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 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.
Residency requirement – a predetermined proportion of the overall number of graduate credits required for a degree, which must be taken in degree status after admission. The residency 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 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:
(1) 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.
(2) 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 our institutional 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 credits required for residency; 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 Appendix A for examples of credit sharing calculations between graduate programs.) George Mason University’s residency requirements will be used in calculations for both institutions.
B. Certificate Programs – One George Mason University Certificate Program may be double-counted in its entirety within a George Mason University degree program. This is the only exception to the institutional maximum.
C. Limitation on Credit-Sharing – Credit may be shared across two programs only; credit may never be applied to three or more programs. Specifically:
i. Credit applied to an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s degree program may not be applied to a dual degree arrangement.
ii. Credit applied to a double-counted certificate/master’s degree arrangement may not be applied to a dual master’s degree arrangement.
If a student wishes to pursue an additional program, it 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 the double counting of credits, but may not allow double counting in excess of the university limit.
(3) Residency Requirement – Students must meet George Mason University’s residency requirements for the relevant degree(s).
(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 – 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.
Upon approval of this policy, the Office of the University Registrar shall develop 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.
Peter N. Stearns Date
Revision Approved: 9/12/2013
Date of most recent review: 11/9/2020