PhD in Cultural Studies

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.

CHSS Graduate Admissions is self-managed. 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 FAQs 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 or 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 of 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 stay on top of your application.

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.

Program Specific Requirements

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Additional Information

Students must already have earned a master's degree in a relevant field.

It is recommended that applicants shape their statement of interest under the guidance of a faculty mentor who is familiar with interdisciplinary cultural studies. Applicants should also be mindful of the program's areas of emphasis, which are embodied in standing Theory and Topics courses.

The required goals statement for this program should be a detailed and sophisticated statement of interest that provides an overview of the applicant’s intellectual development and proposed research topics.

The writing sample should be of academic nature (e.g., an exemplary term paper or MA thesis) uploaded online.

Demonstration of foreign language competence is not required for admission, but is required for advancement to candidacy.

Current GRE scores are required.  Scores are valid within five years of the test date.  Refer to Standardized Test Information for additional details.

The Office of Graduate Admissions, in coordination with the PhD in Cultural Studies review committee, will consider requests from admitted students to delay enrollment and have their application reconsidered for a future term.  A reconsideration is not an automatic admission and an applicant must go through admissions review again, regardless of previous decision. Offers of funding are not guaranteed for reconsiderations and are at the discretion of the program of admission.

All requests for reconsideration must be submitted using the directions in the Self-Service Center by the enrollment deadline listed in the student’s offer of admission. Reconsideration is granted only for a period of one full academic year (Ex. Fall to Fall).

For specific questions about the program, please send an email to cultural@gmu.edu or call the office at 703-993-2851. More information about the program is available on the Cultural Studies web site.

Application Deadlines

Fall Deadline: January 15

Students are admitted for fall semester only.  Priority funding consideration will be given to completed applications received by January 15. 

All applicants are strongly advised to submit applications and all supporting documents by the program's posted deadline date. Fellowships, tuition waivers, and research or teaching assistantships may be available for qualified applicants who submit by the January 15 deadline. 

Additional Requirements for

International Graduate Applicants

International students interested in pursuing graduate study must meet the following requirements:

  • Completed online application for graduate study and application fee

  • An earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, or international equivalent, verified from copies of unofficial transcripts uploaded to the online application portal.


    Note: Due to admissions deadlines, graduate students are sometimes admitted before conferral of a bachelor’s degree. Students who are awaiting conferral of the degree will be permitted to register for their first semester. However, continuance in any graduate program requires an official transcript which verifies conferral of a bachelor’s degree.


  • Copies of unofficial university transcripts from all universities attended and any earned degree uploaded to the online application portal.

  • All transcripts from colleges or universities outside the United States must be translated into English, if applicable, and submitted for evaluation to the Mason Office of Admissions. Mason will provide evaluation service free of charge for all international transcripts, however, some programs may request an outside evaluation be completed. Because of volume, more time may be needed to process applications requiring a Mason evaluation. For expedited service, students can submit their documents to a recognized U.S. evaluation service at their own expense. If you decide to use an external evaluation service or if your program requires an outside evaluation, GPA and Degree equivalences must be included with your course-by-course evaluation. The Office of Admissions has final authority on all evaluations. Evaluations are used for internal purposes and are not released to applicants. For information on international transcript requirements, refer to the submission guidelines.

  • Official GRE test scores, as required by your program sent directly to Mason from the testing agency

  • Other supplemental materials specified by your academic program such as writing samples, portfolios, or interviews

  • Verification of English language proficiency

    Proof of English Proficiency

    Students who were educated outside of the US, Canada (excluding Quebec), UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand must submit qualifying TOEFL, IELTS, or Pearson Test of English exam results. All examinations require advance registration and it could take several weeks to receive your results. It is important to register for these examinations early.

    Examinations and Scores

    The university will not accept any examination scores that are more than two years old as verification of English language proficiency.

    Minimum scores required for each exam:

    • TOEFL: 88 points, minimum of 20 points in each section
    • IELTS: 6.5 total band score
    • Pearson: minimum score of 59
  • International Student Visa Information

    • Submit the Certificate of Financial Responsibility form. The Certificate of Financial Responsibility (PDF) provides important information needed to prepare the I-20 document for your student visa. The form must be filled out completely and signed by both you and your sponsor(s). Applicants need to indicate on the Certificate of Financial Responsibility (PDF) the source(s) of the funds and the location where they would like their I-20 document mailed.

    • Submit the appropriate bank or financial support documents. Individuals (parents, brothers, uncles, etc.) listed on the Certificate of Financial Responsibility, as the source of funding for the student, should provide original bank statements. Bank statements should be dated within the past twelve months, be from an individual account and show funds that are immediately accessible and transferable. Credit card statements, business accounts, property value documents, solvency statements, statements of income, and insurance policies may not be submitted as sources of financial verification. Photocopies, faxes and scanned documents are accepted.

    • Provide a copy of the identification page of your passport. Students are required to provide a photocopy of their identification page in their passport. This ensures the accuracy of the name and date of birth listed on your I-20. The name and birth date on your application for admission must match those that are listed on the identification page of your passport. Please do not use nicknames or Western names that are not your formal given name. If the names on your admission letters, I-20 form, and passport do not match you may have difficulty during your student visa interview or when you try to enter the U.S.

    • Provide your permanent home address when you apply. Applicants requesting an I-20 must provide their permanent address in their home country even if they are currently living in the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security requires that we maintain that information in our files for all students receiving an I-20 from George Mason University.

    • Students who are currently in the U.S should submit a copy of your current I-20 form, a photocopy of your U.S. student visa and I-94 card, and a completed Transfer Form signed by you and the International Student Advisor at the school from which you are transferring.

Non-Degree Admissions

You have the option to take graduate courses in non-degree status. To apply, you must complete an online application for your intended start term and include transcripts as well as a resume. You will also be required to indicate on the application which courses you plan to take for approval during the application review process. Credits earned in non-degree status may potentially transfer to a degree program at a later date so long as it meets the program requirements and the program director approves the transfer. For information on transfer credit policies, please refer to the University Catalog.

Non-Degree Requirements

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Application deadlines for graduate non-degree coursework differ from program deadlines. For additional information on the non-degree application process and deadlines please refer to Applying for Non-Degree Graduate Study.