Frequently Asked Questions

Our frequently asked questions are organized into categories for easier navigation. Click on any of the category names in the list below to reveal the questions in that category. Clicking on a question will reveal the answer to that question.

Administrative

This category relates to the "bureaucratic" aspects of the program, including gaining admission, registering for classes, or filing for graduation.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The MS in Telecommunications degree was specifically designed for students who do not have an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering with a GPA above 3.0, but who would like to enter the information technology business in government, commerce, or industry positions, with a broad based understanding of telecommunications allied to specific skills in elected areas such as network, wireless, or systems engineering. As such, it concentrates on the practical aspects of telecommunications rather than on the theoretical. You would need to determine whether the broad based approach to telecommunications provided by this program fits your interests and career plans better than a traditional Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering master's degree.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Every student is different, and we try to see the whole person rather than just considering their undergraduate degree and GPA. We like students to have taken mathematics up to the Calculus I level but this is not a pre-requisite. Applicable work experience in the telecommunications industry is also valuable; prospective students are encouraged to talk with the Program Director for specific advice. Some students may have to take TCOM 575, a foundation course for the TCOM program. TCOM 575 is a graduate course, but it does not count for credit in the TCOM program.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

A non-degree student need only submit a copy of their transcript(s) rather than have an official transcript sent to Graduate Admissions under seal. Registering as a non-degree student is also cheaper and the results of the admissions process are known much more quickly. You will need, however, to apply as a degree-seeking student once you have accumulated no more than 12 credit hours as a non-degree student, if you wish to enter into the MS in Telecommunications Program as an admitted master's student.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The maximum, total number of credits that may be transfered into the MS in Telecommunications program is 12 credits. This total includes both courses taken as a non-degree student at George Mason University as well as appropriate graduate level course taken at other universities.
Graduate-level courses from universities offering ABET accredited programs may be transferred, depending on where they were taken, the grade earned in the course to be transferred, the course syllabi, and the status of the student. However, a course may only be transferred in if it will fit within the student's program of study for the MS in Telecommunications.
Assuming that courses to be transferred will be applicable within the MS in Telecommunications program, and that the grade earned in the course to be transferred is at least a B, the following rules apply: (1) Up to two courses taken from out-of-state (i.e., outside Virginia) universities may be transferred in; (2) Up to four  courses taken from UVA, VT, ODU, and VCU may be transferred in; (3) Up to four courses taken from Virginia state Universities, other than those in above, may be transferred in. However, the total number of transfered credits cannot exceed 12 credits under any circumstances.
NOTE: If a student wishes to transfer in fourthey must enter the program as regular master's students. Non-degree applicants may transfer in courses provided the total number of course credits (course(s) being taken as a non-degree student and the courses being transferred in from an outside institution) does not exceed 12. Remember that only 12 credits worth of courses may be transferred into regular status from non-degree status.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No, you must be an admitted student before you can register for a course.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes. However, each student's situation tends to be different so all such inquiries should first be made to the International Student Service in the International Programs & Services here at George Mason University ((703) 993-3964). Once the general transfer situation of the student has been clarified, they should then make application to transfer credits in the normal way (see above).

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

For a student in non-degree status, probably the best time to apply for admission in regular, degree seeking status is in the semester when you are taking courses that will bring your total number of credits to 9 or 12 in the MS in Telecommunications program. For example, if you started the first semester taking TCOM 500 and the pair TCOM 501/502 and were successful in both courses, you now have 6 credits in the program. In the next semester, whether you sign up for one 3-credit class or two 3-credit classes (bringing your overall total in the program to 9 or 12 credits, respectively), you must submit your application to enter the program as a regular master's student by the due date in that semester. If you miss the appliation deadline you will have to sit out a semester to avoid losing credits. It is possible to apply for admission in regular staus during your first semster.
HINT: Application for regular status requires three letters of recommendation. If you do not already have these, you should request such letters of recommendation from the instructors who teach you while you are a non-degree student.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Students may have up to 12 credits of courses transferred from non-degree status to degree status. Students should therefore complete their application for regular masters' degree status AND HAVE BEEN ADMITTED to the MS in Telecommunications before they begin any course that will earn them more than a total of 12 credits in their MS in Telecommunications program.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No, but a non-degree student must apply for admission to regular, degree-seeking status. Non-degree students must also bear in mind that at most 12 credits can be transfered to be applied towards the MS degree.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Apply as a non-degree student. This process is usually very quick.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

A non-degree student need only submit a copy of their transcript(s) rather than have an official transcript sent to Graduate Admissions under seal. Registering as a non-degree student is also cheaper and the results of the admissions process are known much more quickly. You will need, however, to apply as a degree-seeking student once you have accumulated no more than 12 credit hours as a non-degree student, if you wish to enter into the MS in Telecommunications Program as an admitted master's student.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Provisional status means a restriction has been placed upon your automatic movement from non-degree to regular status. You have satisfied the general requirements to move from non-degree to degree-seeking, but you have yet to remove this restriction. Your status is therefore provisional until this restriction is removed. For example, you may have been required to retake a TOEFL exam and have yet to do so. Once you have removed this restriction then you would move from Provisional to Regular Status.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No.  You need to submit a "Graduate: Change of Program or Degree Staus" form to request your status change.  If you have provided the requisite information in your application (including the formal transcripts from your previous universities and three letters of recommendation), you have earned at least a B grade from your core courses, and your overall GPA is 3.0 or better, you should be moved to regular master's status.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes. However, each student's situation tends to be different so all such inquiries should first be made to the International Student Service in the International Programs & Services here at George Mason University ((703) 993-3964). Once the general transfer situation of the student has been clarified, they should then make application to transfer credits in the normal way (see above).

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The maximum, total number of credits that may be transfered into the MS in Telecommunications program is 12 credits. This total includes both courses taken as a non-degree student at George Mason University as well as appropriate graduate level course taken at other universities.
Graduate-level courses from universities offering ABET accredited programs may be transferred, depending on where they were taken, the grade earned in the course to be transferred, the course syllabi, and the status of the student. However, a course may only be transferred in if it will fit within the student's program of study for the MS in Telecommunications.
Assuming that courses to be transferred will be applicable within the MS in Telecommunications program, and that the grade earned in the course to be transferred is at least a B, the following rules apply: (1) Up to two courses taken from out-of-state (i.e., outside Virginia) universities may be transferred in; (2) Up to four  courses taken from UVA, VT, ODU, and VCU may be transferred in; (3) Up to four courses taken from Virginia state Universities, other than those in above, may be transferred in. However, the total number of transfered credits cannot exceed 12 credits under any circumstances.
NOTE: If a student wishes to transfer in fourthey must enter the program as regular master's students. Non-degree applicants may transfer in courses provided the total number of course credits (course(s) being taken as a non-degree student and the courses being transferred in from an outside institution) does not exceed 12. Remember that only 12 credits worth of courses may be transferred into regular status from non-degree status.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

For a student in non-degree status, probably the best time to apply for admission in regular, degree seeking status is in the semester when you are taking courses that will bring your total number of credits to 9 or 12 in the MS in Telecommunications program. For example, if you started the first semester taking TCOM 500 and the pair TCOM 501/502 and were successful in both courses, you now have 6 credits in the program. In the next semester, whether you sign up for one 3-credit class or two 3-credit classes (bringing your overall total in the program to 9 or 12 credits, respectively), you must submit your application to enter the program as a regular master's student by the due date in that semester. If you miss the appliation deadline you will have to sit out a semester to avoid losing credits. It is possible to apply for admission in regular staus during your first semster.
HINT: Application for regular status requires three letters of recommendation. If you do not already have these, you should request such letters of recommendation from the instructors who teach you while you are a non-degree student.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Students may have up to 12 credits of courses transferred from non-degree status to degree status. Students should therefore complete their application for regular masters' degree status AND HAVE BEEN ADMITTED to the MS in Telecommunications before they begin any course that will earn them more than a total of 12 credits in their MS in Telecommunications program.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No, but a non-degree student must apply for admission to regular, degree-seeking status. Non-degree students must also bear in mind that at most 12 credits can be transfered to be applied towards the MS degree.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Most students find that they can handle 6 credit hours a semester without it having a serious impact on their professional careers. Taking six credit hours every fall and spring semester, but none in the summer session, means that it will be about 30 months from start to finish for the degree. Taking courses in the summer session speeds up the degree completion, but it is not recommended that students take more than one summer course per year.
All of the core courses are generally offered in the summer. If TCOM 500 is taken in the summer at the start of the MS in Telecommunications degree program, and a summer course is taken the following year, 30 credit hours can be achieved in two years (15 credit hours a year).
Independent Study courses allow students flexibility in which courses they take. (See example program plans elsewhere in the web site). Plans are in place to offer one or two Specialty Module courses in the summer, starting in 2003.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

You need to have 30 credit hours to graduate, made up of 15 credit hours from the core program and 15 credit hours from the Specialty Modules. There are a total of 18 credit hours in the core course from which students must take 15 credit hours, as follows:
Mandatory core courses
TCOM 500 (3 credit hours)
TCOM 501/502 (1.5 credit hours each, for a total of 3 credit hours)
TCOM 521 (3 credit hours)
Two of the following three core courses
LAW 181 (3 credit hours)
PUBP 726 (formerly ITRN 701) (3 credit hours)
TELE 750 (3 credit hours).

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes; students may carry six credits worth of grades below a B within their program from courses taken in the Specialty Modules and some of the core courses (LAW 181, PUBP 726, and TELE 750). However, an overall GPA of 3.0, calculated from the 30 credit hours of courses, must be earned to graduate with an MS in Telecommunications.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

You may not carry a grade below B for TCOM 500, TCOM 501, TCOM 502, and TCOM 521. However, students may carry a C grade (or a C+, B- grade) for the other core courses, LAW 181, TELE 750, and/or PUBP 726. Note that a student must maintain a GPA of 3.0 through the program to graduate. If a student obtains a grade below a B in TCOM 500, 501, 502, and/or 521, they must retake that course to achieve a B grade, or better, to graduate.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No, you must be an admitted student before you can register for a course.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes, there are. There is a window of just one week. Students should make sure that they drop or add 1.5 credit hour courses within the specified times so that they are not penalized academically or financially.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Apply as a non-degree student. This process is usually very quick.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

It is always recommended that you register for both 1.5 credit courses at the beginning of the semester. Delaying your registration for the second course until the middle of the semester may cause difficulties if the second course has filled up.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No, not if the TCOM course you took as an undergraduate was included in your undergraduate degree plan of study. However, you will NOT be expected to repeat courses you have already taken. For example, if you took a core MS in Telecommunications course as an undergraduate (e.g. TCOM 500) you will be permitted to take an elective course in its place so that your final credit count is 30. Similarly, if you took a course from a Specialty Module as an elective while an undergraduate, you will be permitted to take an elective in its place. The selection of an elective course must be approved by the Program Director.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

If your GPA is above 3.0, you may take up to two TCOM courses as an elective for your undergraduate degree. However, the TCOM courses may be reserved just for TCOM students; please check with the Program Director first. Undergraduate students are reminded that they must get their undergraduate program advisor's approval in order to use TCOM courses as electives in their BS program.

Degree Programs

This category relates to the academic aspects of the program, including program requirements, selecting courses, or graduate certificates.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Very much so! The MS in Telecommunications program is designed for working professionals in the field of telecommunications who want to advance their knowledge of telecommunications in a broad based approach that emphasizes the practical elements of telecommunications. It has been shown that experience in working within the telecommunications industry for some time, or in a position that requires the student to develop an appreciation for telecommunications products or practices, is a strong indication that the student will succeed in this program.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The MS in Telecommunications gives every student a solid foundation in all aspects of telecommunications and systems engineering, combined with telecommunications law and public policy exposure. The program also offers five Specialty Modules enabling the student to tailor the program to fit their needs: Network Technologies, Network Applications, Wireless Communications, Modeling of Telecommunications Systems, and Systems Engineering. The program is divided between coursework in the mandatory core and these elective modules.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Most students find that they can handle 6 credit hours a semester without it having a serious impact on their professional careers. Taking six credit hours every fall and spring semester, but none in the summer session, means that it will be about 30 months from start to finish for the degree. Taking courses in the summer session speeds up the degree completion, but it is not recommended that students take more than one summer course per year.
All of the core courses are generally offered in the summer. If TCOM 500 is taken in the summer at the start of the MS in Telecommunications degree program, and a summer course is taken the following year, 30 credit hours can be achieved in two years (15 credit hours a year).
Independent Study courses allow students flexibility in which courses they take. (See example program plans elsewhere in the web site). Plans are in place to offer one or two Specialty Module courses in the summer, starting in 2003.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

You need to have 30 credit hours to graduate, made up of 15 credit hours from the core program and 15 credit hours from the Specialty Modules. There are a total of 18 credit hours in the core course from which students must take 15 credit hours, as follows:
Mandatory core courses
TCOM 500 (3 credit hours)
TCOM 501/502 (1.5 credit hours each, for a total of 3 credit hours)
TCOM 521 (3 credit hours)
Two of the following three core courses
LAW 181 (3 credit hours)
PUBP 726 (formerly ITRN 701) (3 credit hours)
TELE 750 (3 credit hours).

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes, you can register for a certificate program at any time, both before you enter the program and after you are already in the program.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

You should try to develop a Specialty Module course plan that meets with your interests and those of your employer, or potential employer. To this end, we have created five Certificate Programs, which were approved on September 12th, 2001. If you would like to include a Certificate program as part of your degree program, the five Certificates are as follows:

1. Certificate in Network Technologies and Applications
2. Certificate in Wireless Communications
3. Certificate in Telecommunications Systems Modeling
4.
5.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

There are two accelerated BS/MS programs that have been approved at the present time (Feb. 2002), an accelerated BS in System Engineering/MS in TCOM and an accelerated BS in Computer Science/MS in TCOM. Accelerated BS/MS students take 6 credit hours fewer to graduate than regular masters students. Discussions are being held with other programs and universities in an attempt to widen this accelerated BS/MS program. If you want the latest information, please contact the Program Director.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

This procedure allows students to maximize the flexibility in their Specialty Module course selection. With only 15 credit hours available in the Specialty Modules, the ability to "carry forward" TCOM 501/502 into modules 1, 2, or 3 and TCOM 521 into modules 4 or 5 allows students to satisfy the minimum requirements in the Specialty Modules (i.e. 6 credit hours) and take elective courses from other modules.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No; in fact, you will most likely be prevented from doing this due to the pre-requisites for a couple of the core courses. LAW 181 requires a student to be in regular status before they can register for this course. TELE 750 requires students to have completed 18 credits before they register for that course. Most students, however, start by taking TCOM 500 and TCOM 501/502 and then mix and match between the Specialty Modules and the core courses.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

You may not carry a grade below B for TCOM 500, TCOM 501, TCOM 502, and TCOM 521. However, students may carry a C grade (or a C+, B- grade) for the other core courses, LAW 181, TELE 750, and/or PUBP 726. Note that a student must maintain a GPA of 3.0 through the program to graduate. If a student obtains a grade below a B in TCOM 500, 501, 502, and/or 521, they must retake that course to achieve a B grade, or better, to graduate.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Each case for waiver of a core course is treated individually by the Program Director. It is likely that additional courses will be added to the elective element of the core so that this situation should be less of a problem as the program evolves (see next question).

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

This procedure allows students to maximize the flexibility in their Specialty Module course selection. With only 15 credit hours available in the Specialty Modules, the ability to "carry forward" TCOM 501/502 into modules 1, 2, or 3 and TCOM 521 into modules 4 or 5 allows students to satisfy the minimum requirements in the Specialty Modules (i.e. 6 credit hours) and take elective courses from other modules.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

You should try to develop a Specialty Module course plan that meets with your interests and those of your employer, or potential employer. To this end, we have created five Certificate Programs, which were approved on September 12th, 2001. If you would like to include a Certificate program as part of your degree program, the five Certificates are as follows:

1. Certificate in Network Technologies and Applications
2. Certificate in Wireless Communications
3. Certificate in Telecommunications Systems Modeling
4.
5.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes. The intent of the program is to offer the maximum flexibility to students so that they can take those courses that interest them the most and which will help them advance their careers.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No. The Specialty Modules are designed to provide depth to your master's degree in one or two of the Specialties. A student must earn at least 6 credits from each of two modules. E.G., a minimum of 6 credit hours in Specialty Module 1 (Network technologies) and a minimum of 6 credit hours in Specialty Module 3 (Wireless Communications). Alternatively, a student might elect to take all 15 credit hours in module 5.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes. The program is flexible (please see the next question below). However, it is always advisable that you discuss your plan of study with an advisor before signing up for any courses. The program is continually being updated to reflect the needs of the field and the requirements of the students. Specific exemptions, transfer of courses, and/or requests should be filed with the Program Director for consideration.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No; in fact, you will most likely be prevented from doing this due to the pre-requisites for a couple of the core courses. LAW 181 requires a student to be in regular status before they can register for this course. TELE 750 requires students to have completed 18 credits before they register for that course. Most students, however, start by taking TCOM 500 and TCOM 501/502 and then mix and match between the Specialty Modules and the core courses.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes; students may carry six credits worth of grades below a B within their program from courses taken in the Specialty Modules and some of the core courses (LAW 181, PUBP 726, and TELE 750). However, an overall GPA of 3.0, calculated from the 30 credit hours of courses, must be earned to graduate with an MS in Telecommunications.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes. A complete suite of such courses is now available for TCOM students as follows:

TCOM 590 Selected Topics in Telecommunications
TCOM 598 Independent Study
TCOM 690 Advanced Topics in Telecommunications
TCOM 696 Independent Reading and Research
TCOM 698 Telecommunications Projects Course

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

All courses are either from 4:30 - 7:10 or 7:20 - 10:00 p.m. in the evening.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

My company will only re-imburse my course fees if I earn a grade of B or better. If I am registered as a non-degree student, my computer transcript may only show a P (for pass). How can I assure my company that I earned at least a B?

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Yes, there are. There is a window of just one week. Students should make sure that they drop or add 1.5 credit hour courses within the specified times so that they are not penalized academically or financially.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

A 1.5 credit course is a half-semester course lasting for approximately 7 weeks. The 1.5 credit course may be offered as a stand-alone course or paired with another half-semester (1.5 credit) course so that a full semester (3 credit) course results from taking two 1.5 credit courses. An example of the latter is TCOM 501 and TCOM 502, which are offered one after the other in the same semester.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

It is always recommended that you register for both 1.5 credit courses at the beginning of the semester. Delaying your registration for the second course until the middle of the semester may cause difficulties if the second course has filled up.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Very much so! Two of the four qualifying exams for the Ph.D. in Information Technology are from the TCOM program (TCOM 551 and TCOM 521) and it is always easier to take an exam soon after you have taken the course.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

No, you do not. In fact, you can register for a Ph.D. in Information Technology at the same time as you register for an MS in Telecommunications.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Students who graduate with an MS in Telecommunications degree are eligible to apply for other tertiary degrees. Their ability to enter such programs will depend, as in other Master's or Ph.D. programs, on a number of factors, such as the Grade Point Average earned within their MS in Telecommunications degree program and the alignment of the MS in Telecommunications courses with the courses proposed to be taken within the higher degree. A GPA of at least 3.5 in the MS in Telecommunications program should enable a student to move on to a Ph.D. in Information Technology at GMU or to the MBA program, here or at another university.