MA in Global Security

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Program Description

The MA in Global Security is an interdisciplinary, 30-credit, on-line program that trains students to critically engage global conflict and international security in a comprehensive manner designed to aid professional advancement in military, government and private sector careers. The program involves four key pillars: enabling innovative strategic thinking; developing analytic tools; supporting critical interdisciplinary engagement; and encouraging flexible, resilient approaches to the inherently complex challenges of current and future global security. The curriculum is interdisciplinary and thought-provoking, linking serious ideas with practical case studies.

The MA builds on the expertise of over 100 top faculty at Arizona State University – one of the largest and most innovative public research institutions in the country – from multiple fields (political science, history, law, public policy, engineering, management, etc.). It also integrates lectures, case studies and materials from a team of former military (general officers, soldiers, special forces, etc.), former government officials, journalists and scholars, many of whom are significant thought-leaders in the field (Pulitzer Prize winners, high-level leaders, best-selling authors, etc.).

Students may take the MA from anywhere in the world, proceed at their own pace and study while working. Those who complete the MA will gain a unique set of skills, intellectual tools and a strong grounding in foundational ideas that will prepare them to advance their careers in diplomacy, international development, the military, global security, management and related fields. 

Degree Requirements

Required Core (3 credit hours)
GSC 501 War, Conflict and Security – (3 credits) – The class engages interdisciplinary approaches to conflict and international security with a focus on defining a strategic approach to short, medium and long-term global trends. The class reviews key philosophical and social science theories of war and conflict drawn from international relations, sociology and conflict studies. It considers the historical development of global security from the post WWII era to the present including a consideration of the role of states and non-state actors. 

Electives or Research (24 credit hours)

GSC 502 Security Studies (3 credits) – The class considers key determinants of global insecurity including ungoverned spaces, civilizational conflict, technological innovation, climate change and terrorism. The course provides a background in links between security, economic well-being and principles of domestic and international governance.

GSC 503 Future of War (3 credits) – The class engages the profound social, political, economic, and cultural implications of the changing nature of war and conflict. The course provides an overview of some classic philosophical and military-strategic theories and conceptions of war, the complex threats of groups operating beyond and across state boundaries, and the danger of the democratization of terror and mechanisms of mass destruction. The class also engages a variety of international drivers of conflict including climate change, shifting demographics, and competition over resources as well as responses to humanitarian and human rights issues raised by conflict, such as the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons.

GSC 504 Understanding Conflict and War (3 credits) – The course provides a critical overview of different definitions and meanings of war and armed conflict. It engages key theories used to understand conflict including realism, neorealism, liberalism and constructivism. It considers core issues in the field, linking empirical studies with explanations for what drives, sustains and resolves conflict including reviewing the fact that democratic states tend not to go to war with each other (the democratic peace), the structure and logic of arms races, escalation and alliance, and core ideas regarding peace, conflict management and conflict resolution..

GSC 505 Law of War (3 credits) – The course provides an overview of key elements of the law of war, also known as international humanitarian law (IHL) and the law of armed conflict (LOAC). It engages basic questions of international law, reviewing its history, sources and structure. The course covers jus ad bellum, the rules governing how states legally go to war as well as jus in bello, the established ideas regarding how to manage actions during armed conflict. The class covers key principles within the law of war, including distinction, proportionality and necessity as well as reviewing the differences between international and non-international armed conflicts and other key ideas. The class reviews the systems through which the law of war is enforced and also considers basic theoretical and practical issues regarding compliance. In general, the course links the ideas, practices, rules and understandings of the law of war with specific cases and concrete examples.

GSC 506 U.S. Politics of Security (3 credits) – The course reviews the structure of US national security institutions and the ways in which they both work together and often operate in conflict. The class reviews separation of powers issues as linked to war and policy as well as engaging the structure and function of multiple institutions including the Department of Defense, Department of State, intelligence agencies, U.S. Agency for International Development, National Security Council and Department of Homeland Security. The class focuses on how security policy is developed, managed and implemented.

GSC 507 Global Politics of Security (3 credits) – The course reviews the structure of international security institutions and actors including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the United Nations’ Security Council, peacekeeping missions, regional organizations (NATO, EU, Inter-American System, ASEAN, etc.) and others. The course also considers the roles of private military and intelligence contractors and corporations working on issues of direct and indirect relation to security issues. Through specific case studies and examples, the course reviews the operation of these bodies and their complex relationships.

GSC 508 Comparative Studies of Conflict (3 credits) – This course provides a critical overview of key theories on the causes, justifications and structures of armed political conflict. It begins by outlining core issues within the problem of social order, that is, how to think about managing governance and power. It then reviews the idea of “collective action” and its link with force and violence, ideas that are contrasted with nonviolence as a political strategy. The class then considers civil wars and interstate wars, comparing these forms of organized violence, as well as the current challenges of armed non-state actors (within an international system premised on states) and the an overview of the meaning of peace. The issues and theories reviewed in this class are linked with case studies and concrete examples as a means of linking key ideas with their practical and policy implications.

GSC 509 Emerging Technologies and Global Security (3 credits) – The course reviews the impact and significance of emerging technologies and global security with a focus on cybersecurity/cyberwar, mass surveillance, autonomous systems, drones, bio- and genetic weapons, and weapons of mass destruction. The class considers past, current and future technologies in terms of general strategic theories and projected impacts on global security.

GSC 510 Governance in Post-Conflict/Transitional Contexts (3 credits) – The course considers the challenges of governance in post-conflict and transitional contexts. This includes issues of peacekeeping, stability operations, reconstruction and governance. It also includes strategies and mechanisms of transitional justice to address past atrocities including trials, truth commissions, vetting, reparations and institutional reform.

GSC 511 Terrorism and Insurgency (3 credits) – This course provides a critical overview of the use of terror by governments, insurgents and other non-state actors. The class engages the definition of terrorism and provides an overview of key practices and strategies. It reviews key theories as to the causes, meaning and impact of the deployment of terror as a strategy by distinct groups. This involves a consideration of state terror, insurgencies and global terror networks. Many of the core ideas reviewed in this class are linked with a set of case studies designed to ground the broader discussion of terror within specific situations and contexts.

GSC 512 Global Trends (3 credits) – The course reviews significant post-WWII global trends as a means of understanding security issues in an interdisciplinary manner linking political, economic, cultural and structural shifts. The class reviews the impact and meaning of decolonization, modernization, democratization and international development as policies and mechanisms of understanding political change. It also reviews key demographic shifts (by place, age distribution, etc.), gender and evolving questions of identity and power.

Culminating Experience (3 credit hours)

GSC 550 Capstone (3 credits) – This course serves as the culminating experience of the Masters in Global Security. The capstone course allows each student to explore a research area, interest, theme or question. Final written products will be developed individually based on consultation with faculty.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in the humanities (English, history, etc.); social sciences (anthropology, sociology, political science, etc.); sciences (biology, chemistry, etc.); policy (public administration, etc.); computer science; engineering (all subfields); or a closely related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of a student's first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  • graduate admission application and application fee
  • personal statement
  • official transcripts
  • at least one letter of recommendation (Applicants may submit additional letters)

No GRE is required.

Foreign students should provide proof of English proficiency.

Prospective students may submit applications in either the fall or spring semesters. Application deadlines are early August and early December but applications will be reviewed year-round.

ASU offers this program in an online format with multiple enrollment sessions throughout the year and accelerated 7.5 week classes. 

Contact Information:

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