SHLE Graduate Certificate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How long does it take to complete the certificate as a stand-alone program?

When taken as a stand-alone program, the certificate requires 15 credits (five 3-credit courses). Students typically take 1 or 2 courses per semester, and can also take courses over the summer.

You can complete the certificate in 1 year by taking 2 courses (6-credits) in the Fall semester and 2 courses (6-credits) in the Spring semester, as well as 1 Summer course (or any variation of that plan).

Alternatively, you could choose to take just one course per semester and one course (or no courses) in the Summer. New students have six (6) years from the date of admission to complete the graduate certificate program.

Course offerings vary by semester but generally include 2 core courses or restricted electives; in Summer, we plan to offer at least one core course or restricted elective and additional electives are typically also available.

Q2. Can the certificate be combined with other degree programs? What are the credit-sharing options?

Yes! The SHLE certificate program can taken in combination with other graduate degree programs, and credits can be shared. In some cases you can earn the certificate without needing any additional credits!

  • Students enrolled in the MA in Foreign Languages with a concentration in Spanish (any of the 3 options), can share ALL certificate courses across both programs. In other words, you can earn both the certificate AND an MA with just 30 credits!
  • Students enrolled in the MA in interdisciplinary studies program can apply 3 credits of relevant coursework to the SHLE certificate, as well as an additional 3-12 credits of SHLE coursework toward the MAIS degree (approval required; consult an advisor in advance). In other words, it may be possible to add on the certificate without needing to complete any additional credits.
  • Students enrolled in a graduate degree program in the College of Education and Human Development normally can apply 3 CEHD credits to the SHLE certificate, meaning that they only need 12 additional credits beyond their degree to earn the certificate (consult with an advisor to plan your coursework).
  • Students who wish to add the certificate to another graduate degree should consult with their primary advisor to determine how many courses can be shared across programs.

Q3. When can students begin the SHLE certificate?

The SHLE certificate welcomes new students Fall, Spring, and Summer. You can take the core and elective courses in any order.

Q4. What is the application procedure?

  • If you are already enrolled in a Mason graduate program:

You can add the SHLE certificate by completing the secondary program form and submitting it to You should consult with your graduate advisor and/or the SHLE Director to determine which courses can count towards both programs.

NOTE: You must add the certificate prior to filing your intent to graduate from your degree program.

  • If you are NOT currently a Mason student and you would like to apply for the stand-alone certificate:

Follow the instructions on the SHLE Certificate Application page and the Grad Admissions FAQs page. 

NOTE: the SHLE certificate can be completed fully online but it is listed under the “on-campus/hybrid” programs because students have the option to take one course on campus.

Deadlines for the stand-alone certificate are: Aug 1 for Fall; November 15 for Spring; and April 15 for Summer. Late applications may be accepted according to space available; email

  • If you are NOT currently a Mason student and you would like to apply for BOTH the MA and the SHLE certificate:

You should first apply for the MA in Foreign Languages, and mention your intention in your application. Once you enroll, you will add the certificate by submitting the secondary program form. All SHLE certificate courses can also count towards the MA in Foreign Languages.

Deadlines for the MA program are April 15 for Fall and November 15 for Spring. Late applications may be accepted according to space available; email

Q5. Can students in Bachelors/Accelerated Masters (BAM) programs add the SHLE certificate?

Yes! Once you transition to the MA, you can add the SHLE certificate by completing the secondary program form and submitting it to

NOTE: no course can be applied to more than two programs. For example, SPAN 502 (Hispanic Sociolinguistics) cannot be applied toward your undergraduate degree, graduate degree, and the graduate certificate. Consult with your advisor to plan your coursework.

Q8. Is it possible to enroll in individual courses without applying to the certificate program?

Yes! Students who meet the admissions requirements for non-degree students are welcome in the SHLE courses. More information is available here:

Students who take individual courses in non-degree status and subsequently apply and are admitted to the SHLE program can count a maximum of 6-credits taken in non-degree status towards the certificate.

NOTE: non-degree students who wish to apply for the certificate are not required to pay an additional application fee but they MUST complete the application procedure. Completion of non-degree coursework is not a guarantee of admission.

Q9. Can students at institutions in the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area take SHLE certificate coursework and/or earn the SHLE certificate?

Yes! Students in the Consortium are welcome to enroll in SHLE coursework, in accordance with the policies of their home institution. More information, and links to participating institutions’ policies are available here:

Mason courses taken through the Consortium are treated as courses taken at the home institution (rather than as Mason courses) and thus can only be applied to the SHLE certificate as transfer credit. A maximum of 3 credits taken at another institution (including at Mason via the Consortium) can be transferred and applied to the SHLE certificate.

Q10. Can SHLE certificate coursework be applied to degrees at other institutions?

In many cases, yes! Students already enrolled in a degree program at another institution should check with their advisor in order to seek permission in advance, and then apply to enroll at Mason as a non-degree student.

NOTE: Students enrolled in degree programs at an institution in the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area can register directly through their home institution.

Q11. Do courses in the certificate program count towards professional development or Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) requirements?

In most cases, yes! College credit is one form of professional development recognized by the Virginia Department of Education (as well as many other states) and George Mason is a regionally accredited university. Each semester credit hour is typically worth 30 professional development points, but teachers are advised to consult with their schools or districts.

More details about teacher licensure renewal in Virginia can be found here:

Q12. How much does the program cost?

Both in-state and out-of-state tuition and related fees can be found on the Student Accounts page:

NOTE: ‘regular’ CHSS tuition rates apply, rather than the ‘online program’ rates.

Q13. Are students in the SHLE certificate eligible for federal financial aid?

Students in the stand-alone certificate program are not eligible for federal financial aid. However, students simultaneously enrolled in the MA program and the certificate ARE eligible for federal aid (for more information, see:

For more information regarding grants, tuition waivers, and other merit aid, please visit

Q14. What other kinds of funding are available?

Students enrolled in an MA program in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at George Mason are eligible for MCL graduate assistantships as well as University Scholarships. If you currently teach at a public or private school in the state of Virginia, you also may be eligible to receive an educator tuition discount (to be applied to a maximum of 18 credits total). 

Q15. If a student withdraws from the MA program before graduating but completes all SHLE certificate requirements, are they still able to earn the certificate?


Q16. Can course credit earned at another institution be applied toward the certificate?

Yes! A maximum of 3 transfer credits can be applied to the stand-alone SHLE certificate even if they have already been applied toward a degree issued by another institution!

NOTE: credits already applied to a degree cannot be counted towards the MA degree.

More information about transfer credit policies is available here under “AP.6.5.3 Transfer of Credit”:

Q17. Is it possible to pursue two Mason graduate certificates at the same time?

Students may enroll in only one graduate certificate program at a time while they pursue a master’s or doctoral degree. Students that are NOT enrolled in a MA or PhD program may enroll in two graduate certificate programs at the same time. However, for each graduate certificate they must complete a minimum of 12-credits that apply only to that certificate and not to another.

Q18. What courses are offered?

Course offerings vary by semester but generally include 2 core courses or restricted electives (additional electives are typically also available). In Summer, we plan to offer at least one core course or restricted elective; additional electives are also available.

Current and planned course descriptions and schedules can be found here.

More information on the SHLE program page. Please do not hesitate to write to with any further questions!