MAGS FAQs

Why did you create the M.A. in Global Security (MAGS)?
We created the MAGS to fill a gap in online graduate level education offerings for practitioners working in global security. Many who want to advance their careers in the military, the State Department, humanitarian assistance organizations, human rights groups, intelligence agencies, law enforcement and private industry. do not have the luxury of leaving their jobs to attend an in-person graduate program for 1 to 2 years. With this in mind, we created the MAGS as a way to connect committed professionals from diverse backgrounds with top faculty, many of whom are globally recognized thought leaders, in a highly accessible graduate program that focuses on developing key skills and essential knowledge for career advancement in a variety of fields.

What is the MAGS vision?
The MAGS approaches security from an interdisciplinary and holistic perspective linking academic insights with practical applications. The program can be completed as quickly as a calendar year and students can study from anywhere.

Is the program offered on-campus?
The MAGS is not offered on campus, but optional events are regularly offered to students living locally.  All students may participate in these events remotely or in person if preferred.

How long has the online program been offered?
The MAGS began in the 2017-2018 academic year. As of July 2020, there are more than 200 students enrolled and by the end of the summer session, we will have over 100  graduates. The program has been growing steadily since it was launched.

Do you rely on adjunct faculty?
No MAGS courses are taught by adjunct faculty. Rather, all courses are taught by full time ASU faculty with PhDs in various fields (political science, anthropology, engineering, economics, etc.) as well as widely-respected professors of practice, including former generals, best-selling authors, combat veterans, leaders in humanitarian assistance, and former high-level government officials.

Can I apply to the MAGS if I have an undergraduate GPA below 3.0?
While we prefer an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, we often admit students with lower GPAs, sometimes as provisional admissions. If your GPA Is low, please explain something about the circumstances in your personal statement. We have found that many students with lower GPAs (often from many years prior to the application) are excellent members of the MAGS community.

Can I apply to the MAGS if I did not major in a security-related subject?
Any undergraduate major is fine. In fact, we have found no relation between MAGS student success and particular undergraduate majors.

Is it a problem that I have not studied at a university for many years?
No. Many of our students have been out of school for some time, sometimes decades. While this may require an adjustment for some, our students’ diverse life experiences (in government, combat, living abroad, working in various businesses, etc.) tends to deepen the overall quality of our course discussions and our intellectual community.

What is the structure of MAGS classes?
All MAGS classes follow a similar structure. They are organized around a general theme that is typically expressed in the course title (such as “Comparative Studies of Conflict”). Each 3.0 credit class is 7.5 weeks long, 6 weeks long in the summer, and is divided into weekly themes (such as “How civil wars end” and “Understanding ethnic conflict”).

Each class links a set of carefully selected readings (from 75 to 150 pages per week) from multiple disciplines coupled with video course lectures by faculty. In addition, some weeks include video interviews, video lectures and other video materials from leading experts including journalists, former military and former government officials. Many weeks also include focused case studies that illustrate the issues covered. In addition, study questions are provided for each week’s materials.

Student assessments include weekly responses to questions and posts on the course discussion board, exams based on the study questions, shorter and longer written assignments, and may include a final exam based on material covered in the course.

How large are MAGS classes?
We are committed to intellectually serious graduate education that involves building critical thinking, analysis and writing skills. So, we keep class sizes below 35 students and typical classes have between 20 and 30 students.

What is a MAGS capstone project?
The MAGS has a required independent capstone project that must be completed towards the end of the degree program. The specific capstone project – whether a research paper, policy memo or other product – will be determined through consultations between the student and the capstone faculty. The goal of the capstone project is to create an interesting, useful and compelling project that meets student’s intellectual and professional goals. Students have created capstone projects on genocide, counterterrorism, nuclear proliferation, and climate change, among other issues. In some cases, we have run group capstone projects in partnership with private companies, Joint Special Operations Command and others.

How is the MAGS linked to Center on the Future of War?
The MAGS is a graduate degree in the School of Politics and Global Studies that was created by Center on the Future of War (CFW) faculty. The CFW is a partnership between ASU and New America, a DC-based think tank. Many MAGS faculty are also affiliated with New America and the degree builds on the CFW’s network of  25 current and former fellows, 150+ ASU affiliated faculty, and many dozens of New America experts.

Can MAGS students participate in Center on the Future of War activities?
Each year, the Center on the Future of War runs public lecturers at ASU and links with multiple events at New America in Washington, DC. Each year, ASU and New America co-sponsor the Future Security Forum and other major events, such as the annual Special Operations Policy Forum. The Future Security Forum features keynotes and panels with military leaders (including the heads of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps), diplomats, investigative journalists, top scholars, corporate CEOs, human rights activists and others. MAGS students are invited to participate in these events, including via live-streaming.

Are you planning any upcoming changes to the MAGS?
Based on program success and growth, we plan to continually expand course offerings. In addition to our expansive list of catalog and special topics courses, new courses may be developed in the future to include courses on biosecurity, climate change, emerging technology, strategy and leadership, and others.