The Security Studies Program curriculum uses concentrations to serve as guideposts for a student’s academic career. While we do ask that students indicate a concentration from the start of their SSP career, students are able to take courses in any concentration and can change their concentration as their plans and interests evolve.

The following concentration options are available to currently enrolled students.


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 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. This concentration addresses intelligence issues in the military, government agencies, or in government-related industries.

International Security

Students in this concentration 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.

Military Operations

Students enrolled in this concentration acquire in-depth knowledge of the U.S. military and those of other nations with a 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.

Technology and Security

This concentration permits students to approach security issues from a technological perspective and provides the future analyst, policymaker, 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, 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.

Unconventional Weapons and Non-Proliferation

*As of 2018, the Unconventional Weapons and Non-Proliferation concentration is being folded into the Technology and Security concentration. Courses on unconventional weapons and non-proliferation will still be available to all students and count toward the Technology and Security concentration, but only students who entered the program during or before the Fall 2018 semester will be able to select this concentration.

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, deterrence theory and history, relevant treaties, sanction regimes, and emerging concepts such as “Nuclear Zero.”

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 complete range of national instruments of power—diplomatic, information, military, and economic—is examined 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, including diplomacy and counterterrorism as well as counterinsurgency, major combat operations, and nuclear warfare.