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

SEST-710: Research Seminar

The Security Studies Program (SSP) Research Seminar is intended to guide students through the conceptualization, planning, and execution of a major original project on a policy-relevant topic. This course is not intended to train students to become social science scholars. However, the same basic principles underlie all solid research and analysis on which policy is based. Whether it is a scholarly book, a policy brief, or an oral presentation of analysis, strong research provides insightful and balanced perspectives on important policy problems. The goals of the Research Seminar are:

  1. To provide students with additional training in research design, research methods, and effective writing
  2. To guide students through the process of conducting original research and analysis, leading to the production of substantial, professional-quality papers. This course also helps students recognize common research mistakes and biases, while learning more about what constitutes strong research
  3. To help students develop their abilities to constructively critique and contribute to the work of others

Approved Courses for SSP Students

The Security Studies Program offers new courses every semester. Current, admitted, and prospective students can review courses from past and current semesters at to learn more about the courses that are typically offered at SSP. Keep in mind that not all courses offered in a given year will be offered again the following year, though we make an effort to keep popular courses available consistently.

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 or to the Assistant Director of Faculty Services.

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.