George Mason University

Community Learning

Mason is for learners. Whether you’re exploring a career change, adding to your professional portfolio, looking for family enrichment, or retired and enlivening a new life passion, we invite you to engage in the wide variety of learning opportunities presented on our campuses and throughout the region.

We offer professional development courses for building business skills and updating technical knowledge, as well as classes, workshops, camps, and programs in a variety of topics for families and individuals, pre-school age to senior citizens.

Professional Development

  • For Educators: The Office of Education Services offers a broad range of credit and non-credit courses, educational services, resources, and professional development and serves as a clearinghouse for requests for research assistance, consultation and collaboration.  Mason has the learning solutions you will need to get ahead, and many are formatted to fit around a busy work day. For more information, call 703-993-6165.
  • For Professionals: Mason offers a broad range of courses to help build your leadership skills, get up to speed on the latest HR regulations, build up your technical toolkit, or work toward an advanced degree. We have the Learning Solutions you will need to get ahead, and many are formatted to fit around a busy work day.
  • For Health and Human Services: The Office of Academic Outreach provides adult educational services that support the career development of health professionals. Participants might be registered nurses, physicians, health administrators, other health professionals, and students in degree-granting health programs. Graduate and undergraduate credit courses and non-credit activities are available. For more information, call 703-993-2120.
Students at Mason Observatory at night

Star gazers enjoy a visual feast at the Mason Observatory.

For Those Who Bloom on STEMs

Mason’s STEM-affiliated departments present a variety of opportunities for the community to engage in scientific exploration.

Spend an evening under the stars at our free sessions at the Mason Observatory. Peer into the infinite with our 32-inch Richey-Cretien telescope, and learn from scientists during a 30-minute presentation. During daytime tours, visitors can see sunspots and prominences through the six-inch solar telescope. If you really have stars in your eyes, join our team of volunteers, who share their excitement about astronomy at public events and conduct minor maintenance.

The College of Science’s STEM Accelerator is committed to sharing the excitement and joy of science, engineering and mathematics with the community.  We regularly coordinate camps, workshops, competitions, and seminars designed to increase access and success in STEM.  The Volgenau School of Engineering also offers STEM Summer Camps and is an active technical resource supporter of FIRST Robotics (FRC) teams throughout Northern Virginia. 

Instructor, student at Mason's Potomac Arts Academy

Mason's Potomac Arts Academy offers classes for all ages in such areas as music, acting, games and technology, dance, art, and photography.

For Arts Lovers of All Ages

Conservatory-method music education is available on your doorstep at Potomac Arts Academy. Programs range from toddlers to choirs and lessons specifically for seniors.

Summers find the arts in full bloom as PAA hosts students ages 4 to 18 sign up for a fun array of dynamic camps in theater, music, visual art, and computer game design. Mason faculty, members of the local arts community, and talented student leaders within Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts lead classes.

Current activities include year-round classes and theater showcases, private music lessons, summer programs, and in-school/after-school outreach programs open to all ages and levels in music, theater, visual arts, film and video, computer game design, and dance. For example, the Acting for Young People program provides year-round theater training. Summer sessions are also available.

For Not-So-Lazy Summer Days

When school is out, send your child to college: Mason hosts a variety of summer camps with a wide array of topics and themes.

Choose from such areas as debate, environmental science/conservation, forensics, game design, writing,  Irish dance, jazz,  and rock climbing. We also have sports camps on baseball, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, volleyball, and wrestling.

Interested in hosting a youth camp or program at Mason? Contact Auxiliary Enterprises at 703-993-2840 for more information.

For Adults Who are Improving With Age

Mason's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Encore Learning program deliver all the fun of learning with no homework and no exams to Virginia seniors.

At Osher:

  • Classes meet from 9:40 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. on weekdays during four terms for a total of 26 weeks per year. One annual dues payment ($375 for full membership at all three sites) covers an unlimited number of courses and special events, or you can opt for the introductory rate of $150 for one-term at sites in Fairfax and Reston in Fairfax County and Sterling in Loudoun County. Scholarships are available. If that sounds intriguing, check in with our office and visit a couple of classes during one consecutive two-week period while we’re in session. Our course offerings can be found in our catalog.
  • As an official affiliate of Mason, members can participate in university activities and use university resources either free or at a significant discount. We also offer more than classroom sessions. Our social activities can include clubs, luncheons, open house parties and picnics. Check out our Facebook page for more about what we do.
  • If you really want to stay active, consider volunteering. Our volunteers help us offer programs comparable to those found in colleges because we rely on our members to teach or otherwise lead courses, and more than 80% of the work of running the organization is done by member volunteers.

At Encore:

  • Classes meet from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays, with each lasting about 1½ hours. Courses run from four to 10 weeks, and subjects include fine arts, theater and music, health and wellness, history, law, politics and public affairs, literature and writing, science and technology, and the social sciences. The annual membership fee is $55, and each course is $45. Registration begins about a month before classes start. Classes are held at Mason's Arlington Campus, the Fairlington Community Center, and the Syphax Education Center.
  • Non-members can attend a single course session with the approval of the Encore Learning Administrator. Course offerings can be found in our catalog, which is mailed to members before each Spring and Fall term. You can also find a copy at most Arlington public libraries and senior centers.
  • Share your knowledge by volunteering as an instructor. Our courses are taught by retired and/or working professionals drawn from government, universities, think tanks, and private industry. Interested? Send us an email or call 703-228-2144.
  • Encore members can participate in special events such as tours, concerts, and lectures.
  • Join the club -- or two or three -- Encore has many. Play bridge, go to movies, discuss current events, or plan a trip. These and many other areas of interest are available.