Defense and Strategic Studies

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Graduate programs

Master of Science, Defense and Strategic Studies

This program operates in Fairfax, Virginia, and is certified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Master of Science, Defense and Strategic Studies

Department of Defense and Strategic Studies
9302 Lee Hwy, Suite 760, Phone 703-218-3565

Program description

The primary objective of the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies program is to provide professional, graduate level academic education and training for students planning careers in the fields of national security policy, international security affairs, defense analysis, arms control, and education. In essence, this is a graduate international studies program with emphasis on security problems, strategic interests, and U.S. policy and policy-making. It is a program in public affairs.

Option areas

The Defense and Strategic Studies program offers two options:

  • Defense and Strategic Studies/General (DSS/General)
  • Defense and Strategic Studies/Weapons of Mass Destruction Studies (DSS/WMD)

Retention requirements

To remain in the program, the student must maintain, by the completion of the second semester, a minimum GPA of 3.00 in DSS courses and in all graduate work, and make satisfactory progress toward the MS degree.

Entrance requirements

Admission to the program requires a 2.75 GPA on the last 60 hours, a satisfactory Graduate Record Examination score (e.g., 290 or higher combined score on the verbal and quantitative), and letters of recommendation from undergraduate faculty or professionals acquainted with the students academic work or research and analytical skills. A relatively low GRE score may be compensated by an impressive undergraduate GPA and strong letters of recommendation.

Demonstrated graduate-level performance through a minimum of nine hours may compensate for GRE or undergraduate GPA weaknesses.

Degree requirements (36 hours)

Core Requirements. All students will take two core courses: Seminar on Nuclear Strategy and Arms Control, DSS 601 (3); and Seminar on International Security Affairs, DSS 632 (3). A minimum of 30 additional seminar hours would be selected by the student from the other DSS courses offered.

For the DSS/General option, the full array of elective courses is available.

For the DSS/WMD option, electives from the DSS course offerings that focus on WMD topics are required. See Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Graduate Certificate.

Research. A student will be required to complete either the Thesis option or the Non-thesis option.

  • Thesis Option. Completion of a satisfactory thesis in the candidate's discipline. Thesis credit shall be no more than 3 semester hours of the minimum 36 hours required for a master's degree. If the student fails to complete the thesis during the semester in which they are first enrolled in DSS 799, they must enroll in DSS 794, Active in Research, each semester until the thesis is finished.

    For the DSS/WMD option, the thesis topic must focus on an approved WMD subject.

  • Non-Thesis Option. A comprehensive examination covering the DSS core field of study must be passed, and a research paper is required as part of the non-thesis exam. Students must be registered for a course in order to complete the non-thesis oral exam. DSS 794 or DSS 796 is recommended.

    For the DSS/WMD option, the non-thesis research paper and oral exam must focus on an approved WMD subject.