George Mason University Launches Virginia’s First College of Public Health



Responding to the Commonwealth’s public health and workforce needs, new interdisciplinary College will benefit the region and beyond 

George Mason University logo in green and gold with quill M

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FAIRFAX, VA – George Mason University announces the first and only College of Public Health in the Commonwealth of Virginia to meet the critical growing need for skilled, interdisciplinary health professionals and research across the state.

“Mason’s College of Public Health graduates will bring new and diverse talent to Virginia’s health workforce, addressing critical shortages and building a strong talent pipeline for the long-term health of the region,” said Mason President Dr. Gregory Washington. “Individuals, families, and communities will benefit from discoveries, clinical care, and public health practice initiatives generated by this multidisciplinary and multisector College.”

Public health and health care fields are striving to better reflect and serve the nation’s diverse communities. To meet this need, the College of Public Health is focused on an inclusive approach to public health education, research, and practice. In alignment with Mason’s commitment to inclusive excellence, more than 60% of the College of Public Health student body is from historically underrepresented groups, and 38% of its undergraduates are first-generation college students.

“As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee, I have long supported expanding the public health and social services workforce to increase access to health care and improve the health of Virginians,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “I commend George Mason University for establishing the Commonwealth’s first College of Public Health to help train this critical workforce. The College’s work on important issues such as mental health, suicide prevention, opioid misuse, and providing health services to the underserved, is vital to our region’s future health. As someone dealing with minor long COVID symptoms, I also believe the College’s research on this and other infectious diseases is critical in mitigating future pandemics.

“Health care in Virginia is becoming increasingly more complex. Universities like George Mason play a pivotal role in helping navigate our Commonwealth through the challenges facing our citizens today by expanding the health workforce and keeping communities healthy,” said Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel. 

Melissa Perry stands next to a window an wears a black blazer and green print blouse
Melissa J. Perry

Mason’s new College of Public Health has outlined a number of key initiatives, including community engagement, workforce development, research, and education to meet public health infrastructure, research, and workforce needs. The College includes the School of Nursing and the Departments of Global and Community Health, Health Administration and Policy, Nutrition and Food Studies, and Social Work.

“As the first and only College of Public Health in Virginia, this launch reflects our academic and research mission and the pivotal leadership role we play in population health and well-being,” said College of Public Health Dean Dr. Melissa J. Perry. “Our distinctive set of degree offerings, our inclusive approach to research and education, and commitment to experiential learning opportunities prepares students to thrive in multi-cultural environments.”

Based in the Washington, DC metro-area, Mason’s proximity to federal health-related agencies, leading health systems, policymaking institutions, non-profit community service organizations and global health consulting management firms makes it an ideal location for researching, teaching, influencing, and improving public health and well-being.

George Mason University plays a critical role in strengthening Northern Virginia’s health care workforce and has long been a trusted partner in our efforts to improve access to affordable health care here in Fairfax and Prince William counties,” said U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, (D-Va.). “The newly established College of Public Health at George Mason is another step toward cementing Northern Virginia as a world-class center of excellence in health care, and I look forward to working with them to reduce disparities in health care training and delivery and to improve the health and quality of life of all Northern Virginians.” 

Graphic of public health

“I am so excited to hear that George Mason University will be opening the first College of Public Health in our region,” said Karen Berube, Chief, Community Health and Health Equity and Senior Vice President of Inova Health System. “Inova and Mason are long-standing partners, and we often hire Mason students and graduates who have knowledge of and experience with under-resourced communities. As we strive to improve the health of the communities, we are so privileged to serve, it is vital that we have the necessary diverse workforce to make this vision a reality. I look forward to our partnership with the new College of Public Health.”  

The announcement to rename the former College of Health and Human Services comes after formal approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

With Mason’s new College of Public Health, Virginia is now the 36th state in the country to have a College of Public Health and will benefit from increased community engagement, workforce development initiatives, and research of consequence with a focus on eliminating health disparities.

Learn more and read reactions from more government, business, academia, and community leaders at

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls nearly 40,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. In 2022, Mason celebrates 50 years as an independent institution. Learn more at

About College of Public Health at George Mason University 

The College of Public Health at George Mason University is the first and only College of Public Health in Virginia combining public health transdisciplinary research, education, and practice in the Commonwealth as a national exemplar. The College enrolls more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students in our nationally recognized programs, including six undergraduate degrees, eight master’s degrees, five doctoral degrees, and six professional certificate programs. The College is comprised of the School of Nursing and the Departments of Global and Community Health, Health Administration and Policy, Nutrition and Food Studies, and Social Work.

With more than 500 partners, the College addresses the many factors that influence the public’s health and well-being throughout an individual’s lifespan. The new College of Public Health Dean’s Fund will support students, faculty, and the initiatives for Virginia’s first College of Public Health and surrounding communities.  Learn more at and


a child gets her temperate checked on her forehead by a MAP clinic employee
A patient gets her temperature checked at the MAP clinic. Photo by George Mason University


Three students in a classroom facing left
Students in class in the College of Public Health in Peterson Hall on the Fairfax Campus. Photo by George Mason University