Biodefense, MS

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The Biodefense program is ranked 7th overall by U.S. News and World Report.

Where Science Meets Security

Gain the analytical skills and knowledge needed to assess national and international security risks posed by natural and man-made biological threats with the Master of Biodefense.

Understanding biological threats is more important in today’s world than ever before. The Master of Biodefense at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government bridges the gap between science and policy, providing you with a foundation in microbiology and biotechnology combined with a broader security and organizational context.

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Upcoming Events for Prospective Biodefense Students

Application Drop-In Hours:

"Drop-In" during our virtual application drop-in hours to ask the admissions team any questions you may have about your master’s application. 

   Friday, December 9 at 12 to 1 p.m. ET (Virtual).  Register.

   Friday, December 16 at 12 to 1 p.m. ET (Virtual). Register

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Skills You'll Gain


We prepare the next generation of biodefense professionals and academics through four key program pillars:

  1. Assessing risk
  2. Analyzing policy
  3. Developing strategy
  4. Bridging the gap

A Degree That Works With Your Schedule


You can earn this degree:

  • On-campus
  • Entirely online in an asynchronous format
  • Through a combination of on-campus and online classes
  • Part-time or full-time

Classes are offered in the evening to accommodate working students.

Application Requirements in Brief

  • 750-1,000 word written goal statement
  • Current resume
  • Unofficial transcripts 
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Graduate application and fee

Program Deadlines

  • Priority Application Deadline for Spring: November 1
  • Final Application Deadline for Spring: December 1
  • Priority Application Deadline for Fall: February 1
  • Final Application Deadline for Fall: May 1
George Mason University students doing work in the classroom

Where Our Recent Graduates Work


Data gathered from recent graduates from 2017-21

Top Employers of Recent Graduates


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Deloitte
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • General Services Administration
  • The Geneva Foundation
  • MIT Lincoln Laboratory
  • SAIC
  • U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Geological Survey/Department of the Interior

The median salary of program graduates from 2017-21 was $87,000.

Rebecca Earnhard, blonde white woman searing glasses and a blazer smiling at the camera

“My classmates [were] extremely diverse in this program. There [were] a lot of people that [had] microbiology backgrounds, pathobiology, and then there [were] people like me who [had] a homeland security background...I [learned] a lot from a variety of people I've met."

Rebecca Earnhard
Research Associate, Nuclear Security Program, Stimson Center
Master of Biodefense '17

The Master of Science in Biodefense program requires 12 courses (36 total credits), including seven core courses:

  • Emerging Infectious Diseases I: Bacteria and Toxins
  • Emerging Infectious Diseases I: Viral Agents
  • Biodefense Strategy
  • The Scientific Method & Research Design
  • Global Health Security Policy
  • Health Security Preparedness
  • Global Health Security Capstone

Not ready to commit to a full master's degree program?

Our graduate certificates require just five courses (15 credits) that can be applied to a master's if you choose to continue on.

 

“As the last few years have shown, anywhere in the world is basically just a flight away from any outbreak or biological threat. To be prepared locally, we need to be prepared globally. We aim to produce graduates who can bridge the gap between science and policy.”

Gregory Koblentz, Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Biodefense Program

 

Biodefense Director Greg Koblentz

Practitioner Faculty

With the Schar School's prime location in the Washington, D.C. area, students gain access to leading practitioners who are internationally recognized for their scholarship and advisory roles in the public and private sectors. These faculty bring real-world experience to the classroom, providing you with the mentorship and skillsets needed to advance in your career.

Notable faculty members in the biodefense program include program director Gregory Koblentz, Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Trevor Thrall, and Bonnie Stabile. 

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