FAQs: Academics

How many classes are being offered in person on campus?

Forty-four percent of Mason classes will be hybrid and face-to-face

Each college or school assessed available classroom space and how it allowed for social/physical distancing.

Labs or other courses that are less adaptable to an online format got priority for class space.

Classes of 30-plus students are more likely to be held online. Classes with fewer students are more likely to be in person.

I want to switch an online class to in-person, or in-person class to online. Can I do that?

Yes, you have access to the registration system in PatriotWeb through the end of the add/drop period. You can enroll in any class that's available or get on a wait list.

Is tuition the same for students taking all or mostly online classes?

Tuition is the same for all students, as approved by the Board of Visitors.

Mason has made substantial investments in technology, online course development, and academic support to ensure a high-quality education and excellent student services are available in our hybrid learning environment.

We have improved virtual access to student support services, such as:

Many of these offices are also available for in-person appointments.

Did Mason reduce any student fees for fall?

Yes, in recognition of the financial challenges that many in our community are facing due to the pandemic.

  • Mason has waived the distance learning fee ($35 per credit hour for courses in which more than 50 percent of the instruction was online) for courses other than the online programs offered through our partnership with Wiley Education Services.
  • Mason did not raise mandatory student fees for this academic year. This fee supports increased virtual access to student services and activities, as well as in person by appointment. It also helps fund instructional continuity, technology, building maintenance, and staff necessary to support those essential student resources.

I'm having some financial problems, is help available?

For students experiencing financial hardship due to the impact of the pandemic on their or their family’s finances, we encourage you to: 

We have also lifted the restriction of rolling prior term outstanding balances into a payment plan for fall 2020. 

If classes are moved online, will students have the option to have their grades be pass/fail, as was allowed last semester?

The A to F grading scale will be used unless the Faculty Senate votes to change grades into a pass/fail mode.

Many of my classes are online but my internet access is limited. Can I get a refund?

I have trouble with remote learning. Can I get some help?

If you're struggling with remote courses, contact your instructor and ask for assistance.

University Life also has resources to help students learn in an online environment.

What happens if I get sick and miss several classes?

Reach out to your instructor to make up your course work.

How long can I expect to wait for an instructor to reply to an email or voice mail?

Allow two business days for a response from your professor. If you don't get hear something in that time, reach out to the Undergraduate Student Affairs office in your school or college. You can also ask your academic advisor for help.

What happens if my instructor is sick / in treatment for COVID?

Each academic unit/department has a plan to address class continuity if a faculty member can't continue the course. Another faculty member will continue teaching the course. 

If a faculty member is sick (self-isolation), in quarantine, or awaiting testing or testing results, they will not conduct classes face-to-face.

The local health department will determine if contract tracing is needed to get in touch with students in face-to-face classes. 

In general, one case (student or faculty) will not cause the entire class to be quarantined.

I’m attending Mason on the GI Bill. What’s happening with students who are current or former military?

Mason’s Office of Military Services has set up an FAQ page for members of the military, veterans, and their families and dependants.

I'm an international student still in my home country. The U.S. consular posts have been closed since March, and I have not been able to apply for an F-1 entry visa. Can I study online?

Most students can study online at Mason from anywhere in the world.

The only exceptions are students from sanctioned countries — Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and the Crimea region of Ukraine — who might not begin online study from outside the United States.

What happens if travel restrictions are imposed again, and students can’t return home at semester’s end?

There are never restrictions to prevent students from leaving the United States.

At the end of the semester, you'll need to review any travel restrictions that could limit re-entry into the United States, consider the availability of flights, and make a decision about whether to travel over winter break or to remain in the United States until the spring semester begins in January.

Are there study-abroad options for the fall, winter break, or spring 2021?

Mason is offering a variety of virtual study abroad and experiential learning opportunities with many of our partner institutions around the world for fall.

The Global Education Office intends to offer its full range of winter and spring programs and all applications are open. These programs  will be formally approved when changes to the U.S. State Department and CDC travel advisory levels allow students to travel consistent with Mason’s International Travel Policy 1134.

What are student options if they would like to stay on campus between synchronous and hybrid classes on the same day?

General seating affording physical distancing will be available for students on campus throughout the student centers, academic buildings, and Mason libraries. Individual study rooms will be available in the libraries on a reservation basis.

Will students have access to libraries, materials on hold, and study rooms?

Libraries will continue to provide expanded virtual services to promote physical distancing amid a staged opening phase.

Once the central library opens in the initial stage, only university students, faculty, and staff can come in. Requests for access to library collections and appointments for in-person services will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

For more information, go to the Mason Libraries site, and the Safe Return to Campus Library page.

Can group project teams meet in person?

Yes, as long as everyone is wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing protocols.

What are students’ options for studying or doing coursework if working at home is not possible?

General seating affording physical distancing will be available for students on campus throughout the student centers, academic buildings, and Mason libraries. Individual study rooms will be available in the libraries on a reservation basis.

Are there guidelines on taking classes remotely?

Mason's Office of Learning Services offers tips on how to be a successful remote learner.

Some Volgenau professors also have some general advice on maximizing remote studies that applies to everyone. 

Professor Melissa Broeckelman-Post, a professor in the Communications department, has recorded a video offering tips for success in virtual learning

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is offering Academic Success Workshops on such topics as:

  • Exam strategies.
  • Survival skills for finals.
  • Memory strategies.
  • Note-Taking.

Find out more on the CAPS site.