Security Policy Studies

Elliott School of International Affairs

Master of Arts (M.A.)
Location(s): Foggy Bottom - Main Campus

Program Overview

A Master's degree in Security Policy Studies can open doors to future employment in the security policy institutions of the federal government, in the private sector, in international organizations such as NATO, and in the many non-profit institutions engaged in security policy work.

Security Policy Studies is a policy-oriented program focusing on international security issues and the policy responses to those issues, with particular emphasis on emerging transnational threats. These threats include but are not limited to weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, regional and ethnic conflicts, international crime, and the security implications of a globalized economy. It also examines the national and international policy responses to these problems, including the operations of the intelligence community, the military, diplomats, and international economic policymakers.

The curriculum provides strong grounding in the national security and defense policymaking process. Students choose two specific concentrations — which can range from transnational security issues to conflict resolution to U.S. national security policymaking. Students also have the option of emphasizing a particular geographic region — such as East Asia, the Middle East, or Latin America — by selecting a regional field as one of their two concentrations.

The program’s faculty includes internationally recognized authorities in defense policy and resources, foreign policy, the national security policy process, and regional and transnational security issues. The faculty includes leading scholars at The George Washington University as well as an outstanding array of adjunct faculty drawn from the many research institutions and policy organizations in the nation's capital.


Admission Requirements

Admission deadlines:

Fall – February 1 (To be considered for fellowship support, applications must be submitted by January 7.)

Standardized test scores:

GRE/GMAT test- optional

Recommendations required:

Two (2) letters of recommendations, preferably from professors. Applicants who have been out of school for several years may send two (2) recommendations from supervisors or employers.

Prior academic records:

Transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript.  Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended should be uploaded to your online application.  Official transcripts are required only of applicants who are offered admission.

If academic records are in a language other than English, English language translations must be provided.  The English translations alone should be uploaded into the online application. Official transcripts and certified English translations will be required of applicants who are offered admission.

Statement of purpose: 

For your Statement of Purpose, choose one of these options:

In an essay of approximately 500 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study at the Elliott School of International Affairs. As part of your statement of purpose, describe your academic and research interests, career objectives, and how a degree from the Elliott School will enable you to achieve your goals. Please be specific.


In an essay of approximately 500 words, please discuss an issue of international importance you wish to address in your professional career. Please include how the Elliott School and the academic program to which you have applied will prepare you to address this global issue.

International applicants only:

Please review International Applicant Information carefully for details on required documents, earlier deadlines for applicants requiring an I-20 or DS-2019 from GW, and English language requirements.

PLEASE NOTE that Elliott School programs require the following minimum English language test scores for admission:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual band score below 6.0; or
  • TOEFL: 600 on paper-based, or 100 on Internet-based

Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:
Office of Graduate Admissions
The Elliott School of International Affairs
The George Washington University
1957 E Street, NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20052

Contact for questions:
[email protected] ~ 202.994.7050 ~ 202.994.9537 (fax)
9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday