Continue working while you train with Duke’s world-class faculty to develop the critical thinking and advanced skills needed to face today’s national security issues and threats- cyber security and technology, great-power competition, intelligence, strategic deterrence, pandemics and international health security, environmental security, and economic stability.

This flexible, hybrid program is created specifically for mid-career professionals who want to grow professionally while continuing to do the important work that keeps our world secure. 


Leadership Tools

Right away, Rusty Cotterman MNSP'23 was intrigued with the MNSP program. "It seemed perfect," he recalls. As a member of the Army's Third Special Forces group Rusty has deployed to conflict zones around the world including five tours in Afghanistan, Somalia, the Sahel, and most recently in Cote d’Ivoire training Ivorian Special Operations forces. His commanding officer at Fort Bragg, had completed a program at Duke and was supportive. 

He graduated with the inaugural cohort, and will continue his career in the Army. “This program, without question, has given me so much in both knowledge and tools to better serve the soldiers I will lead," Rusty says.

Read Rusty's story

Equipped to Serve

Christian Jones MPP'24 says Sanford armed her with an "innovative problem-solving skill set." Christian is focused on utilizing "soft power" tools to address hard challenges we face within the United States country. She says her time in the MNSP program "has instilled a commitment to service and a perspective on how soft power can be a transformative force in our national security strategy." 

MNSP Faculty

What is an Executive Master's Degree?

Executive master’s degrees are designed to accommodate working professionals. Students will finish in 12 or 20 months, and can work at their own pace for some of the material. The program also aims to connect classroom work with your specific professional practice. Due to the backgrounds of the participants, classroom discussions are robust, and the networking opportunities are unparalleled. 

Classes meet primarily online 

Some are asynchronous where you can work on material at your schedule and other elements are synchronous - a weekly class at a set time.

there are on-campus elements 

Students have two weeks on campus in the first summer of enrollment, and two weekends (Thur.- Sat.) per term until degree completion.

Things to consider

  • Program features personal attention/small classes
  • Classmates often become friends for life
  • The Sanford School emphasizes collaboration over competition
  • Graduates join an active network of alumni

Our faculty are ranked among the most research productive of any public policy school in the world.

Admiral Dennis Blair

UNC faculty member, former Director of National Intelligence, former commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Command.

Course:  Methods of Policy Analysis

Doug Brook

Served in four presidential appointed positions.

Course: National Security Budgeting

Frances Tilney Burke

Served in multiple roles in the Department of Defense.

Course: National Security Institutions

Philip Candreva

Lecturer and author retired from 22 years of active duty.

Course: National Security Budgeting

Greta Creech

Former GEOINT analyst and Chief of staff at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Course: Leadership in the National Security Environment

Emily Goldman

Cyber strategist at the U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency.

Course: National Security Strategy

Elizabeth Grasmeder

Foreign-policy analyst in the U.S. government.

Course: Methods of Policy Analysis

Laura Hall

Acting director at the National Exercise Division at FEMA

Course: Team-Based Learning

Mark Mazzetti

Journalist for The New York Times who has received multiple Pulitzer awards

Course: National Security Ethics

Tim Nichols

Former intelligence officer in the Marine Corps for more than 20 years.

Course: Team-Based Learning for National Security Professionals

Jon Rosenwasser

Budget and policy director for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Course: Spring National Security Elective

Read more about the program faculty >>

Additional Faculty

Benefit from connections with numerous centers and programs including the Duke Center for International Development, Duke University program in American Grand Strategy, Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and more.

Related programs:

There are 180,000 Duke alumni around the world. The networking opportunities are top-notch.

Sanford excels at graduate education that builds skills, enhances critical thinking, and develops deep expertise. These are exactly the attributes that national security employers wish to enhance in their mid-career workforce.


Located within driving distance from major military bases and Washington, D.C., Duke University offers unique connections and expertise in national security policy that you won’t find elsewhere. Duke is one of the most prestigious, rigorous universities in the country, located in Durham, N.C., which is always ranked one of the best places to live and visit. In addition, Duke is located near the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, connecting easily to major cities in the South and the East Coast region. Graduates join an active network of alumni of more than 180,000 Blue Devils worldwide.

Duke has opportunities and connections with partners to offer program financial support, including Duke’s Office of Veteran Affairs, Sanford Veterans Association and more. Proximity and Duke affiliation to the Durham VA Health Care System provides unique connections. In addition, Duke has a Duke in DC program, offices, alumni network and resources in the capitol.

~$47,740.50 (additional student fees may apply for students who are in the program beyond one year)

Steps to Apply


Create an Account

 Visit Duke's application page to create an account or log in.

Trouble entering the portal?  Contact Duke's Duke's OIT Help Desk. Please include a screenshot or details of the error message you encounter.

(919) 684-2200 |


Start an application

Once you've created an account, on the application page, click “Start a New Application” and select the right application cycle. (Ie “Spring 2025-Fall 2025 Application Cycle.”)


Select Sanford

Make sure to choose “Sanford School of Public Policy” in the next drop-down tab. This will open Sanford School applications.

Need help? Contact us!

Note: The application window for the 2025-2026 MNSP cohort opens in September 2024 and closes January 5, 2025.

Featured Video

Student Stories

Andrea Orlowski MNSP‘24 & Philip Knight MNSP‘23