Frequently Asked Questions

Undergraduate Level FAQs

Who is my academic advisor?

During your first year, every incoming student is assigned a professional advisor based on his/her major declaration.  Students who are undecided will meet with the director of undergraduate student services and advising until they ready to declare a major.  At the end of your first year, every undergraduate in SEAS is assigned a faculty advisor within their major department. The faculty advisor will become the student’s primary advisor until they graduate. Notification via email of your faculty advisor assignment will occur during the spring semester of your first year.

Additionally, continuing students can meet with their assigned professional advisor, who can assist with general policy questions and will continue to monitor their academic progress.

How do I contact my academic advisor?

Your professional advisor is located in Science and Engineering Hall Suite 2500 but the best way to contact them with quick questions is via email or during express advising hours which will be posted online each semester. For more detailed inquiries, please make an appointment with your advisors.

Faculty advisors have offices in their departments and hold regular office hours.  You can find out their office hours by contacting them directly via email or by calling the main office for the departments.  If you are not able to attend an advisor's office hours, you can arrange alternative appointment times with them via email.

Can I meet with any of the advisors within my department?

To ensure continuity of the process, students should meet with the professional advisors (in the first year) or faculty advisor (in subsequent years) to whom they have been assigned.  Only if the assigned advisor is unavailable and you have an urgent matter should you meet with another advisor within your department.  If you do so, you must inform your primary advisor as soon as possible.

How many classes do I have to take to maintain my financial aid?

To maintain federal financial aid, you must be a full-time student with at least 12 credit hours per semester. If you are receiving other institutional scholarships, you may have additional requirements.  For more information, contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance at 202-994-6620.

If I am a full-time student, what does my tuition cover?

A full-time program for a SEAS student is defined as 12-19 credit hours per semester.  A part-time program is fewer than 12 credits per semester. Additionally, any credits above 19 will incur additional costs.

Why do I have a SEAS advising hold?

Advising holds are placed on each student's account every semester before class registration.  In order to remove this hold, students must meet with their advisors to discuss appropriate classes for which to register.  At this time, students must also complete the undergraduate advising form.  After completing the form and obtaining your advisor's signature, bring the form to the Student Services Front Desk in the SEH Suite 2500 for processing.

How do I register for classes?

After removing your advising hold (as described directly above), you may register for classes online through GWeb on the day assigned to you.  Registration assignment dates are based off earned credit hours and change each semester.  For an updated schedule, you should check the Office of the Registrar's website.  After the assigned registration days have passed, general registration will be open to all students until the end of the second week of classes.

What courses should I register for?

Your curriculum depends on your major, as well as any concentrations or minors you are pursuing.  You should consult with your advisor each semester to ensure you are meeting all program requirements.  You also can discuss which specific technical electives, humanities and social sciences, and additional classes you should take.  All curriculum requirements can be found in the GW Bulletin.  Note that "recommended schedules" include the updated course numbers.  Students are encouraged to review these curricula and go to their advisors prepared with a list of potential courses based upon the curricula.

How do I add/drop a class after online registration has closed?

To add/drop a class after online registration has closed (after the first two weeks of the semester), you must use a Registration Transaction Form (RTF) and obtain the approval of the course instructor.  In order to use this form, you must do so before the fourth week of the semester ends.  Forms can be picked up from and dropped off at Student Services Front Desk in SEH Suite 2500 for the associate dean's approval.  When dropping or adding a class, be aware of the minimum and maximum credit hour limits so as not to change your status (i.e. change from full-time to part-time) and risk losing financial aid and housing.

What is the difference between a drop and a withdrawal?

You may drop a class anytime during the first four weeks of classes without academic penalty (i.e., it will not appear on your transcript).  If you want to drop a class after the end of the fourth weeks of class, it is considered a withdrawal, and the class will appear on your transcript with a grade of "W."  The last date to withdraw from a class is at the end of the eighth week of classes.

Can I take time off from GW?

Once you start your degree program, you are expected to be continuously enrolled and actively engaged in fulfilling your degree requirements during each semester of the academic year until the degree is conferred.  If you are not planning to register for any new course work at the University, you must register for continuous enrollment through either a Leave of Absence (granted for a maximum or two academic semesters).  For more information, please see the GW Bulletin or speak with your advisor.

How can I register for a Leave of Absence?

Should a degree student find it necessary to interrupt active pursuit of the degree, he or she may petition the dean for a leave of absence for a specific period of time, generally limited to one calendar year.  Consult with your advisor before you try to register for a leave of absence. Once you decide to take a leave of absence, you should get the CRN for leave of absence from Student Services Front Desk SEH Suite 2500, fill out a Continuous Enrollment/Leave of Absence Form, and return it along with a Registration Transaction Form (RTF) to Student Services Front Desk SEH Suite 2500.

Can I register for a class that is closed?

Only the instructor of the class or the department chair has the right to "add" you to a closed course and is restricted by room capacity.  If you have a compelling reason why the instructor should add you to the roster, you may contact him/her by email or in-person during office hours.  If the instructor approves, complete a Registration Transaction Form (RTF) with his/her signature or that of the department chair.  Then return the form to the Student Service Front Desk SEH Suite 2500.  Note that after the form is handed in, processing needs to occur and the class may not immediately appear in your schedule on GWeb.  If you have difficulties, please contact your professional advisor.

What's the difference between RTF-EZ and RTF?

The RTF-EZ is used for registration transactions for the current semester.  It requires the instructor's signature for registration of closed courses and courses that require permission.  Forms must be submitted in-person by the student to The registrar’s staff in Colonial Central.  It is used for: (a) registration into closed courses (not to exceed the classroom capacity); (b) courses that require permission of the instructor or department; (c) Major/Level/Class/ Degree restrictions; (d) pre-requisite waivers. You can use the RTF-EZ for registrations up until the fourth week of the semester (second week for summer); for drops/withdrawals, you can use it up until the eighth week (fourth week for summer).

For registrations beyond the fourth week of the semester (second week for summer) and for withdrawals beyond the eighth week (fourth week for summer) you must use the Registration Transaction Form (RTF). The RTF must be submitted to Tompkins 101. The RTF is used for:

  • Exceptions to academic policy
  • Time conflicts
  • Grade mode changes (pass/fail, credit/no-credit, audit)
  • Credit hour changes
  • Exceeding the maximum amount of credit hours you are permitted to take each semester
  • Registration changes made by mail or fax
  • Continuous Enrollment/Leave of Absence
  • Internship courses

Registrations beyond the fourth week of the semester (second week for summer) and for withdrawals beyond the eighth week (fourth week for summer)

Are prerequisites important?

Yes. It is crucial that you meet all prerequisites for each course for which you wish to register. Prerequisites provide knowledge essential to understanding subsequent courses.  Note that a failing grade will not fulfill the prerequisite requirement.  Prerequisites for all courses are listed in the university’s Course Bulletin.  If the prerequisite is not clear, contact the course instructor for clarification.

What are the humanities and social science requirements?

As part of each curriculum within SEAS, all students--except for B.A. Computer Science, Systems Engineering, and Applied Science & Technology majors--are required to take three humanities and three social sciences.  Furthermore, among the three courses required for each, two courses must be within the same department.  For example, a student fulfilling his humanities requirements might take two courses in history and another in religion.  A list of classes from which a student can choose courses may be found on the Humanities & Social Sciences Elective Declaration Form.  In your third or fourth year, once you have fully decided upon which courses you will take, you must fill out the Humanities & Social Sciences Electives Declaration Form available above.

Students majoring in B.A. Computer Science, Systems Engineering, or Applied Science & Technology are required to take two humanities and two social sciences.  B.A. Computer Science student must complete CS Elective & Independent Project Declaration Form BA Majors in lieu of the Humanities & Social Science Elective Declaration Form

How do AP and IB credits work?

If you have taken College Board Advanced Placement (AP) courses, the official score results must be sent to GW from The College Board.  GW's College Board Code is 5246.  A maximum of 24 credits can be applied as college credit at GW.  A list of scores required and credit given can be found on the Undergraduate AdmissionsInternational Baccalaureate (IB) course results should be sent as soon as they are available.  A list of scores required and credit given can be found on the Undergraduate Admissions website. After you receive grades for your first semester, any AP or IB credits applied will be displayed on your unofficial transcript, available through GWeb.

Which classes don't count towards graduation?

The following courses do NOT count toward your overall credits for graduation from SEAS: any Lifestyle, Sports, and Physical Activity (LSPA) courses, formerly known as Exercise and Sports Activities (EXSA) courses, and some naval science courses.  Please also note that courses that are not part of the major or minor requirements will not be counted toward graduation.

How/when do I get my grades?

Grades are available through the GWeb information system under the Student Records and Registration Menu, Student Records Information Menu tabs. These will be available approximately one to two weeks after the last final exam.

Can I retake a class?

If you receive a failing grade in a course and it is a degree requirement, you must repeat it.  Both the failing grade and the grade from the retaken course will be counted towards your GPA.  If you did not receive a failing grade but you are unhappy with your performance, you may retake the course with the approval of your advisor, but you will not receive credit towards graduation for the class taken the second time.  In other words, you can only receive credit for a class once.  In addition, the grade you received the first time you took the class will remain on your transcript along with the new grade.

Can I take a class Pass/No Pass?

SEAS students may not take required courses on the Pass/No Pass grading system. They may, however, take courses outside their regular SEAS academic program on a P/NP basis.

I'm having trouble in a class. How can I get extra help or tutoring?

Your first step should always be to contact the professor or teaching assistant (TA).  Office hours and recitations/discussions are perfect opportunities for additional practice and clarification.  All contact information for your professors and TAs is provided in the course syllabus.

In addition, SEAS offers a wide range of tutoring services for introductory courses such as chemistry, calculus, physics, and biology.  These sessions are free for SEAS students, and held multiple evenings every week.  For upper level courses, tutoring can be arranged through the department in which the course is taught.

How do I get on the Dean's Honors list?

Please refer to the University Bulletin, University Regulations section.

What is academic probation?

Please refer to the University Bulletin, University Regulations section.

What I do if I am on academic probation?

You will get an email notification if you are put on academic probation.  You should make an appointment to schedule a meeting with a professional advisor within first two weeks of semester.  Additionally, a continuing student will need to consult with their faculty advisors to finalize their schedule after the academic standing meeting with their professional advisor.  

What is academic suspension?

Please refer to the University Bulletin,  University Regulations section.

How do I take summer courses?

Summer courses may be taken either at GW or at another university/college while you are enrolled at GW.  When registering for summer courses at GW, you must have your professor fill out an Undergraduate Advising Form for the Summer term.  There are no limits on the number of summer courses you may take at GW while you are enrolled here.  Your summer course will be automatically included in your GW transcript after your complete it.

In order to take summer courses at another university/college, you must obtain prior permission.  To do so, you must provide your advisor a copy of the course description of the course to be taken along with the equivalent course at GW. 

Additionally, you must fill out the Transfer Credit Approval Form and have you’re the respective department approve it (ie. A math course is approved by the Math Department).  Note: Civil Engineering student must also receive approval from their Civil Engineering Department. After you receive approval, bring the form to the Student Services Front Desk SEH Suite 2500 for processing. 

Please review the Transfer Credit Approval Form for more details about limitation, requirements, and information on transferring credit back to GW.

How do I take courses at a Consortium School?

Students are allowed to take courses through the Consortium if the course is not offered at GW.  You must have the permission of your advisor in order to take a consortium course (a course at one of the DC-area colleges that is listed as part of the Consortium).  The student must provide course descriptions of both courses and fill out a Consortium Registration Form. Students who have their advisor's permission may also register for courses at a Consortium school when the class is full or unavailable at GW for a given semester.

Can I take graduate courses as an undergraduate degree student?

You should take courses that are required for your curriculum.  However, it is possible that your curriculum has electives for which a graduate course could apply.  It is important that all prerequisites for these courses are met.  If you take a graduate course as an undergraduate student, you will not receive graduate credit.  The exceptions to this rule apply when: (1)  you are part of the five-year integrated Bachelors/Masters program (in which two graduate courses taken during your undergraduate program are double counted); or (2) the graduate course is not counted towards your undergraduate degree.  In these cases, you may use up to six credits hours towards a graduate degree at GW.

Can I change my curriculum year, and if so, how?

Yes. The basic rule is that the student is in the curriculum year that was in effect in the academic year that the student began at GW (whether as a freshman or a transfer student).  Changes to the curriculum do not automatically apply retroactively.  However, you are allowed to change your curriculum year to a newer curriculum year (i.e. a later year curriculum - such as going from a 2009 curriculum to a 2011 curriculum).  To do this, you must complete the Major/Concentration/Advisor/Curriculum Year Update Form, get advisor approval, and submit the form to the Student Services Front Desk SEH Suite 2500.  You should note that changes to curriculum year may result in significant changes to your program of study.  All requirements of the new curriculum year must be met.

Can I change my degree or concentration, and if so, how?

Yes. You can declare your new degree and/or concentration by completing the Major/Concentration/Advisor/Curriculum Year Update Form, obtaining your advisor's approval, and submitting the form to the Student Services Front Desk SEH Suite 2500. 

Can I change my major?

Yes. You may declare a different major (within SEAS or outside SEAS).  To change your major within SEAS, you must complete the Major/Concentration/Advisor/Curriculum Year Update Form and obtain the approval of both your former advisor and an advisor in the department to which you are switching. Completed forms must be submitted to the Student Services Front Desk SEH Suite 2500.

To transfer out of SEAS, you will need to complete an internal transfer form and submit to Colonial Central.  Be sure to speak to your academic advisor about your intent.

How do I declare a second major?

To declare a second major, you must complete a Declaration of Second Major Form.  It must be approved by your advisor within SEAS and by an advisor in the department of your second major.  For example, if your second major is economics, you must get your program of study approved by advisor in the Economics Department.  To meet requirements for the second major you must complete all the courses listed in the form. Completed forms must be submitted to the Student Services Front Desk SEH Suite 2500. 

How do I declare a minor?

To declare a minor within SEAS, you must complete the Declaration of Minor Form.  To declare a minor outside of SEAS, you must complete the Declaration of Minor Form.  Both of these forms require approval from your advisor and an advisor from your minor department. Completed forms must be submitted to the Student Services Front Desk SEH Suite 2500. 

Can I waive a required course and substitute it for a different course?

A waiver may be granted if you demonstrate that you have knowledge of the material covered in the required course - an example of such a situation would be having successfully completed a more advanced course (at a prior institution or at GW).  You must provide documentation to show your prior knowledge (for example, course description and transcript if you have taken a course elsewhere that covered equivalent subject material).  Waiver of a required course requires advisor and curriculum chair approval.  You must complete the Waiver Form.  Typically, the advisor may also require you to meet with the course director and get his/her approval for the waiver.

If a course required in the curriculum is waived, the corresponding credit hours must be earned by satisfactory completion of a university level academic course.  If this substituted course is part of the required curriculum, then the grade will be used in determining the grade point average.  The course used to substitute for the required course must be approved by your advisor, and typically must be relevant to the topic of the waived course.  For example, if you get a waiver for CSCI 4541 (Network Security) because you have taken CSCI 6541 (graduate version of Network Security), then the substituted course must be in the networks or security related area such as Wireless Security of Network Defense.  You must complete the Course Substitution Form, obtain your advisor's approval.

Completed forms must be submitted to the Student Services Front Desk SEH Suite 2500. 

What is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)?

As an adult and a college student, you are protected under the provisions of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (commonly referred to as FERPA).  Consequently, your academic records are confidential and will not be shared other than anyone other than yourself and University staff who have a need to know.  If your parents wish to obtain information on your academic progress, you and your parents both must complete a statement of financial dependency, which will grant them access to your academic records.  Your parents can easily obtain the necessary form from the Office of the Registrar.  You may also provide explicit, written permission for your advisor to discuss any matter with your parents even if this form is not completed.

What is graduation pre-clearance?

In your final year, you must complete the Graduation Pre-Clearance Form and meet with your professional advisor to perform an audit of your curriculum and discuss remaining requirements necessary for you to earn your undergraduate degree.  It is essential that you complete this prior to the pre-registration period (October) so that you can plan the schedule for your final semester accordingly.

What do I need to do to graduate?

To be eligible for graduation, a student must have at least: (1) an overall GPA of 2.0; (2) an overall GPA of 2.0 for the program taken at SEAS; and (3) a GPA of 2.2 for technical courses taken in the fifth through eighth semesters.

In your final semester, you apply online via your GWeb account to graduate.  After you have completed your final semester, the Office of Undergraduate Student Services and Advising and your advisor will audit the courses you have taken.  If you meet all the requirements for your degree, you will be cleared for graduation.  Note that failure to complete this form by the deadline will result in late fees and may complicate the graduation process.

What are the Add/Drop policies?

During the registration period (before the end of the second week of classes) students may add or drop courses using GWeb. After the second week of classes and prior to the end of the fourth week, students who wish to add or drop a course must complete an RTF-EZ Form and submit the form to the Office of the Registrar in Colonial Central; forms are available on line, at deans’ offices, and in the Office of the Registrar. Adding a course after the second week requires a signature of the instructor or other authorized member of the department. After the fourth week of classes, students who wish to add or drop a course must complete a Registration Transaction Form and submit the form to their advising office.

A course dropped during the first four weeks of classes will not appear on the student’s transcript. A course dropped after the fourth week but before the end of the eighth week will be assigned a notation of W (Authorized Withdrawal).
The deadline for dropping a course without academic penalty is the end of the eighth week of classes in the fall and spring semesters. After the end of the eighth week of classes, dropping a course without academic penalty is only possible after the student presents a petition to the dean and receives written permission.

All charges for courses from which the student withdraws are subject to the refund policy listed under Fees and Financial Regulations in the GW Bulletin. Failure to withdraw by these procedures can result in an extended financial obligation and the recording of a grade of F (Failure) or a notation of Z (Unauthorized Withdrawal). 

NOTE: Please review to the University Bulletin for the most updated policy information.