Policies & Procedures – Master’s Programs

Students enrolled in SEAS online programs (SEAS-OP) of study must conform to University, School, and Program requirements and regulations. Major links to GW and SEAS academic policies appear below.

Academic Integrity

All students — undergraduate, graduate, professional full time, part time, etc. — must be familiar with and abide by the provisions of the GW Code of Student Conduct.


Admission to SEAS Online programs is selective. Simply meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. No more than two favorable admission decisions will be rendered for any one person, whether the application for readmission is submitted because an applicant does not enroll in the semester admitted, or a student interrupts continuous enrollment, or a student is placed repeatedly on financial hold preventing registration. Students denied admission may reapply; unless circumstances have changed considerably, denials of admission are generally upheld on reapplication. When given admission, it is only valid to start in that semester. Admission deferrals are not permitted. If you cannot begin in the semester you were admitted, you must reapply for admission.


Live class sessions are held once a week through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. These sessions are recorded for further review and posted within a few hours of the class meeting. Attendance to these live classes is encouraged for all sessions, however it is not mandatory.

Book Policy for SEAS Online Programs

Books are provided at no additional cost to students who are in good academic and financial standing within the University each semester. The books are provided as eBooks when available, and physical copy if not. Any student who is not registered on time due to an unexplained outstanding balance or registration hold, or who requests a change to their schedule after registration, will have to purchase the book at their own cost.

Please note, we strive to provide eBooks that can be read online in their entirety. Some eBooks have restrictions such as access only while online, limitations to downloading and printing, etc.
Students always have the option to purchase their own book.

Communicating with the Office

The SEAS-OP faculty, advisors and staff guide and support distance students primarily by email. This is the most effective technology, and it is critical to distance advising. There are several reasons for this:

  • Written communication ensures that we are clear, thorough, efficient, consistent and effective so students derive the most from their educational experience.
  • Just as online study allows students to schedule school around their work and family responsibilities, email gives them the same flexibility over time and distance.
  • Email quickly and efficiently provides a record of staff and faculty communications with individual students to foster growth and understanding.
  • The office can respond most quickly in writing: Students should expect that a communication will be answered within 1 business day.
  • We can take the time needed to advise online students with the same process and methodology that we would in a face-to-face setting.

You can always reach us about our programs at: cohort@gwu.edu

Should you require immediate technical assistance from our staff, contact Technical Support:

If you have questions about GW policy specific to your program, or seek clarification of a straightforward issue, you can call:

  • SEAS Online Programs Office 833-330-1454

Graduation and Scholarship Requirements

To meet graduation requirements, online students must achieve the grades specified in the GW Bulletin for their degree. Click the links below.

GW Bulletin

The GW Bulletin provides, in one place, University and School academic regulations. Any SEAS Online Programs academic regulations that vary from those in the Bulletin or on the SEAS web site will be published on this page.

Leave of Absence

Students in an online degree program are expected to be continuously enrolled in the program until a degree is conferred. A degree student who finds it necessary to interrupt active pursuit of the degree may petition the SEAS-OP office for a leave of absence by emailing a full explanation and attaching a completed LOA form and any supporting documentation to cohort@gwu.edu. Petitions are usually answered within two work weeks.

Master’s degree seeking students are generally permitted no more than two 9-week session leaves of absence.


The SEAS-OP office processes registrations for all students directly.

  • Approximately 30 days prior to the start of each session, students will receive a registration notice. Registration notices include information on the next course in their program as well as the exact date registrations are entered.
  • On the registration date, approximately 2-3 weeks before classes begin, students in good standing are registered for classes. Book orders are placed at the time of registration.
  • Students who are registered after the published registration date, due to account holds or schedule modification requests such as adding or changing courses, will be considered late registrations. Books are not provided for late registrations.

No late registrations or schedule changes (besides drop/withdrawals, see “Withdrawals and Refunds” below) are permitted once classes begin.

Please note: At the beginning of each semester, your Academic Advisor assigns you a course. This is your Advisor-Approved course and is mandatory to take. Students have the option to Double-up if they wish to do so. Double-up courses are not substitutions for your advisor-approved courses. They are in addition to those courses. You cannot drop your original advisor-approved course and keep your Double-up course. You can only drop your optional Double-up course.

Reviewing Your Account for Holds

At least one week prior to your registration time, and again just before, you should check to make certain that you do not have any holds on your record that will prevent registration. You can find more information online at https://registrar.gwu.edu/holds


The standard schedule for online classes is:

  • Spring-1 (Jan-Mar)
  • Spring-2 (Mar-May)
  • Fall-1 (Aug-Oct)
  • Fall-2 (Oct-Dec)
    Summer sessions are optional accelerated sessions (Five weeks; two nights per week).
    Summer schedules will be communicated to all students via email. A reply is required to reserve space in a Summer course.


Students usually take 1 course per nine-week session. Students may choose to double up and take up to 2 courses in any of the standard nine week sessions. Effective Fall 2019: Students with a GPA below 3.0 will not be approved to take more than 1 course per session.

Course order is determined by advisors based on what is available each session and previous course completions. Deviation from the course recommendations is generally not permitted.

Requests to double up or for exceptions to course selection must be received by the deadline in the registration notice for that session.

Time Limits

Students in the SEAS Online master’s programs are allowed a maximum of three calendar years (for programs that require 30 credit hours for completion) and four calendar years (for programs that require 36 credit hours for completion) from the date of first registration as a degree candidate. Students who do not complete degree requirements within the allowed time will have their degree candidate status terminated. Courses taken outside the time limit will not be applied toward the degree.

Transfer of Credit

Academic credit earned at another institution will not be transferred into any online graduate program offered through the SEAS Online Programs office.

Withdrawals and Refunds

All drop or withdrawal requests must come to the SEAS Online programs office.  Please email your request to cohort@gwu.edu.

  • Students may drop from courses through the day after the second class meeting without any academic or financial penalty. After that time, students may withdraw through the day after the eighth class meeting and will receive a designation of “W” and are responsible for full tuition.
  • After the end of the week of the second class meeting, students who cannot complete a course due to medical issues may seek an incomplete with proper medical documentation.

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