Mason Korea is a George Mason University campus located at Incheon in South Korea. While Mason Korea lies thirteen time zones away from the university's other campuses, its students are offered the same educational experience as those who attend the university in the commonwealth.
In the Songdo District of Incheon, South Korea, a particular group of university students take pride in calling themselves Patriots. They attend school in a modern building adorned with George Mason University’s corporate logos and splashed with green and gold. A bronze statue of George Mason greets them in the plaza in front of the building. And they are enrolled in academic programs in which George Mason University is a recognized leader. They are part of Mason’s youngest campus, Mason Korea.
Mason Korea is part of Incheon Global Campus (IGC), a planned development by the Republic of South Korea located about seventeen miles (24.7 km) west of Seoul on Korea's western coast. IGC, in Incheon's Songdo District, is home to four universities: University of Ghent, University of Utah, State University of New York, and George Mason University. Each of the universities maintains a branch campus operating under the existing administration and policies as the campuses in their home country. Students enrolled in IGC universities study three years at the Korea campus and one year at the home campus to complete their degree. Upon graduation, students are awarded the same degree as their counterparts at the home campus.
The South Korean government conceived the IGC and the City of Incheon in the early 2000s. The intent was to create a global education hub to bring respected international universities to Asia to foster educational and cultural exchange. George Mason University was among the universities invited to become an IGC partner.
George Mason University was clearly interested in having a presence in Asia during the early 2000s. In 2006 Mason Provost, Dr. Peter Stearns visited the future site of the IGC. At that time construction had not begun, but Stearns sensed that the project was going to be "really interesting". In May of 2009 construction on the site began, and that winter Mason expressed its interest in becoming part of the IGC. Three years of intense negotiations followed and ended with George Mason officially becoming part of IGC in early 2013.
Mason Korea opened on March 3, 2014, with thirty-eight students and 5 faculty. That first year Mason Korea offered bachelor’s degree programs in Management and Economics and has since added undergraduate programs in Global Affairs, Computer Game Design, Computational Data Sciences, and Conﬂict Analysis and Resolution. Academic program requirements and standards are identical with those on the US campuses. Mason Korea students travel to the Fairfax campus for their third year of study. Likewise, US-based students may study at the Mason Korea Campus.
The primary objective of Mason Korea is to provide its students with the same George Mason University educational and cultural experience in Asia as in the United States. University life at Mason Korea mirrors that of students in the United States. Mason Korea programs and events are aligned with those on the U.S. campuses. Mason Day, for example, a long-running university tradition is one of the biggest events at Mason Korea. Today Mason Korea shares events like Mason Day with other IGC universities and the local community. The Voice of Mason Korea, the student media outlet, documents happenings on the Mason Korea campus and issues facing its students. Mason Korea students not only participate in student organizations on the Songdo campus; they take part in those based in the United States, as well.
Today, more than six hundred enrolled students from 20 different countries attend Mason Korea. The campus comprises one large five-story building on a main plaza it shares with the three other IGC universities. On November 27, 2019, a George Mason Statue like that of the Fairfax Campus was installed in front of the main building. Mason students share many of the IGC amenities with those of the other universities on the campus. These include a concert hall, fitness and aquatics center. Those that live on campus live in one of two residence halls and share the same dining accommodations with students from the other IGC universities. The IGC Library and IT Center provides Mason Korea and other IGC students with modern research materials and IT support.
Mason Korea will celebrate its ten-year anniversary in March of 2024.