The Mason Core

The Mason Graduate is an Engaged Citizen and Well-Rounded Scholar who is Prepared to Act. The Mason Core is Mason’s general education program that builds the foundation for The Mason Graduate. The Mason Core is a set of required courses that create the foundation of your undergraduate degree. All undergraduates seeking a baccalaureate degree must complete Mason Core requirements. The Mason Core provides a breadth of liberal education courses, complementing the depth of knowledge and skills you build in their majors and minors. The Mason Core helps you become a Mason Graduate: an engaged citizen and well-rounded scholar who is prepared to act.

  • Information Technology
The Mason Core is divided into three sections: Foundation, Exploration, and Integration (formerly named Foundation, Core and Synthesis/Capstone).

Foundation courses strengthen your foundation in key knowledge and skills needed for academic success. Exploration courses provide a breadth of learning across the university. Integration courses include upper-division courses that are designed to integrate knowledge and skills learned from Foundation and Exploration courses into learning in the major. Courses in each category are guided by specific student learning outcomes that are assessed on a regular basis through the student academic experience.

For certain degrees or majors, specific courses are used to fulfill the Mason Core. Please see the Catalog and your academic advisor to understand the specific requirements for your academic program. See the table below for a list of course categories. Click on the category name to see approved courses for that category.

Mason Core SectionCourse Categories
Foundation CoursesWritten Communication--Lower Division (ENGH 101, 3 credits)
Oral Communication (3 credits)
Quantitative Reasoning (3 credits)
Information Technology and Computing (3 credits)
Exploration CoursesArts (3 credits)
Global Understanding (3 credits)
Literature (3 credits)
Natural Science (7 credits)
Social and Behavioral Science (3 credits)
Western Civilization or World History (3 credits)
Integration Courses Written Communication--Upper Division (ENGH 302, 3 credits)
Writing-Intensive (3 credits*)
Capstone or
Synthesis (3 credits)
Total: 40 credits
*Most programs include the writing-intensive course designated for the major as part of the major requirements; this course is therefore not counted towards the total required for Mason Core.

For approved Mason Core courses and accurate course descriptions please click HERE for the current catalog.


Enhancing the Mason Core

The Mason Core Committee has been discussing how to enhance our general education program to better prepare students to be scholars and citizens who thrive in a diverse, global world. Mason, situated in the American South and the namesake of a slaveholder, is one of the most diverse and globally connected universities in the world. We are uniquely positioned to confront the past and teach students how to create a more equitable future. Because recent Mason Core assessment data showed general support for the current program and structure, the Mason Core considered a limited number of enhancements to the existing program with a targeted goal of integrating diverse, anti-racist, and global perspectives in our shared educational experience. 

The Mason Core Committee considered multiple models to enhance the Mason Core over the past year. Based on extensive discussion, incorporating feedback from over 1000 members of the Mason Community, the Mason Core Committee developed this Enhanced Mason Core framework to enact over the next few years.

The Faculty Senate approved three important enhancements to the Mason Core during During the April 27 Senate meeting. These revisions are detailed below. The Senate approved the below revisions to the Mason Core. The Senate voted to review proposed changes to the Synthesis/Capstone requirement in Fall 2022. To review minutes of that the meeting, see the Faculty Senate website

Please note that implementation of any updates to the Mason Core will be phased over the next few catalog years, as appropriate.

Click here to find the slides from the April 6 Mason Core Faculty Senate meeting.

Mason Core Meetings

Currently, Mason Core meetings are scheduled to be held remotely, via Zoom. 

Members of the Mason community are welcome to attend Mason Core meetings as observers. During meetings, only members of the committee or scheduled guests are expected to participate in the meeting unless invited during a discussion period. If you wish to attend a Mason Core meeting, please email masoncor@gmu.edu from your gmu email account for the zoom information.

For information on Zoom access and use, please visit: https://its.gmu.edu/service/zoom/ 

Congratulations, Mason Core Faculty!

The results are in! We are proud to announce that over 300 faculty members scored above 4.75 out of 5 on the element “My Overall Rating of Teaching” from the Student Ratings of Instruction for Fall 2021. We know there are many ways to measure a course’s quality and impact, but this evaluation highlights the value we place on student’s perception of teaching in the Mason Core.

Mason Core classes are critical for engaging students and helping to create Mason Graduates: Well-Rounded Scholars and Engaged Citizens  who are Prepared to Act. We appreciate your college’s contribution to providing Mason Core courses. Please join me in thanking these faculty for their commitment to teaching.

Visit the Mason Core Awards page for a complete list.