Presidential Scholars

The Presidential Scholarship

The Presidential Scholarship is a program of support for incoming Doctoral students. It is intended to help Mason doctoral programs become more competitive in recruiting students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement and are committed to excellence in their field of study. This scholarship includes a 12-month Graduate Research Assistantship with a stipend of at least $31,000, 18 tuition credits (9 in the Fall and 9 in the Spring semesters), health insurance subsidy, and is renewable for up to four years.

Overview

PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLARSHIPS

  • The Office of Graduate Education will fully fund two presidential scholarships per doctoral program for four years.
  • The scholarship provides:
    • Up to a four-year Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) from August 25 through August 24 (dates for spring appointed scholars are from January 10 through August 24), and

      • This involves 20-hour-per-week research-based work requirement towards their dissertation
    • A stipend of $31,000 from August 25 through August 24 ($18,500 for spring appointed scholars), and
    • A tuition grant covering nine credit hours in the fall and nine credit hours in the spring (only 9 spring credit hours for spring appointed scholars and there is no tuition grant for any appointed scholar during the summer term), and
      • Scholar must be enrolled in nine credit hours each semester (fall and spring) of this scholarship (contact the Office of Graduate Education if this is not possible)

        • Scholars are not required to be enrolled during the summer term
      • The tuition grant will also fund the Mandatory Student Fee
    • Subsidized health insurance (provided that eligibility is met:).
  • Starting Fall 2022, every doctoral program will have the opportunity to have a third presidential scholarship under the same condition as above and the following cost-share funding model:
    • A stipend of $23,000 from August 25 through May 24 ($11,500 for spring appointed scholars)funded by the academic department/college/school, and
    • A summer stipend of $8,000 from May 25 – August 24 funded by the Office of Graduate Education, and
    • A tuition grant funded by the Office of Graduate Education, and
    • Subsidized health insurance (provided that eligibility is met:) funded by the Office of Graduate Education.
  • Starting Fall 2023, every doctoral program will have the opportunity to have a fourth presidential scholarship under the same condition and cost-share funding model as above.
  • In addition, every doctoral program will have the option to choose a 2+2 funding arrangement for each of the Presidential Scholars under the same condition as above and the following funding model:
    • A two-year Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) – years 1 and 2 - funded by the Office of Graduate Education, and
    • A two-year Graduate Assistantship (GA) – years 3 and 4 - funded by the academic department/college/school.
    • This arrangement will allow for the recruitment of scholars on a two-year cycle instead of four.
  • The term of the scholarship is up to four years renewed on a yearly basis.
  • Regardless of the funding arrangement, all Presidential Scholars will remain under the same title and funding conditions for the duration of the scholarship, assuming renewal criteria are met.
  • The scholarship is non-renewable past four years.

 

  • Scholarship restrictions:

    • The scholarship may not be used to support a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) or Graduate Professional Assistantship (GPA)
    • Students holding the Scholarship may not engage in other on- or off-campus employment (including additional assistantships), without explicit written approval from the Associate Provost for Graduate Education, Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs or equivalent, Department Chair and Program Director.
      • The maximum additional appointment for a student holding the Presidential Scholarship is 10 hours (for international students, consult OIPS for restrictions)
    • The Office of the Provost will not offer partial scholarships: if a Scholar does not consume the full four years of the scholarship, the remaining is not available for another student.
  • Tuition grant restrictions (as related to the Presidential Scholarship):
    • o Tuition grants will not be awarded for courses taken in any summer term.
    • Tuition grants may not be used for noncredit courses, undergraduate courses, or course work taken through audit.
    • The Scholar will be responsible for paying for course work taken in excess of nine credit hours in any given semester.
    • Tuition grants do not cover the new student fee, course or lab fees.
    • Scholars are required to pay full or partial tuition for courses they drop after the last day to drop with full tuition refund date.

Scholar Nomination

SCHOLAR NOMINATION

  • Each doctoral program may have up to two Presidential Scholars per academic year under the fully-funded model and add an additional scholar(s) under the cost share model.
  • Nomination requirements:
    • Incoming full-time Doctoral student
    • Justification of the merit-based process for selecting each scholar, including a program-specific written metric for degree completion and excellence
    • Commitment from academic/research mentor to guide Doctoral studies
    • Minimum GPA of 3.5 in the most recently earned degree, but exceptions can be made by the program when strong justification is provided
    • If a GRE is required by the program's admission requirements, a minimum combined math and verbal GRE score of 310 is needed on the new revised GRE scale for exams taken August 1, 2011 and beyond. Scores must have been earned within the last five years.
  • Nominations are to be submitted for a fall semester start. If a spring semester start is necessary in order to recruit a high-potential student, accommodations can be made, with restrictions*.
  • Only the Office of the Provost may award this scholarship.

 

  • Steps for nomination:

    • All nominations of eligible applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis starting February 1st and must be submitted no later than July 1stthrough the submission platform.
    • All nominations should include:

      • Doctoral program must identify one eligible applicant at a time
      • Justification of the merit-based process for selecting each scholar, including a summary description of the candidate’s achievements and qualifications for the scholarship
      • Commitment from the academic/research mentor to guide Doctoral studies
      • The student’s full name and G number
      • GRE scores and GPA(s), if appropriate
  • Each Doctoral program may choose to advise the applicant that they are being nominated for this prestigious scholarship.
  • The Associate Provost for Graduate Education will review the nomination and the notification of decision will be sent no later than one week after the nomination submission.
    • If the nomination is approved, an offer letter will be emailed to the student via all email addresses provided by the student in Banner (cc: Nomination submitter and the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS), if applicable), as quickly as possible
    • Original hard copies can be mailed to the student upon request. An address and phone number must be provided
  • Nominees are granted a maximum of three weeks to respond to the offer letter (exact date will be specified). - Council of Graduate Schools deadline – April 15, then 3 weeks
  • If the nominee declines the scholarship in writing (or via email), another nomination may be submitted, provided that it is received by the July 1 deadline noted above.

 

Processing the Scholarship

PROCESSING THE SCHOLARSHIP

Necessary steps:

  • Scholar returns the signed offer letter (via traditional mail or email) to the Office of the Provost within the time-frame specified on the offer letter.

    • The Office of the Provost will email the Scholar to confirm receipt, the nomination submitter will be cc’d as notification of the acceptance of the scholarship.
  • The academic unit’s Graduate Admissions Office must “accept” the student in Banner as quickly as possible.
  • Scholars must complete the hiring paperwork through the HR onboarding system for the assistantship. An email will be sent with information on how to go about completing this process. See Graduate Student Hiring and Support Guidelines on the Provost website for additional information.
  • Upon notification that hiring paperwork is complete, the Office of the Provost will:
    • Complete the Electronic Approval (EA).
    • Post the tuition grant.
    • Code eligible students for subsidized health insurance.

Scholarship Expectations and Renewal

SCHOLARSHIP EXPECTATIONS AND RENEWAL

  • Under the guidance of their research mentor, each scholar must submit a yearly progress report by June 1, summarizing all curricular, research and scholarly activities aligned with their doctoral studies.
  • Scholars are expected to conduct research or work aligned with their Doctoral degree over each summer.
  • Scholars are expected to present their research at the annual summer celebration or showcase event for Presidential Scholars.
  • Scholars are expected to participate in the Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference during their second year in the scholarship program and every year thereafter until completion of the scholarship.
  • Scholars who have advanced to candidacy are required to participate in the annual Three Minute Thesis ®competition given in conjunction with the Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference.
  • Scholars do not have to request the renewal of their scholarship.
  • Renewal requirements (verified after spring semester by the Office of the Provost):
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.5 (GPA’s will be checked at the end of each semester)
    • Departmental support for the renewal based on a program-specific written metric for degree completion and excellence
    • Renewal letters must be sent to the Office of the Provost by June 15.
    • Renewal letters will be emailed to students from the Office of the Provost between June 16 – July 1.
  • Local academic units must notify the student and the Office of the Provost if a scholar is not eligible for renewal by June 15.
  • Students found not to be eligible for renewal by their local academic unit will have one level of appeal available to the Associate Provost for Graduate Education up to five business days following notification.
  • The Office of the Provost will distribute a renewal letter prior to the fall semester each year of the scholarship. Each letter must be signed and returned within the time frame specified on the offer letter.

Additional Information

SCHOLARSHIP TERMINATION:

  • Scholars desiring to terminate their scholarship should speak with their advisors. If it is decided that the student will terminate his/her Presidential Scholarship, notify the Office of Graduate Education (via email: geaward@gmu.edu).
  • Scholars in noncompliance of the terms outlined within the offer letter are subject to scholarship termination (initiated by the Office of the Provost).

SPRING APPOINTED SCHOLAR RESTRICTIONS:

  • The Office of the Provost will only support the student for seven semesters (Spring plus three years). This decision will likely have implications on the program’s recruitment schedule. Please contact the Office of Graduate Education (geaward@gmu.edu) with questions.