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What Are the Different Types of Military Master's Degree Programs?

By Tracey Sandilands
Updated May 17, 2024
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Many military institutions offer military master’s degree programs, and the different types of programs available depend to a large degree on the institution and country or region in which it is located. Studies in military history, military studies, and national security are available, and in the US there are several homeland security programs. Some universities also offer programs such as security policy studies, and online programs available through a military academy feature concentrations in joint warfare, leadership, and operational warfare for those wishing to follow a military career. A few universities throughout the world offer interdisciplinary programs in war studies or conflict studies.

Basic Programs

Universities throughout the world offer military master's degree programs in military history, military studies, and national security. Though the content of each program varies across schools, programs usually include classes in military thought and ethics, as well as the history surrounding wars and conflicts. Many programs also include more generalized courses in international relations or political science. A master's in military studies can also include concentrations in air, land and naval warfare, joint warfare and strategic leadership. Like most master's programs, military master’s degree programs typically have an independent set of core subjects that are compulsory, and then a variety of electives that students can choose from.

US-Specific Programs

In the US specifically, a few schools offer master's programs for those interested in working in homeland security. Some of these programs are only available to current employees of government agencies or members of the military. Courses offered in these programs are mostly focused specifically on homeland security, as opposed to military history or thought as a whole, and include things like vulnerability analysis and public policy as it relates to homeland security. There are also other types of US-specific military master's degrees that focus on US military history or on one specific branch of the US military, like a naval warfare studies program.

Online Programs

Military master's degree programs are also available online with concentrations in joint warfare, operational warfare, and leadership. Some programs are only available to personnel of certain military forces, while others are open to anyone. Programs can include leadership in warfare, international security studies, and air, space, and cyberspace power studies. Electives for these programs include subjects such as joint air and space operations for joint warfare, organizational leadership for the leadership concentration program, and weapons instruction for the operational warfare program.

Security Programs

A number of other master’s degree programs qualify as military master’s degree programs, such as the as security policy studies programs. These programs teach students about policies related to international security issues and the way military leaders respond to such issues. Modules may also cover more general things like the security implications of a global economy.

War Studies

A few universities throughout the world offer highly interdisciplinary programs often called war studies or conflict studies programs. Unlike most other military master's programs, war studies programs involve a very wide range of programs on subjects not conventionally associated with military master's degree programs, like philosophy. In addition to military history, international relations, and military strategy, these programs also offer courses that explore the social impact of wars, the philosophies underlying war, the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in war, the relationship between soldiers and local populations, the effects of media coverage on war, and diplomacy.

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