Program Description

This master’s degree in biodefense prepares students to become the next generation of biodefense and biosecurity professionals and scholars. Coursework in this program provides students with a foundation in microbiology and biotechnology combined with a broader security and organizational context. Students who have a background in fields such as science, international affairs, political science, law, public policy, and conflict resolution are encouraged to apply to this program. Note that the online format of this program is only available on a part-time basis.

What it costs

Tuition and Fees: All of Mason’s tuition rates and fees can be found on our Student Accounts site.

Application Deadline

For application information and deadlines, see the Admissions site.

Request Info

Program Summary

100 Percent Online

Program: Biodefense

Degree: MS

College/School: Schar School of Policy and Government

Credits: 36 total

Who should apply?

This program is designed for those who desire to become a professional in biodefense or biosecurity. In this program, students gain a foundation in microbiology and biotechnology, providing you with the skills necessary to work on the frontline of national security and policy.

Why choose George Mason?

  • One of few programs in biodefense nationwide, graduates of this program are in constant demand. Most recently, graduates have held positions with the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Energy, as well as numerous defense contracting companies and research institutions.
  • You can easily transfer courses from some Schar School of Policy and Government certificate programs to complete this MS in Biodefense.
  • Online coursework allows local students to reduce their DC-beltway commute and to complete the program on a part-time basis to fit your schedule.
  • Students may receive credit for participating in a qualifying internship.
  • This program’s faculty includes high-level professionals from diverse sectors, ranging from the intelligence community and prestigious think tanks to experts in molecular and microbiology, CBRN weapons, and terrorism.

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). Program requirements may change; please refer to the Mason Course Catalog for the most up-to-date requirements.

Requirements: 36 credits total

  • 18 credits core courses
  • 15 credits elective courses
  • 3 credits capstone course

All coursework for this program can be completed online. Most courses are delivered asynchronously and offerings vary by semester.

Core Courses (18 credits)

  • GOVT 500 The Scientific Method and Research Design | 3 credits
  • BIOD 604 Emerging Infectious Diseases I: Bacteria and Toxins | 3 credits
  • BIOD 605 Emerging Infectious Diseases II: Viral Agents | 3 credits
  • BIOD 609 Biodefense Strategy and Policy | 3 credits
  • BIOD 620 Global Health Security Policy | 3 credits
  • BIOD 710 Health Security Preparedness | 3 credits

Elective Courses (15 credits)

Students will consult with an advisor to select elective courses. Please contact Silva Pecini Morris ( for more information.

Capstone Course (3 credits)

  • BIOD 790 Biodefense Capstone | 3 credits


Tuition and Fees: All of Mason’s tuition rates and fees can be found on our Student Accounts site.

Please Note: In addition to the tuition and fees described above, various course and lab fees may be assessed depending on the course(s) in which the student is enrolled. Please refer to the Students Accounts Office website for more information on tuition and fees.

Financial Aid

For information on loans and scholarships, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid. For information regarding grants, tuition waivers and other merit aid, please inquire with your graduate department. Additionally, visit the Office of Military Services for information about Armed Forces Tuition Assistance (TA), a benefit for eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Career Descriptions

This degree will improve your earning potential in in a variety of government agencies and private sector organizations concerned with biodefense. A small sample of employers of program graduates includes:

  • American Type Culture Collection
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Defense Threat Reduction Agency
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Science Foundation
  • Tauri Group
  • US Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy
  • US Department of Defense
  • US Food and Drug Administration

As a Mason student, you may also contact Mason Career Services for more career information and counseling.

Further Studies

You may consider pursuing the face-to-face PhD in Biodefense at George Mason University upon completion of the Biodefense, MS.

Program ContactSchar School Admissions
Phone: (703) 993-8099
School ContactSchar School of Policy and Government
Phone: (703) 993-2280
Program Website
Program Blog
Follow Mason Biodefense on Twitter@PandoraReport
“Like” Mason Biodefense on Facebook

All applicants should review Schar School of Policy and Government Application Requirements. Those with international credentials should follow Schar’s International Applicant Requirements.


Application Materials

  • Graduate application
  • Application fee
  • In-state tuition form (if applicable)
  • One official transcript from all colleges and universities attended
  • Goals statement that specifies research interests and professional goals
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official scores from GRE taken within five years prior to date of application
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae

If you have any questions during the application process, please contact or (703) 993-2280.