Master’s in International Security

Prepare to assess and manage traditional security threats and the emerging security challenges of the 21st century with the Master's in International Security.

The Master's in International Security program prepares professionals to address enduring and emerging security challenges of the 21st century, by deepening conceptual knowledge of the field, learning in-depth about a range of current security issues, and mastering analytic and policy skills for a career in the field. The international security program provides strong background in theories of international relations and strategic thought, as well as electives on a wide range of topics, from great power competition to terrorism and WMD, and nontraditional threats from crime and corruption, cyberspace, food and natural resource insecurities, and more. The approach is inclusive and cross-disciplinary. Students will learn about leadership, decision-making, and the major national security institutions of defense, intelligence, and diplomacy.


A Degree That Works With Your Schedule

You can earn this degree:

  • On-campus
  • Entirely online in a synchronous format
  • Through a combination of on-campus and online classes
  • Part-time or full-time

Classes are offered in the evening to accommodate working students.

What You'll Learn

The Master of Arts in International Security program requires 12 courses (36 total credits), including seven core courses, and five electives. For their elective options, students can choose a concentration:

Concentration areas (pick one):

  • Intelligence
  • Peace Operations
  • Transnational Challenges

International security courses are held in the evenings on Mason’s Arlington, Virginia campus, and students may take the program on a part-time or full-time basis. From International Relations, Security Studies, and Grand Strategy to Managing Homeland Security, Foreign Intelligence in a Free Society, and Science, Technology, and National Security, the international security program coursework will prepare you for influential roles in intelligence, defense, and public policy positions across the public and private sectors.

For detailed curriculum and course schedule information, click here.

Becca Cooper, Master's in International Security student

"Ultimately, I wanted to get my Master's in International Security, focusing on conflict resolution, threat analysis, and intelligence. The thing that sets the school apart are the professors. They are at the forefront of their fields."
—Becca Cooper, Master's in International Security student

Photo of Marisol Maddox

"We are talking about a homeland security issue [climate change in the Arctic]...This is about the need to implement appropriate policy to mitigate massive risk. We can't detect it if we aren't there." 
—Marisol Maddox, Master's in International Security student

Where You'll Work

The Schar School Masters in Biodefense and Masters in International Security faculty delegation visits the National Assembly in South Korea

With George Mason University's prime location in the Washington, D.C. area, Schar School students gain access to leading practitioners who are internationally recognized for their scholarship and advisory roles in the public and private sectors. These faculty bring real-world experience to the classroom, providing you with the mentorship and skillsets needed to advance in your career.

The Schar School as a whole has 80+ faculty members, as well as hundreds of adjunct faculty, allowing students to gain access to a variety of perspectives and subjects through elective courses. Notable faculty members in the international security program include program director Ellen Laipson, Retired General Michael V. Hayden, Gregory Koblentz, Louise I. Shelley, Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Michael Hunzeker, David C. Williams, Robert Dietz, Ambassador Richard Kauzlarich, and many others.


Photo of Wilberg Rivera

In addition to university-wide resources, the Schar School has a dedicated team of student services and career development advisors to assist you in your academic and professional plans.

The Master's in International Security program prepares students for a range of industries and roles in the public and private sectors, including with the government, think tanks, defense contractors, and NGOs. Top employers of international security graduates include the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, Lockheed-Martin, Northrup-Grumman, BAE Systems, the Department of State, Department of Energy, SAIC, and the Brookings Institution, among others.


Program News

Schar School students and faculty tour the USS Stennis flight deck

When a Naval Base Is a Classroom: Students Tour Aircraft Carrier, Submarine, and Battleship

Schar School students with an interest in national security applied their classroom knowledge to the "real world" as they toured an aircraft carrier, a submarine, and a battleship.


Brent Park Mikhail Chudakov and Schar School Professor Gregory Koblentz discuss a nuclear future

Experts Discuss the Balance Between Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security

Schar School students and faculty members joined Brent Park and Mikhail Chudakov to discuss the interconnection between nuclear energy and nuclear security.


David Petraeus former CIA director stands with Schar School undergraduate students

Schar School Undergraduates Meet Rice, Petraeus in Private Session

Mason students met with Susan Rice and David Petraeus in a private discussion, which afforded students one-on-one time to address civility in public discourse and career paths.


Photo of Debra LaPrevotte

Funding Terrorism Through Wildlife Trafficking

The Schar School's Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) welcomed former FBI special agent Debra LaPrevotte for a discussion on how to stop trafficking networks.