Experiential Learning Requirements

Experiential learning is a signature component of the Interdisciplinary Studies curriculum that encourages students to connect the classroom to the world. "Experiential learning" is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of hands-on learning such as internships, service learning, fieldwork, or consultancy, among others.

Why complete an experiential learning opportunity?

The purpose of experiential learning is to seek new challenges and experiences and to apply classroom learning to real-world problems and projects. Reasons to do experiential learning include:

  • Expanding knowledge and cultivating skills by applying classroom theories to contemporary challenges.
  • Professional networking opportunities.
  • Exploration of career opportunities.
  • The discovery of personal strengths and preferences. 
  • Fulfillment of a degree requirement or elective.

Which concentrations require experiential learning?

Four concentrations require experiential learning, and it is an elective option (as MAIS 795) for the rest. 

  • Folklore Studies: Take 3 credits of ENGH 604: Internship in Folklore.
  • Higher Education: Take 3 credits of HE 685: Practicum.
  • Social Entrepreneurship: Take 3 credits of MAIS 795: Experiential Learning.
  • Social Justice and Human Rights: Take 3 credits of MAIS 795: Experiential Learning.

How are credits determined?

Each semester, students can earn between 1 and 3 experiential learning credits. According to the Carnegie Formula, students earn 1 course credit for a minimum of 37.5-59 hours of experiential learning work (assuming 60 minutes in an hour).

On-site Hours (60 minutes per hour) Minimum of 37.5-50 Minimum of 75-100 Minimum of 112.5-150
Credits 1 2 3

When should I do experiential learning?

Since the idea behind experiential learning is to apply classroom knowledge to real-world experiences, it's best to get some of your courses under your belt to maximize what you have to offer in a professional setting. The EL course matters too. The prerequisite for MAIS 795 is 12 credits in the Interdisciplinary Studies program. 

Ideally, your experiential learning work should fall within the bounds of the regular semester, ie, it should start when classes start, and it should end when classes end. Most importantly, the work must end before the end of the semester in which you are registered for EL credits.

If taking 3 experiential learning credits at once is onerous, students may split their credits up. However, they will have to repeat the application process each time they register.

Are there limitations on experiential learning?

Students should be aware of the following concerns:

  • George Mason University does not offer credit for internships in the state of Maryland, with some exceptions regarding federal agencies.
  • The University requires experiential learning sites to be suitably insured.
  • Students must have the support of a faculty member who agrees to serve as instructor of record for their EL course.
  • Students are bound by the prerequisites associated with their EL course. 
  • All experiential learning must end on or before the last day of classes for the semester in which the student is enrolled.
  • Students may not get EL credit for doing their regular, pre-existing job. 
  • Students may not get EL credit for work they have done in the past.

How do I arrange to do experiential learning for course credit?

The process is described under Registering for Experiential Learning, where you will also find the required forms. Students should also read the MAIS Guidelines for Learning Objectives before proceeding.