Dual Degree Program Arrangements
University Policy Number 3007
Categorized: Academic Policies
Related Law & Policy:
The policy governs graduate dual degree program arrangements including: 1) dual master’s; and 2) dual (secondary) master’s/doctoral program arrangements. This policy does not apply to joint degree programs, dual certificate program arrangements, or accelerated bachelor’s/master’s degree programs, except as explicitly noted. Dual doctoral program arrangements will be approved by the Associate Provost for Graduate Education as needed.
This policy applies to all George Mason University students, faculty and administrators.
Dual degree program arrangement – an academic structure in which students pursue two separate degree programs and receive two separate program completion credentials (e.g., diplomas). Normally, a dual degree program arrangement integrates two academic fields that are sufficiently related to each other to make integration practical, yet are sufficiently distinct to avoid duplication.
Joint degree program – an approved course of study in which two academic units or two academic institutions collaborate to jointly offer one program completion credential.
Institutional credits requirement – more than half of the required minimum credits for a graduate degree earned at George Mason University. The requirements for graduate degrees at George Mason University are set forth in the University Catalog.
III. POLICY STATEMENT
Dual degree program arrangements allow students to explore related fields of study simultaneously, in a cost- and time-efficient manner. Dual degree program structures may combine degree programs between individual George Mason University units, or with programs offered through other institutions. Identifying efficiencies between two related degrees supports interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary study by allowing credit to share in a “horizontal” way, and reflects a fundamentally different purpose from the “vertical” reduction of credit that can occur as a student advances through increasingly difficult levels of study.
In crafting such arrangements, University faculty and administrators shall preserve the essential academic integrity of each underlying component degree program.
Dual degree program arrangements may be established at the institutional or individual student levels and must meet each of the following requirements:
- Statement of Intent – Proposals for dual degree program arrangements must be accompanied by a written statement explaining: 1) the intellectual or pedagogical purpose behind the degree program; and 2) the academic symmetries that exist between the underlying fields of study. While dual program arrangements offer certain efficiencies in time and cost, they may not be used simply as a means for “discounting” degrees.
- Credit-Sharing Calculation – The formula set forth below shall be used to calculate the maximum number of credits that may be shared across component degree programs. George Mason University shall not engage in a dual degree program partnership in which academic credits are accounted for in excess of this maximum. Accordingly, dual degree arrangements must satisfy the following:
A. Credit-Sharing Formula: 1) begin with the number of credits required to successfully complete
Degree A; 2) subtract the number of institutional credits required; and 3) divide the remainder in half.
The resulting figure is the maximum number of credits that may be applied from Degree B to Degree A.
Repeat process, beginning with the Degree B, to determine the number of credits that may be applied
from Degree A to Degree B. (See form for examples of credit sharing calculations between graduate
programs.) George Mason University’s institutional credits requirement will be used in calculations for
both institutions in dual degree arrangements with other institutions.
B. Certificate Programs: Certificate students who satisfy the degree requirements of more than one
certificate at Mason may apply coursework from multiple certificates toward a Mason master’s or
doctoral degree program. This is the only exception to the institutional maximum number of credits that
may be shared across component degree programs.
C. Limitations on Credit-Sharing: Credit may be shared across two programs only; credit may never be
applied to three or more programs.
i. Credit applied to an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s degree program shall not be applied to the
second master’s degree within a dual degree arrangement.
ii. Credit applied to a double-counted certificate/master’s degree arrangement shall not be applied to
the second master’s degree within a dual degree arrangement.
iii. Reserve graduate credit shall not be applied to the second master’s degree within a dual degree
If a student wishes to pursue additional programs beyond those in their dual degree program arrangement, those additional programs must stand alone for the purpose of calculating credits.
D. Individual colleges or schools, departments, or degree program faculty may impose more stringent
limitations on credit sharing limits, but they must not allow credit-sharing in excess of the university
limitations described above.
3. Institutional Credits Requirement – Students must meet George Mason University’s institutional credits
requirement for the relevant degree(s). The institutional credits requirement is published in the University
Catalog in Academic Policy AP.6.1.5.
4. Curricular Requirement – Students must meet all curricular requirements of both programs (e.g., must
pass all comprehensive exams, practica, etc.)
5. Completed Degrees Precluded from Calculation – A dual degree arrangement may not be constructed
with a degree that has already been awarded.
6. Timing of Conferral – Students must comply with time limit to degree requirements for each degree
program as published in the University Catalog under Academic Policy AP.6. George Mason University degrees
may be conferred upon completion, or deferred, based upon student application. Post-baccalaureate
certificates, however, may only be posted after a bachelor’s degree has been earned, or concurrently.
Institutional proposals shall be approved by the Provost, following recommendation by the Graduate Council.
Proposals by individual students shall be approved by the relevant department and college administrators, in accordance with procedures and deadlines published by the Office of the University Registrar.
Specific responsibilities for oversight and approval are detailed throughout the policy.
The Office of the University Registrar shall provide a form to coordinate and document student-initiated dual degree programs, including the rationale, the primary department, the proposed curriculum and required signatures, at a minimum.
Deans and directors of college-level units are expected to ensure that their units remain in compliance with this policy. If necessary, the Provost may address non-compliance through performance reviews or other measures as appropriate.
VII. EFFECTIVE DATE
This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Provost.
VIII. FREQUENCY OF REVIEW
This policy shall be reviewed by the Graduate Council every three years, or more frequently as needed.
Carol D. Kissal
Senior Vice President, Administration and Finance
Mark R. Ginsberg
Provost and Executive Vice President
Approved: May 28, 2013
Revision Approved: September 12, 2013
Revision Approved: November 11, 2020