The Security Studies Program curriculum sits at the nexus of theory and practice. Courses cover a diverse assortment of security issues and ensure that students obtain a substantive background in the theories, methods, and issues in the modern security environment.

With a broad selection of courses available, SSP is a suitable option both for students seeking a more general security background and those seeking to specialize in a particular area. Students can also take approved courses elsewhere in Georgetown University or in the Washington D.C. area.

Core Courses

SEST-500: Theory and Practice of Security

SEST-500 is designed by the SSP core faculty to provide a conceptual and substantive foundation for the M.A. curriculum. The course has three main objectives:

  1. The course seeks to provide students with a basic understanding of the major theories and concepts used in security studies. Students survey theories of war and peace – and the related dynamics of deterrence, coercion, cooperation, and intervention – in order to give them general frameworks for analyzing international security issues in any era.
  2. The course examines the origins of the major interstate conflicts of the past century, including World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, in order to give students both historical grounding and an appreciation of the applicability of theory to evidence.
  3. The course aims to introduce some of the key security challenges of the post-Cold War era and the 21st century, in order to give students a foundation for exploring contemporary security problems in greater depth in subsequent SSP courses.

SEST-501: Grand Strategy and Military Operations

SEST-501 seeks to give students an understanding of the elements of grand strategy and insight into military operations that will provide a baseline of knowledge for their work toward their Masters in Security Studies and beyond. The course will explore the following issues in detail:

  1. The development of national decisions to use military force, the derivation of war fighting strategy and strategic aims that follow, and the operational plan and execution of campaigns to achieve them
  2. The civil-military relationship in the development of strategy and the execution of campaigns
  3. The evolution of operational capability over time and the evolution of the relative roles air, land, and sea power
  4. The differing demands of conventional and unconventional warfare on the conduct of operations

Concentration & Elective Courses

SSP typically offers more than 120 distinct courses throughout the fall, spring, and summer terms. These include core courses for the six concentrations and a wide array of courses that can be used to fulfill the program’s distributional requirements or to fill elective slots.

The full list of courses from past and current semesters is available at Keep in mind that we are also constantly adding new courses, and that not all courses offered in a given year will be offered again the following year. We do, however, make an effort to keep popular courses available consistently. Below is a selection of courses that are typically offered at least once per year:

  • Advanced Military Operations
  • Biotechnology and Security
  • China and Its Military
  • Civil-Military Relations
  • Comparing Intelligence Services
  • Counterinsurgency
  • Covert Action/Counterintelligence
  • Decision-Making in Stressful Environments
  • Economics of Substate Violence
  • Economics of War
  • Energy and Security
  • Ethnic Conflict and Civil War
  • Force Planning
  • Hands-On Cyber Security
  • International Security
  • Net Assessment
  • Nuclear Weapons: History, Strategy, and Technology
  • Stability Challenges: South and Southeast Asia
  • Terrorism and Substate Violence
  • Theory and Practice of Intelligence
  • U.S. Defense Budgeting and National Security
  • U.S. National Security Policy

Current students should contact their academic advisor to obtain a master list of courses that count toward their concentration, as well as courses outside of SSP that have been approved to count toward their degree.

Syllabi for many current and past courses are available to current and admitted students through Georgetown’s faculty database. Students who are looking for a syllabus that is not available there can reach out to the professor directly.

SSP and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area

Georgetown University is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Students at colleges and universities within the consortium are eligible to enroll in courses at other universities, including The George Washington University, American University, and others.

Security Studies Program students may enroll in Consortium courses which are not offered at Georgetown University and are pre-approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Students interested in taking a course through the Consortium need to consult with their academic advisor prior to initiating the Consortium Course Approval process. Grades for approved Consortium courses will appear on the Georgetown SSP transcript and will count towards graduation requirements. However, it is important to note that the Consortium course grade will not be included in the cumulative GPA.

For students who are at other Consortium institutions and are interested in Security Studies Program courses, please consult with your own academic advisor and contact the Consortium Coordinator at the Registrar’s Office of your home institution to start the process and paperwork. Please do not contact the Georgetown professor to seek approval or to determine if space is available in a course. Seats in SSP courses are granted on a space available basis, after all SSP and Georgetown graduate students have enrolled. Departmental permission to enroll is reviewed after your Consortium paperwork has been processed by Georgetown’s Office of the Registrar. Please note that Consortium students are sometimes not enrolled till the day before class begins, or until the first day of classes. More information on accessing Georgetown courses through the Consortium can be found on the Registrar’s website.