Frequently Asked Questions

What's it like at GMU?

Part of the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, George Mason University is Northern Virginia's public university, serving some 30,000 students. Other interdisciplinary graduate programs on campus include International Public Affairs, Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Environmental Science and Public Policy, and the Program in Public Policy.

The University's Institute for the Arts features a world-class center for the performing arts. In addition, George Mason University participates in the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, cooperating in graduate course offerings and library facilities with American University, Catholic University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Marymount University, Trinity College and the University of Maryland.

Nearby Washington, D.C. offers students access to some of the world's great cultural institutions. Students are entitled to participate in seminars and internships and to use archives and collections available at research institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Library of Congress.

All Cultural Studies graduate classes meet in the early-late evening Monday-Thursday.  The two time slots during which Cultural Studies classes meet are 4:30-7:10 pm and 7:20-10 pm.  This accommodates students with teaching commitments during the day.  

How Can I Apply?

Consult the following documents:

Application materials should be sent to the University Admissions Office, not to the Cultural Studies Program.

For specific questions about the program, please contact us.


What degree do I need in order to apply?

Those who have earned a Master's Degree are eligible to apply to the Cultural Studies Program. You may apply to our program with any Master's Degree. However, some master's degrees may prompt the committee to suggest additional credits in the humanities and social sciences as preparation for doctoral work.


What if I don't already have a Master's Degree?

Those with only a Bachelor's Degree should apply first to one of our affiliated programs: English, History, Sociology/Anthropology, or Interdisciplinary Studies to receive an MA.  MA degree requirements and application information can be found on the site of the department or program through which the MA is offered.   Once an MA is received, one can to apply to the PhD program in Cultural Studies.  Please contact the program's Interim Director, Dr. Roger Lancaster, for information on how to proceed.

Applicants should already have a sense of his/her research interests when applying to the program. Before applying, be sure to have asked yourself the following questions, in order to determine if getting a PhD in Cultural Studies at GMU is a good fit for you: Why am I interested in this program? What are my research interests? What do I hope to gain from this program? What will I do with a PhD in Cultural Studies when I am done with this program? 

Please browse our Core Faculty and GMU Affiliated Faculty pages in order to search for any professors whose interests match yours and feel free to email the professors directly.  


When can I start?

Students are admitted for fall semester only. Complete applications, with all supporting materials, are due by January 15 (roughly seven months prior to the Fall semester).


What should I submit?

Applicants should submit: 

  • Grade transcripts from all colleges and universities previously attended

  • statement of interest, which exemplifies and contextualizes the applicant's intellectual and scholarly training and the project(s) you might wish to pursue*

  • An academic writing sample (e.g., an exemplary term paper or a selection from an MA thesis; no more than 20 pages in length)

  • Three letters of reference from academic sources 

*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.


Demonstration of foreign language competence is not required for admission, but is required for successful completion of the program.


What sources of funding are available?

The Cultural Studies Program considers all qualified applicants who meet the January 15th deadline for the research and teaching assistantships available that year. The college and the university also offer resources for incoming and current students. Please see the relevant site for the Provost's office and University Life. Finally, please also contact Mason's Office of Student Financial Aid for further information.


I am coming to GMU - Now What?

Does GMU have graduate student housing?

There are two graduate student housing options currently available.

Masonvale is located on the Fairfax campus, where the program is also located.

Beacon Hall is located at the Prince William campus in Manassas, VA, which has shuttle service to and from Fairfax.  

How else can I find housing?

The George Mason University Off-Campus Housing Service lists rentals and houseshares located near GMU.

The Washington Post lists rentals and houseshares in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

The City Paper lists rentals and houseshares in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.