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 more than 80 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.
SEST-500: Theory and Practice of Security
SEST-500 is designed to provide a conceptual and substantive foundation for the M.A. curriculum. The course has three main objectives:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 engage students at the nexus of policy, grand strategy, and military operations to create an understanding of how nations compete in the international system. This course is designed to give students a foundation from which to analyze the role – and really the supremacy – of politics and policy in strategy and war. Students should leave this course with a better understanding of:
- The theories that have governed the conduct of war and the formation of strategy from ancient to modern times.
- The components of good strategy-making, including the different tools of national power, and how nations combine them to advance their interests.
- The difference between grand strategy, strategy, and operational art.
- Civil-Military relations, their changing dynamics, and the impact they have on creating and implementing grand strategy.
- The importance of history, technology, and operational milieu in shaping the American military services, and how that affects their role in making US military strategy.
- The components of war that have remained constant over time as well as how war has changed, including the challenges presented by revolutionary and insurgent forms of warfare.
All students must take at least one course in each of the three substantive areas described below. Some classes may meet more than one core and/or distribution requirement. Students are authorized to double-count no more than one such course between their concentration and distribution requirements. Double-counting a course allows students to take an additional free elective.
Area Security Studies
This requirement provides students the opportunity to approach security issues from a regional perspective. It includes issues of conflict and politics as well as economics, energy, finance, health, the regional arms trade, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Students gain a thorough understanding of a major international region and the countries within it so that they will be able to incorporate that knowledge into future analysis and policy making.
Technology and Security
This requirement allows students to approach security issues from a technology perspective and provides the future analyst, policy maker, or scholar with an appreciation of the wide range of technology issues affecting all of the core SSP concentrations. Students can take classes on topics ranging from energy and resource scarcity to health, biotechnology, and environmental issues, or from cyber and information warfare to unconventional weapons and net assessment as well as emerging technologies.
Economics and Security
This requirement enables students to examine the economic instruments of national power and their relationship to strategy and policy so that future analysts, policymakers, and scholars are able to integrate economic considerations as national security policies and strategies are developed. Students may take classes on a range of topics, including defense resourcing and budgeting, terrorist financing, energy security, developmental issues in areas of conflict, and more.
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 schedule.georgetown.edu. 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
- 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
SSP and the Washington Consortium
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.