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Requirements | Strategic Studies

Learn about the requirements for the Strategic Studies program. 

Master of Arts (MA) Requirements

MA students concentrating in Strategic Studies must complete 20 credits of applicable coursework and a program capstone. One of these courses must be Strategy and Policy (SA.660.740) and this course must be taken in the first semester and completed with a grade of B- or above. Students who do not meet this standard must repeat the course or leave the Strategic Studies concentration.

Military Basics: All Strategic Studies concentrators must participate in a required two-day non-credit course on military basics while at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). The course will be offered each semester and students are strongly encouraged to take it in their first year, if possible. Students who have served or are serving in the military are required to participate only in day one of the course.

Students concentrating in Strategic Studies may not pursue an additional policy or regional concentration. They do, however, still need to complete the International Economics concentration required of all MA students. For more information on this policy, PDF iconview this statement from Dean Eliot Cohen.

For SAIS Europe Students

For students who wish to begin their studies at SAIS Europe, we recommend you complete your non-concentration MA requirements during your first year. The majority of Strategic Studies courses are only offered in Washington DC.

  • SA.660.740 (w/ a B- or better)
  • 2 Strategic Studies SA.660.XXX (or cross-listed) courses

For additional requirements, click here


Strategic Studies concentrators must complete one of the following capstones:

  • Successful completion of the Strategic Studies Research Seminar (SA.660.751);
  • Leading or directing research for the international staff ride, or leading one of the domestic staff rides;
  • An oral exam conducted by two Strategic Studies faculty members at the end of the final semester; or
  • MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors — if eligible)

These requirements must be completed in addition to the requirements for your degree program.

Master of International Public Policy (MIPP) Requirements

MIPP students who are affiliating with Strategic Studies must complete at least three of your eight courses in Strategic Studies.

These requirements must be completed in addition to the requirements for your degree program.

Learning Goals

Strategic Studies is the study of the preparation, organization, and application of force for political purposes. Although it focuses on the use of military means, it includes work in closely related fields such as intelligence, cyberwar, and leadership studies. As such, it has broad applications in non-security related areas such as leadership and management, organizational behavior, and technology policy. It is methodologically eclectic, drawing upon theory, history, and contemporary practice, and pedagogically diverse, using a variety of techniques including lecture, seminar, case study, simulation, field visit, guest speakers, film showings, and staff rides. It begins with an introduction to the field through a fundamentals course, Strategy & Policy, and then allows students to branch out in a variety of subfields, tailoring their work to their interests and needs.

  1. Understand major trends in military affairs since the late nineteenth century;
  2. Gain familiarity with diverse approaches, including both Western and Asian, to strategic thought;
  3. Apply a variety of analytic concepts to contemporary security problems in a succinct, well-informed, and policy-relevant manner;
  4. Understand patterns of war, including those which make it resistant to predictive analysis or, indeed, close control by political authority;
  5. Comprehend the relationships among tactics, operations, strategy, and policy;
  6. Obtain knowledge of fundamental problems in civil-military relations;
  7. Obtain awareness of the dynamics of measure/countermeasure, or move/countermove that make war a cycle rather than a point event; and
  8. Acquire an appreciation of the use of force for deterrence, coercive diplomacy, and intimidation.