The Master of Arts (MA) in Defense and Strategic Studies Program focuses on an important area of study centered on understanding political and military strategy, concerned with topics such as military power and effectiveness, intelligence, diplomacy, and deterrence. The program is designed for US military officers and the civilian workforce in industries, government agencies, and think tanks related to international relations and national security programs and policy. 

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.

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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 

  • Statement of purpose
  • Two letters of recommendation (minimum)
  • Resume/CV
  • GRE scores (optional)
  • Transcripts of all previous college/university education
  • Proof of English language ability (required of applicants whose native language is not English) 




Degree Requirements 

The MA in Defense and Strategic Studies requires 30 credit hours, and is offered entirely online. All courses are eight weeks long, which allows students to complete two courses per semester even while taking only one course at a time. 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.  For more information, visit the Missouri Online page.

POL_SC 8450 International Conflict 

POL_SC 8470 Understanding Civil War 

POL_SC 8550 Strategic Studies

POL_SC 7412 Strategy and Warfare 

POL_SC 7415 Peacekeeping and Intervention 

POL_SC 7500 Insurgency and Counterinsurgency 

POL_SC 7510 Intelligence and National Security 

POL_SC 7520 Deterrence and Nuclear Weapons 

POL_SC 7540 American Foreign Policies 

POL_SC 7560 Military and Strategic Thought 

POL_SC 8400 International Relations Theory 

POL_SC 8560 Military Innovation in Peace and War 

PUB_AF 8170 Public Policy Processes and Strategies 

PUB_AF 8210 Public Service and Democracy 

PUB_AF 8530 Strategic Management of Public Service Organizations 



For general questions about the program, contact: 

Stephen Quackenbush, Program Director 
(573) 882-2082 

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