Joint Degrees

SSP offers an accelerated degree with the undergraduate BSFS at Georgetown and two joint degree options in conjunction with other schools at Georgetown: The M.A. in Security Studies and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center (M.A./J.D.) and the M.A. and a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Georgetown Department of Government (M.A./Ph.D.). It is not possible to create an independent joint-degree with other graduate programs at Georgetown.


Undergraduate Georgetown BSFS students interested in pursuing the accelerated 5-year M.A./BSFS degree should consult with their undergraduate dean.

M.A. /J.D.

M.A./J.D. degree candidates spend their first year on Main Campus completing the bulk of the requirements for the M.A. portion of their graduate study and then spend the next three years primarily at the Georgetown University Law Center.  Students must satisfactorily complete course requirements for both the J.D. and M.A. degrees.  In addition to the J.D. and M.A. degrees, a Joint Program Certificate will be awarded upon satisfactory completion of the program.  Students in the joint degree program undertake a four-year course of study comprising a minimum of 109 academic credits (79 Law Center credits and 30 Security Studies credits).  Six credits from the Law Center will satisfy Security Studies degree requirements with the approval of SSP Director of Graduate Studies.  Six credits of SSP course work will satisfy J.D. requirements. Students are required to take at least six hours of coursework on International Law, and are encouraged to draw heavily from course offerings on the use of force, humanitarian law, conflict resolution, and other relevant topics.

To apply for the joint M.A./J.D. program, students must apply independently to both the SSP and the Law Center and meet admissions requirements for both. As of January 2011, it is SSP policy that students applying to the joint M.A./J.D. program must apply to the programs simultaneously. Applicants who apply during their first year of study at either the Law Center or the SSP will not be considered for admission to the joint degree program. Applicants to the joint M.A./J.D. program can submit LSAT scores in lieu of GRE scores. GMAT scores will not be accepted under any circumstances.

M.A./J.D. Curriculum Outline
  • 24 credits of Security Studies course work taken in the first year of the joint program, including completion of all core courses for the program. 
    • Theory and Practice of Security (SEST-500) and Grand Strategies and Military Operations (SEST-501)
    • Selection and completion of a concentration in Intelligence, International Security, Military Operations, Technology and Security, Terrorism and Substate Violence, Unconventional Weapons and Non-Proliferation, or U.S. National Security. This concentration includes: a core class for the concentration (which must be completed during the first year of the M.A. program) and three concentration electives;
    • Completion of distribution requirements in each of the following areas: Area Security Studies, Economics and Security, and Technology and Security;
  • 31 credits of the required first-year law curriculum (taken in the second year of the joint program);
  • 32 credits in further law courses including Professional Responsibility and the legal writing requirement (distributed among the third and fourth years);
  • 16 credits in international law courses including three credits in International Law I and 13 credits in further international law courses, at least three of which need to be in international/national security law;
  • Research Seminar (SEST-710) taken in the third, and/or fourth years;
  • Passage of a four-hour comprehensive exam to be taken in the same semester as SEST-710 in Security Studies program;
  • Dependent on which M.A.S.S.P degree requirements the 6 credits of J.D. courses are approved to fulfill, 6 credits of additional M.A.S.S.P. free elective credits taken in the third, and/or fourth years or during Summer sessions; and
  • Residency requirement;
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 for the Law Center and a 3.0 for the M.A. in Security Studies.


Students in the M.A./Ph.D. program are required to take a total of 60 credit hours of course work with up to 24 credits double-counting toward both the M.A. in Security Studies and Ph.D. in International Relations.  The joint degree only applies to students admitted to the International Relations Ph.D. program in the Department of Government. Students accepted to the M.A./Ph.D. program must also attain proficiency in relevant languages and research methodologies and successfully complete and defend a dissertation to be awarded the Ph.D.

Students can only be admitted to the joint program for the fall semester. A separate application must be submitted to SSP and to the Department of Government; the Department of Government’s application deadline is earlier than the SSP application deadline.  Please refer the Department of Government's website for additional information. Admitted students are required to attend on a full-time basis. 

M.A./Ph.D. Curriculum Outline
  • Theory and Practice of Security (SEST-500) in the first semester in the program (waived for students in the joint degree program provided that they enroll in GOVT-551 and GOVT-724);
  • Grand Strategy and Military Operations (SEST-501) in the first semester in the program;
  • The core course in the chosen area of concentration in the first or second semester of the program;
  • Four additional courses in the chosen concentration;
  • Research Seminar (SEST-710) in the final semester in the program (summer graduates see exception below).

    Students in the joint degree program are not required to enroll in the Research Seminar.  They may submit an equivalent paper (usually 30-40 pages in length) to the program in fulfillment of this requirement.  Arrangements must be made with Associate Director of Academic Affairs prior to the student's final semester in the M.A. program.

    The Research Seminar must be taken in the final semester except for students graduating in the summer who must take the seminar in the spring of their last year.

  • One course in each of the following three substantive areas:
    • Area Security Studies;
    • Economics and Security;
    • Technology and Security
  • Two SSP-approved free electives

    Please be aware that some courses may cross count allowing students to complete more than two free elective.  Students with questions regarding the distributional allocation of a course should ask the SSP Associate Director of Academic Affairs prior to registering.  Students may double count one course between the concentration and distribution requirements.  This allows for an additional free elective to reach the 36 credits required for graduation.

  • Comprehensive Exam

    Students must pass a comprehensive examination to graduate from the program.  The comprehensive exam tests broad substantive knowledge of national and international security problems along with the student's analytic abilities.  The exam poses questions that address each of the primary concentrations.  Students take the comprehensive examination during the final semester in the SSP portion of the degree (Fall or Spring; Summer graduates will take the comprehensive exam during the Spring semester).