Mason research shows its strength in NSF report


George Mason University’s $214 million in research funding in fiscal year 2021 represented an increase of more than $100 million over five years, and puts the university on track to meet its goal of $225 million by 2025.

The latest figures released by the National Science Foundation (NSF) show Mason’s research funding in the top 25 nationally in the areas of:

  • Social sciences: 11th among all universities (best in the DMV) and 8th among public universities.
  • Computer and information sciences: 19th among all universities and 11th among public universities in federally funded research; and 24th among all universities and 16th among public universities in total research funding.
  • Engineering: In the top 100 nationally at No. 78 (up from 142 in 2018) and No. 56 among public universities.
Paulo Costa with his team in the lab
Professor Paulo Costa and students at The Radar and Radio Engineering (RARE) Lab, located at College of Engineering and Computing. Photo by Ron Aira/Creative Services

Overall, Mason’s research and development funding was 77th among public institutions, and 59th among institutions without medical schools.

“Even with the challenges of the pandemic period, Mason continued to advance in research rankings as measured by expenditures,” said Andre Marshall, Mason’s vice president of research, innovation, and economic development. “Mason faculty, student, and staff researchers are driving discoveries together in STEM and the social sciences through university-based research that results in real-world impact and makes a difference in our communities.”

Added Ken Ball, dean of Mason’s College of Engineering and Computing: “The rise in our NSF research funding rankings both in computer and information sciences and engineering has been phenomenal, solidifying our reputation as a top-tier research institution. Credit goes to our incredible faculty and students, as well as our research centers.”

Some of the long-term projects either funded or ongoing in FY 2021 that have positioned Mason as a leader in research of consequence—while also defining the university’s core beliefs that no problem is unsolvable and that we grow wiser and stronger from examining full truths—include:

Jenna Krall and grad student at a computer
College of Public Health's Jenna Krall and her team collected data on air pollution in Virginia and how it directly affects people in the surrounding communities. Photo by Lathan Goumas/Strategic Communications

In the social sciences, which includes contributions from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), the Schar School of Policy and Government, the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), and the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, initiatives came in several forms.

“These rankings reflect the excellence that distinguishes George Mason’s research and sets it apart,” CHSS dean Ann Ardis said. “The expertise of our social sciences faculty enables us to effectively and creatively address the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Said CEHD dean Ingrid Guerra-López: “Solving complex societal problems requires transdisciplinary collaborations, and that is what guides the important work of our remarkable researchers. The impact of their work is being amplified by their ability to work effectively across a variety of disciplines, industries, and stakeholders.”

“With rapid socio-economic and political changes, technological advancements, geopolitical shifts, climate change and global health crises, the world faces many challenges,” Carter School dean Alpaslan Özerdem said. “Social sciences are centered on all those tectonic movements affecting our societies and our responses to global challenges.”

“The (NSF) rankings are a testimony to the university’s commitment to research of consequence,” Schar School Dean Mark J. Rozell said. “The Schar School is very proud to be part of this notable achievement.”

The NSF collected its data from 916 universities in the Higher Education Research and Development Survey, sponsored by the NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics unit.