Individualized Studies Concentration

Design your own master's with a mission

Become a Mason Graduate Student

All applicants for graduate study at George Mason University must meet the admission standards specified in the Admission chapter of the University Catalog.

You are responsible for submitting all required application materials by the posted deadline. Review your program's Admissions Requirements and Deadlines before you begin your application. You can also visit our Grad Admissions page for helpful hints on how best to prepare your transcripts and other Admissions materials.

Step 1: Complete and submit the online Graduate Admissions application. George Mason University requires all graduate applicants to upload all possible required supplementary materials, such as unofficial transcripts, goals statement and writing sample, at the same time you submit your application. Online applications require a non-refundable $75 application processing fee.

Step 2: Within a few days of submitting your online application, you will receive an email with your Mason G number (G#). This is a tracking number provided to all applicants that allows us to match your supporting documentation to your completed application.

Step 3: Check your application status and requirements checklist in your application portal. Initial processing takes 3 to 5 business days from the date of submission. You can use your application log-in and password to access your information throughout the application process. Graduate Admissions may send updates or notify you of issues with your application through your admissions portal, so it is best to log in periodically to monitor your application status.

Step 4: For newly admitted students, refer to the CHSS New Graduate Student webpage for tips on confirming enrollment, submitting official transcripts, registering for class and more.

The fall graduate degree seeking application opens September 15.

The spring graduate degree seeking application opens April 15.

Program Specific Requirements

College Transcripts Goals Statement GRE Portfolio Recommendation Letters Resume Writing Sample

Additional Information

The Individualized Studies concentration is reserved for students who are highly motivated and capable of working independently. Applicants to this concentration must use the application process not only to establish their qualifications and credentials, but also to design the proposed degree and demonstrate faculty support. Applicants to the Individualized Studies Concentration must submit:

  • A goals statement. The goals statement essay should express what the applicant hopes to achieve academically and/or professionally by doing an individualized degree at George Mason University and discussion of why other, relevant Mason master's programs are insufficient to achieve the applicant’s educational and professional goals. 

    The essay should display the applicant's writing ability and the background and credentials that qualify the applicant for graduate study. The essay should convey that applying to this program has been an informed and thoughtful process. 

    Applicants should append their proposed degree plan (see below) to the goals statement.

  • A degree plan appended to the goals statement. The degree plan should be devised in accordance with the Individualized Studies degree requirements in the University catalog and in consultation with the applicant’s proposed faculty advisor. Applicants should complete the Individualized Studies concentration worksheet as follows. Applicants should provide names for their proposed Disciplinary Focus and their proposed Complimentary Discipline(s). Applicants should also list the exact courses (course number and course title) they wish to take to satisfy the Disciplinary Focus (12-18 credits), their Complementary Disciplines (9-18 credits), and their Research Methods requirement (3 credits).
  • A letter of support from the applicant’s proposed faculty advisor. Prior to applying to the program, applicants to the individualized studies concentration must acquire the support of a graduate faculty member willing to serve as their advisor. This relationship may be established by taking undergraduate courses at Mason, by taking graduate courses in non‐degree status, or by contacting the graduate faculty member directly and asking them to serve as advisor. This faculty member should write a letter of recommendation that discusses both the applicant’s ability to do graduate-level work and the merits of the proposed degree plan. If applicants do not submit a letter of recommendation from their proposed Mason graduate faculty advisor, the faculty member will still be contacted about the design of the degree and their willingness to work with the student.

The University defines graduate faculty as follows:  "The graduate faculty consists of all George Mason University tenured and tenure-track faculty. Other Mason faculty members, as well as individuals from outside the university, may be appointed to the graduate faculty by the Provost for a specified duration of time."

Students should ask the faculty member with whom they plan to work if they are graduate faculty. Students should not assume that non‐graduate faculty will be appointed to the graduate faculty in order to accommodate their preferences. Applicants will be prompted to enter faculty support information (name and email) while completing the online application.

  • Additional letter of recommendation.  Letters of recommendation should speak to the applicant’s character, work ethic, academic or professional achievements, and/or preparedness for graduate study. Ideally, at least 1 of the 2 recommendations will come from someone who can speak directly to the applicant’s previous academic performance. 

  • A writing sample. The writing sample should be a formal piece of writing that demonstrates the applicant's ability to write and conduct research at the graduate level, use evidence to make an argument, cite sources, and engage in scholarly analysis. 

Prospective Students

Application Deadlines

 Fall Application Review Period: March 15-July 1

Spring Application Review Period: Oct. 15-Dec. 1

Applications submitted after the end of the review period will not be considered. All supplemental materials (transcripts and 2 letters of recommendation) must be submitted not later than 2 weeks after the end of the review period. Applications that remain incomplete after the last day to submit materials will not be considered.


Application Review Begins

Last Day to Submit an Application

Last Day to Submit Supplemental Materials

Applying for Fall

March 15

July 1

July 15

Applying for Spring

October 15

December 1

December 15

Additional Requirements for