International Security (M.A.)


John Davis, Assistant Professor of International Security Studies


The International Security Studies Master of Arts Program equips students with a strong foundation to confront the ever-changing fast paced and challenging international security environment. With an emphasis on traditional and emerging transnational security threats, students are prepared for analytical, operational, and leadership careers in international security in the public and private sectors.

Degree Requirements

The MA ISS is structured around Core, Concentration, Elective, and Research components.

There are currently five concentrations available in the MA ISS Program. Students may elect to choose up to two concentrations, or they can take six electives. The available concentrations are:

The Intelligence concentration equips students with analytical skills to assess long-standing traditional and non-traditional threats. Additionally, this concentration examines the need and use of a legal/ethical framework to understand the international security environment. Finally, the concentration informs students about the critical intelligence concepts (process of collection, dissemination, consumption, assessment and feedback) required in policymaking and execution.

Terrorism represents one of the more diverse concentrations within the ISS program. In this concentration students examine the counterterrorism strategies that were implemented during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations to confront the Al Qaeda transnational terrorist network. Additionally, students are offered an in-depth exploration of terrorism in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

The Africa and International Security concentration explores a number of critical issues: the impact of weak and failed states, the proliferation of safe havens and the expansion of terrorist-related violence, the link between piracy in Somalia and Al Shabab, and the response by regional organizations to local food, resource, environmental and human security threats.

The Middle East and International Security concentration examines the peace negotiations that governed the historic Arab-Israeli and the intractable Israeli-Palestinian disputes. On another level, the concentration exposes students to Iraq’s fledgling democratic experiment; Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and the consequent regional instability, and it informs students about the on-going “unfinished revolutions” and the impact these tumultuous changes have had on regional stability.

The Gender and International Security concentration provides students with a systematic approach to the gendered causes, costs, and consequences of violent conflicts and the links between gender and human conceptions of security.

Core Courses (15 credit hours)

Topics covered in the core classes include but are not limited to: (1) the history of the field, (2) competing conceptions of security, (3) the role of theory, (4) the use of force by state and non-state actors, (5) the role of regional and international organizations, (6) the impact of globalization on security, (7) the emergence of new rivals to the United States, (8) how states deal with transnational crime and transnational terrorism. The objective of the core courses is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental issues that impact international security.

ISS 501

ISS 505

ISS 511

ISS 515

ISS 521


Terrorism Concentration:
ISS 621

ISS 625

ISS 629

Intelligence Concentration:
ISS 631

ISS 635

ISS 640 Strategic Intelligence, Policymaking and Execution

Gender and International Security Concentration:
ISS 661 Gender and International Security

ISS 665

ISS 667

Africa and International Security Concentration:

ISS 645

ISS 653

ISS 655

Middle East and International Security Concentration:

ISS 651 Middle Eastern Culture, Language, and Religions

ISS 662

ISS 675

Elective Courses (18 credit hours)
Electives may be selected from among any ISS courses in the catalog and also approved cross-listed courses in the SPS catalog. Electives may also be taken from other schools in the Washington Consortium with prior permission or accepted as transfer credit in accordance with the policy on acceptance of graduate transfer credit.

ISS 530 International Law & Global Security

ISS 550 Democratization, Development and International Security

ISS 601

ISS 605

ISS 611

ISS 621

ISS 629

ISS 635

ISS 640 Strategic Intelligence, Policymaking and Execution

ISS 645

ISS 651 Middle Eastern Culture, Language, and Religions

ISS 660 Intelligence and International Terrorism

ISS 661 Gender and International Security

ISS 665

ISS 670 Narco-Terrorism

ISS 675

ISS 681

ISS 682

ISS 683

ISS 684

ISS 685

ISS 686

ISS 687

ISS 688

Research (6 credit hours)
The research component includes ISS 680 for 3 credit hours; and ISS 690, a thesis under directed study for 3 credit hours. The thesis may optionally be substituted by additional elective coursework requiring substantial analytical written products.

ISS 680 Research Methods

ISS 690 Master's Thesis

ISS 698 Independent Study

ISS 699 International Security Studies Internship

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