Biodefense, MS

Mosaic tile
The latest U.S. News & World Report ranks the Schar School No. 4 in Homeland Security studies.

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.

Email us:

Call: 703-993-8099

Request Program Information

To stay informed about the programs you’re interested in, complete our Graduate Program Interest Form.
(please do not use shared email addresses)

Mosaic tile
Master of Biodefense Information Session
Mosaic tile
The Master of Biodefense is a STEM-designated program.

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.

Mosaic tile
No GRE Required to Apply

D.C. and Maryland Pricing Discount

Master's or certificate students who reside in Washington, D.C., and Maryland can qualify for a tuition rate is equivalent to the in-state rate! This new policy applies to Schar School students who begin their degree in fall 2023 or later. 

DC skyline from Arlington at night

Where Our Recent Graduates Work

Pie chart showing the top employers for recent Schar School Biodefense graduates.

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

Interested in a graduate certificate instead?

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 skill sets 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. 

Mosaic tile