Master of Science in National Cyber Security Studies

Requirements (56-58 units)

Program Code: NCSS

The Master of Science in National Cyber Security Studies will prepare students for careers in the new and growing field of cyber security.

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. The GRE General Test is required;
  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:
    MATH 110College Algebra4
    PSCI 203American Government4
    PSCI 484National Security Policy (prerequisite for the core courses)4
    Competence in these areas may be demonstrated by:
    1. Formal completion of the course or its equivalent,
    2. Credit by examination (not applicable to PSCI 484 National Security Policy);
  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.

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 20 quarter 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 16 quarter 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 56 quarter units of acceptable graduate-level work, with at least 40 quarter units completed in residence at California State University, San Bernardino.   A minimum of 40 quarter units must be at the 500-600 level, and 32 quarter units must be in 600-level courses;
  2. A grade point average of at least 3.0 ("B") in all national security studies program courses taken;
  3. Choose Option 1 or 2:
    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 all three core courses. Each core course will allow the student to develop competence in three forms of writing traditional to the field:
    1. Writing for Intelligence (PSCI 620 or PSCI 621),
    2. Analysis of Cyber Security or Terrorism (PSCI 603 or PSCI 606),
    3. Analysis of either theory or practice of strategy (PSCI 600 or PSCI 602);
  5. Any additional general requirements not cited above and listed in Graduate Degree and Program Requirements.

Classified graduate students in the Master of Science 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 quarter will automatically be declassified. PSCI 698A-Z,  Continuous Enrollment for Graduate Candidacy Standing, must be taken if another course is not taken during a given quarter.

The Master of Science in National Cyber Security Studies is a thesis option course of study requiring either written and oral comprehensive examinations (to be taken in the last quarter 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, Core and Cyber Security field courses.

Comprehensive Examination

Comprehensive examinations must be taken in the Core and the Cyber Security fields. The comprehensive examination committee for each candidate will consist of the Core advisor, one advisor from the Cyber Security field and a third faculty member from either 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 the Political Science Comprehensive Examination, PSCI 999.


The criteria for determining who will be allowed to choose the thesis option will be determined by the proposed thesis committee. Students are still required to develop a course of study consistent with the Core and Cyber Security fields, as noted above. After completion of a minimum of 30 quarter 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 in each of the Core and Cyber Security fields.

Prerequisite courses (12 units)

MATH 110College Algebra4
PSCI 203American Government4
PSCI 484National Security Policy4

Degree Requirements (56-58 units)

Core courses (20)
Four units chosen from:4
Seminar in Government (Research Methods)
Operations Analysis (Note: Math 611 requires a prerequisite of a statistics course.)
Four units chosen from:4
Seminar in International Relations (Techniques in Intelligence Analysis)
Seminar in International Relations (Intelligence and Ethics)
Four units chosen from:4
Understanding Intelligence Failure
Strategic Intelligence
Four units chosen from:4
Cyber Security and Cyber Warfare
Analysis of International Terrorism
Four units chosen from:4
Theory and History of Strategy
International Security
Cyber Security Field (24)
IST 511Cyber Defense4
IST 525Computer Forensics4
IST 609Information Systems and Technology Management4
IST 610Information Assurance Policy and Management4
IST 646Information Systems Planning, Strategy and Policy4
IST 647Information Based Management4
Electives (12)
Twelve units chosen from among courses not used for the core requirements listed below. 12
Crime and Intelligence Analysis
Homeland Security
International Economic Issues
Military Geography for National Security
Foreign Relations of the United States
Operations Analysis (Note: requires a prerequisite of a statistics course)
Seminar in International Relations (Techniques in Intelligence Analysis)
Seminar in International Relations (Intelligence and Ethics)
Seminar in Government (Research Methods in Political Science)
Theory and History of Strategy
Strategic Systems and Strategic Thought
International Security
Cyber Security and Cyber Warfare
Seminar in International Law
Analysis of International Terrorism
International Relations Theory (if not taken as part of core requirement)
Regional Security of Eurasia
Middle East Security
Regional Security of East Asia
Understanding Intelligence Failure
Strategic Intelligence
Arms Control
Politics of National Security
American Foreign Policy
Directed Graduate Studies
Directed Graduate Studies
Culminating Experience (0-2)
Students must complete one of the following:
PSCI 999Comprehensive Examination0-2
or PSCI 699 Thesis
Fifty-six units of course work and two units of thesis must be completed before the degree will be awarded.
Total Units56-58