Program Testimonials

Earn your degree from a premier program.

Alumni, industry pros and experts share their reviews of the defense and strategic studies program.

“The program is policy-focused, high-level critical thinking and theoretical. I use it as a backbone for a lot of my work.”

Phil Heaver
Research analyst and project manager in Space, Missile Defense and Strategic Programs, Government Affairs at Lockheed Martin Corporation
DSS class of 2015

“The strengths of the program are understanding the geopolitical implications of WMDs, and how our Departments of Defense and Homeland Security approach these complex and potential threats.”

Nick Martinez
Captain, U.S. Army
DSS class of 2019

“The department of defense and strategic studies is that rare academic program that not only provides a strong scholarly foundation, but also prepares its students for successful and effective government service. DSS colleagues today can be found in senior positions throughout the legislative and executive branches, as well as in academe and public policy institutions. This blend of “applied scholarship” is what drew me and others to the program some twenty-five years ago – and it continues to be a hallmark of the program today.”

Robert Soofer, PhD
Professional Staff Member, Senate Armed Services Committee
DSS class of '87

“In an era where perceptions and image rule and processes are deemed more important than substance, DSS schools students to cut through the peripheral with a tenacious focus on the underlying fundamentals of strategic thinking. Keep up the good work.”

Peter T Breier, Esq.
Business Development Senior Manager
CACI – National Solutions Intelligence
DSS class of '99

“The courses offered by the defense and strategic studies program are designed by the program leadership to be well grounded in academic rigor and practical policy experience. No other program is as well designed to enable students to walk effortlessly and effectively from the classroom to the halls of policymaking in the national security arena.”

Paula A. DeSutter
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, U.S. Department of State

“You have enlisted bright young men and women and have provided them with a depth of knowledge surrounded by an atmosphere of public service. In talking with some of your students I have been impressed with their sense of excitement and knowledge. All of this is attributed to you and your faculty. Your students are learning that their experience is a vital addition to their ability to understand the complexities of decision-making in a democratic society, particularity in the area of defense. The respect that you and your staff have within the Washington public service community enables you to supply an extraordinarily constructive atmosphere to benefit your students.”

Ambassador Max M. Kampelman
Former Head of the United States Delegation to the Negotiations with the Soviet Union on Nuclear and Space Arms

“Over the years, the department of defense and strategic studies at Missouri State University has established an outstanding track record in producing a new generation having knowledge and expertise in national security affairs. Its many graduates have made a vitally important contribution to national security strategy and policy – in and outside government.”

Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr., PhD
Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies
The Fletcher School, Tufts University
President, Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis

“With the DSS program’s recent transfer to the Washington D.C. area, students will be at the intersection of the U.S. Governments’ policy and strategy development, resourcing, and implementation for defense, intelligence, and foreign policy activities. As it has for over three decades, the DSS program will arm you with the tools—extensive research, strategic analysis, and lots of concise writing—to develop and implement strong national security policies that affect today’s critical national security areas. Whether your interest lies in the nature and character of war, regional studies, intelligence and foreign policy, or the impact of technology on policy and strategy, the DSS program will challenge you with a unique blend of theory and practice underscored by intellectual rigor and practical substance.”

Philip L. Ritcheson
Former Director of Space Policy, National Security Council, the White House
DSS class of '91

“Over the last decade, I have given high priority to bringing into my company both graduates and interns from the defense and strategic studies program at Missouri State University. They have proven to be very knowledgeable, articulate, dedicated, and eager to become members of the national security community. Several have risen rapidly in their fields of expertise while assuming increasingly responsible positions in the company. I have also been impressed with their active alumni network in the D.C. area that keeps the graduates working together long after graduation.”

William R. Graham, PhD
Former Science Advisor to President Ronald Reagan
Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, National Security Research

“The DSS program combines a high scholarly standard with a focus on the practical problems of national security. It is both intellectually rigorous and politically sophisticated. The program prepares students for careers in the defense community.”

Colin Gray, DPhil
Professor of International Politics and Strategic Studies and Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at Reading University (UK)

“The DSS program is outstanding. Not only does the program have professors experienced in working national security issues first hand, expert guest speakers from across the US government are brought in to give seminar lectures. In addition, the internship program was key to the start of my career. I wholeheartedly recommend this program to others.”

Laura J. Gross
DSS class of '96

“Defense and strategic studies graduates are a national treasure. From my first hand association with the program and its students and graduates for most of my professional career, I know this program of rigorous graduate study prepares them to lead in solving complex national security policy problems. Its graduates have established a truly impressive national and even international reputation, and their growing influence in government and industry constitute an enviable network of excellence throughout the national security and foreign policy field.”

Ambassador Hank Cooper
Former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative and Chief US Negotiator with the Soviet Union at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks

“I studied with the defense and strategic studies program in 1972-1976, when it was based at the University of Southern California. Professor William R. Van Cleave, the program’s founder, set high standards of scholarly rigor and analysis that have been maintained to the present. The program’s commitment to academic excellence and policy relevance gave me a solid basis for a career in teaching and research in international security affairs.”

David S. Yost, PhD
Professor, Department of National Security Affairs U.S. Naval Postgraduate School
DSS class of '76

“Attending the DSS program was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I found it to be a unique place where students learn to think, research, write and communicate effectively. Moreover, the critical skills are practiced in an intellectual environment that focuses on today’s most important security issues, I had great freedom to choose the focus of my research, and was able to form valuable long-term bonds with my classmates and colleagues. I believe the DSS program will equip anyone with the skills and background that they need to pursue a career in defense policy, intelligence or academia.”

Paul Dodge
DSS class of '05

“The defense and strategic studies program delivers the analytical know-how to examine national security issues in depth and how to meet the challenges facing America’s policymakers in the 21st Century.”

Charlie Kupperman, PhD
The Boeing Company Vice President Missile Defense Systems
DSS class of '89

“The DSS program in Washington D.C. offers students a unique curriculum that integrates the theory and practice of international security affairs. It allows students to explore the conceptual and intellectual underpinnings of defense and security studies while introducing them to the perspectives of the professional national security community responsible for shaping government policy.”

Peppi DeBiaso, PhD
Director Office of Missile Defense
Associated Faculty
DSS class of '87

“The availability of internships and the practical aspects of the program are what sold me on it.”

Jennifer Bradley
DSS class of '07

“The department of defense and strategic studies, a part of Missouri State University, caters to students who want to break into Beltway defense circles with a public university price tag and the advantages of a more practical approach.”

Inside Higher Ed

"The program is ... within the policy mainstream."

Professor Robert Jervis
Stevenson Professor of International Affairs, Columbia University