MA in Global Security (MAGS)

The MA in Global Security (MAGS) is an interdisciplinary, fully online graduate program that trains students to critically engage global conflict and international security in a comprehensive manner. The program connects critical concepts with practical, policy-oriented applications and is designed to aid professional advancement in military, government and private sector careers at a time when global security impacts nearly every aspect of our lives.

What makes the MAGS so valuable is our world-class faculty and the wealth of intellectual and practical expertise they bring to the program’s diverse course offerings. MAGS faculty include former top government officials, former general officers, award-winning conflict journalists, former heads of humanitarian assistance groups, as well as top academics with expertise in political science, strategic studies, law, anthropology, history and global politics.

The MAGS is highly flexible and designed for students from various backgrounds and with existing responsibilities. About half of our students are currently in the U.S. military or veterans, almost 50 percent come from minority backgrounds and nearly 40 percent are women. Most students in the program work full or part time as they study, and many pursue the degree while raising families.

Students may pursue the MAGS degree from anywhere in the world and proceed at their own pace. The program can be completed in a calendar year and the vast majority of our students graduate within two years. Many graduates attribute career advancement to completing the MAGS and to the skills they gained in the program.

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Degree Overview

The Master of Arts in global security is designed to empower graduates of the program with the capacity to understand and analyze the complex nature of conflict and global security challenges while developing specific tools, skills and insights to influence appropriate policies and programs for the future. A total of 30 program hours are required.

How to apply

To apply to the MAGS, please submit the following using the graduate admissions page:

  • graduate admission application and application fee
  • personal statement that explains why you are interested in the MAGS and provides some insight into who you are and what sort of a student and colleague you will be if accepted into the program
  • official transcripts (we prefer a GPA of 3.0 or higher, but we admit students with lower GPAs, sometimes as provisional admissions; also, we have no preference for any particular undergraduate major)
  • at least one letter of recommendation (applicants may submit additional letters)
  • we recommend submitting a c.v./resume, but this is not required

Please note, no GRE is required.

Proof of English language proficiency is required for some foreign applicants.

For additional application information please see the MAGS Student Handbook.

Application deadlines:

We review applications as they are submitted and provide decisions within 3-10 days after an application is complete. Students may enter the MAGS at the beginning of the fall, spring and summer sessions.

Deadlines are not necessarily firm as applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Applicants may be admitted and start as late as the first day of class of each session. Nevertheless, we encourage prospective applicants to submit materials by July 23 for a fall start, December 14 for a spring start and April 19 for a summer start.

Transfer credits

We often accept transfer credits from prior graduate level courses and training. Generally, we accept up to 9 credits (3 courses) and occasionally we accept up to 12 credits (4 courses). To receive transfer credit for prior graduate level training, the student must have received grades of “B” or above, completed the course(s) within the last three years, and not used for the course(s) previously for the completion of a degree.

Non-Degree Seeking Students

The program and classes are not open for non-degree seeking students.

“We have a need to get folks master’s degrees who are not able to get into civilian schools because it’ll take them off the line of duty. ASU fills that gap.”

- Jeffrey Kubiak, School of Politics and Global Studies professor of practice and senior fellow in the Center on the Future of War


The MA in Global Security requires the successful completion of 30 credits of coursework. Students must take GSC 501 as well as GSC 550, the independent capstone project. All remaining courses are electives.

Requirements and electives


Core courses


Electives and research


Culminating experience


Total hours required


Courses and electives

The MA has two required courses.  The first required class is GSC 501 War, Conflict and Security which provides an overview of key interdisciplinary approaches to conflict and international security.

A student should take GSC 501in the early stages of their participation in the program.

The second required class is GSC 550 Capstone, an individually structured class which represents a culminating experience within the program.  A student should take GSC 550 towards the end of their progress  through the  program and  it  is  recommended  (though  not  required)  that  the  class  is  taken their final course.

All of the other courses in the program are electives.

GSC 501 War, Conflict and Security – (3 credits) – The class engages interdisciplinary approaches to conflict and international security with a focus on defining a strategic approach to short, medium and long-term global trends. The class reviews key philosophical and social science theories of war and conflict drawn from international relations, sociology and conflict studies. It considers the historical development of global security from the post WWII era to the present including a consideration of the role of states and non-state actors.

GSC 502 Security Studies  (3 credits) – The class considers key determinants of global insecurity including ungoverned spaces, civilizational conflict, technological innovation, climate change and terrorism. The course provides a background in links between security, economic well-being and principles of domestic and international governance.

GSC 503 Future of War  (3 credits) – The class engages the profound social, political, economic, and cultural implications of the changing nature of war and conflict. The course provides an overview of some classic philosophical and military-strategic theories and conceptions of war, the complex threats of groups operating beyond and across state boundaries, and the danger of the democratization of terror and mechanisms of mass destruction. The class also engages a variety of international drivers of conflict including climate change, shifting demographics, and competition over resources as well as responses to humanitarian and human rights issues raised by conflict, such as the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons.

GSC 504 Understanding Conflict and War (3 credits) – The course provides a critical overview of different definitions and meanings of war and armed conflict. It engages key theories used to understand conflict including realism, neorealism, liberalism and constructivism. It considers core issues in the field, linking empirical studies with explanations for what drives, sustains and resolves conflict including reviewing the fact that democratic states tend not to go to war with each other (the democratic peace), the structure and logic of arms races, escalation and alliance, and core ideas regarding peace, conflict management and conflict resolution..

GSC 505 Law of War (3 credits) – The course provides an overview of key elements of the law of war, also known as international humanitarian law (IHL) and the law of armed conflict (LOAC). It engages basic questions of international law, reviewing its history, sources and structure. The course covers jus ad bellum, the rules governing how states legally go to war as well as jus in bello, the established ideas regarding how to manage actions during armed conflict. The class covers key principles within the law of war, including distinction, proportionality and necessity as well as reviewing the differences between international and non-international armed conflicts and other key ideas. The class reviews the systems through which the law of war is enforced and also considers basic theoretical and practical issues regarding compliance. In general, the course links the ideas, practices, rules and understandings of the law of war with specific cases and concrete examples.

GSC 506 U.S. Politics of Security (3 credits) – The course reviews the structure of US national security institutions and the ways in which they both work together and often operate in conflict. The class reviews separation of powers issues as linked to war and policy as well as engaging the structure and function of multiple institutions including the Department of Defense, Department of State, intelligence agencies, U.S. Agency for International Development, National Security Council and Department of Homeland Security. The class focuses on how security policy is developed, managed and implemented.

GSC 507 Global Politics of Security (3 credits) – The course reviews the structure of international security institutions and actors including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the United Nations’ Security Council, peacekeeping missions, regional organizations (NATO, EU, Inter-American System, ASEAN, etc.) and others. The course also considers the roles of private military and intelligence contractors and corporations working on issues of direct and indirect relation to security issues. Through specific case studies and examples, the course reviews the operation of these bodies and their complex relationships.

GSC 508 Comparative Studies of Conflict  (3 credits) – This course provides a critical overview of key theories on the causes, justifications and structures of armed political conflict. It begins by outlining core issues within the problem of social order, that is, how to think about managing governance and power. It then reviews the idea of “collective action” and its link with force and violence, ideas that are contrasted with nonviolence as a political strategy. The class then considers civil wars and interstate wars, comparing these forms of organized violence, as well as the current challenges of armed non-state actors (within an international system premised on states) and the an overview of the meaning of peace. The issues and theories reviewed in this class are linked with case studies and concrete examples as a means of linking key ideas with their practical and policy implications.

GSC 509 Emerging Technologies and Global Security (3 credits) – The course reviews the impact and significance of emerging technologies and global security with a focus on cybersecurity/cyberwar, mass surveillance, autonomous systems, drones, bio- and genetic weapons, and weapons of mass destruction. The class considers past, current and future technologies in terms of general strategic theories and projected impacts on global security.

GSC 510 Governance in Post-Conflict/Transitional Contexts (3 credits) – The course considers the challenges of governance in post-conflict and transitional contexts. This includes issues of peacekeeping, stability operations, reconstruction and governance. It also includes strategies and mechanisms of transitional justice to address past atrocities including trials, truth commissions, vetting, reparations and institutional reform.

GSC 511 Terrorism and Insurgency (3 credits) – This course provides a critical overview of the use of terror by governments, insurgents and other non-state actors. The class engages the definition of terrorism and provides an overview of key practices and strategies. It reviews key theories as to the causes, meaning and impact of the deployment of terror as a strategy by distinct groups. This involves a consideration of state terror, insurgencies and global terror networks. Many of the core ideas reviewed in this class are linked with a set of case studies designed to ground the broader discussion of terror within specific situations and contexts.

GSC 512 Global Trends (3 credits) – The course reviews significant post-WWII global trends as a means of understanding security issues in an interdisciplinary manner linking political, economic, cultural and structural shifts. The class reviews the impact and meaning of decolonization, modernization, democratization and international development as policies and mechanisms of understanding political change. It also reviews key demographic shifts (by place, age distribution, etc.), gender and evolving questions of identity and power.

GSC 550 Capstone (3 credits) – This course serves as the culminating experience of the Masters in Global Security. The capstone course allows each student to explore a research area, interest, theme or question. Final written products will be developed individually based on consultation with faculty.

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