Department of National Security Affairs (NSA)


Chairman (Acting)

Maria Rasmussen, Ph.D.

Code NS, Glasgow Hall, Room 319B

(831) 656-7660, DSN 756-7660, FAX (831) 656-2949

Donald Abenheim, Associate Professor (1985); Ph.D., Stanford University, 1985.

Anne Marie Baylouny, Associate Professor (2003); Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 2003.

Clark Bone, CAPT, USN, Senior Intelligence Officer (2017); Executive M.B.A., Naval Postgraduate School, 2013; M.A., Naval War College, 2003.

Thomas C. Bruneau, Distinguished Professor Emeritus (1987); Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 1970.

Anshu Chatterjee, Lecturer (2003); Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 2003.

Anne L. Clunan, Associate Professor (2002); Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 2001.

Erik Dahl, CDR, USN (ret.), Associate Professor (2008); Ph.D., Tufts University, 2008.

Christopher Darnton, Associate Professor (2016); Ph.D, Princeton University, 2009.

Ryan Gingeras, Professor (2010); Ph.D., University of Toronto, 2006.

Mariana Giusti Rodriguez, Assistant Professor (2018); Ph.D., Cornell University, 2018.

Michael Glosny, Lecturer (2010); Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012.

Mohammed Hafez, Professor (2008); Ph.D., London School of Economics, 2000.

Carolyn C. Halladay, Senior Lecturer (2010); J.D. Stanford University Law School, 2002; Ph.D., University of California Santa Cruz, 1997.

Wade Lee Huntley, Senior Lecturer (2009); Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 1993.

Scott E. Jasper, CAPT, USN (ret.), Lecturer (2002); Ph.D, University of Reading 2018.

Thomas H. Johnson, Research Professor (2003); M.A., University of Southern California, 1976.

S. Paul Kapur, Professor (2008); Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1999.

Feroz Khan, BRIG, Pakistan Army (ret.), Lecturer (2008); M.A., School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University, 1991.

Jeffrey Larsen, Adjunct Professor (2018); Ph.D., Princeton University, 1991.

Letitia Lawson, Senior Lecturer (1996); Ph.D., University of California Davis, 1995.

Michael E. Lee, COL, USA, Foreign Area Officer Advisor (2018); M.S, Auburn University at Montgomery, 1996.

Robert Edward Looney, Distinguished Professor (1979); Ph.D., University of California Davis, 1969.

Tristan Mabry, Assistant Research Professor (2009); Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2007.

Michael Malley, Lecturer (2004); Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999.

Cristiana Matei, Lecturer (2010); Ph.D., King's College, University of London, 2016.

Aleksandar Matovski, Assistant Professor (2020); Ph.D., Cornell University, 2015.

Michael (Kelly) McCoy, LTC, USA, Strategy Chair (2019); M.A., George Washington University, 2013.

Emily Meierding, Assistant Professor (2016); Chair of Doctoral Committee; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2010.

Covell Meyskens, Assistant Professor (2015); Ph.D, University of Chicago, 2015.

James Clay Moltz, Professor (2007); Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 1989.

Daniel Moran, Professor (1994); Ph.D., Stanford University, 1982.

Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez, Assistant Research Professor (2010); Ph.D. University of Paris VIII, 2009.

Edward Allan Olsen, Professor Emeritus (1980); Ph.D., American University, 1974.

Afshon Ostovar, Associate Professor (2016); Associate Chair for Research; Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2009.

Jessica Piombo, Associate Professor (2003); Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002.

Douglas Porch, Distinguished Professor Emeritus (1996); Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1972.

Maria Rasmussen, Associate Professor (1993); Ph.D., Yale University, 1990.

James Russell, Associate Professor (2001); Ph.D., King's College, University of London, 2009.

Zachary Shore, Professor (2006); D.Phil., Oxford University, 1999.

Rachel Sigman, Assistant Professor (2015); Ph.D., Syracuse University, 2015.

Mikhail Tsypkin, Associate Professor (1987); Ph.D., Harvard University, 1985.

Christopher Twomey, Associate Professor (2004); Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2004.

Robert Weiner, Lecturer (2007), Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 2003.

James J. Wirtz, Professor (1990); Ph.D., Columbia University, 1989.

David Scott Yost, Distinguished Professor Emeritus (1979); Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1976.

Thomas-Durell Young, Senior Lecturer (2009), Ph.D., University of Geneva (CH), 1988.

John Zavage, COL, USA, Foreign Area Officer Chair (2018); M.A., Harvard University, 2013.


Brief Overview

The Department of National Security Affairs (NSA) specializes in the study and teaching of international relations, regional politics and security, international and military history, international political economy, and United States security policy. NSA brings together a faculty comprising historians, political scientists, and economists, with students from all the U.S. armed forces, from various defense agencies, and officers and civilians from dozens of countries around the world.

Requirements for Entry

Applicants for MA programs must have obtained a Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited academic institution. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for Navy and Marine Corps applicants, but Army and Air Force applicants must include scores from the GRE, taken within five years of the date of application.

International students whose native language, or language of prior instruction, was other than English, are required to have obtained a minimum total score of 90 on the internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or a score of 560 on the written test.


NSA offers a Master of Arts in Security Studies. Master of Arts degrees always entail concentration in a particular regional or topical specialty, which is noted as part of the degree. Specific requirements:

  1. Total required credit hours will vary between 48-80 depending on students' length of program.
  2. The completion of an approved sequence of graduate courses, including at least three courses at the 4000 level, in one of the following curricula: Strategic Studies, Civil Military Relations, Homeland Security and Defense, Combating Terrorism, or Regional Studies (Middle East, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa; Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific; Western Hemisphere; Europe and Eurasia).
  3. Successful completion of departmental comprehensive examination or completion of an acceptable thesis.
  4. Depending on the curriculum, thesis research may be substituted by a combination of a comprehensive exam and the successful completion of a foreign language program at the Defense Language Institute.

Regional Security Studies

NSA Regional Security Studies curricula meet the high standards set by the U.S. armed forces for Foreign Area Officer education. Students can enroll in one of four curricula:

  • Curriculum 681 - Middle East, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Curriculum 682 - Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific
  • Curriculum 683 - Western Hemisphere
  • Curriculum 684 - Europe and Eurasia

International Security Studies

NSA offers a number of degree programs focusing on topics or problems with broad application to international security generally:

  • Curriculum 685 - Civil-Military Relations
  • Curriculum 688 - Strategic Studies
  • Curriculum 691 - Homeland Security and Defense
  • Curriculum 692 - Homeland Defense and Security
  • Curriculum 693 - Combating Terrorism: Policy and Strategy
  • Curriculum 695 - Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications
  • Curriculum 696 - Space Operations

Curricular Structure

All NSA curricula share a common structure, which is designed to provide a firm foundation in the basics of security studies, along with in-depth exposure to a particular regional or topical specialty. This structure varies slightly depending on whether or not a degree program requires a Master's Thesis.

  1. Disciplinary core courses. All NSA students are expected to complete five disciplinary core courses. These provide a basic familiarity with the underlying academic disciplines that constitute the multidisciplinary field of security studies: history, international relations, comparative politics, and economics. A course in writing and research methods is also required. Because of their foundational purpose, disciplinary core courses should be completed early in a student's time at NPS.
  2. Curricular core courses and elective courses. All NSA curricula require students to complete at least eight graduate-level courses in their subject of concentration. These are divided between curricular core courses and curricular electives. The ratio of core and elective course varies from one curriculum to the next, but the minimum total is always eight, of which at least three (12 credit hours minimum) must be at the 4000-level.
  3. General Electives. NSA degree programs usually afford some opportunity for students to take courses in subjects outside their area of specialization. Such courses are called "general" electives, and they may be chosen from among all courses offered at NSA. General electives exist to provide an opportunity for students to take courses relevant to their thesis research, but which may lie outside their particular regional or topical area of concentration. They are not optional. Curricula that provide scope for general electives also require that a certain number must be taken in order to complete the degree. The number of general electives available to students in a given program will vary, depending on sponsor requirements. In some cases such requirements may preempt a student's choice of general electives.
  4. Thesis research. Students who are required to write a thesis must complete two courses related to the thesis proposal, NS4079 and NS4080, no later than six months prior to graduation. Afterward, they may take NS0810, Thesis Research, up to three times. NS4079 and NS4080 are Pass-Fail courses. They do not count toward the minimum of 12 credit hours of 4000-level course work described above.

    4a. Comprehensive examination. NSA's regional curricula allow successful completion of language training at the Defense Language Institute to serve as a partial substitute for a Master's thesis. In addition to language training students who do not write a thesis must also take a comprehensive examination, for which they prepare by enrolling in NS0811 during their final quarter. NS0811 counts as a regular course, and should not be taken as an overload.

Additional Requirements

  1. Naval Intelligence Requirement. All Naval Intelligence officers in NSA are required to take NS4159, Seminar on Joint Intelligence Support to Crisis Operations, in lieu of a general elective. This course does not count toward the requirement of three 4000-level courses in a student's area of concentration, unless it is specifically included among the curricular electives of a particular program.
  2. JPME. Students at NPS have the opportunity to complete a sequence of Naval War College courses that convey JPME Phase I Credit. Completion of JPME is not a requirement for any NSA degree, but is available as an option for curriculum sponsors, and for students whose programs afford sufficient time (one additional academic quarter) to complete the work. JPME courses may not be taken as an overload and do not satisfy any curricular requirements in NSA.

    Additional information about NSA academic programs, including an up-to-date schedule of course offerings, can be found on the NSA web site,

National Security Affairs Course Descriptions

FL Courses

NS Courses