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A member of the Army's Third Special Forces Rusty Cotterman graduated with a Master of National Security Policy (MNSP) degree in 2023.

Creating a more secure country and world through policy

Global security is at an inflection point as the world is still recovering from a historic pandemic. Democracy is under siege worldwide. Relations between the United States and China are strained. Global conflicts are raging in Ukraine and the Middle East. Violent extremism by non-state actors continues to threaten civilians and governments.

Helping the world overcome these challenges and preparing students for the future are the goals of Sanford faculty, who teach and research issues of statecraft, strategy, and security.

National security is the focus of a new Sanford degree – the Master of National Security Policy. Sanford welcomed the first 18 master’s students in summer 2022 and graduated the first professionals in 2023. Led by faculty member Tim Nichols, the executive master’s program is designed for working professionals and leaders working in national security for the government, military, defense or consulting.

The program can be completed in as little as one year, allowing professionals and executives to continue working while completing the degree. The program is a perfect match for national security professionals with Duke’s expertise, proximity to the nation’s capital and military bases, and resources and connections to organizations in the national security field.

At the undergraduate level, the Duke University Program in American Grand Strategy (AGS), housed in both the Sanford School and Trinity College, helps anchor Sanford’s security studies co-curricular programming. Through this program, undergraduates have the opportunity to participate in courses, experiential learning and fellowships to deepen their national security understanding.

AGS features a number of interdisciplinary curricular offerings and an exceptionally lively co-curricular program of active learning opportunities: a world-class speaker series featuring a diverse array of perspectives on contemporary security and foreign policy challenges, field trips to policy and military venues to engage with practitioners, as well as
domestic and international “staff rides” where groups of students, faculty, and alums study a specific historical campaign and explore the geographic site where that campaign was conducted. AGS is open to all Duke students, but many of its most active members come from the Sanford School and from the Department of Political Science.

This master’s degree and faculty research comes at a time when national security and foreign policy are heightened.

Sanford faculty are engaged in research, teaching and public engagement aimed at shaping policy to address the security challenges of the 21st century. Sanford scholarship ranges from topics such as how powers can avoid wars, how intelligence can be collected and used consistent with democratic values, and the factors that influence alliances for peace.

Faculty share research and views to the public through media interviews, op-eds, and social media commentary when events like wars, terrorist attacks and important foreign policy events hit the news. Faculty also conduct real-time instruction through courses and executive education. They provide context and direction for our world, and their award-winning work is regularly cited by international media, as is their national and global expertise.

Bruce Jentleson’s book Sanctions: What Everyone Needs to Know published in 2022 has been directly relevant to the invasion of Ukraine and the U.S. response to Russia – but the book’s impact and relevance extends to any foreign policy event in which sanctions are considered. A former U.S. State Department official, Jentleson has held numerous senior foreign policy positions in past U.S. administrations. His current research focuses on American grand strategy in the context of the 21st-century international system and American domestic politics. Jentleson has written extensively on statecraft, strategy, security and foreign policy.


Jennifer Siegel’s work is focused on the diplomacy of the First World War from the perspective of all the combatant and key neutral powers, from the outbreak of the war through the conclusion of the armistice in November 1918. Forthcoming publications will explore critical questions of neutrality, financial diplomacy, inter-state relations, transnational civil-military relations, and the nature of alliances during a period of war and revolution, issues that have a bearing on the conflicts we are experiencing a century later.

Simon Miles’ book Engaging the Evil Empire: Washington, Moscow, and the Beginning of the End of the Cold War, published in fall 2020, is timely given the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. His book uses archival materials from both sides of the Iron Curtain to show how shifts in the perceived distribution of power catalyzed changes in the strategies that U.S. leaders used to engage the Soviet Union and vice versa, bringing the Cold War to its largely peaceful conclusion. Miles’ second book, On Guard for Peace and Socialism: The Warsaw Pact, 1955–1991, is in the works – one of the first to tell the comprehensive story of the Warsaw Pact.

Straddling the U.S. and global front, David Schanzer’s research on “combating violent extremism” resulted in a trilogy of National Institute of Justice reports, with the third report published in 2019. Since June 2022, he has been writing about how extremist movements at home and abroad present threats to modern democracy, which is the focus of his Substack newsletter – Perilous Times. Since 2021, he has offered a war game experience as a for-credit academic course, giving students a national security scenario to tackle. Schanzer has also provided insights on 9/11 for more than 20 years. To date, almost 12,000 people have enrolled in his online MOOC course on “Understanding 9/11.” In 2021, Schanzer served as a guest curator for the National Law Enforcement Museum & Memorial exhibit on the 20th anniversary of 9/11: Post-9/11: The Evolution of American Law Enforcement.

Abdullah Antepli’s long-term work in humanitarian projects and interfaith relations was celebrated with the Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Award and as the first Kay Family Award honoree in late 2022. Antepli is a scholar, clergy and leader of cross-religious and cross-cultural dialogue and faith-based reconciliation and diplomacy in American higher education and the non-profit world. He has worked with various groups involved in Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Turkish-Armenian reconciliation efforts. He also works with groups countering violent extremism efforts in South and Southeast Asia, East Africa and the Middle East.

Lines stretching across page

Examples of national security and foreign policy impacts


Counterterrorism Focus

Now welcoming its 11th cohort, the Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellowship, led by Tim Nichols, brings mid-career national security officials to Sanford to take courses, conduct research and engage with students. Past fellows have been appointed from the U.S. Army and Navy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Defense.

More about the fellowship

International Security

Carlucci Fellowship in Security Studies are awarded each year to incoming MPP students committed to pursuing careers in national or international security. Fellows receive a monetary stipend to support a summer internship in a security field and sponsor a daylong conference on a contemporary security topic. Since 2015, there have been a total of 48 fellows in the fellowship created by the Marcia and Frank Carlucci Charitable Foundation. The fellowship is named in honor of Frank C. Carlucci III, former U.S. Secretary of Defense.

More about Carlucci Fellowship

Governance and Fragility

Sanford offers an Executive Education Program on Governance and Fragility for civil affairs officers. It was offered four times in 2022-2023 and hosted 93 officers from the U.S. Army’s 95th Civil Affairs Brigade. Participants learned about the core principles of good governance, and experts in the field led in-depth discussions about political and economic institutions, civil conflict, armed non-state actors, and peace and stabilization interventions.

Active Duty Fellows

Each year, the MPP program includes active duty military service members, as well as students who have been awarded distinguished fellowships from the State Department, Military Services, and other federal agencies to prepare for or advance their careers in national security. Many Sanford graduates have gone on to serve in the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, and the National Security Council, or worked as staff for congressional committees that oversee these agencies.


Directing Resilience and Response

Caitlin Durkovich PPS’94 serves as Deputy Assistant to President Biden and
Deputy Homeland Security for Resilience and Response at the National Security Council.

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Education & National Security

Christian Jones MNSP‘24 is passionate about education and the economy as a matter of national security, hoping to pursue a professional future dedicated to addressing these crises and challenges that directly affect American citizens.

Watch video about Christian Jones

Liaison to the Senate

Sarah Blake MNSP’24 is a member of the first Master of National Security Policy cohort at Duke Sanford. A graduate of the Naval Academy, and a MH60 Romeo pilot in the Navy, she says the hybrid program has given her the freedom to pursue her education while continuing to work as a liaison to the U.S. Senate.

Watch video

Impactful Books

Peter Feaver, director of AGS, published Thanks for Your Service: The Causes and Consequences of Public Confidence in the US Military in 2023. Feaver’s book is the definitive study on the decades-long run of high public confidence in the military and why it may rest on shaky foundations.

AGS Associate Director Susan Colbourn published the book Euromissiles: The Nuclear Weapons That Nearly Destroyed NATO in 2022. Colbourn tells the story of the nuclear arms race in Europe. Since publication, she has provided briefings to the State Department and national laboratories working on nuclear deterrence, as well as given presentations at Brookings, the RAND Corporation and other organizations.

Meet AGS Leadership

Security Consortium

The Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS), a four-university consortium – consisting of Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina State, and North Carolina Central – aims to build bridges among the academic, policymaker, and military communities through research and collaboration. Founded in 1958, TISS is one of the nation’s oldest academic centers committed to security studies.

Explore TISS NC

Faculty: National Security & Foreign Policy

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