George Mason University Admissions

SAT Scores, Acceptance Rate, Financial Aid, and More

George Mason University
George Mason University. Ron Cogswell / Flickr

Despite a high 81 percent acceptance rate, admissions at GMU is selective. Admitted students tend to have both grades and standardized test scores that are above average. Students can apply using either the Common Application or George Mason's own application. The university requires SAT or ACT scores, a counselor recommendation, and information about extracurricular activities. An essay and teacher recommendation are strongly encouraged.

Why George Mason University?

  • Location: Fairfax, Virginia
  • Campus Features: George Mason's 677-acre main campus is situated just 15 miles from Washington, D.C., giving students easy access to professional and cultural opportunities.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 16:1
  • Athletics: The George Mason Patriots compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference.
  • Highlights: GMU wins high marks for its value. The university has been expanding rapidly in recent decades, and it has topped the list of "Up-and-Coming Schools" in U.S. News World Report. Students can choose from over 350 clubs and organizations.

George Mason Admissions Statistics 2017-18

For students who entered GMU in the 2017-18 academic year, the university's acceptrance rate was 81 percent. SAT scores and ACT scores for admitted students are presented below organized by score percentile.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 560 650
Math 540 640
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

An average SAT score is a little over 500 for each section, so it's clear that the great majority of GMU students have scores that are at least a little above average. If you compare SAT scores for Virginia's top colleges, you'll see that the scores for GMU are roughly in the middle of the range.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 24 31
Math 23 28
Composite 24 30

An average ACT score is a 21, so as with the SAT, George Mason students tend to earn above average test scores. Note that the SAT is far more popular than the ACT among GMU applicants, but the admissions office accepts either exam.

George Mason University GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Graph

George Mason University GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data for admission
George Mason University GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data for admission.  Graph courtesy of Cappex

The GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data in the graph was self-reported by applicants to George Mason University. Grades are unweighted. You can see the real-time graph and calculate your own chances of getting into GMU with a free account at Cappex.

Discussion of George Mason's Admissions Standards

Successful applicants will need strong grades and, in many cases, solid standardized test scores. George Mason has test-optional admissions for qualifying students who have a strong high school record. In the graph above, the blue and green dots represent accepted students. You can see a pretty clear division at a 3.0 GPA—very few students with a lower average were admitted. On the test front, most George Mason students scored 1050 or higher on the SAT (ERW+M) or 21 or higher on the ACT. Higher test scores and grades obviously improve your chances of getting an acceptance letter, and almost no students with solid "A" averages and decent SAT scores were rejected.

George Mason University rejection and waitlist data
George Mason University rejection and waitlist data.  Graph courtesy of Cappex

If we strip away the green and blue accepted student data, we see that there are a few red dots (rejected students) and yellow dots (waitlisted students) hidden behind the green and blue in the middle of the graph. Some students with grades that were on target for George Mason did not get accepted. Note also that a few students were accepted with test scores and grades a bit below the norm.

These seeming inconsistencies are the result of George Mason's holistic admissions policy. GMU takes into consideration the rigor of your high school courses, your optional personal statement (which is much like the Common Application short answer), extracurricular activities, a counselor letter of recommendation, and an optional teacher recommendation. Strengths in these non-numerical measures can help make up for less-than-ideal grades or test scores, and weaknesses can lead a seemingly qualified student to be rejected.

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 35,984 (25,010 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 50% Male / 50% Female
  • 81% Full-time

Costs (2017 - 18)

  • Tuition and Fees: $11,924 (in-state); $34,370 (out-of-state)
  • Books: $1,200 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $12,028
  • Other Expenses: $4,074
  • Total Cost: $29,226 (in-state); $51,672 (out-of-state)

George Mason University Financial Aid (2016 - 17)

  • Percentage of Students Receiving Aid: 75%
  • Percentage of Students Receiving Types of Aid
    • Grants: 61%
    • Loans: 52%
  • Average Amount of Aid
    • Grants: $8,567
    • Loans: $8,868

Academic Programs

  • Most Popular Majors: Accounting, Biology, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Economics, Engineering, English, Finance, Health Teacher Education, History, Marketing, Nursing, Political Science, Psychology, Speech and Rhetorical Studies, Visual and Performing Arts
  • What major is right for you? Sign up to take the free "My Careers and Majors Quiz" at Cappex.

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 88%
  • Transfer-out Rate: 16%
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 49%
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 71%

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: Soccer, Volleyball, Wrestling, Track and Field, Basketball, Baseball, Golf, Swimming and Diving, Cross Country
  • Women's Sports: Lacrosse, Volleyball, Tennis, Basketball, Rowing, Soccer, Swimming and Diving, Track and Field, Cross Country

If You Like George Mason University, You May Also Like These Schools

Applicants to George Mason University tend to apply to other universities in the Middle Atlantic region. Popular choices include Virginia Tech, Towson University, the University of Maryland at College Park, and Virginia Commonwealth University. All are public universities that represent excellent values for in-state applicants, but keep in mind that both Virginia Tech and Maryland are a bit more selective than George Mason.

Many George Mason applicants also consider private universities. Popular options include American University, the University of Richmond, and Georgetown University. All three schools are more selective than George Mason, especially Georgetown. These private institutions are also considerably more expensive than public options, but those price differences can disappear for students who qualify for financial aid.

Data Source: National Center for Education Statistics