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International Security Courses

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 about 80 different courses offered each semester, SSP is a suitable option both for students seeking a more general security background and those seeking to specialize in a particular area.

Core Courses

ISEC-5000: Theory and Practice of Security

ISEC-5000 is designed 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 MIS courses.

ISEC-5001: Grand Strategy and Military Operations

ISEC-5001 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.

Distribution Requirements

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

MIS 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.

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

  • Arctic Security

  • Artificial Intelligence and National Security

  • Biotechnology and Security

  • Civil Military Relations

  • Congress and Defense Policy

  • Counterterrorism Strategy and Policy

  • Decision-Making in Stressful Environments

  • Domestic Terrorism

  • Energy and Security

  • Ethics and National Security

  • Gender and War

  • Grand Strategy

  • Great Power Competition

  • Hands-on Open Source Intelligence

  • Hands-on Python for Cyber Security

  • International Security

  • Intro Statistics for Policymakers

  • Lies and Disinformation

  • National Security Law

  • Nuclear Weapons: History, Strategy, and Technology

  • Research Methods

  • Russia and its Military

  • Space Policy 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

  • Writing for Security Professionals

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