Did you know that Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is considered a classic work in military strategy and tactics? Indeed, its huge influence is an excellent book for understanding military thinking and warfare! If you’re planning to pursue a master’s of Strategic Studies, you may want to read and understand it, too, for recreational and academic purposes.
Strategic Studies is a multidisciplinary academic field focusing on the comprehensive study of peace and conflict strategies. Most programs offer a curriculum that emphasizes the close connection between international politics, diplomacy and economics, and military power and geostrategy. Students acquire basic proficiency in diplomacy, international cooperation, and intelligence, a skillset acquired through a combination of academic coursework, graded research, and internships.
Individuals interested in Strategic Studies can enroll in graduate programs or professional programs offered to military personnel and the diplomatic corps. But civilians in government agencies, defense companies, and think tanks involved in national security and international relations are also welcome to apply. Many programs have an equal focus on military strategy and civilian diplomacy due to the diversity of the student population.
Graduate academic programs, such as the master’s degree programs discussed below, welcome applicants with a bachelor’s degree, among other admission requirements. A bachelor’s degree can be in any field, whether in strategic studies, political science, or international relations. The applicant’s life and work experience, such as military service or in a think tank, may also be advantageous in the classroom.
(Note that there are only a few online Bachelor of Strategic Studies programs in the United States. Among the best is the Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis (SSDA) program at Norwich University. This is specifically designed for active-duty military personnel, National Guard and Reserve personnel, and Marines with the NATO Special Operations Forces and US Special Operations Command.)
While there are similarities between military and business strategies, these are completely different fields of study! For one thing, military strategy results in only one outcome – either a win or a loss with little gray areas. Business strategy results in either a win-lose or a win-win scenario.
Furthermore, the military strategy focuses on paralyzing the enemy’s position and ending the war in the soonest possible time with the least possible resources. Business strategy doesn’t end the competitors’ business operations but in achieving its own self-directed goals. Such differentiation is important to set realistic expectations when enrolling in a Master’s in Strategic Studies program.
By indexing The Best Online Master’s of Strategic Studies Graduate Schools, we hope to provide future graduate students in this field with excellent choices for advanced learning in this field of study,
The list outlines the top attributes of the online graduate schools and programs that produce superior Master’s of Strategic Studies graduates:
- An online or hybrid Strategic Studies learning format,
- Rigorous coursework focusing on political risks, military conflicts, defense policies, and contemporary security issues and approaches in preparation for an executive-level profession in the field,
- Faculty members with expertise in one or more facts of the Strategic Studies discipline,
- Superior student services in various forms, including financial aid programs, job placements, strong alumni network, career assistance,
- Well regarded by journalistic or academic resources, and an active member of industry organizations,
- Fully accredited by appropriate academic agencies.
Best Online Master’s of Strategic Studies Graduate Schools
: 158 Harmon Drive, Northfield, VT 05663
: (866) 684-7237
The oldest of six senior US military colleges, Norwich University offers the most prestigious online Master of Arts in Strategic Studies program. Such prestige comes from the combination of rigorous professional study, dedicated faculty known for their thought leadership, and liberal studies-centric curriculum. Indeed, the Birthplace of ROTC lives up to its motto of peace being its mission and strategy its means!
While it’s an online program, students must participate in a one-week residency as a culminating experience. However, the rest of the program is delivered online so working professionals can enjoy a good work-life balance. The graduation ceremony is typically held in June on campus.
- The program consists of six courses, with each course credited as six units. Each course lasts for 11 weeks.
- Students enroll in one course at a time, so there’s less study-related pressure. The method also allows students to master each course and build the strong foundation necessary to thrive in the succeeding course.
- Each class only has 15 students, maximum, which contributes to exceptional teacher-student interactions and learning.
- Most students finish the program in 18 months, but it may differ depending on your unique circumstances.
- The curriculum aims to provide students a broad exposure to national politics, international relations, and interagency collaborations.
- The courses include National Security Strategy: Theory and Frameworks, Theory and the International System, and The Military and the Use of Force. There’s also a capstone planning exercise corresponding to six credits.
- The program welcomes current and former military personnel from the US Armed Forces. Students are expected to put their education, training, and military experiences to good use in the program while also expanding on them.
- Graduates work in both private and public sectors, such as in think tanks and intelligence agencies. Many also work for the US military and the Department of Defense, particularly on matters concerning national security.
- Applicants must comply with admission requirements, including a bachelor’s degree in one of several areas, including national security studies, political science, or management studies with a concentration in Strategic Studies. Undergraduate GPA must be 2.75 or higher, and proof of current or prior military service is required.
Standout Features of Norwich University’s Online MA in Strategic Studies:
Students have to commit themselves to the rigorous curriculum, but their efforts are well-rewarded since their graduate degree has immediate and significant applications in their careers. Norwich also has effective mechanisms in place that support active-duty personnel in their academic pursuits. For example, scholarships including the Achievement Scholarship, Active Duty Military Scholarship, and Norwich Alumni Scholarship make it easier to achieve the degree from the private military academy.
Norwich was one of two educational institutions – the other one was the US Coast Guard Academy – which opened its doors to women in 1974. It’s also praised for being among the first military colleges to admit traditional students, while Alden Partridge, its founder, introduced experiential learning in its system.
University of Texas at El Paso
: Kelly Hall, Ste. 115, 500 W. University Ave., El Paso, TX 79968
: (800) 684-8837
The University of Texas at El Paso, one of the largest Hispanic-serving universities in the US, is an R1 public research university. Non-Hispanics may also apply to its top-ranked online Master of Defense and Strategic Studies, one of its more than 160 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
At UTEP, students learn about the crucial importance of national defense and international relations and the need for different viewpoints and skillsets. Indeed, the program features students from different socio-economic, political, and educational backgrounds that contribute to the vibrant dynamics! Students can look forward to engaging in discussions about modern warfare, the security environment, and national military strategy, from their History to their current situation.
- The program welcomes individuals who want to work in the US government, particularly homeland security, intelligence, and foreign relations. Many students also seek career advancement in the Armed Forces, influence defense policy and legislation, and employment in defense and security firms.
- Students complete 36 credit hours. Each course lasts for seven weeks, an accelerated format that demands commitment and allows for a good work-life balance.
- The 100% online delivery format makes it easy for working professionals, civilians, and military personnel, to complete their academic requirements independently. The classes are asynchronous, too, meaning more scheduling flexibility.
- Students are well-advised to explore their financial aid options, including military benefits. UTEP may have reasonable tuition rates, but financial aid is still a good idea regardless of your current status.
- The in-state tuition of $490/credit hour is lower for out-of-state tuition at $575/credit hour.
- The program can be accessed via the Academic Common Market (ACM), allowing out-of-state students to save on tuition costs.
- Courses include US National Security, Strategic Theory and Modern Warfare, Global Security, and Information Operations. Each course builds on the prior ones, so students are advised to follow the curriculum’s recommended succession.
Standout Features of UTEP’s Online Master of Defense and Strategic Studies:
Individuals with a keen interest in a career in national security or intelligence are best suited for the program, thanks to its emphasis on these areas. Faculty members are known for their academic expertise and thought leadership and emphasize cultural awareness and higher thinking skills.
UTEP is the United States’ top-producing university of Hispanic engineers with master’s and doctoral degrees! As its students and alumni are called, the Miners enjoy a campus reminiscent of Bhutan and Tibet, thanks to many of its buildings designed according to the Dzong architectural style. The iconic Mining Minds public art enhances the campus atmosphere, particularly at night when LEDs illuminate it in various colors.
University of Missouri
: 130 Heinkel Building, Columbia, MO 65211
: (573) 882-2491
The University of Missouri, also known as Mizzou, is known for its competitive admission for its more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Students enrolled in its online Master of Arts in Defense, and Strategic Studies are then considered the cream of the crop! The rigorous curriculum will challenge them at every turn, but it’s just as well since the national security and intelligence industries are also challenging.
Mizzou, a Purple Heart University, welcomes individuals to its online MA in Defense and Strategic Studies interested in promoting military effectiveness, international relations, and national security. Both civilians and military personnel are welcome to apply, too, whether their reasons are for a career change or career advancement.
- Offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, particularly by the Department of Political Science, this is a 100% online program without on-campus residency requirements. Not even a campus visit is required! The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Mizzou and its programs.
- Students must complete 30 credit hours for graduation purposes. Each course is credited for three hours, with a total of 10 courses in the program. The 30-credit program consists of three compulsory courses (nine credit hours) and seven electives (21 credit hours).
- The compulsory courses include theories of civil war, international conflict, and Strategic Studies. The electives cover topics on counterinsurgency, intelligence, and military innovation.
- Each course lasts for eight weeks. The courses students can take in a single term depend on their status. If you’re a full-time military student, you may enroll in three courses each term. If you’re a part-time student, your schedule may permit enrollment in two courses.
- The average completion rate ranges from 12 months for full-time students to 24 months for part-time students.
- Transfer of credits is allowed up to 12 credit hours. Current and former military officers in the US Armed Forces who are either enrolled in or have earned Intermediate Level Education (ILE) at designated schools can transfer credits. The designated schools include the US Army Command and General Staff School, US Air Force Air Command and Staff College, and the US Navy College of Naval Command and Staff.
- The current estimated cost is $18,106.50 based on its official website. Students should explore their financial aid options, including military tuition reduction benefits.
- Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA, a transcript of records, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and a résumé.
Standout Features of Mizzou’s Online MA in Defense and Strategic Studies:
Students acquire mastery of a wide range of topics related to national security, international conflict and relations, and Strategic Studies, an uncommon aspect of a master’s degree in Strategic Studies. Lessons learned can be applied in civilian and military settings, including joint staff officers, battalion commanders, and intelligence officers.
Mizzou is the sole producer and supplier of nuclear medicine-related isotopes and host of the most powerful research reactor in a university in the world. And if that isn’t enough to impress, it’s also home to the largest collection of books in Missouri with more than 3.1 million volumes, among others.
The United States Army War College
: 122 Forbes Avenue, Carlisle, PA 17013-5234
: (717) 245-3131
The United States Army War College (USAWC) offers graduate-level instruction for civilians and senior military officers in preparation for senior leadership roles. Every year, a board of admission considers applicants into the competitive program, but only about 800 students are granted the privilege.
The Master’s in Strategic Studies program has two components. First, half of the admitted students are enrolled in the on-campus, full-time program completed in 10 months. Second, the other half is in the online program that lasts for two years. Both cohorts, nonetheless, receive the same education and master’s degree upon completion.
- Applicants from the Army must have earned their education from the US Army Command and General Staff College before being considered for admission. Applicants with the rank of major and above must also complete the Joint Professional Military Education.
- Applicants from other military branches and civilians from the State Department, Department of Defense, and National Security Agency undergo a rigorous admission process. Officers from foreign nations study as International Fellows.
- Admission requirements are different for military personnel, and civilians are different in some ways. For military personnel, the minimum requirements are at least colonel or lieutenant colonel in rank and between 16-25 years in service at the start of the course. For civilians, their rank must be in the salary grade GS/GM-14 for Department of the Army Federal Government personnel; other civilians may be in the GS-13 salary grade.
- There’s no transfer of credits for academic credits earned as well as for life and work experiences. The curriculum precludes the usual transfer of credits even from accredited institutions.
- Online students are well-advised to spend at least 15 hours every week for study purposes to thrive in the program. The distance education platform allows students with full-time jobs to earn their master’s degree from the prestigious Army War College (AWC) and use it for career advancement.
- Students need to complete all academic requirements for graduation and attend the required resident courses and secure the appropriate security clearance.
- Commissioned officers must comply with a two-year service obligation after earning the master’s degree from the AWC.
Standout Features of the War College’s Online Master’s in Strategic Studies:
The AWC prides itself on being the Think Factory for notable leaders in the military and civilian sectors. Such is its fierce focus on achieving the goals that it has become among the best schools for professional military education! The AWC is also known for its world-class research and active engagement in the public discourse about Strategic Studies and military effectiveness.
The AWC was established in the wake of the Spanish-American War when it revealed the US military’s weaknesses then. It was created to address the professional education of its officers. The AWC now has split yet complementary functions – education for staff officers and research. It’s among the military’s senior service colleges, with the others being the Air War College and the Naval War College.
Missouri State University
: 901 S. National Ave., Springfield, MO 65897
: (417) 836-5000
The Missouri State University is unique in that it has a dedicated Department of Defense and Strategic Studies program! While its main campus is in Fairfax, Virginia, interested individuals can enroll in its highly-rated online Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies. Working professionals in the civilian and military sectors may apply for admission into the program and find it convenient for their work-life balance.
As a public university, MO State has one of the state’s lowest graduate tuition and costs. Online students pay an estimated $19,800 in total costs, but it can be reduced with scholarships and other financial aid forms.
- Students can choose between 100% online attendance or hybrid attendance (i.e., seated, in-classroom, and online classes).
- The program offers two options for students to choose from. First, the General Option allows students to customize their degrees according to their unique career goals. Second, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Option provides students with a robust background in WMDs, including weapons control, nuclear deterrence, and missile defense.
- Students should complete 36 credit hours to earn a master’s degree. The curriculum consists of two compulsory core courses: Seminar on International Security Affairs and Seminar on Nuclear Strategy and Arms Control. Each of these results in earning six cumulative credits. The rest of the 30 credits can be earned by completing the academic requirements of elective courses.
- The program also offers two options, thesis-wise. First, the thesis option consists of no more than three semester hours. If you choose the WMD option, your thesis topic must also focus on one of the approved related topics. Second, the non-thesis option involves passing the comprehensive exam, submitting a research paper, and undergoing a related oral exam.
- Students choose between thesis and non-thesis options only after completing 18 credit hours.
- Transfer of credits is possible for certain students, including active-duty military officers (up to 15 credits for five graduate-level courses) and reserve officers (up to 12 credits for four graduate-level courses). The remaining credit hours, ranging from 21 to 24 credits, must be earned in the program.
- Entrance requirements include a bachelor’s degree with at least 2.75 GPA, a satisfactory GRE score, and letters of recommendation. Substitutes for low undergraduate GPA or GRE score include a demonstration of graduate-level performance.
- Retention requirements are equally tough, with students required to maintain a 3.0 GPA at the end of their second semester.
Standout Features of MO State’s Online MS in Defense and Strategic Studies:
MO State graduates have a strong support system, including faculty and staff members who connect alumni and employers in Missouri and even Washington, DC. The CIA, FBI, Capitol Hill, and Lockheed Martin are among the notable employers of DSS graduates.
Aside from its three physical campuses in Missouri, MO State also has a dynamic campus in Dalian, China. These campuses offer a wide range of student-centric activities like concerts, poetry slams, and bowling nights.
American Public University
: 111 W. Congress Street, Charles Town, WV 25414
: (877) 755-2787
The online Master of Arts in Military Studies at American Public University (APU) provides students ample opportunities to explore military strategies in peace and conflict situations. Such focus on military operations covers current and emerging security challenges for the US and the laws of conflict on the international stage. But it isn’t just the issues of peace, security, and defense that are discussed – more importantly, students are encouraged to identify viable plans for their resolution.
The curriculum isn’t academic since it was developed with inputs and insights from senior military leaders and national security experts. The relevance and realistic nature of the courses prepare students for leadership positions and for becoming published authors of military studies-related research. Indeed, both action and thought leaders in military studies and strategy call APU their alma mater!
- This is a 36-credit hour graduate program with courses that start every month. These courses vary in duration between eight and 16 weeks.
- Students can request for transfer of credits of up to 15 credits from graduate-level coursework and relevant work experience.
- Active-duty military personnel and reservists, and National Guard members don’t pay the technology fee. Other students, including civilians, pay the $65/course technology fee.
- Students choose between two concentrations. First, the Joint Warfare concentration focuses on modern joint warfare management, leadership, and operations. Second, the Strategic Leadership option studies the theory and practices of leadership and strategy in the past and present. Third, the Irregular Warfare concentration provides students with opportunities to study the subject in greater detail. These three concentrations consist of 15 semester credit hours each.
- Every concentration requires completion of core courses equivalent to 15 semester hours. The coursework includes The Making of Strategy, Great Military Leaders, and Joint Warfare Theory and Practice.
- The remaining six semester hours consist of your choice in a graduate elective and a military studies capstone.
- Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a transcript of records, and a copy of government-issued photo identification.
Standout Features of APU’s Online MA in Military Studies:
APU strongly believes in the value of a world-class education at an affordable price. For this reason, the cost per credit is $370, but it’s reduced to $250 per/credit with a military grant. However, most course materials are Open Educational Resources (OER) that are available for free.
APU isn’t a public university despite its name! It’s a private, for-profit university that offers online undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs and is a publicly traded corporation. But more than 50% of its students are either active-duty or former military personnel.
Hawaii Pacific University
: 1 Aloha Tower Drive, Honolulu, HI 96813
Hawaii Pacific University is a household name in the Aloha State partly because it’s among the largest universities here. Thanks to its rigorous curriculum, hands-on learning style, and social responsibility, it is renowned for attracting students from the mainland US and foreign countries.
The online MA in Diplomacy and Military Studies attracts the best students’ keen interest in the military, government, and civilian careers. Working professionals agree that its online format makes it easier to earn a degree while balancing personal and professional responsibilities. Active-duty military personnel, National Guard members, and reservists are among the typical students.
- Customization of your master’s degree is possible since the program offers 70 courses for this purpose. The courses cover ten social science and humanities disciplines.
- Students complete the program in 18 months or less, depending on the number of credits earned within the program. Transfer of credits applies to graduates of military colleges and universities recognized by the US Armed Forces.
- Start dates are in the fall, spring and summer. Note that not all courses are offered in all terms, so be sure to coordinate with your academic advisor or admissions officer.
- Tuition reduction comes from VA benefits and other financial aid options. Current tuition is $950/credit or $34,990 for the entirety of the program.
- Students choose between part-time and full-time status.
- The coursework emphasizes a multidisciplinary view of diplomacy, military strategy, and military force in international relations with a historical and modern perspective. Topics covered include humanities, Strategic Studies, anthropology, and sustainable development.
- Students must complete capstone courses, namely, Research and Writing in Diplomacy and Military Studies and two capstone seminars.
- Prerequisite courses include two 1000-level History, one 3000-level History, one 4000-level History course, and International Relations and Introduction to Politics. Substitutes for these prerequisite courses are 18 undergraduate credits in International Relations, History, and Political Science and a combination of military or diplomatic experience.
- Application requirements include a transcript of records, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and an application form and fee.
Standout Features of HPU’s MA in Diplomacy and Military Studies:
This is among HPU’s flagship academic programs, and it has gained an enviable national reputation for being one of the best in military studies and strategy. The diverse student body reflects its international prestige, too, while its faculty members are known for their experience and expertise in these subjects. Faculty members include diplomats, generals, and intelligence professionals.
The program is the first civilian program to be accredited by the US Naval War College! Such prestige has spurred HPU to make consistent improvements to the program, too.
: 1971 University Blvd., Lynchburg, VA 24515
: (800) 424-9595
Liberty University encourages its students to pursue excellence in their personal and professional lives, including their academic studies. Every student is viewed as a valuable member of a nation-building team whose education at Liberty has equipped them with crucial skillsets. Students have access to its online writing center, library, and other academic resources that become crucial tools for their success.
The online MA in Military Operations – Military History program is designed for working professionals in the military, both active-duty and former members, and civilian sectors. Career advancement is a common reason, with career change also being cited. Graduates also learn the skills for effective management of large-scale operations. Thus, it’s a popular program for military members and contractors.
- This is a 100% online program consisting of 36 credit hours. Every course lasts for eight weeks.
- Students take an average of 1.5 years to complete the program.
- Applicants may request for transfer of credits of up to 50% of the total requirements or 18 credit hours.
- The curriculum is divided into two sections, namely, military History and military doctrine, and each one has a different emphasis. In the military history section, students learn historical methodology, including the conduct of historical reviews. Other topics covered are World War II and its causes and resolution, and modern naval warfare. Students learn military operations and intelligence in the military doctrine section, irregular and asymmetrical warfare, and war theory.
Standout Features of LU’s MA in Military Operations – Military History:
Military historians are at the forefront of education at Liberty’s master’s degree program, meaning students learn from the experts. This is of vital importance in learning military History and, thus, in connecting it to contemporary military studies. Military discounts are available, and students can rely on military affairs experts for guidance in the tuition reimbursement process.
Liberty University is a proud Christian university, among the largest of its kind globally, and its more than 450 online programs reflect its beliefs. Female students (61%) outnumber male students (39%) in its online programs, too.
The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina
: 171 Moultrie Street | Charleston, SC 29409
: (843) 225-3294
The Citadel, one of six senior military colleges in the country, offers online graduate degrees, including the MA in Military History degree. The 1,000-strong student body of The Citadel Graduate College doesn’t live on campus, unlike the cadets enrolled in its bachelor’s degree programs. By the way, the Citadel Graduate College is a civilian program with an emphasis on military studies.
Students learn about the evolution of war, including its relationship to contemporary joint warfare, military operations, and civil-military relations. Armed conflict at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels is also discussed in-depth, while analytical thinking, critical writing, and historical thinking skills are developed. Students also learn to appreciate the different contexts of war, from its political causes to its social and environmental consequences.
- This is a 100% online program consisting of 30 credit hours.
- Students choose between earning an MA in Military History only and earning an MA in Military History and a Military Leadership graduate certificate simultaneously. The latter is known as the Dual Program that requires an extra two credit hours for the graduate certificate.
- Students may complete the program in two years or less.
- Admissions are on a rolling basis but note that there’s a non-refundable application fee.
- Entry requirements include official transcripts with a competitive GPA of at least 2.5 at the undergraduate level and at least 3.0 in the major. Other documents required are letters of recommendation from a former professor, a commanding officer, or an employer and a resume and MAT or GRE score.
Standout Features of The Citadel’s Online MA in Military History:
The Citadel is cited as the #1 Public College in the South by the US News & World Report for ten consecutive years, from 2012 to 2021. Plus, it’s the best college for military veterans in the South, too! Its distinguished faculty of military historians and experts is the breeding ground for leaders and soldiers.
The Corps of Cadets bring honor to The Citadel through academic excellence and military leadership. The corps live and study – many will say breathe – with the classical military system as their guide.
: 1000 Galvin Road South, Bellevue, NE 68005
: (402) 293-2000
Individuals with a passion for protecting national security and peace will find Bellevue University’s online MS in Intelligence and Security Studies worthy of consideration. Faculty members have the experience, expertise, and respect that comes with it on matters related to the degree. Students develop their foundational knowledge, critical thinking skills, and research skillsets to prepare for the demanding jobs as intelligence officers and security analysts.
Applicants don’t need to present their GMAT or GRE score, thanks to the simplified admission process. Non-traditional students find it fast and easy to enroll in the program, although it must also be emphasized that the retention requirements are challenging.
- This is a 36-credit graduate program consisting of 27 credits for core courses and nine credits for electives. The core courses include Cyberwar and Cyberdeterrence, National Security, Transnational Interests, and Comparative Intelligence Cultures. The electives include Democracy, Ethnicity, and Development in Africa and Comparative Foreign Policy.
- Students choose from two specializations – Comparative Politics and International Relations.
- Graduate certificates can also be simultaneously earned. These include Intelligence and Security Strategy, Strategic Deterrence, and Strategic Intelligence.
- Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree with at least 2.5 GPA or a master’s degree with a 3.0 GPA.
Standout Features of Bellevue University’s Online MS in Intelligence and Security Studies:
Every student is provided with the necessary tools and resources for academic success, including a student coach. You will work with your student coach from admission until graduation, whenever necessary.
Bellevue University is committed to the academic success of its adult students and, indeed, it’s respected for its high-quality online adult education programs. Earning a master’s in Strategic Studies and related fields isn’t easy even when you benefit from online, asynchronous classes. But the rewards in the form of career advancement and personal fulfillment will make the sacrifices worth it. So, check out these graduate programs and start your journey toward becoming a respected expert in Strategic Studies!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the importance of Strategic Studies?
“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” These words by John F. Kennedy sums up the importance of studying Strategic Studies. The enormous cost of lives lost and societies ruined when a man goes to war demands that civilians and military personnel study war and its prevention. World War I and II, humanity’s large-scale wars so far, resulted in the deaths of more than 110 million!
With more sophisticated war-related technology, including weapons of mass destruction combined with a booming world population, humanity’s extinction may well be at hand in its own hands. By studying history, we have hope that the third world war can be averted. While there are current wars now – war, by the way, is defined as an active conflict with more than 1,000 deaths – there may be ways to minimize them.
Unfortunately, historians had estimated that in the last 3,400 years of man’s history, there were only 268 years when humanity was entirely at peace. Think about it: That’s just 8% of man’s recorded history! Studies, nonetheless, point to a more peaceful world in the past 30 years, so there’s still hope for humanity.
The bottom line: Students gain an advanced understanding of conflict and its causes and consequences. These causes and consequences are more complex in the modern world due to the emerging threats of the scarcity of resources, catastrophic climate change, and infectious diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has made international politics, trade, and conflict even more complicated!
What are the possible careers with a Master’s of Strategic Studies degree?
While you and your classmates in an online Master’s of Strategic Studies program follow the same curriculum, you likely won’t be following the same career path after graduation. Indeed, there’s no “typical career,” but there are plenty of career paths to choose from!
- Military analysts work for the CIA, FBI, and NSA, among other state intelligence organizations, and aid policymakers, military commanders, and other stakeholders in several ways. These include research, assessments, and briefings on national and international organizations, including terrorist groups.
- Policy analysts and planners work in the private and public sectors in various capacities. Their work allows them to influence political and economic decisions at the national and international levels.
- Cybersecurity experts create, manage and troubleshoot complex security systems, usually with a technical perspective.
- Intelligence officers are known for their prowess in gathering intelligence and using it to the advantage of the government. Many work abroad as undercover officers, too.
But these aren’t the only career possibilities! If you are interested in working in diplomacy, national policy, and strategic planning, you will likely find the graduate degree useful. You may even use it to further your career in the academe.
What’s the common curriculum for Masters of Strategic Studies programs?
Every university has its unique curriculum for its Master’s of Strategic Studies program, but there are also several common courses, although the names may differ. In general, every curriculum is designed to provide students with an outstanding platform to gain vital skillsets in Strategic Studies and defense studies.
The courses may include the following:
- Current and past policies of the American government in national defense and international relations
- Strategic and security alliances with other countries
- Politics of power and military effectiveness in various geopolitical regions of the world
- Technologies, ethics, and strategies of war
- Military History and relations between civilians and the military
- Counterinsurgency and terrorism
- Contemporary diplomacy and politics
- Economics and international politics
- Conflict resolution on the national and international levels
- Intelligence gathering
- Military Strategy in terms of theory and practice
Suffice it to say that pursuing a Master’s in Strategic Studies degree isn’t a walk in the park! This is true even with online programs where asynchronous delivery is the norm. You must adopt effective time management habits to thrive in the program. Otherwise, you may well find yourself cramming for your assignments and other requirements.
You are also well-advised to carefully plan your course load, or a number of classes, every term. You don’t want to take on more than you can chew, particularly when you’re juggling family, work, and school commitments. Your academic advisor should give guidance on this matter.
What can you expect from the thesis component?
Many programs have a thesis or dissertation component that students must be prepared for due to its intensive demands. But there are also programs without a thesis requirement, although these aren’t easier than those with it. Instead of a thesis, for example, students may be asked to complete a capstone project or pass a comprehensive exam.
The thesis requirements will vary depending on the program. You may be required to write a thesis consisting of at least 100 pages, for example, complete with an extensive review of the literature. Regardless of the specific thesis requirements, you must show mastery of your chosen topic before the review panel.
While writing the thesis itself may only start in the second semester of a two-year program, it’s best to start preparing for it in the first semester. List relevant topics that can be narrowed down as the semester progresses. You may also be required to attend a thesis meeting in your first semester.
The second semester typically includes submitting your thesis proposal and building your thesis committee if you choose the thesis option. You may also start your research, attend thesis meetings and perform related tasks.
Your third semester can include an oral presentation and collection of information, such as a survey of participants. Your outline and draft thesis must meet standards at this point, too. By your fourth and final term, your thesis will undergo several readers and revisions before being approved.
What are the common learning outcomes?
Again, the learning outcomes will differ between graduate programs. But there are several similarities, too, albeit in different words, including graduates being able to:
- Become successful leaders and thought leaders in interagency environments where Strategic Studies and defense are the core objectives;
- Apply higher faculty thinking skills in the in-depth analysis of complex political, military, and economic issues as well as provide possible solutions;
- Capitalize on their diverse personal and professional experiences in forging better relationships and scenarios in their workplaces and society.
Indeed, individuals with a Master’s of Strategic Studies degree must live up to high expectations! But doing so should be easier considering that your academic education and training were top-notch.