Security Policy Studies Program of Study

To earn your Master of Arts in Security Policy Studies you must successfully complete our 40 credit program which includes 6 credits of core courses, 15 credits in your chosen Concentration, 12 credits of Electives or Tools, 3 credits of Skills courses, and a 4 credit Capstone sequence. 
 

Master of Arts in Security Policy Studies Program of Study

 

Core Courses

International Security (Fall)

This course introduces frameworks for evaluating international security challenges and selecting effective policy responses. It examines current and probable future threats, key historical case studies, and theories that permit the use of patterns for assessing new events. Topics include state-centric and non-state threats, weapons proliferation, and human security.

 

Security Policy Analysis (Spring)

This course develops analytical frameworks for formulating and assessing national security policy choices, emphasizing application to real-world problems and development of analytical perspective, not formal derivations. Introduces techniques for decision making under uncertainty, optimization and optimal choice, strategic interaction, and probabilistic reasoning. 

Electives

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

Tool Requirement

Students may choose between either a language or a statistical skills option to fulfill the 3-credit tool requirement.

Language Option

If the language option is selected, the student can test out either through coursework or by passing an examination. Students who test out of a language have three extra credits to apply to their electives.

Statistics Option

This option may be fulfilled by demonstrating proficiency, by a grade of B or better, in a graduate-level statistics course. This requirement may be met by taking one of the following:

IAFF 6501 Quantitative Analysis for International Affairs Professionals

IAFF 6198 Advanced Quantitative Analysis

Skills Course

Students must select three one-credit professional skills courses. They are designed to provide students with practical skills and knowledge to perform effectively in their careers. One credit of language coursework may count towards this requirement with approval of the Program Director.

Capstone

You must complete a Capstone project as a culminating experience during your final year of study at the Elliott School.

 

Elliott School Capstone projects provide an opportunity for you to apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired through your coursework to a current policy question.

Global Capstone Project

Online Courses

While the majority of courses offered by the Security Policy Studies Program are in-person, students also have the option to take some courses online. Starting in Fall 2022, the Security Policy Studies Program will offer students the option of completing their MA degree fully online with a concentration in United States National Security only. All students in the program, regardless of their concentration, have the option of taking a mix of in-person and online courses during Fall, Spring and Summer sessions.


 

Concentration Fields

15 credits are required to fulfill the SPS concentration: One required course, and four concentration courses (refer to the bulletin).

United States National Security

Students can also complete this concentration fully online. View the SPS Online course options.

Required Course

IAFF 6186 – United States National Security (Fall, Spring)

Courses that satisfy the requirements: 

HIST 6042 – Seminar: World War II

HIST 6051 – Re-thinking Cold War History (Spring)

HIST 6330 – Modern U.S. Foreign Policy (Fall)

IAFF 6106 – Nuclear Weapons (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Gender and Security (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – International Law and the Use of Force (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Nuclear Security Policy (Spring)

IAFF 6118 – Wartime Governance Challenges in Afghanistan

IAFF 6145 – US Space Policy (Fall)

IAFF 6148 – Space and National Security (Fall)

IAFF 6160 – Defense Planning and Program Analysis (Spring)

IAFF 6163 – Transnational Security (Fall, Spring)

IAFF 6165 – Fundamentals of Intelligence (Fall, Spring)

IAFF 6186 – The Analysis of Military Operations

IAFF 6186 – Artificial Intelligence and International Security

IAFF 6186 – Civil-Military Relations (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Civil Wars in World Politics (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Counter-terrorism (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Countering Violent Extremism (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Cybersecurity

IAFF 6186 – Cyber Threats and Policy (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Cyberspace, Conflict, and War

IAFF 6186 – Great Power Competition

IAFF 6169 – Homeland Security (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Identity and CVE (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Insurgency and Counter-insurgency (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Maritime Security and Threats (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Military Power and Effectiveness (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – NATO’s Strategic Challenges (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Nuclear Proliferation and Non-Proliferation (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Nuclear Strategy (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Piracy and Irregular Threats (Summer)

IAFF 6186 – Political Risk Analysis (Fall, Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Political Violence and Terrorism (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Russia and International Security (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Security Implications of AI (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Strategic Planning for the 21st Century (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – The Chinese Military (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Understanding US Special Operations (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – US Grand Strategy (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – WMD & Arms Control (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Who will Rule the 21st Century? Implications for US National Security (Summer)

IAFF 6358 – Security in the Americas (Fall)

IAFF 6521 – U.S. Foreign Policy Summer Program (Summer)

LAW 6386 – National Security Law ** (3 credit course only)

PSC 6467 – Asian Security (Fall)

Other courses may be acceptable with the approval of the Program Director.

** Students may, with permission of their advisor, include courses in the GW Law School in their major field. Enrolling in a law school course also requires permission of the Law School dean of students. Students should consult the Elliott School Academic Advising & Student Services office before enrolling in Law School courses.

Transnational Security

Required Course

IAFF 6163 – Transnational Security (Fall, Spring)

Courses that satisfy the requirements:

IAFF 6118 – Gender and Security (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Gender, War & Peace (Spring)

IAFF 6118 – Wartime Governance Challenges in Afghanistan

IAFF 6138 – Global Food Security (Spring)

IAFF 6138 – Human Trafficking (Fall)

IAFF 6138 – Violence, Gender and Humanitarian Assistance (Spring)

IAFF 6164 – Environmental Security (Fall)

IAFF 6169 – Homeland Security (Spring)

IAFF 6173 – Security and Development (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Artificial Intelligence and International Security

IAFF 6186 – Civil-Military Relations (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Counter-terrorism (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Countering Violent Extremism (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Cybersecurity

IAFF 6186 – Cyberspace, Conflict, and War

IAFF 6186 – Cyber Threats and Policy (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Future Crimes

IAFF 6186 – Identity and CVE (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Illicit Finance and Security (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Insurgency and Counter-insurgency (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – International Organized Crime (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Maritime Security and Threats (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – NATO’s Strategic Challenges (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Non-state Actors (Summer)

IAFF 6186 – Piracy and Irregular Threats (Summer)

IAFF 6186 – Political Risk Analysis (Fall, Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Political Violence and Terrorism (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Security Implications of AI (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Strategic Planning in the 21st Century (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Transitional Justice (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Transnational Security and Corruption

IAFF 6186 – Understanding US Special Operations (Fall)

IAFF 6358 – Security in the Americas (Fall)

IAFF 6385 – Peace & Conflict in Africa

IAFF 6385 – Transnational Threats in Africa (Fall)

PSC 6467 – Asian Security (Fall)

Other courses may be acceptable with the approval of the Program Director.

Conflict Resolution

Required Course:

IAFF 6171 – Introduction to Conflict Resolution (Fall, Spring)

Courses that satisfy the requirements:

IAFF 6118 – Gender and Security (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Gender, Peace and Security in Africa (Spring, Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Gender, War & Peace (Spring)

IAFF 6118 – International Law (Spring)

IAFF 6118 – International Law and the Use of Force (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Managing the World's Water (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Reinventing the United Nations (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Wartime Governance Challenges in Afghanistan

IAFF 6138 – Human Trafficking (Fall)

IAFF 6138 – Humanitarian Governance and Policy

IAFF 6138 – Localizing Humanitarian Action

IAFF 6138 – Violence, Gender and Humanitarian Assistance (Spring)

IAFF 6164 – Environmental Security (Fall)

IAFF 6173 – Security and Development (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Civil-Military Relations (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Civil Wars in World Politics (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Countering Violent Extremism (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Early Warning and Prevention (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Heroes and Villains in the Global Arena: Intelligence and Assessment of World Leaders (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Insurgency and Counter-insurgency (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – International Peacekeeping (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Political Risk Analysis (Fall, Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Stabilization and Peacebuilding (Fall, Spring)

IAFF 6186 – The Politics of Early Warning

IAFF 6186 – Transitional Justice (Spring)

IAFF 6358 – Security in the Americas (Fall)

IAFF 6385 – Peace & Conflict in Africa

LAW 6552 – Law of War** (3 credit course only, requires IAFF 6118 and Law 6520 as a prerequisite, plus all required authorizations)

Other courses may be acceptable with the approval of the Program Director.

** Students may, with permission of their advisor, include courses in the GW Law School in their major field. Enrolling in a law school course also requires permission of the Law School dean of students. Students should consult the Elliott School Academic Advising & Student Services office before enrolling in Law School courses.

Science and Technology

Required Course:

IAFF 6186 – Emerging Threats (Fall, Spring)

Courses that satisfy the requirements:

IAFF 6106 – Nuclear Weapons (Fall)

IAFF 6107 – Science of Nuclear Materials (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Managing the World's Water (Fall)

IAFF 6118 – Nuclear Security Policy (Spring)

IAFF 6138 – Global Food Security (Spring)

IAFF 6143 – Science, Technology & Policy Analysis (Fall, Spring)

IAFF 6145 – US Space Policy (Fall)

IAFF 6148 – Space and National Security (Fall)

IAFF 6158 – Artificial Intelligence and Policy Challenges

IAFF 6164 – Environmental Security (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – The Analysis of Military Operations

IAFF 6186 – Artificial Intelligence and International Security

IAFF 6186 – Coercion and Deterrence in Peacetime and Wartime (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Cyberspace, Conflict, and War

IAFF 6186 – Cybersecurity

IAFF 6186 – Cyber Threats and Policy (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Great Power Competition

IAFF 6186 – Nuclear Proliferation and Non-Proliferation (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – Nuclear Strategy (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Security Implications of AI (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Strategic Planning in the 21st Century (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Understanding US Special Operations (Fall)

IAFF 6186 – WMD & Arms Control (Spring)

IAFF 6186 – Who will Rule the 21st Century? Implications for US National Security (Summer)

MGT 6290 – Hacking for Defense

PSC 6467 – Asian Security (Fall)

LAW 6877 – Nuclear Nonproliferation Law and Policy (3 credit course only)** (Spring)

Other courses may be acceptable with the approval of the Program Director.

** Students may, with permission of their advisor, include courses in the GW Law School in their major field. Enrolling in a law school course also requires permission of the Law School dean of students. Students should consult the Elliott School Academic Advising & Student Services office before enrolling in Law School courses.