Security Policy Studies Master of Arts

Security Policy Studies (SPS) is a policy-oriented master's degree program focusing on international security issues, with a particular emphasis on 21st century security challenges and how to respond to them. These include intensifying transnational challenges stemming from organized terrorist and criminal networks, human security problems stemming from fragile states, instability from technological developments including weapons proliferation and cyber threats, as well as climate change and health pandemics. Familiar challenges like major power rivalry and regional conflicts also require fresh strategic thinking to remain ahead of changing threat curves. The SPS curriculum provides strong grounding in the national security policy-making process, and our graduates build specialized knowledge that gives them an advantage in career development.


"During my time in the SPS program, I gained a broader and deeper understanding of international security issues. The SPS program also helped me develop key communications and analytical skills necessary to begin my career in international security policy.”

Bobby Shields



graphic: a locked keylock



What You'll Study 

Our curriculum provides strong grounding in the national security and defense policy-making process as well as international security institutions. Students select one of four specialized concentrations — US national security, transnational security, conflict resolution, and science & technology. They also choose a cluster of electives that can emphasize complementary areas of expertise, including in particular regional security dynamics or specialized themes.

Program of Study





Students will select a concentration and complete 15 credits of coursework focusing on contemporary security issues in that specific area.



Students will select 9-12 credits of electives to build complementary expertise in relevant regional or thematic security challenges.


Global Capstone

The Global Capstone enables student teams to apply their analytical skills to select and address a contemporary security challenge facing a client organization.



How to Apply 


When you're ready to apply to the program, you will need to follow the graduate admissions process, including completing and submitting the online application with all of the required materials 



Where You'll Go 

graphic: pie chart, 27% private, 51% public, 12% non-profit, 10% other Security Policy Studies



Our graduates continue to pursue a wide variety of exciting careers in diplomacy and public service, business, security, conflict resolution, development and public health. For 2016-17 graduates, top employers included: 
• U.S. Department of State
• U.S. Department of Defense
• U.S. Department of Homeland Security
• Federal Bureau of Investigation
• Office of the Director of National Intelligence
• Federal Reserve Board
• Capgemini Government Solutions
• The Asia Group
• Interos Solutions
• APCO Worldwide
• Atlantic Council

While you study with us and even once you leave, we'll provide you with resources and support to help you get the job you've always wanted post-graduation. From career counseling, workshops, site visits and information sessions, The Graduate Student Career Development Center has a variety of tools and tips to get you to where you want to be. 



“Since starting the SPS program, I have had the privilege of working with members of the DoD, current and former diplomats and ambassadors, members of the intelligence community, and a wide range of academia. My time at the Elliott School has been the most rewarding of my academic and professional career, and I would not have experienced the success that I have without it.”

Zlatko Kaurin


Faculty Book Spotlight 

book cover: text- Third Edition, Edited by Paul D Williams and Matt McDonald, Security Studies, An Introduction. Pictures of a soldier exiting a helicopter holding a baby, there is a man in the background. Another picture of a drone flying over a desert. A picture of two military personnel facing a large crowd of people. A picture of a boat in water that is almost invisible due to a large amount of debris floating in it. There is a ruined home and a large cloud of smoke in the background indicating a large fire or an explosion.



"A benefit of pursuing the MA in international affairs at the Elliott School is the exceptional career services they provide."

Camisha Johnson

MA Security Policy Studies