Master of Arts in National Security Studies

Requirements (46 units)

Program Code: NTSS

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, 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 is intended for evening students primarily and, therefore, classes are predominantly scheduled between 6 and 10 p.m.

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 46 quarter units of acceptable graduate-level work, with at least 36 quarter units completed in residence at California State University, San Bernardino. Thirty-two 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. Critical book reviews (PSCI 600),
    2. Chapter length essay (PSCI 601),
    3. Article length essay (PSCI 602) 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 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 instructor in each 600-level course will complete an evaluation of each student's performance and potential to complete the program successfully. These evaluations will be reviewed by the program director and maintained in the student's file for early consultation with the student about his or her future prospects in the program.

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 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 and core courses. In addition, students are required to select a Regional Field (e.g. Eurasia, Middle East) or a Functional Field (e.g. Terrorism, Intelligence, etc.) to be arranged between faculty advisor and student, and approved by the NSS Director.

Comprehensive Examination

Comprehensive examinations must be taken in the core and the regional field or functional field. The comprehensive examination committee for each candidate will consist of the core advisor, the advisor of the field 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 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 one field, 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.

Prerequisite courses (12 units)

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

Degree Requirements (46 units)

Core courses (20)
PSCI 600Theory and History of Strategy4
PSCI 601Strategic Systems and Strategic Thought4
Four units chosen from:4
Seminar in Government (:Research Methods)
Operations Analysis
Four units chosen from:4
International Security
International Relations Theory
Four units chosen from:4
Politics of National Security
American Foreign Policy
Field (8)
Students shall choose a field concentration and associated course work in consultation with their faculty advisor. Fields will consist of eight units, minimum, in regional or functional areas of concnetration.8
Electives (16-18)
Eighteen units chosen from among courses not used for either the core or field requirements listed below. Students who elect to complete PSCI 699 must choose 16 units.16-18
Homeland Security
International Economic Issues
Approaches to Professional Writing
Military Geography for National Security
Foreign Relations of the United States
Operations Analysis (if not taken as part of the core requirements)
Seminar in Comparative Politics (when the topic conforms to a regional orfunctional field concentration)
Seminar in International Relations (when the topic conforms to a regional or functional field concentration)
Seminar in Government (when the topic conforms to a regional or functional field concentration)
Seminar in International Law
Topics in Strategy:
Analysis of International Terrorism
International Relations Theory (if not taken as part of core requirement)
Regional Security of Eurasia
African Security
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 (2 or 4 units for a maximum of 10 units)
Culminating Experience (2)
Students must complete one of the following:
PSCI 999Comprehensive Examination0
PSCI 699Thesis2
Forty-four units of course work and two units of thesis must be completed before the degree will be awarded.
Total Units46-48


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

Transfer Credit

A maximum of 10 quarter 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.