Academic Policies and Definitions
The academic policies and definitions listed below constitute some of the most frequently referenced University and school policies and guidelines, which are outlined in-depth in the University Bulletin under University Regulations or the Elliott School policies sections.
- Academic Integrity
- Academic Standing
- Consortium Registration
- Continuous Enrollment
- Capstone Course
- Credit/No Credit
- Dual Degree/Joint Degree Programs
- Elliott School Fee
- Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
- Grades & Grade Point Average (GPA)
- Incomplete Grade
- Independent Study
- Leave of Absence
- Plan of Study
- Professional Skills Course
- Repeating a Course
- Residence Requirement
- Thesis Option
- Time Restriction on Degree Completion
- Transfer Credit
- Unauthorized Withdrawal ("Z" grade)
- Undergraduate Courses
- Waiving Requirements
Academic Integrity – You must know, and make use of, all proper procedures for doing research, writing papers, and taking examinations. Acts of academic dishonesty will be prosecuted through the proper University channels.
» University Code of Academic Integrity
- You are in good standing if your cumulative GPA is above 3.0.
- If your GPA is below 3.0, consult the Bulletin for information regarding dismissal from the program.
- If you earn a grade of F, you must present cause as to why you should be permitted to remain in the program.
- If you do not maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above or receive a grade of F, you may be put on academic probation, suspended, or dismissed from the Elliott School.
Audit – Auditing a course enables you to regularly attend a course without completing coursework or examinations. No credit is awarded, however, and standard tuition rates apply. You may not retake an audited course for credit. You may not change from credit to audit status, or vice versa, after the end of the eighth week of classes during the academic year. Contact your academic advisor prior to auditing a course.
Capstone Course – Students in the MA and MIS programs must complete the relevant Capstone course for these degrees. You can learn more about your Capstone options from your program director. You will have one opportunity to retake a capstone if you fail the course. If you fail a second time, your degree will not be conferred.
The following criteria must be satisfied before you can register for a Capstone course:
- Your Plan of Study has been submitted and approved.
- You have completed or are completing 30 of the 40 required credits for the program.
- You have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- You have two or fewer incomplete grades on your transcript.
Continuous Enrollment – You must register for continuous enrollment for a semester in which you plan to pursue an off-campus academic opportunity (such as an internship, study at another institution, or the completion of incomplete coursework). Continuous enrollment status is generally limited to one academic year and must be requested one semester at a time. Contact your advisor if you wish to register for continuous enrollment, or have questions about this status. While registered for continuous enrollment, you will still have access to university resources including email, libraries, and the Learner Health and Wellness Center.
Consortium Registration – The Washington Metropolitan Area Consortium of Universities is a cooperative arrangement in post-secondary education that is designed to permit the sharing of academic resources by member institutions and to offer qualified students the opportunity to enroll at other institutions for courses not available on their own campus.
Qualified Elliott School graduate degree-seeking students have the opportunity to enroll in up to 9 credits of coursework at
- American University,
- The Catholic University of America,
- Corcoran College of Art & Design,
- Gallaudet University,
- George Mason University,
- Georgetown University,
- Howard University,
- Marymount University,
- Southeastern University,
- Trinity University,
- University of the District of Columbia, and
- University of Maryland-College Park.
Credit/No Credit – With the exception of a thesis, one-credit Capstone courses, and the MIPP seminar, courses taken to satisfy degree requirements cannot be taken under the credit/no credit grading option. You must obtain the instructor's permission to take a course under this grading option and standard tuition rates apply.
Drop/Withdrawal – You can drop a class during the designated registration period for a given semester. During the academic year, courses may be dropped through the end of the fourth week of classes. You may drop a class in GWeb through the second week of classes, after that, you must use a Registration Transaction Form .
You may withdraw from a class, and receive a grade of "W," during the designated withdrawal period during a given semester. During the academic year, the withdrawal period begins when the add/drop period ends and runs through the eighth week of classes. You must use a Registration Transaction Form to withdraw from a class. You may not withdraw in GWeb.
All drops and withdraws are subject to the refund schedule listed in the Bulletin.
Dual Degree/Joint Degree Programs – The Elliott School of International Affairs offers programs of study leading to a Master of Arts and a Juris Doctor in cooperation with the Law School; a Master of Arts and a Master of Business Administration in cooperation with the School of Business; and a Master of Arts and a Master of Public Health in cooperation with the School of Public Health and Health Services.
- Dual degree programs require admission to both schools and allows students to receive one degree prior to the completion of the second.
- Joint degree programs require students to be admitted to both schools and complete the requirements of both degrees before receiving either.
Electives – Electives are courses that do not satisfy Elliott School requirements, but which count toward the credit hour requirement for graduation. Generally, electives can be any graduate level course related to a student's interest in international affairs chosen in consultation with the program director.
Elliott School Fee – A fee of $3,600 is required of all degree-seeking students in the Elliott School. This fee is payable over four semesters (fall and spring) at $900 per semester for MA students and over two semesters (fall and spring) at $1,800 per semester for MIPP and MIS students. The entire $3,600 fee must be paid prior to graduation.
A fee of $1,800 is required for all Graduate Certificate students in the Elliott School. This fee is payable over two semesters (fall and spring) at $900 per semester. The entire $1,800 fee must be paid prior to graduation.
Students withdrawing from the Elliott School are not entitled to a refund for fees paid in prior semesters. Refunds for the semester in which a student withdraws are subject to the refund schedule in the Bulletin.
Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – FERPA is federal law prohibiting the distribution of certain student information to parties outside the University without a student's expressed written consent (this includes parents and spouses).
» More information
Grades & Grade Point Average (GPA) – The University grading system and grade point average calculation formula are listed in the Bulletin.
Holds – Holds are placed on student records by different University offices for different reasons (e.g., outstanding bills, incomplete immunization records, academic probation). A hold will prevent you from registering for classes, so you should check GWeb for holds well before registration begins. If you have a hold, contact the office that placed your hold to determine how to remove it. (GWeb lists contact information for the office that placed the hold.)
Incomplete Grade – At the option of the instructor, you may be awarded an incomplete grade if you are unable to complete the work of a course for reasons beyond your control. The instructor must be informed of, and approve of, your reasons before the date when final grades are due. You must complete the Incomplete Grade Contract in conjunction with your instructor to receive an incomplete grade.
» GW's incomplete grade policy
Independent Study – Elliott School graduate students can arrange to receive one, two, or three credits for individualized academic projects through an Independent Study. You are expected to engage in study that is supervised by a faculty advisor. Independent Study coursework must not duplicate courses that are traditionally offered at the University. The final work product must have been developed with the Independent Study faculty advisor. The faculty advisor may be any full-time GW professor; however, he/she must have knowledge of the issue or topic you will explore in the independent study.
The responsibilities for the faculty advisor include:
- Sign your Independent Study application
- Meet with you regularly during the semester
- Assign appropriate readings, review/revise the final product periodically
- Submit a grade at the end of the semester (The Elliott School will contact the faculty advisor about two weeks prior to the end of the semester to request a grade.)
- Research Paper – You must complete a research paper relevant to contemporary international affairs. The paper is to be developed over the course of the semester in conjunction with the faculty advisor. The faculty advisor has final approval on all aspects of the paper. Generally, the length of the research paper is approximately 10 pages per credit hour of the independent study.
- Readings – Decisions regarding what books and articles must be read will be negotiated by you and the faculty advisor. Faculty advisors may assign readings or they may approve readings that you suggest if they feel the content is appropriate and relevant. In addition, faculty advisors have the authority to set deadlines and assign any related work.
- Faculty/Student Meetings – The faculty advisor and student will meet regularly throughout the semester.
Internship – You may not earn credit for an internship, but you may register for a zero-credit internship course if it is required by your employer or Immigration Services. Contact the Graduate Student Career Development Office to register.
Leave of Absence – You must register for a leave of absence if you need to interrupt active pursuit of your degree for a semester. Leave of absence status is generally limited to one academic year and must be requested one semester at a time. Contact your advisor if you wish to register for leave of absence or have questions about this status. While registered for leave of absence, you will still have access to university email.
Plan of Study – The Plan of Study outlines the degree requirements for each Elliott School graduate program. You must complete a Plan of Study for your program, obtain your Program Director's signature, and submit it to your Academic Advisor by the end of your first semester of study. Failure to do so will result in an administrative hold.
Professional Skills Courses – These one-credit professional development workshops are designed to give you practical experience in your field that can be applied in the workplace. Check with your program director or academic advisor to determine which, if any, professional skills courses are appropriate for your program.
As professional skills courses operate on an eight-week schedule, as opposed to the sixteen-week semester schedule, the following rules for drops, withdrawals, and refunds apply:
- 90% refund for courses dropped after the first class meeting.
- No refund after the second class meeting.
- No "W" recorded on transcript if dropped in first two weeks.
- "W" recorded on transcript if dropped during the third week.
- No withdrawals after the third week, unless circumstances beyond a student's control inhibit his/her attendance in class.
Repeating a Course – A course may not be repeated for credit unless stated otherwise in the University Bulletin. A course taken as "audit" may not later be taken for credit. Any student who earns the grade of C in a graduate course may be asked by the Program Director to repeat the course.
Thesis Option – Many Elliott School Master's programs offer a 6 credit thesis option. (Thesis credits count as electives.) To pursue the thesis option, you must obtain approval from the Dean (through the Office of Academic Advising) and must meet the following criteria:
- A minimum GPA of 3.5 after 20 credits of graduate work;
- The subject must be approved by:
- the member of the full-time faculty under whom the thesis is to be written,
- a second member of the faculty who will serve as a reader, and
- your program director;
- You must file a copy of an approved and signed Graduate Student Thesis-Subject Approval Form with the Office of Academic Advising and Student Services.
Once the thesis proposal has been approved and submitted to the Office of Academic Advising and Student Services, you will be registered for IAFF 6998 and IAFF 6999 the subsequent semester.
IAFF 6998 and IAFF 6999 are taken for a letter grade and quality points are earned toward the your GPA.
Payment of tuition for thesis research entitles the student, during the period of registration, to the advice and direction of the thesis director and the second reader.
In case a thesis is unfinished, the student must maintain Continuous Enrollment and is allowed one calendar year to complete it. If the preparation of the thesis extends beyond the additional calendar year, the student must register again for the entire six hours of thesis credit.
Master's theses are submitted electronically by the student once the document has been approved as final by the faculty. Information and deadline dates are posted on the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) website. Formatting guidelines are included on the ETD site. The guidelines are designed to produce documents that are uniform in style, but they also allow for the particular requirements of various disciplines. The student must also submit to the Office of Academic Advising and Student Services the completed ETD Approval Form . Theses will first be sent to the Gelman Library for approval. Once approved by Gelman, the thesis will be forwarded to the Office of Academic Advising and Student Services for a final check. Students may receive instructions from Gelman or Academic Advising to make changes and upload a revised edition of their work. The student will be notified by email once the thesis has been forwarded to ProQuest/UMI.
Students will pay ProQuest/UMI directly through their on-line system. The amount charged will depend on the publishing option chosen by the student (GW recommends students choose the Open Access option in the interest of making their scholarship as accessible as possible).
Accepted theses become the property of the University. The University is to be given credit for material used in the publication of any portion of a thesis, whether as a direct quotation or as an adaptation. Master's students whose thesis research will involve human subjects should review the information on the Office of Human Research website.
Time Restriction on Degree Completion – All Elliott School graduate programs require students to complete their studies within a certain time frame. See below for your program and its corresponding time restriction.
- M.A. students must complete all degree requirements within five years of enrollment.
- MIPP, MIS, and certificate students must complete all requirements within three years of enrollment.
- Dual degree students must complete all degree requirements on each degree within five years of enrollment into each degree program.
- Joint degree students must complete all degree requirements for both degrees within six years of enrollment
Should an extension beyond the approved time be necessary, the student must submit a policy exception request for an extension through Academic Advising. If an extension is granted, the student will be required to register for courses courses or Continuous Enrollment each semester until all degree requirements have been met.
Transfer Credit – In some degree programs , you are eligible to transfer credits for approved courses from other accredited institutions, including study abroad programs. However, the number of credits that may transfer is limited by program. Check your program requirements in the Bulletin to determine how many credits you can transfer.
To transfer credit from another accredited institution and apply the credit toward your degree, you must obtain GW departmental approval, as well as approval from Academic Advising, using the Transfer Credit Approval form .
Unauthorized Withdrawal ("Z" grade) – A "Z" is an administrative notation on your transcript indicating that you were registered for, but did not attend (or attended only briefly) or complete any graded work for a course. You would likely receive this grade if you stopped attending a course without dropping or withdrawing from the course in GWeb or via a Registration Transaction Form.
Undergraduate Courses – Under special circumstances, undergraduate courses numbered 2000-4999 may be counted toward a graduate degree. Prior approval of the instructor, program director, and academic advisor is required.
Each program limits the number of undergraduate hours that may be used. In most M.A. programs students may count a maximum of six credit hours of foreign language instruction toward their degree, including 1000-level courses. Course work counted toward a bachelor's degree cannot be applied toward a master's degree.
- M.A. students: no more than nine hours of undergraduate courses.
- MIPP, MIS, and certificate students: no more than six hours of undergraduate courses.
Waiving Requirements – It is possible to waive a course or requirement based on previously completed coursework. Waivers will be considered only for courses completed within the last five years in which you earned a "B" or better. You must submit the following paperwork to Academic Advising to have your waiver request reviewed:
- A policy exception request form outlining the reasons a waiver should be considered, signed by GW faculty who teaches a similar course.
- A syllabus of the course/s completed.
- A transcript documenting completion of the course/s.