Defense and strategic studies

Master of arts University of Missouri
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Are you seeking to improve and maintain national security, promote international peace and cooperation, and enhance military effectiveness? The online master’s in defense and strategic studies from Mizzou, a Purple Heart University, is designed for both military and civilian students that are passionate about making an impact, while pursuing career advancement or a career change. 

The program’s focus on strategic studies provides preparation for military officers and civilians working in positions relating to national strategy and security policy. Graduates will be able to demonstrate mastery of international relations theory, particularly as it relates to international conflict and security. The specific knowledge the graduating students will acquire or possess include:

  • An understanding of military history, particularly related to the Napoleonic revolution in warfare, World War I, World War II and modern wars in the Middle East and Asia.
  • The causes of international conflict, including topics such as power, territory, alliances and the democratic peace.
  • Civil war and insurgency, including the onset, dynamics and legacies of violence in intrastate conflict.
  • The process and history of American foreign policy.
  • The history and applications of strategic theory, from classical theorists such as Sun Tzu and Clausewitz to modern theorists. 
  • Strategic threats and opportunities around the world, including in the South China Sea, Korean Peninsula and the Middle East. 
  • Understanding the patterns, causes and effects of military innovation in both peacetime and warfare.

Quick facts

Official name

Master of arts in defense and strategic studies


University of Missouri

Program type

Master's degree

Academic home

College of Arts & Science | Department of Political Science

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission

Credit hours


Estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

Military personnel watching drown footage on a large screen in a dark command center style room.

Career prospects

This program will assist field-grade military officers in a wide range of potential duties, including: Battalion Commander; Battalion, Brigade and Division Staff Officer; Squadron Commander; Squadron, Group or Wing Staff Officer; Ship Commander; Division Officer; Joint Staff Officer.

Civilian jobs related to the degree program include positions such as: military analyst, intelligence officer, project manager, strategic planner, policy analyst, research associate, targeting analyst, senior analyst.

Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
employment growth
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
median salary

Program structure

The online master’s in defense and strategic studies is 100% online: no campus visits required.

Courses are eight weeks. Full-time military students typically take three courses per term and finish the program in one year. Part-time civilian students typically take two courses per term and finish the program in two years.

Course work includes

  • International conflict
  • Theories of civil war
  • Strategic studies
  • Electives on topics such as intelligence, counterinsurgency, deterrence and military innovation


100% online

Calendar system

8 weeks

Typical program length

1 or 2 years

Typical course load

2 or 3 classes each semester


The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

Faculty spotlight

Stephen Quackenbush

Dr. Quackenbush is associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri. He received his PhD in 2003 from the University at Buffalo, SUNY. He is the director of the strategic studies program at the University of Missouri, and he served as president of the International Studies Association – Midwest from 2016–2017. His research focuses on international relations, specifically three areas of international security: deterrence, recurrent conflict and strategic studies.

Stephen Quackenbush
Associate Professor and Director of the Strategic Studies Program, Political Science
Bryce Reeder

Dr. Reeder is an assistant professor of political science and an affiliate of the Truman School of Public Affairs. He earned his doctorate and master’s from the University of Illinois, and his bachelor’s from Boise State University. His research centers on political violence, conflict management and the consequences of wars for civilian populations.

Bryce Reeder
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Heather Ba

Dr. Ba’s interests include international political economy, U.S. foreign policy and the American presidency. Within the field of international political economy, her research focuses on systemic causes of financial crises, as well as the politics of global finance, and the role of credit and debt as a dimension of countries' structural and financial power. Her research on U.S. foreign policy examines the linkages between international relations theory and the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, as well as U.S. foreign policy crisis management, and the role of presidential advisory systems in U.S. foreign policy decision making.

Heather Ba
Assistant Professor, International Relations
Susan Brockhaus

Susan Brockhaus is an Adjunct Professor of the Practice in the Defense and Strategic Studies program at the University of Missouri. She earned an MS in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University in Washington D.C. in 2017, and an MA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2001. She has worked as an analyst for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) since 2002, with extensive experience in counterterrorism and foreign influence. She was selected to serve as Senior Duty Officer in the White House Situation Room, worked in the 2012 London Olympics Threat Integration Center, and has personally briefed senior US government officials to include the President, Attorney General and FBI Director. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member for the FBI Academy at Quantico. She received Meritorious Citations from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2012 and 2015.

Susan Brockhaus
Adjunct Professor
Rob Boone

LTC (Ret) Rob Boone is an Adjunct Professor of the Practice in the Defense and Strategic Studies program at the University of Missouri. He also serves as Associate Vice President for Columbia College Global Military. He holds a BA in History from Sam Houston State University and an MA in Military History from American Military University, with a focus on Special Operations in Low Intensity Conflict. He is also a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College and the Joint Advanced Warfighting School. His assignments the United States Army included Rifle Platoon Leader, 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii; Service Detachment Commander, 3rd Special Forces Group; Company Commander, 82nd Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, NC; Deputy Brigade Commander, 198th Infantry, Ft. Benning, GA. His final assignment was the Professor of Military Science at the University of Missouri. His deployments include Egypt, Tunisia, Haiti, and two tours in Iraq.

Rob Boone
Adjunct Professor

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Department of Political Science