Master of Arts in National Security Studies

The Master of Arts in National Security Studies is a professionally oriented, interdisciplinary, graduate-level program housed within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The program is designed to develop an understanding of the substance and principles of defense policy analysis, intelligence analysis, strategic planning and arms control in relation to the contemporary international environment. Flexibility within elective courses permits the student to emphasize research in national security issues of his or her special interests.

The program is relevant to established career personnel in defense analysis and related specialties, the military services, the civil service and the intelligence community. Additionally, the program is structured to provide motivated persons holding a Bachelor of Arts degree and/or Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited institution with the higher educational skills necessary for entry into the above mentioned career fields or to pursue doctoral studies.

The program was designated an Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence (IC CAE) in 2006 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

Admission to the Program

In addition to the general requirements of the university, specific requirements for admission to classified graduate status are:

  1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university;
  2. Satisfy the National Security Studies graduate admissions committee that sufficient preparation and a satisfactory course of study has been pursued in preparation for graduate study.
  3. A minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.5 overall and at least 3.0 ("B") in the student's undergraduate major;
  4. Completion of the graduate entrance writing requirement;
  5. Competence in the following prerequisite courses or their equivalents:
    PSCI 2030Government of the United States3
    MATH 1301Modeling with Functions 3
    Competence in these areas may be demonstrated by:
    1. Formal completion of the course or its equivalent,
    2. Credit by examination.
  6. Submission to the National Security Studies Admissions Committee of a brief statement (one or two double-spaced typewritten pages) of the student's preparation for graduate study and professional aspirations following receipt of the master's degree;
  7. Submission of three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the student's academic or professional work and potential to complete the program successfully. Letters must come directly from the writer on National Security Studies forms, which may be obtained at the department office.

Students who meet the requirements for admission to graduate study, but who do not meet the program requirements, may be admitted to graduate study in unclassified postbaccalaureate status or to the program in conditionally classified graduate standing. When the specified deficiencies are removed, student status is changed from conditionally classified to classified. (Unclassified postbaccalaureate students may enroll, when space is available, in selected graduate courses.) No more than 9 semester units of national security studies course work taken as an unclassified or conditionally classified graduate student may be applied to the program as a classified graduate student.

Advancement to Candidacy

To be advanced to candidacy, a student must have:

  1. Achieved classified status;
  2. Selected a graduate advisor to supervise the course of study;
  3. Completed at least 12 semester units of national security studies program course work at this university, and achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.0 ("B") in those courses;
  4. Filed a graduate program approved by the student's advisor, the national security studies program director and the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Requirements for Graduation

  1. A minimum of 30 semester units of acceptable graduate-level work, with at least 24 semester units completed in residence at California State University, San Bernardino;
  2. A grade point average of at least 3.0 ("B") in all national security studies program courses taken;
  3. Choose Option A or B:
    1. Completion of acceptable comprehensive final written and oral examinations;
    2. Completion and defense of an original master's thesis.
  4. The graduation writing requirement will be satisfied by achieving a minimum grade point average of 3.0 ("B") in the two core courses listed below. Each core course will allow the student to develop competence in various forms of writing traditional to the field. These are:
    1. Critical book reviews (PSCI 6000),
    2. Article length essay (PSCI 6020) and the process of "peer review".
  5. Any additional general requirements not cited above and listed in Graduate Degree and Program Requirements.

Classified graduate students in the Master of Arts program must complete their degree requirements within five years of admission to the program. Students in classified status who fail to register for at least one course in the program each semester will automatically be declassified. PSCI 6980-6986,  Continuous Enrollment for Graduate Candidacy Standing, must be taken if another course is not taken during a given semester.

The Master of Arts in National Security Studies is a thesis option course of study requiring either written and oral comprehensive examinations (to be taken in the last semester of program course work) or a thesis. Students with less than a 3.0 grade point average in the program will not be permitted to take the examinations or propose a thesis. All students are required to take the prerequisite and core courses. 

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination committee for each candidate will consist of the core advisor, an advisor on the student's specialization, and a third faculty member from the department. The examinations will be graded credit/no credit.

An oral examination by the student's committee follows successful completion of the written examination. The oral examination is open for public attendance, but not participation. Should the candidate fail one or more written or oral examination areas, the entire oral or written examination may be repeated one time after remedial course work or study is completed. The scope and deadline for completion of this remedial work will be determined by the student's examination committee at a post-examination conference.

Students must enroll in PSCI 6980 - the Political Science Comprehensive Examination..


The criteria for determining who will be allowed to choose the thesis option will be determined by the proposed thesis committee. After completion of a minimum of 15 semester units, the student will request three faculty to form a preliminary committee, at least two of whom have instructed a course that the student has taken in the program.

Prerequisite courses (6 units)

MATH 1301Modeling with Functions 3
PSCI 2030Government of the United States3

Degree Requirements (30-33 Units)

(Program Code: NTSS)

Core courses (18)
PSCI 4840National Security Policy3
PSCI 5920Seminar in Government (Research Methods)3
PSCI 6000Theory and History of Strategy3
PSCI 6020International Security3
PSCI 6210Intelligence Assessments and Estimates3
PSCI 6250American Foreign Policy3
Electives (12)12
Homeland Security
International Economic Issues
Military Geography for National Security
Foreign Relations of the United States
Operations Analysis
Seminar in Comparative Politics (Middle East Politics)
Seminar in Comparative Politics (African Dictatorships)
Seminar in Comparative Politics (East Asian Politics)
Seminar in Comparative Politics (Latin American Politics)
Seminar in International Relations (Techniques of Intelligence Analysis)
Seminar in International Relations (Terrorism in Africa)
Seminar in International Relations (Intelligence Ethics)
Seminar in International Relations (US - Israel Relations)
Seminar in International Relations (Cases in Strategy)
Strategic Systems and Strategic Thought
Cyber Security and Cyber Warfare
Seminar in International Law
Topics in Strategy:
Analysis of International Terrorism
International Relations Theory
Regional Security of Eurasia
African Security
Middle East Security
Regional Security of East Asia
Understanding Intelligence Failure
Arms Control
Politics of National Security
Directed Graduate Studies
Culminating Experience (0-3)0-3
Total Units30-33


Some internships in government service are occasionally available on a competitive basis. Other nonprofit research internships are available.

Transfer Credit

A maximum of 6 semester hours of acceptable postbaccalaureate credit taken at an accredited institution of higher learning may be applied toward the requirements for the M.A. in National Security Studies. Selected Department of Defense courses (War College, Command and Staff College and Squadron Officers School) have been approved for transfer credit. Determination of acceptability of transfer credit requests is made upon receipt of official transcripts by the Office of the Registrar and upon recommendation of the director of national security studies.

Culminating Experience (0-3)

Students must complete one of the following:

PSCI 6973Thesis (Thirty units of course work and three units of thesis must be completed before the degree will be awarded)0-3
or PSCI 6980 Comprehensive Examination