The Sanford School offers a wide variety of curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students at all levels to study international relations, foreign policy, and national security policy in the United States and globally.
Courses and programs explore traditional areas of security studies such as military and defense policy, diplomacy, and intelligence, while also offering opportunities to learn about topics that impact security, such as:
- climate change
- human rights
Our distinctive strengths in the areas of U.S. foreign and security policy are complemented by our international and comparative reach.
Sanford blends the study of the past and the present to equip the next generation to meet the policy challenges of the future. Our faculty are engaged in research efforts in the security field and provide executive education offerings through both degree programs and customized courses.
Why Security at Sanford?
- Strong curricular offerings
- Rich student interest
- Solid track record of collaboration
- Successful provider of collective goods (public programming and co-curricular opportunities)
- Strong career mentoring via Faculty with government experience and fellows program
- Effective outreach and engagement
Partners include: Duke Human Rights Center, Jewish Studies, ROTC, the Duke Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security, the Duke University Middle East Studies Center, and many others
Partners include: Security studies entities at UNC, NC State and NC Central via Triangle Institute for Security Studies
Partners include: National Defense University campus at Fort Bragg through the TISS-JSOMA partnership, Special Forces units at Fort Bragg and beyond
Undergrads majoring in public policy can explore security studies topics throughout the major and prepare for a career in national security. Over a dozen Sanford full-time and affiliated faculty teach and conduct research on domestic and global security topics. Security faculty:
- teach core courses for the major
- offer security-related electives
- advise senior honors theses on security-related topics.
Sanford faculty and staff assist in obtaining security-related internships in federal agencies in Washington, D.C., Capitol Hill, think tanks and NGOs. Alumni serve in the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, and the National Security Council, or have worked as staff for congressional committees that oversee these agencies. Many alumni work for private sector companies that support the mission of these and other agencies, think tanks and NGOs.
Master of Public Policy
MPP students may choose to concentrate in national security. All national security concentrators will take a course in Topics in National Security and choose from electives at the 500 and 800 levels. Many MPPs intern in federal government or international agencies during the summer and then complete a master’s project on a security-related project in their second year. Each year, the MPP cohort includes active duty military servicemembers, as well as students that 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.
Master of National Security Policy
The MNSP is a hybrid learning experience for mid-career professionals in the national security field. Students attend two residential periods on campus per semester and otherwise interact with their faculty and fellow students on-line so they can continue their careers. Courses are taught by core Sanford faculty members and adjunct professors who are leading practitioners in their fields.
Master of International Development Policy
The MIDP is a flexible interdisciplinary degree focused on mid-career professionals who will dedicate their careers to policymaking and public service in developing countries. Students may choose to focus in “Peace and Conflict Resolution” and choose from a variety of security studies electives. Many MIDP graduates return to employment in national security agencies in their home countries.
We offer tailored executive education courses for national security professionals as individuals and group clients.
- vary in length and content
- have covered issues relating counterterrorism, irregular warfare, great power competition, security cooperation, and counterproliferation
- combine seminar discussions, readings, in-class simulations, and team-based analysis
Program on Governance & Fragility
The Duke Center for International Development (DCID) 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. The program concludes with a day-long group exercise centered around a governance in crisis scenario.