The Program

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).

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.

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.

Option areas

The Defense and Strategic Studies program offers two options:  (1) Defense and Strategic Studies/General (DSS/General);  and (2) Defense and Strategic Studies/Weapons of Mass Destruction Studies (DSS/WMD).

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

For the DSS 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.

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.

Graduate Certificate in Defense and Strategic Studies

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

Program description

The Department of Defense and Strategic Studies offers a Graduate Certificate in Defense and Strategic Studies designed for mid-career professionals.  The Certificate in Defense and Strategic Studies is intended for those already employed in the national security field, yet desire advanced study of major defense and strategic issues to further their career.  Prospective students may enroll in the fall, spring, or summer semester.  Once admitted, they must complete 9 credit hours selected from the course list in order to receive the Certificate.  Students may attend full-time (3 seminars per semester) or part-time (1 or 2 seminars per semester).  

Entrance requirements

The candidate must have a bachelors degree and be admitted to the Missouri State University Graduate Program. 

Coursework to total 9 hours

  • DSS 601   Seminar on Nuclear Strategy and Arms Control
  • DSS 630   International Law and Global Security
  • DSS 631   International Negotiations
  • DSS 632   Seminar on International Security Affairs  
  • DSS 633   Analysis of International Security Politics
  • DSS 634   The Geopolitics of Conflict and Accommodation
  • DSS 700   Strategy and U.S. Defense Policy
  • DSS 702   Seminar on Regional Security Problems
  • DSS 703   Science, Technology, and Defense Policy
  • DSS 704   Arms Control:  Theory and Practice
  • DSS 705   NATO Security Issues
  • DSS 706   Soviet and Russian Military Strategy
  • DSS 707   Congress, National Security, and WMD
  • DSS 708   Seminar on Contemporary Security Issues in the Former USSR
  • DSS 709   Seminar on Space Policy and Security
  • DSS 710   Seminar on International Terrorism and Security
  • DSS 711   The rise of the United States to Preeminence
  • DSS 712   American National Security Policy
  • DSS 713   Intelligence, Counterintelligence, and Covert Action
  • DSS 714   Seminar on Strategic Thought
  • DSS 715   Grand Strategy
  • DSS 716   Understanding Military Operations
  • DSS 717   Small Wars, Imperial Conflicts, & Guerrilla Warfare
  • DSS 718   Causes of War
  • DSS 719   Strategic Culture
  • DSS 720   Internship Training in DSS Policy
  • DSS 721   Missile Defense, Proliferation and Contemporary Warfare
  • DSS 722   Emerging Strategic Challenges
  • DSS 723   Counterproliferation
  • DSS 724   Leadership in National Security Policy
  • DSS 725   Seminar on Instruments of State Power
  • DSS 726   Chinese Military Power
  • DSS 727   Chemical and Biological Warfare:  Global and Community Perspectives
  • DSS 728  Terrorism:  Advanced Research Topics
  • DSS 737  Advanced Studies in Chemical and Biological Warfare
  • DSS 740  Ethics of Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • DSS 796   Directed Reading and Research in Defense and Strategic Studies
  • DSS 797   Special Topics

GPA requirements

Students must have a B or better grade in each course.