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Master’s Degree Programs in Military Studies Overview

Majors Overview November 21, 2015

The analysis of diplomacy and military affairs is the focus of military studies programs. Students in Master of Arts (M.A.) programs in Military Studies are ready for careers in the military, education, and government.

Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Military Studies

Schools offer Master of Arts (M.A.) in Military Studies programs in both on-campus and online formats. Full-time students can complete them within two years; students are often required to complete a capstone project or thesis. Schools often devise graduate-level military programs to help in the career advancement of current military personnel or for the preparation of students for government careers, such as a U.S. embassy or in the State Department.

Relatively few schools, if any, offer master’s degree programs in military studies. Prospective students may choose from other alternative programs such as:

•Master of Arts (M.A.) programs in International Relations
•Master of Arts (M.A.) programs in Political Science
•Master of Arts (M.A.) programs in History
•Master of Arts (M.A.) programs in Military History
•Master of Arts (M.A.) programs in Homeland Security

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Military Studies

Program coursework in a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Military Studies program covers international relations, history, economics, political science, and philosophy. The focus may be on the military profession, military leaders, genocide, national defense policies, conflicts such as the World Wars and the American Civil War, or military-civilian relations.

The focus of some graduate programs is on how military operations and diplomacy relate to each other. In other programs, students examine the influence of the military on American politics and culture. In some military studies programs, students are required to complete a capstone project or a master’s thesis. Coursework in writing strategies and research methods is in these projects.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, in addition to submitting an application, undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and test scores. In some programs, applicants are expected to meet a minimum GPA standard. An incoming student’s intellectual capacity, leadership potential, and personal integrity may also find consideration by schools.


The focus of program coursework is mainly on diplomacy, military philosophy, international relations, and ethics. Supplementary coursework includes courses on wars in specific time periods or nations and humanities electives. Core coursework may commonly cover topic areas such as:

•International relations
•The Cold War
•The Napoleonic Wars
•History of American Diplomacy
•Military historiography
•Military leaders
•War economics
•War in Japan
•Philosophy of the just war
•Genocide issues

Career Choices

Program graduates may seek advanced positions within the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They may choose from possible occupations such as:

•Intelligence Analyst
•Civilian contractor
•Military officer
•U.S. State Department official
•Embassy staff

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education may enroll in doctorate programs such as the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Military History. Alternatively, individuals who wish to pursue a career in law may enroll in the Juris Doctor (J.D.); those who wish to pursue careers in higher education may enroll in teaching certificate programs.

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