Master of Defense and Strategic Studies
Message from the DSS Director
Welcome to the graduate program in Defense and Strategic Studies! As part of the Department of Criminal Justice, and in conjunction with UTEP Connect, we are committed to offering a unique, fully online, academically rigorous and professionally relevant graduate degree to all those interested in learning more about global security, defense and strategic issues as they relate US national security. Whether military or civilian, if you are interested in furthering your knowledge, boosting your career, or looking for fresh opportunities related to national defense, strategy, and policy, our program and its expert faculty are ready to help prepare you for the 21st Century’s multiple and complex security challenges. Please do take a look around this page, and you can learn more from our partners at UTEP Connect here.
I am the Director and the Advisor for the program, as well as an instructor for many of our exciting courses. If you have any questions at all about us, or the admissions requirements and process, please don’t hesitate to reach out at the email or number below. Our program is especially proud to welcome active duty military, but we have a diverse student body including recent undergraduates, professionals, fully employed applicants, those seeking a change of career and other busy people! Please do ask how our online program has the flexibility to fit with your aims and schedules no matter your walk of life.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Paul D. Ashby
Lecturer and DSS Graduate Director
E: firstname.lastname@example.org. P: 915-747-7422
The Master of Defense and Strategic Studies (MDSS) is a fully online graduate program designed to provide an in-depth, critical examination of the major defense and security challenges facing the United States now and into the future. It is a globally minded program diving into security dynamics across our world, helping students interrogate and understand those issues, and how they relate to the U.S.’ national security. Particular attention will be placed on the development of strategy and the ability to think strategically, both in theory and practice, to examine and address complex security and defense-related problems.
Defense and Strategic Studies is a growing academic field taking in and utilizing elements from, security studies, International Relations (IR), foreign policy analysis, history, economics, and political science, and with courses focused on areas such as regional studies, cybersecurity, and studies of warfare. This distinctive program will be of interest to a variety of students and practitioners hoping to further their knowledge base and boost their skillsets to assist on their career paths. It is specifically tailored to improving the competence of military and civilian personnel engaged or aiming to engage in areas such strategic planning, the inter-agency process, military operations, diplomacy, budgeting, legislative affairs, defense program management, research and development, and a myriad of other staff activities and specialties. Our faculty have direct national security expertise, have academic and research backgrounds in IR and US national security policy, and have years of experience delivering quality online teaching for our diverse students (you can ‘meet’ one of them here!).
We have built in flexibility in the program to match various student goals and busy lifestyles. You can set your own pace tailored to your needs. This includes a fast-track option to graduate in 12 months
How to Apply &
- Completion and submission of a graduate admissions application. Click here to be directed to the Graduate School website where you will find the application portal.
- Submission of official transcripts in accordance with the requirements of the Graduate School.
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
- A brief, well-written statement of purpose (1-2 pages) that addresses educational and career goals and reasons for pursuing the MDSS degree.
- Three academic letters of recommendation from university faculty or professional contacts who can evaluate your ability to succeed in a rigorous graduate program. Letters of recommendation from employers or work supervisors are acceptable for applicants who have been out of school for five years or more.
- Complete a Millers Analogies Test (MAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and provide a copy of your results in your application package.
FAQs for MDSS Applicants and Students
The MDSS is designed primarily to prepare military and civilian students for a host of careers and promotions including strategic planning, international relations, military operations, and research and development. However, we have a diverse and wide set of students who have gone onto to work or who are already working across the US national security system and beyond, including, of course, within the Department of Defense, in the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigations, in policing, and in contracting and civilian roles.
For those who are serving within the Department of Defense (DoD), the degree represents a great way to obtain a Master’s relevant to your career enhancement and fulfilling your commitment to lifelong learning. Find out some ideas here.
The program is made up of 12 three credit hour courses, for a total of 36 credit hours. To complete the degree, you successfully complete all of these 12 courses - with at least a 3.0 grade point average upon completion (or with relevant substitutions adding up to 36 credit hours – see below).
For more information on the course content, please see here, and feel free to contact us.
For our program, the UTEP Graduate School allows a maximum of 12 graduate transfer credit hours, or four courses, from other institutions. The courses must be directly related to the content of MDSS courses and have the same or morecredit/contact hours. We do accept some credit transfers from military education institutions, as long as they are the graduate level equivalents. Please contact the Director Dr. Paul Ashby with questions here.
Course substitutions are possible (especially if there is a course of interest in the MS-INSS or MS-CCJ programs). Interested students MUST obtain advance written approval from the DSS Graduate Director before registering for any graduate course outside of the DSS program, the course MUST be at a 5000 level (any 4000 level or below courses are not approved for graduate study), and the Instructor of record for the course must also approve.
All MDSS classes last seven weeks, spread over two parts of term each 14-week semester. Again, please see the Connect Academic Calendar.
The program is built with flexibility in mind. Many of our students set their own pace. We are aware that various aspects of life – from deployment to employment to family commitments – can impact your academic study. You can set your own pace in the program dependent on your goals, finances, and life, as long as you complete within six years, and are registered into at least one course every 12-month period.
Please note our flexibility also means we do offer a fast-track through the program, where you can graduate in 12 months. If you would like to pursue this option, please contact Dr. Ashby.
In-state tuition is $490 per semester credit hour ($1470 per course). Out of state tuition is $575 per semester credit hour ($1725 per course).
Full-time study is considered as 9+ hours per semester – or three MDSS courses. More details here.
All financial questions should be directed to the resources below. This includes questions about the Academic Common Market, which offers in-state tuition rates for this program across 15 other states.
Yes! UTEP’s Military Students Success Center (MSSC) is a great resource for military students and any financial questions you have.
Every class has a maximum number of 35 students. Typical class sizes vary from 15-30 students per class.
Before registering, please discuss class choices with Dr. Paul Ashby. The process is outlined here.
You must discuss any drops and their implications with Dr. Paul Ashby prior to dropping. He will discuss the process with you dependent on circumstances.