Classification and Compensation

Our Compensation Philosophy

The George Mason University Compensation Philosophy serves as the foundation of a comprehensive compensation program. The compensation philosophy elements outline the basis for sustaining pay and benefits programs that will attract, retain, and engage talented faculty, administrators, and staff to support the continued realization of Mason’s values and vision.

Organizational Alignment

Mason is an innovative, diverse, entrepreneurial, and accessible educational and research institution committed to creating a more just, free, and prosperous world. The university’s total compensation program supports Mason’s vision and values by offering pay and benefits that are:

    • Market competitive
    • Internally fair and equitable
    • Transparent
    • Fiscally responsible

The goal of the compensation plan is to attract, retain, and reward talented faculty, administrators, and staff whose work drives the university’s success.

Work/Job Valuation

Compensation levels for positions are based on:

    • The competitive external market for similar roles
    • Internal relative value

For external market evaluations, Mason will use prevailing pay rates from reputable, current data sources that represent the university’s peer institutions and other relevant market comparators.

For internal job comparisons, Mason will use comprehensive job analysis and management of pay factors to ensure internal equity. The following factors are used to evaluate positions:

    • Scope of responsibilities and accountability
    • Impact and complexity of the role
    • Required credentials and qualifications

Comparison Markets

The competitive market may vary among job groups and occupational areas. In general, Mason defines the competitive market as:

    • Public and private universities of similar size and offerings, primarily large research institutions
    • Other public and private institutions and employers in the Washington, D.C. metro area

Competitive Positioning

As an aspirational goal, Mason strives to maintain base pay bands/structures consistent with the external market 50th percentile (median) in aggregate. Mason also strives to provide indirect compensation (benefits programs, paid leave, and non-monetary offerings) consistent with or superior to prevailing market practices.

Total Compensation Mix

Total compensation consists of:

    • Monetary compensation, including base salary, supplements and stipends, and other forms of direct pay
    • Employee benefits that have a monetary value, such as health and wellness plans, retirement programs, life and disability insurance, paid leave, and similar offerings
    • Non-monetary rewards and advantages, both tangible and intangible, such as technology and other work resources/tools, culture and environment, learning and growth opportunities, flexible work arrangements, etc.

Mason strives to offer a total compensation package that is market sensitive and consistent with the university’s goal to offer pay and benefits designed to attract and keep talented faculty, administrators, and staff.

Individual Pay Levels

The strategy for establishing individual pay levels and compensation actions may vary among employee groups and occupational areas. In general, the following factors will be taken into account when evaluating individual pay levels:

    • Credentials (education, training, experience)
    • Demonstrated knowledge, skills, competencies
    • Professional accomplishments, achievements, performance
    • Internal equity and fairness (parity with employees in comparable roles with similar credentials, skills, accomplishments, etc.)


Mason is committed to transparency and on-going communication around the total compensation program. Information regarding the compensation program will be shared with faculty, administrators, and staff through internal platforms, allowing employees to provide feedback and voice any concerns. Tools, resources, and training are available to administrators and managers to facilitate understanding and consistent administration.