While Missouri State University administers the DSS department and program, DSS students
attend seated classes in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
Specifically, the DSS department is located in Fairfax, Virginia and is easily accessible
via the D.C. public transit system.
The Washington, D.C. metro area is where the jobs are, where great opportunities exist
and where top-quality practitioners are available to teach.
Yes. The program is uniquely designed to prepare you for careers in the defense industry. You can
select courses based on your specific interests.
The overall structure of the program provides the academic rigor and practical policy
experience needed for a career in national security.
Most go on to work in national security as policy analysts, intelligence analysts
or other careers in the defense industry.
Some continue their education and get a PhD.
The set-up of this program prepares you for either path.
Learn more about our faculty, who are experts in their fields.
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.
No, we are unable to offer on-campus housing nor assist in facilitating off-campus
housing. You need to make housing arrangements on your own.
The DSS department is located near many apartments and townhomes.
The school is accessible via the Washington, D.C. Metro system. However, some students
prefer to have a car. Free, on-site parking is available for students.
You’re expected to dress with a degree of professionalism. Please do not wear casual
items like sweatpants, shorts or sandals to class.
The DSS student body is diverse with a mix of traditional students, mid-career students
and active-duty military. In addition, DSS often hosts exchange students from around
Transfer credit and class scheduling
DSS determines transfer credit on a case-by-case basis.
For this evaluation, you must provide:
An official transcript
The course syllabus
A paper or report you wrote for the course(s)
Other graduate institutions will use their own methods to determine how DSS courses
will transfer to their institutions.
Yes, and an internship can give you credits toward your degree.