The National Security and Foreign Policy Concentration prepares MPP students to assume positions in the national security community, including consulting firms with federal contracts.



Graduates have secured jobs in key executive departments, such as defense, state, and homeland security, as well as in intelligence agencies and consulting firms. The economic outlook for employment in the national security community (including homeland security) is outstanding and unique.  



This concentration will equip you to understand the national security policymaking process and provides an opportunity to study in depth the national security challenges of the 21st century.  The gives provides a solid and diverse background on fundamental issues to prepare future public policymakers and practitioners to address the problems facing the United States. 



The goal is to provide a broad exposure to the theoretical and practical aspects of national security policy, in combination with more specialized subjects into which students may dive deeply through a variety of electives, such as terrorism, cyber, and American grand strategy.

Student Benefits

Sanford has close connections to Duke schools of Law, Business, Political Science, Computer Science and more.

Our faculty members have an outstanding combination of academic and practical credentials in the world of foreign policy and national security, including professors of the practice with years of relevant experience in the Pentagon.

Each semester is packed with campus visits and talks by current and former senior national security officials.

man in suit talking and gesturing
General Stanley McChrystal, retired Commander of U.S. and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, speaking at Sanford. 

Sanford faculty have strong military connections, and we are in close proximity both to Washington DC and North Carolina military installations.

Knowledge and skills you can acquire

  • Understanding of national security community members and their roles and tensions
  • Analysis of the history and contemporary application of enduring principles and values, such as civil-military relations and the separation of powers
  • Economic and political impacts of sanctions, defense budgets, and personnel issues, such as women in combat and transgender personnel
  • Protection of the homeland, immigration, and civil liberties issues, such as the balance between liberty and security in the surveillance and information age
  • Required core courses in ethics, politics, economics, and statistics, as well as team and individual projects with real-world clients
  • Practical skills in writing, presentations, and teamwork

Policy Concentration Advisor

Bruce W. Jentleson

Bruce W. Jentleson

William Preston Few Distinguished Professor of Public Policy

Bruce W. Jentleson is William Preston Few Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Political Science at Duke University, where he previously served as Director of the Terry Sanford Institute (now Sanford School) of Public Policy. In 2015-16 he was the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress. He received the 2018 American Political Science Association (APSA) International Security Section Joseph J. Kruzel Award for Distinguished Public Service. In 2020 he received Duke University’s Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Jentleson’s most recent book is The Peacemakers: Leadership Lessons from 20th Century Statesmanship (April 2018, W.W. Norton). His current book is Economic Sanctions: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2022). Recent articles include “Refocusing U.S. Grand Strategy on Pandemic and Environmental Mass Destruction,” The Washington Quarterly (Fall 2020); “Be Wary of China Threat Inflation,” (7/29/21), and “Biden’s Democracy Summit Was Never a Good Idea. But Here’s How to Make It Work,” Politico (12/5/21).

From 2009-11 he was Senior Advisor to the U.S. State Department Policy Planning Director. Other policy positions include senior foreign policy advisor to Vice President Al Gore in his 2000 presidential campaign, in the Clinton administration State Department (1993-94),  as a foreign policy aide to Senators Gore (1987-88) and Dave Durenberger (1978-79).

In 2022 he is a Distinguished Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He also is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In 2020 he was the Desmond Ball Visiting Chair at Australia National University, College of Asia and the Pacific. Other research appointments include the Brookings Institution, U.S. Institute of Peace, Oxford University, International Institute for Strategic Studies (London), and as a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in Spain. He has served as a consultant to the Carnegie Commission for Preventing Deadly Conflict, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Assembly, the Atlantic Council, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has lectured internationally including in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, the Netherlands, Qatar, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. He is often quoted in the press and has appeared on such shows as the PBS News Hour, BBC, Al Jazeera, al Hurra, China Radio International, and NPR.

In 2009 he was Program Co-Chair for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. He  was the longtime Co-Director and now Senior Advisor for the Bridging the Gap project promoting greater policy relevance among academics. He currently serves on the Editorial Boards of Political Science QuarterlyWashington Quarterly, Global R2P, and CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online). He holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and was recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Harold D. Lasswell Award for his doctoral dissertation.

Thomas W. Taylor

Thomas W. Taylor

Professor of the Practice Emeritus in the Sanford School of Public Policy

Thomas W. Taylor is Professor of the Practice of Public Policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. He retired in June 2006 as the senior career civilian attorney in the Department of the Army, where he served as the senior leader of the Army legal community during extended transition periods between successive political appointees. He has provided legal and policy advice to seven Secretaries and seven Chiefs of Staff during his past twenty seven years in the Pentagon on a wide variety of operational, personnel, and other issues, including military support to civil authorities following the attacks on September 11, 2001, and during domestic disaster relief operations. His primary areas of interest include national and homeland security; civil-military relations; leadership; and constitutional and intelligence law.

He began his career as an Army officer trying criminal cases in Alaska and Germany, before serving as an Associate Professor in the Law Department of the United States Military Academy at West Point. As a Reserve Colonel during annual training, he acted as the Academic Dean at the Army’s law school, which provides training and continuing legal education for military and Government lawyers, and confers the LL.M. degree. He has lectured at law schools and professional conferences on national security law topics throughout his career and published notes and articles in law reviews.

He received his BA from Guilford College and his J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Fellow and a member of the Order of the Coif and North Carolina Law Review. Upon his retirement, he received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the Department of Defense Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service, and the Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service. He has received four Presidential Rank Awards from the last three Presidents, as well as numerous military decorations, including the Legion of Merit.

Policy Concentration Advisor

David H. Schanzer

David H. Schanzer

Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy

David Schanzer is a professor of the practice at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy University and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. He teaches courses, conducts research and engages in public dialogue on counterterrorism strategy, counterterrorism law and homeland security.

Schanzer is the lead author of a trilogy National Institute of Justice studies on terrorism prevention: “Engaging Communities to Prevent Violent Extremism: A Review of the Obama Administration’s CVE Initiative,” (2019), “The Challenge and Promise of Using Community Policing Strategies to Prevent Violent Extremism” (2015) and “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim Americans” (2010).

Prior to his academic appointments, Schanzer was the Democratic staff director for the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005. He previously served as the legislative director for Sen. Jean Carnahan (2001-2002), counsel to Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (1996-1998), and counsel to Sen. William S. Cohen (1994-1996).

His positions in the executive branch include special counsel, Office of General Counsel, Department of Defense (1998-2001) and trial attorney, United States Department of Justice (1992-94). Schanzer was a clerk for U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro and in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States.

Schanzer is a graduate of Harvard College where he received an A.B. cum laude in government in 1985 and of Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review from 1987-1989.

Schanzer has appeared on international, national and local radio and television discussing terrorism and homeland security and is the author of more than 70 op-ed articles on these subjects that have appeared in newspapers around the country and on-line. He created two free “massive open on-line courses” – Understanding 9/11 and Responding to 9/11 – on the Coursera platform that have been used by approximately 25,000 people around the globe. Currently, he writes about challenges facing modern democracies on his Substack newsletter -- Perilous Times.

In 2023, he was awarded the Richard Stubbing Memorial Teaching and Mentorship Award for outstanding contributions to the graduate programs at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy.



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Student Story

David Marshall MPP/JD'22 was enrolled in Sanford's MPP program when 9/11 happened. At the time he was a reservist with the North Carolina Air National Guard and soon he was called up to active duty.  He left Duke, eventually serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti. He returned 20 years later to get his degree.

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