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Flex-Start Program for SEAS MS Students

GW SEAS offers admitted master's degree students the ability to start their MS degree program online through the Flex-Start program. The Flex-Start program is ideal for admitted students who may be impacted by travel restrictions or visa delays.  Students who participate in the Flex-Start program will have the ability to take one, two, or three courses online during their first semester and then continue their studies in-person in Washington, DC starting the following semester (assuming they complete their courses in good academic standing and receive a valid F-1 visa prior to the start of the semester).

What quality can I expect from the Flex-Start Program?

us news best online program

Though typically known for facilities to promote research and innovation, GW SEAS is also extremely reputable when it comes to online education. GW SEAS currently ranks #14 in the country for online engineering master's programs and thus, will be able to leverage the resources already in place to provide top-quality education in an online capacity.

Who is eligible to participate in the Flex-Start Program? 

All students who have been admitted to the on-campus master's degree programs listed below for the Fall 2021 semesters, but who are experiencing some type of visa delay, travel restrictions or concerns regarding relocating to the Washington, DC area. Please click on your degree program below to learn more about the courses offered through Flex-Start for the program.

Students admitted to the MS in Biomedical Engineering program will have the ability to register to take the following courses online for the Fall 2021 semester:

  • BME 6482: Medical Measurements
  • BME 6820: Anatomy and Physiology for Engineers
  • ECE 6015: Stochastic Processes in Engineering OR ECE 6800: Computational Techniques in Electrical Engineering

For more information about these courses, please visit the GW University Bulletin.

Students admitted to the MS in Civil & Environmental Engineering program will have the ability to register to take the following courses online for the Fall 2021 semester: 

  • CE 6505: Environmental Impact Assessment
  • CE 6202: Methods of Structural Analysis
  • CE 6205: Theory of Structural Stability
  • CE 6301: Design of Reinforced Concrete Structures

For more information about these courses, please visit the GW University Bulletin.

Course information will be available soon.

Students admitted to the MS in Computer Engineering program will have the ability to register to take up to three courses for the Fall 2021 semester. A list of applicable courses will be available April 2021.

Course information will be available soon.

Students admitted to the MS Data Analytics program will have the ability to register to take the following courses for the Fall 2021 semester:

  • EMSE 6765: Data Analysis for Engineers and Scientists 
  • EMSE 6574: Programming for Analytics 
  • SEAS 6401: Data Analytics Foundations and Practicum

For more information about these courses including course descriptions, please visit the GW University Bulletin.

Students admitted to the MS in Electrical Engineering program will have the ability to register to take up to three courses for the Fall 2021 semester. A list of applicable courses will be available April 2021.

Students admitted to the MS in  Engineering Management program will have the ability to register to take the following courses online for Fall 2021 semester:

  • EMSE 6020: Decision Making with Uncertainty 
  • EMSE 6410: Survey of Finance and Engineering Economics 
  • EMSE 6574: Programming for Analytics
  • EMSE 6765: Data Analysis for Engineers and Scientists 
  • EMSE 6801: Systems Engineering I 

For more information about these courses including course descriptions, please visit the GW University Bulletin.

Students admitted to the MS Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering program will have the ability to register to take the following courses online for Fall 2021 semester: 

  • MAE 6286 - Numerical Solution Techniques in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • MAE 6243 - Advanced Mechanical Engineering Design
  • MAE 6221 - Fluid Mechanics
  • MAE 6262 - Energy Systems Analysis I

For more information about these courses including course descriptions, please visit the GW University Bulletin.

Students admitted to the MS in  Engineering Management program will have the ability to register to take the following courses online for Fall 2021 semester:

  • EMSE 6020: Decision Making with Uncertainty 
  • EMSE 6410: Survey of Finance and Engineering Economics 
  • EMSE 6574: Programming for Analytics
  • EMSE 6765: Data Analysis for Engineers and Scientists 
  • EMSE 6801: Systems Engineering I 

For more information about these courses including course descriptions, please visit the GW University Bulletin.

Students admitted to the MS in Telecommunications Engineering program will have the ability to register to take up to three courses for the Fall 2021 semester. A list of applicable courses will be available April 2021.

Students have the option of enrolling in one, two, or three courses online for the Fall 2021 semester. Students cannot enroll in more than three courses (a total of 9 credit hours) online for the Fall 2021 semester. Each program will identify courses that will be taught online and the course list will be updated below soon.

Students should review their admissions letter and contact the Office of Graduate Admissions and Student Services at [email protected] if they have any questions about the ability to complete any required prerequisite courses in the first semester.

Are online courses taught asynchronously or synchronously? 

SEAS graduate courses will be taught in a combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods. Each course instructor will have the discretion to determine the best mode of instruction in order to meet the course objectives. For example, lectures may be pre-recorded and posted, and discussions may be scheduled for synchronous participation, as well as office hours will be synchronous at different times throughout the day to accommodate students located in different time zones. 

What systems will be utilized for online instruction? 

GW utilizes Blackboard and Webex for our video conferencing tool. Classes will primarily be taught on these two platforms. The course instructor may choose to use a different platform where appropriate. For example, a class could be taught in Blackboard Ultra and office hours held via Webex or a different platform that is accessible to the student and faculty member. 

What resources are available for students who are taking courses online? 

The majority of engineering applications are available for students to download and install on personal computers. Some applications are very resource-intensive and require a powerful computer in order to work efficiently and effectively. Most applications are licensed explicitly for the use of individuals in the GW network therefore, students who wish to install these applications on their personal computers will need to use the GW VPN. SEAS also offers remote desktop access to our physical computer labs for students through the GW VPN. For those students who can not install the applications on personal computers, you will have access to our virtual computer labs that are available via any web-enabled device. 

For those students who may not have access to the GW VPN, we will provide additional information regarding platform accessibility prior to the start of the fall semester. 

For international students, we have provided the following resources to assist with online instruction: 

10 Tips for Online International Students

Teaching International Students in Online or Hybrid Context

Is there any required equipment needed in order to participate in online courses? 

A stable internet connection is the only requirement for students to effectively participate in online courses at SEAS. For any students looking to purchase a new computer or laptop for their graduate studies (even though it is not necessary), it is recommended that the laptop or computer has at least 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD, and a relatively new processor.

Do you have any other required courses listed on your admissions letter? 

If you have any specific courses listed on your admissions letter that are listed as conditions to your admission, you must register for those courses for the Fall 2021 semester unless you have received written approval from your faculty advisor that you do not have to take these courses during your first semester in the MS program.

Information for 5-year program students:

I am an incoming 5-year program student starting my MS program in the fall semester. Can I take more than 3 courses if I’m participating in the Flex-Start program?

Yes, students who are participating in the 5-year program may take up to four courses online through the Flex-Start program during the fall semester.

Information for F-1 visa-seeking international students:

The International Services Office has published a Spring 2021 International Student FAQ page that provides more in-depth information which we encourage you to review. This FAQ is based on the information we have available as of December 1 and assumes DHS COVID-19 provisions remain in place. If DHS releases new guidance, the FAQ will be updated accordingly. New information will be added as it becomes available.

I am a new F-1 visa student currently outside of the country planning to enter the United States for the Fall 2020 semester. Can I enroll in a full load of online classes while in the U.S.?

No, incoming F-1 students in new or initial status who are currently residing outside of the United States cannot enter the U.S. to pursue a full course of study that is fully online. Students in new or initial status must register for one in-person course if they plan to enter the United States for the Fall 2020 semester.

If you have an active F-1 visa and are planning on traveling to the United States for the Fall 2020 semester, you must notify the Office of Graduate Admissions & Student Services at [email protected]. We will work with you on a one-on-one basis to identify the proper in-person course for you to register for so that you can keep in compliance to maintain your F-1 visa.

I am a new F-1 transfer student for Fall 2020. Can I enroll in a full load of online classes?

If you are a transfer student who was actively enrolled at any U.S. institution since March 9, 2020 and have otherwise maintained your status, you are considered to be in continuing F-1 status and can enroll in online coursework at GW while in the U.S. with no limitation. You must arrive in the U.S. and complete the check-in process through the ISOGateway within 15 days of your program start date which is August 31, 2020. 

If you are a transfer student who plans to remain outside of the United States and are currently in initial transfer status, you must contact the International Services Office at [email protected] to arrange for a record correction with DHS when you decide to enter. The time period for correction may vary and is outside of the ISO’s control.

I don’t know yet if I will be impacted by visa delays or travel restrictions. Do I need to register for Flex-Start now?

We understand that many factors affecting your arrival in the U.S. may be last-minute and unpredictable. If you are interested in considering this option if needed for the fall semester, please just complete the required form below to receive further information. 

The deadline to opt into the Flex-Start program will be August 1, 2020. If you have not done so already, you will be required to submit your I-20 request documents, including valid financial documents, by August 15, 2020. You will still have the option to pursue your studies on-campus if circumstances allow!

Will the EAP course be offered online? 

Fall 2020 Online EAP: Students will have the opportunity to register for EAP online during the Fall 2020 semester. Students who elect to take online EAP in the fall will only be eligible to register for 2 other classes for a total of 9 credit hours of online coursework during the Fall 2020 semester.

If I am required to take EAP, will I need to take EAP during the fall semester if I participate in Flex-Start? 

SEAS will make an exception for incoming graduate students who participate in the Flex-Start program and are required to take EAP. We will extend the timeline of the condition and allow you the ability to fulfill the EAP requirement through the end of the Spring 2021 semester. This will allow those students to take EAP online during the Fall 2020 semester or take the course during the Spring 2021 semester depending on your preference. Information regarding EAP coursework is available here.

If I participate in the Flex-Start program will I be required to pay the Student Health Insurance Fee? 

Students participating in the Flex-Start program and taking courses online for the Fall 2020 semester, may defer their insurance reporting obligation until the Spring 2021 semester. Students must complete the Fall 2020 Waiver Form. Failure to complete the waiver will result in a student being enrolled and responsible for paying the Student Health Insurance Fee.

Will I still receive an I-20 form for the Fall 2020 semester if I participate in Flex-Start? 

Students who enroll in the Flex-Start program will not receive an I-20 form for the Fall 2020 semester but instead will receive an I-20 form for the Spring 2021 semester. We will work with students on a case-by-case basis to determine what documents are needed to receive the Spring 2021 I-20 form. If you choose to opt into the Flex-Start program after you have already received your Fall 2020 I-20 form, we will work with you to defer your SEVIS record and issue a new Spring 2021 I-20 form.

Will I be eligible for CPT if I participate in the Flex-Start program?

Students’ will be eligible for CPT after they have maintained their valid F-1 status in the US for a full academic year as is required by law. This means that students who enroll in the Flex-Start program for Fall 2020 and arrive on campus in Spring 2021 will become eligible for CPT at the end of the Fall 2021 semester.

Can I start my classes online in the Flex-Start program and then come to campus mid-way through the Fall 2020 semester if I receive my F-1 visa? 

As an F-1 visa-seeking Flex-Start student you will be receiving a Spring 2021 I-20 form, therefore you cannot arrive on campus until after the Fall 2020 courses are complete. You cannot enter the country mid-way through the semester as that will violate necessary F-1 visa regulations. You may enter the US thirty days prior to the program start date listed on your I-20 form, which will be set in January 2021.

I am a new F-1 visa student currently outside of the country planning to enter the United States for the Spring 2021 semester. Can I enroll in a full load of online classes while in the U.S.?

Current emergency COVID-19 provisions from the Department of Homeland Security for the Fall 2020 semester do not permit new initial F-1 students to enter the U.S. and enroll in a full course load of online classes. New initial F-1 students are currently allowed to enter the U.S. if they enroll in a minimum of at least 1 in person course. 

As of yet, SEVP and DHS have not issued any guidance regarding Spring 2021 and the permission of F-1 students to take classes online. For now, students who are outside of the U.S. and want to opt into the Flex-Start program for the Spring 2021 semester should plan to remain in their home country. As soon as SEVP finalizes guidance for the spring semester, we will update students accordingly.

I am a new F-1 transfer student for Spring 2021. Can I enroll in a full load of online classes?

Current emergency COVID-19 provisions from the Department of Homeland Security for the Fall 2020 semester permit students who have been actively enrolled at any U.S. institution since March 9, 2020 and have otherwise maintained their F-1 status to remain in continuing F-1 status and enroll in online coursework while in the U.S. with no limitation. 

As of yet, SEVP and DHS have not issued any guidance regarding Spring 2021 and the permission of F-1 students to take classes online. For now, students who are transferring their SEVIS record to GW should be allowed to enroll in a full course load of online classes. Should guidance be released that has different requirements for transfer F-1 students, we will update students accordingly.

I don’t know yet if I will be impacted by visa delays or travel restrictions. Do I need to register for Flex-Start now?

We understand that many factors affecting your arrival in the U.S. may be last-minute and unpredictable. If you are interested in considering this option if needed for the fall semester, please just complete the required form below to receive further information. 

The deadline to opt into the Flex-Start program will be December 1, 2020. If you have not done so already, you will be required to submit your I-20 request documents, including valid financial documents, by December 15, 2020. You will still have the option to pursue your studies on-campus if circumstances allow!

Will the EAP course be offered online? 

Spring 2021 Online EAP: Students will have the opportunity to register for EAP online during the Spring 2021 semester. Students who elect to take online EAP in the spring will only be eligible to register for 2 other classes for a total of 9 credit hours of online coursework during the Spring 2021 semester.

If I am required to take EAP, will I need to take EAP during the fall semester if I participate in Flex-Start? 

SEAS will make an exception for incoming graduate students who participate in the Flex-Start program and are required to take EAP. We will extend the timeline of the condition and allow you the ability to fulfill the EAP requirement through the end of the Fall 2021 semester. This will allow those students to take EAP online during the Spring 2021 semester or take the course during the Fall 2021 semester depending on your preference. Information regarding EAP coursework is available here.

If I participate in the Flex-Start program will I be required to pay the Student Health Insurance Fee? 

Students participating in the Flex-Start program and taking courses online for the Spring 2021 semester, may defer their insurance reporting obligation until the Fall 2021 semester. Students must complete a waiver form that we will share at a later date once it’s available. Failure to complete the waiver will result in a student being enrolled and responsible for paying the Student Health Insurance Fee.

Will I still receive an I-20 form for the Spring 2021 semester if I participate in Flex-Start? 

Students who enroll in the Flex-Start program will not receive an I-20 form for the Spring 2021 semester but instead will receive an I-20 form for the Fall 2021 semester. We will work with students on a case-by-case basis to determine what documents are needed to receive the Fall 2021 I-20 form. If you choose to opt into the Flex-Start program after you have already received your Spring 2021 I-20 form, we will work with you to defer your SEVIS record and issue a new Fall 2021 I-20 form.

Will I be eligible for CPT if I participate in the Flex-Start program?

Students’ will be eligible for CPT after they have maintained their valid F-1 status in the US for a full academic year as is required by law. This means that students who enroll in the Flex-Start program for Spring 2021 and arrive on campus in Fall 2021 will become eligible for CPT at the end of the Spring 2022 semester.

Can I start my classes online in the Flex-Start program and then come to campus mid-way through the Spring 2021 semester if I receive my F-1 visa? 

As an F-1 visa-seeking Flex-Start student you will be receiving a Fall 2021 I-20 form, therefore you cannot arrive on campus until after the Spring 2021 courses are complete. You cannot enter the country mid-way through the semester as that will violate necessary F-1 visa regulations. You may enter the US thirty days prior to the program start date listed on your I-20 form, which will be set in August 2021.

 

I don’t know yet if I will be impacted by visa delays or travel restrictions. Do I need to register for Flex-Start now?

We understand that many factors affecting your arrival in the U.S. may be last-minute and unpredictable. If you are interested in considering this option if needed for the fall semester, please just complete the required form below to receive further information. We will work with each admitted student on a case-by-case basis to identify the right plan of action and deadlines for moving forward. You will still have the option to pursue your studies on-campus if circumstances allow!

Will the EAP course be offered online? 

If there is information on your admissions letter notifying you that you are required to take English for Academic Purpose (EAP), there are two options for students to take EAP online: 

Summer 2021 Online EAP: Students can register to take EAP online during the summer session II from June 29-August 8, 2020. For more information about summer EAP, please visit the summer programs website. 

Fall 2021 Online EAP: Students will have the opportunity to register for EAP online during the Fall 2020 semester. Students who elect to take online EAP in the fall will only be eligible to register for 2 other classes for a total of 9 credit hours of online coursework during the Fall 2020 semester. 

Will I still receive an I-20 form for the Fall 2021 semester if I participate in Flex-Start? 

Students who enroll in the Flex-Start program will receive an I-20 form from GW. We will work with students on a case-by-case basis to determine when they will receive their I-20 form and what start date will be listed. 

I’m interested in learning more about the Flex-Start Program option. Where can I find out more information?

Please complete the following form if you’re interested in learning more about the Flex-Start program and an administrator from the SEAS Office of Graduate Admissions & Student Services will follow up with additional information: