The defense and strategic studies program started in 1971 in the School of International
Relations at the University of Southern California, under the leadership of Dr. William
R. Van Cleave.
The primary objective of the DSS program was, and remains, to provide graduate-level
education and training for students planning careers in national and international
security affairs and policymaking, and for teaching these topics at the university
level. The program flourished at the University of Southern California.
In 1987, it moved to Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State University)
and became a department offering the specialized Master of Science in Defense and
Strategic Studies degree.
In 2005, the DSS program entered a new era when the university moved the department
to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, to take advantage of the many educational,
financial and employment opportunities found here.
In 2008 and 2009, DSS provided classes at the Army Management Staff College (2010).
In 2010, DSS began an exchange program with Masaryk University in the Czech Republic.
In 2012, DSS added the master’s degree option in weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
to its curriculum.
DSS was selected by the National Defense University and the Department of Defense
via a competitive process to provide the WMD degree option for up to 48 students from
the National Defense University per year.
When DSS moved to Washington D.C. in 2005, it had 32 graduate students. The program
had 115 graduate students enrolled in the fall 2019 semester.
DSS has become one of the largest and most recognized programs of its kind offering
an unparalleled graduate curriculum of study at a public university price.