Mason Core Requirements and Learning Outcomes

All undergraduates seeking a baccalaureate degree at George Mason University must complete the Mason Core requirements. Additional requirements for specific degree programs can be found in the University Catalog in each college or school chapter.

[ribbon toplink=”true”]Foundation Requirements[/ribbon]

Foundation requirements help ensure that students master the tools and techniques necessary to succeed in college and throughout their lives and careers. These courses emphasize skills—in writing, speaking, and working with numbers and technology—that can be applied to any major field of study and career goal.

Written Communication» Oral Communication» Quantitative Reasoning» Information Technology»

[ribbon toplink=”true”]Core Requirements[/ribbon]

Core requirements help ensure that students become acquainted with the broad range of intellectual domains that contribute to a liberal education. By experiencing subject matter and ways of knowing in a variety of fields, students will be better able to synthesize new knowledge, respond to fresh challenges, and meet the demands of a complex world.

Arts» Global Understanding» Literature» Natural Science» Social and Behavioral Sciences» Western Civilization»

[ribbon toplink=”true”]Synthesis[/ribbon](3 credits)

Learning Outcomes: 

The purpose of the synthesis course is to provide students with the opportunity to synthesize the knowledge, skills and values gained from the general education curriculum. Synthesis courses strive to expand students’ ability to master new content, think critically, and develop life-long learning skills across the disciplines. While it is not feasible to design courses that cover “all” areas of general education, synthesis courses should function as a careful alignment of disciplinary goals with a range of general education learning outcomes.

A general education synthesis course must address outcomes 1 and 2, and at least one outcome under 3. Upon completing a synthesis course, students will be able to:

  1. Communicate effectively in both oral and written forms, applying appropriate rhetorical standards (e.g., audience adaptation, language, argument, organization, evidence, etc.)
  2. Using perspectives from two or more disciplines, connect issues in a given field to wider intellectual, community or societal concerns
  3. Apply critical thinking skills to:
    1. Evaluate the quality, credibility and limitations of an argument or a solution using appropriate evidence or resources, OR,
    2. Judge the quality or value of an idea, work, or principle based on appropriate analytics and standards

Required: One approved upper-division course.

Approved Courses: ANTH 400, ARTH 394, AVT 385, 497, 498; BENG 492, 493;  BINF 354, BIOL 301, BIS 490, CEIE 490, COMM 326, 362, 454; CONF 490; CONS 490; CRIM 495, CS 306, 491; DANC 490, ECE 492, 493; ECON 309, EDCI 490, ENGH 305, EVPP 335,480; FAVS 352, FRLN 385, GAME 490, GCH 465, GEOL 420, GGS 303, 304; GOVT 490, 491; HAP 465; HIST 300, 499; IT 492, LAS 499, MATH 400, MUSI 490, NCLC 308, NURS 465, PHIL 309, 343, 377, 378, 379; PHYS 346, PROV 342, PSYC 405 (previously CHSS 313), 406, 427;  RELI 490, RUSS 353, SOCI 377, 483; SOCW 323, SOM 498, SPAN 388, SYST 495, THR 440, 496; UNIV 442

[ribbon toplink=”true”]Writing Intensive Course Requirement[/ribbon]

As part of the university’s commitment to student writers in all undergraduate programs, at least one upper-division course in each major has been designated as fulfilling the “writing intensive” (WI) requirement. While other courses in the major may require written projects, teachers of the designated WI courses will devote class time to instruction on how to complete assignments successfully, assign and grade a minimum of 3500 words, provide constructive feedback on drafts, and allow revision of at least one graded assignment. See the description of each major for the specific course or courses that fulfill the WI requirement.

Required: an approved course in the major

Approved Courses (as of Spring 2014 – most recent update)

College of Education and Human Development

Department Course Number Title
Health, Fitness, and Recreation Resources/Physical Education PHED 340 Social and Cultural Issues in Physical Education
Athletic Training/Tourism and Events Management HEAL 310 Drugs and Health


College of Health and Human Services 

Department Course Number Title
Global and Community Health GCH 465 Community Health Capstone
Health Administration and Policy HAP 465 Integration of Professional Skills and Issues
Nursing NURS 465 Examination and Health Care Issues
Social Work SOCW 471 Research in Social Work


College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department Course Number Title
Anthropology ANTH 490  Theories, Methods, and Issues II
Art History ARTH 4xx any 400 level course
Bachelor of Individualized Science BIS 390 Bachelor of Individualized Study Project
Communication COMM 300 Foundations of Public Communications
Criminology, Law, and Society CRIM 495 Capstone in Criminology, Law, and Society
Economics ECON 345 Introduction to Economics
ECON 355 Political Economy and Nonprofit Institutions
ECON 365 Topics in Economic History
ECON 435 Energy Economics
ECON 470 Economics of Regulations
English ENGH 305 Dimensions of Writing and Literature
Foreign Languages CHIN 480 Four-Year Chinese I
FREN 309 Reading and Writing Skills Development
SPAN 370 Spanish and Stylistics
Global Affairs EVPP 337 Environmental Policy Making in Developing Countries
Integrative Studies/NCC 3xx Any 300 level course
NCLC 4xx any 400 level course
History HIST 300 Introduction to Historical Method
HIST 499 Senior Seminary History
Latin American Studies LAS 499 Research Seminar in Latin American Studies
Neuroscience NEUR 410 Current Topics in Neuroscience
NEUR 411 Seminar in Neuroscience
NSCI 461 Current Topics in Neuroscience
Philosophy PHIL 421 Seminar
PHIL 422 Honors Seminar
Psychology PSYC 301 Research Methods in Psychology
PSYC 304 Principles of Learning
PSYC 309 Sensation, Perception, and Information Processing
Religious Studies RELI 420 Seminar
Russian and Eurasian Studies RUSS 302 Russian Conversation and Composition
RUSS 325 Major Russian Writers
Sociology SOCI 412 Contemporary Sociological Theory

College of Science

Department Course Number Course Name
Astronomy ASTR 402 Methods of Observational Astronomy
Atmospheric Science ** CLIM 408 Senior Research (Submission pending SCHEV approval)
Biology BIOL 308 Foundations of Ecology and Evolution
Chemistry CHEM 336 Physical Chemistry Lab I
CHEM 465 Biochemistry Lab
Earth Science GEOL 317 Geomorphology
Environmental Science BIOL 308 Foundations of Ecology and Evolution
Environmental and Sustainability Studies NCLC 334 Environmental Justice
Forensic Science FRSC 302 Forensic Bio-Trace
FRSC 304 Forensic Chemistry and Microscopy
Geography GGS 415 Seminar in Geography
Geology GEOL 317 Geomorphology
Global and Environmental Change GGS 304 Population Dimensions of Global Change
Mathematical Sciences MATH 290 Introduction to Advanced Mathematics
Biology MLAB 300 Science Writing
BIOL 435 Immunology Laboratory
Physics PHYS 407 Senior Laboratory in Modern Physics

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Department Course Number Course Name
School of Art AVT 395 Writing for Artists
Computer and Game Design GAME 332 Story Design for Computer Games
School of Dance DANC 390 Dance History: Pre-20th Century
Film and Video Studies FAVS 470 Film and Video Screenwriting
THR 482 Advanced Screenplay Workshop
School of Music MUSI 332 Music History in Society II
MUSI 438 Music History in Society, IVB, 1877-1945 (Music Technology Concentration)
Theater THR 350 Script Analysis


School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Department Course Number Course Name
Conflict Analysis and Resolution CONF 302 Culture, Identity, and Conflict


School of Management

Department Course Number Course Name
School of Management SOM 301 Business Models: A Learning by Writing Introduction


School of Policy, Government and International Affairs

Department Course Number Course Name
GOVT 490 Synthesis Seminar
GOVT 491 Honors Seminar


Volgenau Engineering School 

Department Course Number Course Name
Applied Information Technology IT 343 IT Resources Planning
Bioengineering BENG 304 Modeling and Control of Biomedical Systems
BENG 495 Bioengineering Senior Seminar II
Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering CEIE 301 Engineering and Economic Models in Civil Engineering
Computer Science CS 306 Synthesis of Ethics and Law for the Computing Professional
CS 321 Software Requirements and Design Modeling
Electrical and Computer Engineering ECE 333 Linear Electronics I
ECE 445 Computer Organization
ECE 491 Engineering Seminar
Systems Engineering and Operations Research SYST 489 Senior Seminar


Departments must submit a form to propose or change a writing-intensive course as well as a syllabus for the course(s).  The form is available at

(6 credits: 3 lower, 3 upper)

Learning Outcomes:

Students develop the ability to use written communication as a means of discovering and expressing ideas and meanings: in short, employing writing as a way of thinking. Students begin this process at the fundamental level in English 101 (100 for ESL students) and build higher-level skills in English 302. Writing will be emphasized in many courses throughout a student’s career, and at least one course in every student’s major is designated “writing intensive.”

Required: English 101 (or 100), 302 and an approved writing-intensive course in the major (see list at bottom of page).

Approved Courses: ENGH 100 or ENGH 101, ENGH 302

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(3 credits)

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will demonstrate understanding of and proficiency in constructing and delivering multiple message types.
  2. Students will understand and practice effective elements of ethical verbal and nonverbal communication.
  3. Students will develop analytical skills and critical listening skills.
  4. Students will understand the influence of culture in communication and will know how to cope with cultural differences when presenting information to an audience. Students develop the ability to use oral communication as a way of thinking and learning, as well as sharing ideas.

Required: One approved course; increased emphasis on oral communication in appropriate General Education courses.

Approved Courses: COMM 100 or COMM 101

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(3 credits)

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students are able to interpret quantitative information (i.e., formulas, graphs, tables, models, and schematics) and draw inferences from them.
  2. Given a quantitative problem, students are able to formulate the problem quantitatively and use appropriate arithmetical, algebraic, and/or statistical methods to solve the problem.
  3. Students are able to evaluate logical arguments using quantitative reasoning.
  4. Students are able to communicate and present quantitative results effectively.

Required: Math 106; or if the student has achieved an appropriate placement score on quantitative skills, one of the following: Math 108, 110, 111, 113, 115, 125 or STAT 250. (Students are assumed to have achieved satisfactory completion of the high school math required for admission.)

Approved Courses: MATH 106, MATH 108, MATH 110, MATH 111, MATH 113, MATH 115, MATH 125, STAT 250

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(3 credits)

Learning Outcomes:

Almost no area of academic, professional, or personal life is untouched by the information technology revolution. Success in college and beyond requires computer and information literacies that are flexible enough to change with a changing IT environment and adaptable to new problems and tasks.

The purpose of the information technology requirement is to ensure that students achieve an essential understanding of information technology infrastructure encompassing systems and devices; learn to make the most of the Web and other network resources; protect their digital data and devices; take advantage of latest technologies; and become more sophisticated technology users and consumers.

Courses meeting the “IT only” requirement must address learning outcomes 1 and 2, and one additional outcome. Courses meeting “IT with Ethics component” must address outcomes 1, 2, 3, and 5. Courses meeting the only IT Ethics component must address outcomes 3 and 5.

  1. Students will be able to use technology to locate, access, evaluate, and use information, and appropriately cite resources from digital/electronic media.
  2. Students will understand the core IT concepts in a range of current and emerging technologies and learn to apply appropriate technologies to a range of tasks.
  3. Students will understand many of the key ethical, legal and social issues related to information technology and how to interpret and comply with ethical principles, laws, regulations, and institutional policies.
  4. Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate, create, and collaborate effectively using state-of-the-art information technologies in multiple modalities.
  5. Students will understand the essential issues related to information security, how to take precautions and use techniques and tools to defend against computer crimes.

Required: One approved 3-credit course that meets all IT requirements, or completion of an appropriate combination of courses, proficiency exams, and modules.

Approved Courses

IT (all): ANTH 395, CDS 130, CHEM 350, CS 100, GOVT 300, HIST 390, IT 103, MUSI 259

IT (all except ethics): AVT 180, CS 112, PHYS 251, PSYC 300, PSYC 301, PSYC 372 (all three PSYC courses must be taken), SOCI 410

IT (ethics): CDS 151, CEIE 409, CS 105, ENGR 107,  IT 304, PHIL 112

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(3 credits)

Mason courses in the film making, visual and performing arts stress generative, inquiry based learning through direct aesthetic and creative experience in the studio environment. Art history courses address the intrinsic relationship of personal and cultural creativity, and the manifestation of aesthetics, visual culture and visual narrative within historical contexts.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete a course in the Arts category must meet the first learning outcome and a minimum of two of the remaining four learning outcomes:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between artistic process, and a work’s underlying concept, and where appropriate, contexts associated with the work.
  2. Identify and analyze the formal elements of a particular art form using vocabulary and critique appropriate to that form.
  3. Analyze cultural productions using standards appropriate to the form, as well as the works cultural significance and context.
  4. Analyze and interpret the content of material or performance culture through its social, historical, and personal contexts.
  5. Engage in generative artistic processes, including conception, creation, and ongoing critical analysis.

Required: One approved course

Approved Courses: ARTH 101, 102, 103, 200, 201, 203, 204, 321, 322, 324, 333, 334, 335, 340, 341, 342, 344, 345, 360, 362, 370, 372, 373, 376; AVT 103, 104, 215, 222, 232, 243, 252, 253, 262, 272; DANC 101, 119, 125, 131, 145, 161, 225, 231, 245, 301, 390, 391; ENGH 370, 372, 396; FAVS 225; GAME 100, MUSI 100, 101, 102, 107, 280, 301, 302, 380, 381, 382, 383, 384, 385, 387, 389, 485; PHIL 156; THR 101, 150, 151, 210, 230, 395, 411, 412

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(3 credits)

Learning Outcomes:

The goals of Global Understanding are accomplished through disciplinary or inter-disciplinary study with the following three learning outcomes:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of global patterns and processes;
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the interconnectedness, difference, and diversity of a global society;
  3. Explore individual and collective responsibilities within a global society through analytical, practical, or creative responses to problems or issues, using resources appropriate to the field.

Required: One approved course

Approved Courses:  ANTH 302, 304, 306, 307, 308, 309, 311, 312, 313, 316, 331, 332, 385; ARTH 319, 320, 380, 382, 383, 384, 385, 386; CEIE 100; COMM 305, 456; CRIM 405; DANC 118, 318, 418; ECON 360, 361, 362, 380, 390; ENGH 362, 366; FAVS 300; FRLN 331; GCH 205; GGS 101; GLOA 101; GOVT 132, 133; HIST 130, 251, 252, 261, 262, 271, 272, 281, 282, 328, 329, 356, 357, 358, 360, 364, 365, 387, 460, 462; JAPA 310; MSOM 305; MUSI 103, 431; PHIL 243, PSYC 379; RELI 100, 211, 212, 313, 315, 341, 374; RUSS 354; SOCI 120, 320, 332; SPAN 322, 466; SYST 202; THR 359; TOUR 210; WMST 100

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(3 credits)

Learning Outcomes: Courses must meet at least three of the five following outcomes.

  1. Students will be able to read for comprehension, detail, and nuance.
  2. Identify the specific literary qualities of language as employed in the texts they read.
  3. Analyze the ways specific literary devices contribute to the meaning of a text.
  4. Identify and evaluate the contribution of the social, political, historical, and cultural contexts in which a literary text is produced.
  5. Evaluate a critical argument in others’ writing as well as one’s own.

Required: One approved course

Approved Courses: ARAB 325, CHIN 310, 311, 325, 328; CLAS 250, 260, 340, 350, 360, 380; ENGH 201, 202, 203, 204; FREN 325, 329; FRLN 330, GERM 325, ITAL 320, 325; JAPA 340, PHIL 253, RELI 235, RUSS 325, 326, 327; SPAN 325

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(7 credits)

Learning Outcomes: 

The general education natural sciences courses engage students in scientific exploration; foster their curiosity; enhance their enthusiasm for science; and enable them to apply scientific knowledge and reasoning to personal, professional and public decision-making. Lab courses must meet all five learning outcomes. Non-lab courses must meet learning outcomes 1 through 4.

To achieve these goals, students will:

  1. Understand how scientific inquiry is based on investigation of evidence from the natural world, and that scientific knowledge and understanding:
    1. evolves based on new evidence
    2. differs from personal and cultural beliefs
  2. Recognize the scope and limits of science.
  3. Recognize and articulate the relationship between the natural sciences and society and the application of science to societal challenges (e.g., health, conservation, sustainability, energy, natural disasters, etc.).
  4. Evaluate scientific information (e.g., distinguish primary and secondary sources, assess credibility and validity of information).
  5. Participate in scientific inquiry and communicate the elements of the process, including:
    1. Making careful and systematic observations
    2. Developing and testing a hypothesis
    3. Analyzing evidence
    4. Interpreting results

Required: Two approved science courses. At least one course will have laboratory experience.

Approved Courses:

Non-Lab (3 credits):  ASTR 103, 302, CHEM 101, 102, 201, 202, CLIM 101, EVPP 201,  GEOL 134, GGS 102, NUTR 295, PHYS 106, UNIV 301

Lab (4 credits): ASTR 111, 112, 113, 114, 115; BIOL 103, 104, 213; CDS 101, 102; CHEM 103, 104, 155, 156, 211, 212, 251; CLIM 102, 111 and 112; EVPP 110, 111; GEOL 101, 102; GGS 121; PHYS 103, 104, 111 and 112, 160, 161, 243 and 244, 245 and 246, 260 and 261, 262 and 263

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(3 credits)

Learning Outcomes:

The following three learning outcomes are required goals of disciplinary or interdisciplinary courses:

  1. Explain how individuals, groups or institutions are influenced by contextual factors;
  2. Demonstrate awareness of changes in social and cultural constructs;
  3. Use appropriate methods and resources to apply social and behavioral science concepts, terminology, principles and theories in the analysis of significant human issues, past or present.

Required: One approved course

Approved Courses: AFAM 200, ANTH 114, 120, 135, 396; CONF 101, CONS 410, CRIM 100,ECON 100, 103, 104, 105; ECON 110 & 111 (must be taken together), EDUC 372, GGS 103, GOVT 101, 103, 367; HEAL 230, HIST 121, 122, LING 306, PSYC 100, 211, 231; SOCI 101, 352, 355;  SOM 100, TOUR 311, WMST 200

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(3 credits)

Learning Outcomes: Courses must meet at least three of the five following outcomes.

  1. Demonstrate familiarity with the major chronology of Western civilization or world history.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to narrate and explain long-term changes and continuities in Western civilization or world history.
  3. Identify, evaluate, and appropriately cite online and print resources.
  4. Develop multiple historical literacies by analyzing primary sources of various kinds (texts, images, music) and using these sources as evidence to support interpretation of historical events.
  5. Communicate effectively— through speech, writing, and use of digital media—their understanding of patterns, process, and themes in the history of Western civilization or the world.

Approved Course: HIST 100 or HIST 125

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