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2020 Funding Your Graduate Education in International Affairs

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George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government

Graduate Research Assistant Positions Fund Degree, Provide Cutting-Edge Workplace Training

George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government offers an enticing opportunity for funding a graduate degree: graduate research assistant (GRA) positions that are research partnerships with professors. In exchange for their work, students receive tuition support, an annual stipend, and health insurance.

“It is the best strategic decision you can make financially, if you have the opportunity,” says Tonya Thornton Neaves, director for extramural projects and assistant professor in the Master’s in Public Administration program at the Schar School. “A GRA position allows your education to be squarely paid for by the school.”

“It is the best strategic decision you can make financially. It allows your education to be squarely paid for by the school.” –Tonya Thornton Neaves, Director for Extramural Projects, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

The GRA program pairs students with professors on important research projects—including some that are particularly relevant in the age of COVID-19. The funded projects give students real-world experience in vital areas, leading to a more defined job search and a better return on their investment in the degree. Another benefit is mentoring by faculty members who are experts in their fields.

Gregory Koblentz

“GRAs are such an important partnership,” says Gregory Koblentz, director of the school’s biodefense graduate programs. “The students are not just mining data; they are not just worker bees.”

Koblentz notes that he has recently benefited from the GRA program, for example, by partnering with a South Korean student, HyunJung “Henry” Kim, who has expertise in military intelligence and national security. Meanwhile, Koblentz’s focus on global health security allows his research assistants to broaden their knowledge of biological threats, including biological weapons—and pandemics such as COVID-19.

Pairing Expertise to Advance Research in Biodefense

A former intelligence officer in the South Korean army, HyunJung “Henry” Kim is studying for his PhD in Biodefense at the Schar School, focusing on the use of unapproved medical countermeasures in response to public health emergencies. Leveraging his language skills and background, Kim and biodefense program director Gregory Koblentz are rewriting the history of Japan’s World War II–era biological warfare program. Their research determined that Japan’s biological attacks inside of China were correlated with Japan’s military operations on the ground, indicating that Japanese biological warfare was far more integrated into military planning than previously believed.

Conducting Research with a Retired Ambassador

Charles “Tyler” Goodwin, Master’s in Public Administration ’21, has an interest in human rights issues and wants to pursue a career in public policy in Washington, DC. The Schar School’s location, close to downtown Washington, made it an obvious choice. Goodwin’s research included a project connected with the Department of Homeland Security that taught him how a government agency works. Also, one of his research professors, Richard Kauzlarich, is a retired US ambassador. Tonya Thornton Neaves, assistant professor, says, “Imagine the value of that letter of recommendation once he is looking for a job.”

Graduate Research Assistant Positions

Schar School Admissions: https://schar.gmu.edu/prospective-students
[email protected]
Please indicate your interest in a graduate research assistantship on your application for admission.