and orientation are provided by the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS).

Step 2: Review Materials Provided by the Global Education Office (GEO)

These handouts are part of your acceptance packet, along with your DS-2019, your acceptance letter, and a letter from OIPS. Please download and read all documents carefully!

Office of International Programs and Services

Directions to Fairfax Campus

There are three major airports located in the Washington D.C. Metro area: BWI, IAD, and DCA. Therefore, there are different transportation options for getting to and from Mason's campuses. Below you will find information about each airport and advice on alternative transportation options from the different airports in the D.C. region.

Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

  • Driving distance from BWI to Mason Fairfax Campus is approximately 55 miles
  • Alternative transportation options from BWI to Mason Fairfax Campus:
    • At BWI, take the take the B30 Metrobus to Greenbelt Metro Station. At the Metro Station, take the GREEN or YELLOW line (only option at the station) toward Branch Ave. and get off at L'Enfant Plaza. Change to the ORANGE line and take the metro heading to Vienna-GMU. Get off at the Vienna-GMU stop (last stop) and take either the Mason to Metro Shuttle or the CUE Bus to the Fairfax campus.
    • Taxi Cab
    • Super Shuttle

Dulles International Airport (IAD)

  • Driving distance from IAD to Mason Fairfax Campus is approximately 15 miles
  • Alternative transportation options from IAD to Mason Fairfax Campus:
    • At IAD, take the Metrobus 5A and get off at Rosslyn Station. Hop on the ORANGE line Metro (the only option at the station) toward Vienna-GMU. Get off at the Vienna-GMU stop (last stop) and take either the Mason to Metro Shuttle or the CUE Bus to the Fairfax campus.
    • Taxi Cab
    • Super Shuttle Use the discount code "MASON" to receive $5.00 off for a round-trip and $2.00 off for a one-way booking.

Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport (DCA)

  • Driving distance from DCA to Mason Fairfax Campus is approximately 20 miles
  • Alternative transportation options from DCA to Mason Fairfax Campus:
    • At DCA, take the BLUE line Metro toward Largo Town Center. Get off at Rosslyn Station and transfer to the ORANGE line. Take the train toward Vienna-GMU. Get off at the Vienna-GMU stop (last stop) and take either the Mason to Metro Shuttle or the CUE Bus to the Fairfax campus.
    • Taxi Cab
    • Super Shuttle

First Days on Campus

International students are among the first students to arrive on campus every semester, so expect the campus to look pretty empty, with only international students wandering around with you.

  1. When you arrive, go directly to your Neighborhood Desk with your passport and luggage (check to see which neighborhood your dorm is in). Check in, get a temporary key, and go to your room.
  2. Once in your room – you will see that sheets, pillows, blankets, and other necessities are not provided. Plan on making arrangements to go to the Campus Bookstore or other stores in the area to purchase those (Walmart is open 24 hours and the Cue bus and Mason shuttle will bring you there). If you want to order items online, you can have them delivered to this exact address:

    Your First Name Last Name
    PMB New Student / Incoming Freshman
    4450 Rivanna River Way
    Fairfax, VA 22030

    For pick-up, come to the Campus Mailroom, located on the bottom floor of The Hub. The Mailroom is open Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm.
  3. After you have purchased all the immediate necessities, grab a snack. Your meal plan will not be valid yet, so try out some food on campus (see the fall 2017 move-in week hours of operation) in the Johnson Center Food Court or walk over to the nearest shopping center called University Mall, where you can find a grocery store (Giant Food), as well as restaurants, a movie theatre, and small shops.
  4. Grab a map and explore campus. Expect the campus to look pretty deserted – students living on-campus will arrive three days after you; students living off-campus will show up the first day of classes. Enjoy the quietness and emptiness while you can – the campus will be bustling once classes start!
  5. Get your Mason ID in SUB I, room 1203. They are open Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm. You need to bring your passport and G number. Once you receive your Mason ID, you do not need to use the temporary card anymore. Return it to your Neighborhood Desk.
  6. Purchase books for classes. First, find what textbooks you will need through Patriot Web. Then either purchase or rent them at the campus bookstore or search for good used book deals online (e.g.,,, etc.). Do it as soon as possible to save your money. The supply of used books in the campus bookstore is limited.
  7. Take the time to visit to Washington, D.C.
    1. Take the free Mason to Metro Shuttle or Cue bus to get to the Vienna Metro station.
    2. Purchase a SmarTrip card. You can use the Metro Trip Planner to estimate times and distances.
    3. Take the Orange Line to Smithsonian to get to the Capitol and many free museums, or check out other great attractions in D.C. on Tripadvisor. Also, the Orange line will take you to Foggy Bottom, which is the nearest station to visit Georgetown.
  8. Go on a shopping spree to one of the nearby malls by hopping onto the free Gunston Go-Bus (Mason ID required to ride). You can get groceries and enjoy fun shopping, restaurants, and cinema.
  9. Explore Fairfax by taking one of the CUE Buses (show your Mason ID to the driver to ride for free).

Once classes start, the campus will transform into a lively, almost crowded place with lots of things going on every day. Join a student organization or two, start exercising at one of Mason’s free gyms, go to class on time, do homework, and take advantage of the many resources Mason has to offer.