Master’s in Biodefense

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's in Biodefense.

2020 U.S. News and World badge ranking for public affairs, national security and emergency management

Understanding biological threats is more important in today’s world than ever before. The Master's in 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. 


You can choose to study biodefense at the Schar School on-campus, online, or through a combination of both on-campus and online classes. Online biodefense courses are taught in an asynchronous format. With this format, classes follow an established schedule for assignments and can be accessed at any time from any location.

Photo of Stephanie Smith, Master’s in Biodefense '17

“I’m a forensic chemist by training, that’s what I’ve done my entire career. I came to Mason to study the ‘bio-side’ of this complex advisor position, but I realized I was also expanding my knowledge beyond science and into the policy side.”
—Stephanie Smith, Master’s in Biodefense '17

Photo of Annette Prieto, Master’s in Biodefense '19

“I chose to continue my education at the Schar School, because the program offered biodefense, security studies, and global health security. The classes cover accidental biothreats, natural events, and intentional acts of bioterrorism.”
—Annette Prieto, Master’s in Biodefense '19


Photo of Schar School Master's in Biodefense student Rebecca Earnhardt

"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, Master's in Biodefense '17


The Master of Science in Biodefense program requires 12 courses (36 total credits), including 7 core courses and 5 elective courses. On-campus biodefense courses are held in the evenings on Mason’s Arlington, Virginia campus, and students may take the program on a part-time or full-time basis (please note that the online format is only available on a part-time basis). From Emerging Infectious Diseases, Global Health Security, and Disaster Response Operations and Recovery to Biosurveillance, International Security, and Biodefense Strategy, the biodefense program coursework will prepare you for influential roles in public health, policy, and science across the public and private sectors.

For detailed curriculum and course schedule information, click here.


The Schar School Masters in Biodefense and Masters in International Security faculty delegation visits the National Assembly in South Korea

With George Mason University's prime location in the Washington, D.C. area, Schar School students gain access to leading scholars and practitioners who bring real-world experience to the classroom, providing you with the mentorship and skillsets needed to advance in your career.

The Schar School as a whole has 80+ faculty members, as well as hundreds of adjunct faculty, allowing students to gain access to a variety of perspectives and subjects through elective courses. Notable faculty members in the biodefense program include program director Gregory Koblentz, Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Trevor Thrall, and Bonnie Stabile. 


Photo of a researcher looking into a microscope

In addition to university-wide resources, the Schar School has a dedicated team of student services and career development advisors to assist you in your academic and professional plans. The Master's in Biodefense program prepares students for a range of industries and roles in the public and private sectors. In a recent graduating class career outcomes survey, approximately two-thirds of Biodefense graduates reported working in consulting, and one-third identified as working in the federal government.

Recent alumni of the Biodefense graduate program are working as:

  • Analyst, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Biologist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Chief, Future Operations, D.C. Department of Health; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRN) Preparedness Program
  • Deputy Division Chief, Defense Threat Reduction Agency
  • Intelligence Officer, U.S. Air Force
  • Investigator, USIS
  • Principal Consultant for Strategic Planning and Analysis, U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration 
  • Project Analyst, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Strategic Development: CBRN and Defense Services
  • Supervisory Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • WMD Intelligence Analyst, Sage Management





Former South Dakota senator Tom Daschle

Tom Daschle Takes to the Classroom to Discuss the Future of Biodefense

The former Democratic Senator from South Dakota joined Schar School students and Gregory Koblentz, director of biodefense graduate programs, for a discussion followed by a question-and-answer session.


Schar School Masters in Biodefense student Stephanie Smith

Postal Investigations Job with a Biodefense Innovation

Already a forensics scientist and chemist, soon-to-be Mason master’s graduate student Stephanie Smith studied biodefense and policy to help better protect the nation’s mail.


Photo of Robert Kadlec

Biodefense Leader Kadlec Praises School Program at 15th Anniversary Lecture

Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was the guest of honor for the 15th anniversary celebration of the Schar School's biodefense program.


Brent Park Mikhail Chudakov and Schar School Professor Gregory Koblentz discuss a nuclear future

Experts Discuss the Balance Between Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security

Schar School students and faculty members joined Brent Park and Mikhail Chudakov to discuss the interconnection between nuclear energy and nuclear security.