M. A. in Security Studies

This is a rigorous, interdisciplinary, and professionally-oriented program of graduate studies. The resulting degree provides a broad, analytical perspective on national and international security issues. Coursework concentrates on issues of strategy, politics, economics, and society from both historical and social science perspectives.

For those interested in the concurrent BA/BS in Political Science and MA in Security Studies, see here.

Degree requirements

The M.A. in Security Studies requires 30 hours of graduate-level work, consisting of 18 hours of required courses and additional graduate-level electives.

For students taking coursework through the Command and General Staff College (CGSC):

  • Up to 12 credits from a CGSC/ILE graduate may be reviewed for acceptance and applied as transfer credit to the master’s in Security Studies, if not already applied to another master’s degree. This pertains to students taking CGSC/ILE courses in residence at Ft. Leavenworth or remotely through an accredited satellite institution.
  • Students who take more than one master's degree may not apply more than six hours of overlapping graduate credit in total across the degree programs. For example, students completing the US Army’s Master’s of Operational Studies master’s degree may only transfer 6 hours of graduate credits towards the master’s degree in Security Studies at Kansas State University.

For non-CGSC students:

  • Graduate credit transferred from another institution may not exceed 10 credit hours for the master's degree, and then only for courses graded B or better.

Credits that were earned more than seven years prior to the semester in which the program of study is approved cannot be transferred except for approved credit from earned degrees and as noted in Chapter 2 Section D.6 of the Graduate Handbook.

Research credit earned at other institutions cannot be transferred for credit as part of a program of study.

The M.A. program is open to distance students through Global Campus. Distance students must be available to attend scheduled classes via Zoom.

Required Courses

  1. Foundations of Security Studies (3 hours)--POLSC 812

    This course will introduce students to major themes covered in the MA program. It is designed to provide students with foundations for the MA’ s four core courses. It should generally be completed in the first semester in the program, or in the summer prior to starting courses in the fall. Its content will be largely the same from year to year, though individual instructors may tailor it to some degree. Students will read key texts on international security, military history, and strategy, as well as works on the theory and research practice of history and political science. They will write essays on the assigned readings, participate in on-line synchronous and asynchronous discussions, and compose a final paper or take a final exam on the issues raised by the course.
  2. History and Security of Pivotal Regions (6 hours).

    Students will take at least two courses on the history of regions of central importance to international affairs. These courses may focus, for example, on East Asia (HIST 850), Latin America (HIST 851), the Middle East (HIST 852), Russia and Central Asia (HIST 853), India and South Asia (HIST 854), or Modern Africa (HIST 855). Special Topics courses listed as HIST 860 also fulfill this requirement.
  3. International Security and Transnational Security (6 hours)--POLSC 813 and 814

    POLSC 813--International Security--focuses on traditional issues of the causes of war, deterrence, the relevance/role of international institutions, arms proliferation, the politics of international intervention, and conflict resolution. POLSC 814--Terrorism and Transnational Security--covers less traditional security issues which have become increasingly prominent in recent years. Examples include the unique context of security problems in the developing world, demographic developments and internal/external conflict, environmental issues and their relation to security, economic globalization and security, post-conflict reconstruction, and humanitarian emergencies.
  4. Methodology and Research Design (3 hours)--HIST 810 (2 hours)/815(1 hour)OR POLSC 810(2 hours)/815(1 hour)

    These interdisciplinary courses, which are team-taught together by history and political science faculty, are intended to prepare students to do research in security studies and assist them in executing a research project. HIST 810 / POLSC 810 covers theories, methods,and research design; HIST 815 / POLSC 815 is the culminating experience of the MA program and involves the research and writing of a publishable quality research paper of roughly 30 pages in length.

HIST 810 and POLSC 810 are pre-requisites for HIST 815 and POLSC 815, respectively. Students register for either HIST or POLSC 810 in their first or second semester, and then register for the corresponding 815 course in their final semester in the program.


Students choose elective courses so that their required courses, transfer credits, and electives total 30 hours. Those electives are primarily chosen from among history and political science courses at the 700-level or above. Courses from other departments, and courses below 700-level, may only be taken with permission of the student's supervisory committee. For advice on electives, students should consult with the Director of Security Studies or their supervisory committee.

Supervisory committees:

Each student will be supervised by a master's committee consisting of three members of the Security Studies graduate faculty. As in any graduate program, adjunct professors are eligible to serve on committees. For students at Fort Leavenworth, the MA committee will normally be made up of the Director of Security Studies and the two faculty members teaching 810 / 815. Students in Manhattan may organize their committee the same way, or alternatively may establish a committee made up faculty of their choosing who agree to serve.