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Dean's Blog: Mason Science On the Rise

Some have called George Mason University a best kept secret, yet our hard-working faculty, staff, and students consistently demonstrate what we have known all along, Mason’s College of Science offers accessible, accommodating, innovative, and impactful graduate STEM educational and research experiences with top faculty in state-of-the-art science laboratory and research facilities.

Rankings and labels don't define a program, yet they do influence brand perception of that program and its people. US News and World Report recently released its ever-anticipated graduate program rankings and our entire Mason Science community has good reason to celebrate as we are on the rise.

One might guess a university like Mason so close to Washington DC and the Pentagon would contribute to a stellar reputation for our policy, law, cyber security, and business programs (yes, they are very highly regarded). Yet that access to federal partners, national and international organizations, combined with the commitment to community also carries over to those seeking strong scientific collaborators. For example, our science partners include EPA, NASA, NIH, NOAA, NSF and the departments of Defense, Justice, Education, the Smithsonian, as well as many branches of the US military.

Many Mason Science programs significantly advanced in the rankings from last year; take our biological sciences, which rose 71 spots to No. 119 and kudos to chemistry and biochemistry for achieving their rankings related goal two years ahead of schedule. Here is a sampling of our notable graduate programs on the list.

  • Geology: No. 113 nationally, No. 81 among public institutions. 
  • Mathematics: No. 115 nationally, No. 72 among public institutions.
  • Biological Sciences: No. 119 nationally, No. 66 among public institutions. 
  • Physics: No. 132 nationally, No. 78 among public institutions. 
  • Chemistry: No. 165 overall, No. 107 among public institutions. 

I am thrilled to congratulate the department chairs, associate chairs for research, our graduate program coordinators, along with all the faculty, staff, and students involved with these programs on achieving these notable accomplishments.

And, what’s just as exciting, as scientific fields evolve, our innovative educational offerings continue to expand. Over the past decade as the need for scientific knowledge and skill grows at a swift pace, we continue to innovate, hire prominent faculty, and establish graduate programs to meet the growing demand for such specialized knowledge, including our computational social science, materials science, and climate dynamics programs.

There are a number of factors which impact these rankings. Some department chairs note our time to degree completion statistics are better than many peer programs, and our graduates are in high demand in the competitive job market. These successes to a great degree depend on the extremely strong research portfolios, publication record, teaching commitments, and reputation of faculty and the innovative research conducted at the college’s more than 15 interdisciplinary and specialized research centers.

Just how extraordinary is Mason’s rise? In only 50 years, we’ve grown from a small commuter campus to Virginia’s largest, most diverse, and most innovative public university. Our faculty do onsite research that tackles the interlocking grand challenges of assuring a healthy planet, healthy people, healthy economies, and healthy societies. And the world is taking notice.

Mason was the youngest university to attain R-1 status, achieved at the time by our science-focused research efforts as well as our continuing commitment to coordinate research across disciplines.

And considering Mason established the College of Science as a stand-alone unit less than 20 years ago, our community has been hard at work fueling this rapid rise, steadily building our programs with well-connected, creative faculty and staff who daily demonstrate our mission from past, present, and into the future: our commitment to students.

We’re a university known for setting big goals, and then putting in the work to make those dreams a reality. Although this recent recognition has fueled us to dream even bigger goals, let’s pause a much-deserved moment to celebrate our success. While we take this opportunity to reflect on the past, celebrate our current stature, and envision the next half century and beyond, we’re also taking the time to savor our accomplishments.

Congratulations to our faculty and staff, students, and alumni for this notable achievement. Thank you for your hard work. We know and have got what it takes…let’s keep climbing.