Virtual Winter Orientation: International Students

ATTENTION: Winter Orientation sessions have now ended. Information about the Summer 2021 Orientation program will be available soon. Questions? Contact New Student and Family Programs at or 703-993-2475.

Welcome to George Mason University
! The International Student Orientation program is designed to help transition new international students to the institution and expose them to the broad educational opportunities at George Mason University.   

With the health and safety of  the university community being paramount and the consideration of local, state, and federal guidance surrounding COVID-19, George Mason has made the decision to keep orientation programs virtual for Spring 2021. 

New Student and Family Programs and the Office of International Programs and Services are committed to providing new international students with a high-quality virtual orientation experience to provide timely and relevant information that is also easily accessible.

All specific information surrounding the virtual orientation experience, gaining access to systems, and instructions on how to navigate those systems will be sent to students directly via e-mail after registering.  

Instead of a daylong program that is tied to a specific day, the virtual orientation program is divided into four (4) parts after registering for orientation. More information on each can be found below:
Step 1: Pre-Orientation Modules
  • Complete Patriot Preview – a set of online modules that provides brief overviews on topics including preparing for academic advising, course registration, paying for college, navigating campus, enhancing academic success, student life at Mason, personal well-being and safety, and other logistics of being a new student at Mason.    
  • Students will gain access to Patriot Preview starting on November 2nd.
  • Students should complete these modules at their earliest convenience, but prior to the start of the semester.
Step 2: Academic Advising and Course Registration
  • After registering for orientation, academic advising and course registration is available to freshman and transfer international students beginning on November 15th through the academic College/School they are majoring in at Mason. To meet with an academic advisor, students need to complete the online request form starting on November 15th 
    • If international students are a part of the China 1-2-1 program, Global Exchange program, Mason Korea program, or INTO Mason program, specific directions on the process for academic advising and course registration will come directly from their respective program. 
      • For more information, students should contact their specific program.
  • Additionally, students should watch the College 101 presentation of the college they intend to major in before their academic advising appointment.

Step 3: Virtual Orientation Course in Blackboard

Access Information

  • Students will participate in a virtual orientation session via Blackboard, the university’s learning management tool. Access will be granted to the Blackboard system starting on December 4th by 5pm EST.
  • If a student signs up for orientation after December 4th, access will be granted to the Blackboard system within 5 business days of registering.
  • Students will receive an email once they have been added and granted access to the Blackboard Virtual Orientation course.
    • If international students are a part of the China 1-2-1 program, Global Exchange program, Mason Korea program, or INTO Mason program, you will receive information from the Office of International Programs and Services on January 4th.

Orientation Course Structure

  • For an outline of the Blackboard Virtual International Student Orientation structure, click here.

Required Virtual Orientation Course Components 

  • Once in Blackboard, students should complete the following sections as soon as they received access.
    • Welcome to Virtual Orientation – an overview of orientation and how to use Blackboard
    • REQUIRED Orientation Presentations – a series of pre-recorded, mandatory presentations on the most important transition information for new students
      • Each presentation will have a small quiz at the end to test a students’ knowledge of the content shared in the video and signify completion.
    • Learning More About Your Academic College – important overview of college-specific information

Additional Virtual Orientation Content in Blackboard (optional, view if and when desired)

  • Important Campus Resource Videos section – Six categories of videos sharing information about relevant campus resources for new students
  • New Student FAQs section – One-stop-shop of all Mason webpages frequently visited by new students, curated by current students
  • Blackboard Troubleshooting section – An easy troubleshooting guide for the most common Blackboard user issues
  • NEW: Navigating Mason During COVID-19 – Serve as a hub for information and resources to help students navigate Mason while living through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

Final Important Notes

    • If information shared throughout orientation is altered or updated in relation to COVID-19, additional content will be added to each student’s Blackboard course as needed. Be sure to check e-mail regularly for university and additional orientation information during this unprecedented time.  
    • Students’ Virtual Orientation course stays in Blackboard for the remainder of their collegiate experience and can be referred back to at any time.
    • More information specific to the transition as an international student may also be provided by the Office of International Programs and Services. 
Step 4: Mandatory Immigration and Compliance Meeting
  • At the beginning of the year, students will receive another e-mail from the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) with information about a MANDATORY Immigration and Compliance Meeting that they will provide to incoming students. 
  • This live virtual presentation is slated to be on Monday, January 11, 2021 at 9:30AM EST for F-1 undergraduate students. Information on a J-1 student session will be communicated via e-mail by OIPS. 
Additional Information
  • Check out the 2020-2021 Orientation Guide for comprehensive information about the university and new student resources! 
  • There will be optional Winter Orientation Student Events where Spring 2021 Orientation participants can join the Patriot Leaders to connect with other new students and learn about how to navigate this “new normal” as an incoming Mason student. Events will be on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 and Friday, January 15, 2021. Information can be found on Mason360, GMU’s student engagement platform.
  • Welcome2Mason is a series of programs and events for all students that they can pick based on their personal interests. These university and student organization led events give students the opportunity to learn how to get more involved virtually and on-campus, as well as build connections with other Mason students.  
    • Due to COVID-19, most of this programming will be virtual, but smaller/socially-distanced events may still take place in-person. 
  • For families, New Student and Family Programs has curated a Family Orientation website that provides mirrored information of student content, but from a family lens. Families can also take part in our Spring Family Kick-Off that will take place on Tuesday, January 19th. More information about both opportunities can be found on the Orientation website.
  • Connect with us on social media using #Welcome2Mason and follow our Instagram (@MasonNSFP) and Facebook (Orientation@Mason)! We will be sharing useful tips about Mason and a student’s first year! 
Orientation Checklists

For a full list of items to complete before Orientation, click here. 

For a full list of items to complete before the semester begins, click here.

Need Assistance?

To troubleshoot an issue in Blackboard, click here.

For questions about international student tasks and servicescontact the Office of International Programs and Services by e-mailing or calling 703-993-2970.