Doctor of Philosophy in Security Studies - Curriculum 694

Doctoral Committee Chair

Daniel Moran, Ph.D.

Code 38, Glasgow Hall, Room 316

(831)656-2059, DSN 756-2059

Brief Overview

Security Studies is a multidisciplinary field based on the traditional academic disciplines of Political Science, History, and Economics. The doctoral program in Security Studies seeks to equip students with the skills and knowledge required to do work of the highest professional quality in these areas, with emphasis on understanding the challenges and characteristics of modern security and defense policy.

The PhD in Security Studies requires three years in-residence, beginning with one year of course work beyond the Master's degree, followed by two years conducting research and writing the dissertation.

Requirements for Entry

Admission to the Ph.D. program in Security Studies is available to officers of all the U.S. armed services, civilian federal employees with agency sponsorship, and to individuals sponsored by selected allied nations. Applicants must possess a Master's Degree in Security Studies or a closely-allied field (Political Science, History, Economics, etc.) by the time doctoral instruction begins.

Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis, once a complete application has been received. The following materials are required:

  • A completed online application, which may be accessed at
  • A cover letter specifying research interest and purpose for seeking a doctoral degree, especially in relation to the candidate's previous academic and professional experiences.
  • Certified transcripts of prior graduate and undergraduate work. Transcripts of work completed at NPS are not necessary.
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination, taken within the last five years.
  • At least two (2) letters of recommendation, either from former professors or from others in a position to judge the candidate's academic potential.
  • Attestation by the student's sponsoring agency or nation that it is committed to provide tuition and salary support during the student's residence at NPS.
  • A sample of expository writing (e.g. a paper written for a graduate seminar, a Master's thesis, an article published in an academic or service journal) chosen by the applicant to demonstrate his or her ability to do advanced academic work.
  • International applicants who are not currently enrolled at NPS, and whose native language or language of prior instruction is other than English, must submit current results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Test of Written English.

    Domestic applicants should forward the materials just described, to the NPS Director of Admissions. International students should forward their materials to the International Graduate Programs Office.


Once a student has been admitted, doctoral study may begin in any subsequent quarter during the following twelve months.


Doctor of Philosophy in Security Studies.

Curriculum Requirements

General Degree Requirements: The NSA doctoral program requires one year of course work beyond the Master's degree. Courses and directed studies are tailored to develop the candidate's analytical and methodological foundations in three functional, regional, or disciplinary sub-fields of security studies, to prepare students to take required written qualifying examinations, and to identify a dissertation topic and write a dissertation proposal.   

A student is expected to have completed comprehensive examinations, and secured approval of the dissertation proposal by the committee that will supervise its completion, by the end of the fifth and sixth quarters, in residence, respectively.

Degree Candidacy and Dissertation Research: Doctoral students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. following successful completion of written and oral qualifying examinations, and the submission of a satisfactory dissertation proposal. Students admitted to candidacy for the degree are thereafter expected to be engaged full-time in dissertation research and writing. Once a completed dissertation has been submitted the student must defend it before the dissertation committee. A representative of the Academic Council and other interested observers will also be present for the defense.

Curriculum Sponsor and ESR Approval Authority

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Plans, Policy and Operations) (N3/5).