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Frequently Asked Questions

ACCESS – Frequently Asked Questions


What is the ACCESS Program?

ACCESS is an academic program at Mason which allows international (F-1) first-year students, with English proficiency scores slightly below the minimum, to begin full academic studies at Mason. ACCESS students take regular, full-credit academic classes. ACCESS is NOT only an English proficiency program, but it does include extra outside-of-the-classroom support in order to assist students in academic courses.

What qualifications do I need for the ACCESS Program?

Do I need an SAT score?

A competitive SAT score is required for all first-year applicants. However, for ACCESS, Mason Admissions may allow this requirement to be met with an overall equivalent high school grade point average of 3.50 (B+) or higher. This decision is made by Mason Admissions during consideration of all application materials.

Do I have to be a full-time student to study in ACCESS?

Yes, both visa regulations and programmatic structure require you to be a full-time student and complete the program (and the prescribed courses) in one year’s time.

How long does it take to complete ACCESS?

ACCESS is a one-year program which begins in the Fall semester. After successful completion of ACCESS in the Spring, the student may declare a major and continue full-time study.

Who is eligible to apply for ACCESS?

Students seeking to be freshmen at Mason and who meet all of the regular freshman admissions requirements and have an acceptable TOEFL (68 or higher) or IELTS (5.5 or higher) score.

How do I apply for the ACCESS Program?

You apply directly to the freshman undergraduate program of your interest. The Mason Admissions Office will make a determination as to whether you are qualified for ACCESS and will change your major to ACCESS for your first year. You can apply online at

How are decisions made about my application?

You will be evaluated with the same methods as all students applying to the freshman class. The only difference is that you have not yet met the English language proficiency requirement. Upon successful completion of ACCESS, you will declare your major and will continue to be a full-time student at Mason.

What types of courses are included in ACCESS?

The classes in which you enroll are typical of those required of all freshmen at Mason. These courses include approximately 28 credits, most of which are general education and intensive writing courses.

What is the required of me to successfully complete the ACCESS Program?

A grade of C or higher in all courses during the ACCESS year is required. Upon successful ACCESS completion, students are considered sophomores at Mason and are fully admitted into the university (i.e., not provisional). You will meet with your advisors and register for courses. Students who do not successfully complete the ACCESS Program may be redirected to other colleges/universities.

What kind of English language support will I receive as an ACCESS student?

ACCESS students will be provided both in-class and out-of-class support.

(1)The composition course will be team-taught by one English department faculty member and one ELI faculty member.

(2)Two elective courses in the fall will be taught by a professor from the appropriate department and an ELI faculty member will be in the classroom for each meeting. Students will meet with the ELI language support faculty member for 45 minutes following each elective class meeting in order to discuss language-related questions/structures from the class meeting.

(3) ACCESS students can participate in drop-in tutoring. Tutoring will be available for a three-hour time slot one weekday afternoon and for a three-hour time slot one weekday evening. The tutor will meet with students on a first-come, first-serve basis and will work with students on language development and responding to content assignments.

If I successfully complete ACCESS, do I need to apply to Mason again?

No. You are already admitted to Mason as long as you successfully complete ACCESS. You do not need to reapply to secure your place at Mason.

How much does ACCESS cost?

The cost of ACCESS is the equivalent to the out-of-state undergraduate tuition rate (for a full-time student) plus a one-time program administration fee of $3,000. The additional money supports out-of-classroom tutoring and English language assistance. Current tuition rates can be found at the following link:

What if my TOEFL/IELTS score does not meet the requirement?

In order to be considered for ACCESS, you must score at least a 68 TOEFL IBT score or a 5.5 IELTS score. If your test score does not meet this level, students can enroll in the Mason English Language Institute.

What will the ACCESS experience be like?

The ACCESS Program will be rewarding and intense as you will be taking regular academic classes with academic faculty while also working to improve English language proficiency/awareness. Each class will be a section specifically for the ACCESS students. The students in the ACCESS group will go to the same classes in the Fall and to most of the same classes in the Spring. In addition, a peer tutor will be available to help ACCESS students with writing goals and class assignments.

How are the requirements for the ACCESS Program different from the requirements to enter Mason directly?

Students who apply directly to Mason need to score an 88 or higher on the TOEFL or a 6.5 or higher on the IELTS. Students who apply to the ACCESS Program need to score a 68 or higher on the TOEFL or a 5.5 or higher on the IELTS. ELI students who have not taken the TOEFL or IELTS can fulfill the proficiency requirement for application by taking the ELI ACCESS assessment test and getting recommendations from ELI instructors. All students applying to Mason need to take and score competitively on the SAT or ACT exam.

I am a transfer student. Can I apply to the ACCESS Program?

It is recommended that you speak to an Admissions Representative about your interest in joining the ACCESS Program; please email for more information.

I am a graduate student. Can I apply to the ACCESS program?

ACCESS is not for graduate students, but the Center for International Student Access does offer a similar program to graduate students called the BRIDGE English Enrichment Track (EET). Please visit for more information.

I am currently studying at the Mason English Language Institute (ELI). If I get accepted to the ACCESS program, will I still be an ELI student?

No. Students who are accepted into the ACCESS Program are no longer ELI students. The ACCESS Program is an academic program and the students take academic, credit-bearing courses in the university system. The ELI is supporting the program by providing ACCESS students with additional in-class and out-of-class language support.

Who can I contact for more information?

ELI students who are interested in applying to the ACCESS program can contact Kirsten McLagan at and consult the ELI Web site for more information. International students living overseas who are interested in the ACCESS Program can contact Jennifer Tkacz at for more information about the application process.