The Security Studies Program is a multidisciplinary master’s degree designed to prepare graduates for positions within the defense and security fields. The SSP curriculum is designed to give students a broad array of course options addressing numerous areas of study.
At SSP, young professionals are able to apply their recent theoretical undergraduate education to practical policy applications. Meanwhile, students with mid- to long-term experience in the military, intelligence, and defense contracting sectors enhance their practical knowledge with critical thinking, analytical writing, and theory-based solutions. Class sizes are capped at 18 students, allowing students to learn not only from their professors, but from their peers.
Read on for more information about the curriculum, requirements, and options for an SSP degree.
To receive an M.A. in Security Studies, students must complete 36 credits meeting the following course requirements:
- Theory and Practice of Security (SEST-5000) in the first semester of the program
- Grand Strategy and Military Operations (SEST-5001) in the first semester of the program
- The core course in the chosen area of concentration in the first or second semester of the program
- Three additional courses in the chosen concentration
- A minimum of eight courses (24 credits) sponsored by SSP (usually designated “SEST”) as a part of their course of study
- One course in each of the following three substantive areas:
- Area Security Studies
- Economics and Security
- Technology and Security
- Three SSP-approved free electives
Students must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and pass a four-hour typed comprehensive examination during their final Spring or Fall semester in the program. There is no language proficiency requirement for SSP. Please note that SSP does not accept transfer credits.
For more information on the courses we offer and the various requirements, visit our courses page.
SSP recognizes the benefit of having students who are currently working or interning in the security field. As such, we not only accommodate but encourage part-time students. All but a small number of SSP courses take place in the evening, as do many of our social and academic events. In addition, we offer a range of summer courses, allowing part-time students to complete the program in as little as 2 years.
SSP students are able to change from full-time status to part-time status on a semester-by-semester basis depending on their professional obligations. Students completing the program full-time are expected to enroll in 3 courses each semester. Typically, full-time students complete their degree in 2 years. Students completing the program on a part-time basis are expected to enroll in a minimum of 2 courses each semester and are given up to 3 years to complete the program.
As of Fall 2023, under certain circumstances, students are able to take a course overload of up to four courses per semester and in the summer. The recommended course load for full-time SSP students remains three courses per semester and two courses for part-time students. Some important things to know about course overloads:
- Students in their first semester will be able to take a course overload only after receiving permission from their SSP academic advisor prior to the start of classes.
- Accelerated (5-year dual degree) students may not take a course overload in their first semester, but may consult their academic advisor for eligibility in subsequent semesters.
- Continuing students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher in order to take a course overload, unless special permission is given by the Director of Graduate Studies.
- International students should check with OGS to discuss possible visa implications of taking a course overload.
- Students receiving federal financial aid should contact a financial aid advisor, as taking fewer than 6 credits in the final semester may leave them ineligible for federal financial aid. SSP merit aid is not affected.
The School of Foreign Service offers a variety of graduate certificates that allow students to focus on a particular region or topic throughout their studies. These certificates are offered by departments and centers across the SFS and have their own requirements in addition to the requirements of the SSP degree. Most SFS Graduate Certificates can be completed concurrently with the M.A. in Security Studies. Students work with the academic advising staff in both SSP and the department offering the certificate to map out their course plans to accommodate the requirements of a certificate program in conjunction with their SSP requirements. Find more information about graduate certificates on the main School of Foreign Service website.
At SSP, we value student success and recognize that education is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. SSP has a team of dedicated academic advisors who work closely with students on creating a course of study, choosing courses, and addressing academic issues. For students’ convenience, appointments are scheduled online and can be conducted via Zoom, over the phone, or in person. Current students should visit the SSP Student Resources Canvas page to book an advising appointment.