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MA in Defense and Strategic Studies

The MA in Defense and Strategic Studies is an online degree program within the Truman School of Government and Public Affairs. Defense and Strategic Studies is an important area of study centered on understanding political and military strategy, including understanding topics such as the causes of conflict between and within states, military power and effectiveness, intelligence, diplomacy, and deterrence. These subjects are continually important for understanding international politics and security in an increasingly complex world.

The program is targeted towards US military officers and the civilian workforce in industries, government agencies, and think tanks related to international relations and national security. For military officers the degree is beneficial in order to be promoted to higher ranks, and will help them further understand international politics and strategy needed for their jobs. Military officers should be able to make command decisions and complete staff assignments with greater understanding of the broader context surrounding them because of their broadened intellectual horizon and increased understanding of international relations theory, conflict, and security learned through the program. Similarly, the intellectual base and knowledge gained in the program will enable civilian graduates to become qualified for and/or better perform job duties at positions in government agencies, think tanks, and industries related to international security.      

Degree Requirements

Requires 30 credit hours offered entirely online. Students take three core courses and seven electives. At least two electives must be at the 8000-level. All courses are 3 credit hours. 12 hours of transfer credit will be accepted to current or former US military officers who are in or have previously completed Intermediate Level Education (ILE) at particular military command and staff colleges.

Major Requirements9
POL_SC 8450International Conflict3
POL_SC 8470Understanding Civil War3
POL_SC 8550Strategic Studies3
Electives (select seven)21
POL_SC 7410Politics and War3
POL_SC 7411Genocide, Terrorism, and Civil War3
POL_SC 7412Strategy and Warfare3
POL_SC 7413Politics of Cyber-Security3
POL_SC 7415Peacekeeping and Intervention3
POL_SC 7500Insurgency and Counterinsurgency3
POL_SC 7510Intelligence and National Security3
POL_SC 7520Deterrence and Nuclear Weapons3
POL_SC 7540American Foreign Policies3
POL_SC 7560Military and Strategic Thought3
POL_SC 7680Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy3
POL_SC 7690North and South Korea3
POL_SC 7700America’s Wars in Asia3
POL_SC 7900Topics in Strategic Studies3
POL_SC 8400International Relations Theory3
POL_SC 8430Economics and National Security3
POL_SC 8560Military Innovation in Peace and War3
PUB_AF 8170Public Policy Processes and Strategies3
PUB_AF 8210Public Service and Democracy3
PUB_AF 8530Strategic Management of Public Service Organizations: People, Information and Money3

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Applications are evaluated on a rolling basis. Applicants must have a BA or equivalent from an accredited institution. Applicants should have a GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale). Those with a GPA under 3.0 will need very strong qualities in other areas (such as professional experience) to gain admission. GRE scores are optional. For international applicants, TOEFL scores (or other proof of English language proficiency) are required. If you are not an active MU non-degree-seeking or graduate student, you will need to apply through the Graduate School online portal. There is a non-refundable application fee. 

Application Materials

  1. Statement of purpose
  2. Two letters of recommendation (minimum)
  3. Resume/CV
  4. GRE scores (optional)
  5. Transcripts of all previous college/university education
  6. Proof of English language ability (required of applicants whose native language is not English)

For general questions about the program, contact:

Stephen Quackenbush, Program Director
(573) 882-2082

Jacob Owen, Student Support Specialist
(573) 882-2062

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