The Security Studies Program (SSP) curriculum offers seven concentrations: Intelligence, International Security, Military Operations, Technology and Security, Terrorism and Substate Violence, Unconventional Weapons and Non-Proliferation and U.S. National Security Policy.
In this concentration, students acquire an understanding of the practical dimensions of intelligence, including the intelligence cycle, the intelligence disciplines, problems of intelligence collection and analysis, covert action, and the intelligence-policy nexus. Attention is also focused on domestic intelligence, military intelligence, and the intelligence operations and cultures of other countries. Students also consider major conceptual issues such as the appropriate role of intelligence in a democracy, issues of oversight and accountability, the intelligence budget as part of the overall defense budget, and the complexities of secrecy. In addition to helping students prepare for careers in the intelligence community, this concentration also addresses intelligence issues in the military, government agencies, or in government-related industries.
International Security: Students in this concentration will examine the broad range of issues affecting security in the world today. The conduct of statecraft and diplomacy and the operations of individual governments and international and non-governmental organizations are at the heart of this concentration. International security structures, global and regional conflict, state and non-state actors, resource management, non-proliferation, terrorism, human security and infectious disease evidence the wide range of issues addressed in this concentration from a distinctly international perspective. This concentration will prepare students for a broad range of careers, including serving in the ministries of national governments, in international organizations, in private companies that focus on security, and in policy research institutions.
Military Operations: Students enrolled in this concentration acquire in-depth knowledge of the U.S. military and those of other nations with particular emphasis on application of the military instrument of power in support of national security strategy. Courses include the study of conventional military operations, the use of air and sea power, military analysis, net assessment techniques, and the interaction between civilian and military officials, among other subjects. Students develop the expertise necessary to pursue careers related to the evaluation and use of military force for either the U.S. or other governments.
Technology and Security: This concentration permits students to approach security issues from a technological perspective and provides the future analyst, policy maker or scholar with an appreciation of the wide range of technology issues affecting security. Students can take classes in subjects ranging from energy and resource scarcity to health, biotechnology, and environmental issues, as well as cyber and information warfare, unconventional weapons and net assessment, and emerging technologies.
Terrorism and Substate Violence: Students in this concentration study the motivations and operations of terrorist and insurgent groups, the dynamics of civil wars, and the policies required to effectively counter these threats. Courses examine sources of terrorism, terrorist tactics, key terrorist groups like al-Qa'ida and the Lebanese Hizballah; counterinsurgency, ethnic conflict, and post-conflict stabilization missions, among other issues. Students learn to analyze the spectrum of conflicts short of war, their internal dynamics and the measures and practical responses required to resolve them. Most students pursue careers in U.S. intelligence and defense communities, those of other governments, and in international relief organizations, and consulting firms.
Unconventional Weapons and Non-Proliferation: Students in this concentration focus on chemical, biological, nuclear, and other unconventional weapons, including cyber warfare, in order to understand the dynamics of their acquisition and use and the effects on national and international security. Courses include in-depth explorations of both the political and military uses and technical characteristics of these weapons systems, including relevant countermeasures and non-proliferation policies and deterrence theory and history, relevant treaties, sanction regimes, and emerging concepts such as “Nuclear Zero.” U.S. and other governments as well as international organizations and a variety of think-tanks and non-governmental organizations all seek professionals with skills in this area.
U.S. National Security Policy: This concentration provides students with the necessary background to identify and analyze U.S national security issues and to formulate the policy options required to effectively address these challenges. The full range of national instruments of power is examined: diplomatic, information, military, and economic in order to enable students to integrate them and formulate national security strategies and policies. Issues such as Congress and national security and the intersection of budget, policy, and strategy provide the foundation for understanding the entire national security structure and process. The full spectrum of conflict potentially facing the U.S. is studied both from the political and military perspectives, to include diplomacy and counter terrorism as well as counterinsurgency, major combat operations, and nuclear warfare. This concentration is particularly relevant to students seeking careers in the U.S. State Department, the Defense Department, on Capitol Hill, and with institutions such as the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office.