Master of Strategic Studies - Frequently asked questions

What is Strategic Studies?

Strategic Studies focuses on the role of armed force in international politics. As such it focuses on one of the most important issues in today’s world: how is organised violence (and threats of violence) used by states and other actors in pursuing their political aims, what are the implications and limits of this activity, and how is it changing? Strategic Studies helps put defence and security policies, intelligence, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, insurgency, and the changing balance between the US and China all into an understandable context.

Why study Strategic Studies at ANU?

Our Strategic Studies program offers a unique blend of academic rigour and policy relevance. We are located in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (the first such centre in Australia and Asia) and draw on the Centre’s internationally renowned expertise in strategy and strategic policy. We are part of The Australian National University, Australia’s leading university.

Who studies Strategic Studies and what do they graduate with?

Our student body consists of approximately 70 students, full-time and part-time, from throughout Australia and across the world, and with a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds. The average age of our students is 29 years. Approximately 60 per cent of our students are male and 40 per cent are female.

How big are your graduate classes?

The average class size is 15 students. Elective courses range from less than 10 to about 25 students. The two larger core courses have 35 or more students and we run tutorials to maximise smaller group discussion.

Can I undertake a course by distance and are flexible options available?

All courses require attendance at Canberra-based classes. While distance education is not possible, each semester we offer at least two elective courses in intensive mode where classes are taught over a one week period with assignments and exams scheduled later.

Can I study part-time and are classes suitably timed?

Yes, part-time study is possible – although all international students need to be enrolled on a full-time basis. Many classes, including those for core courses, are available in the early evening (typically 5-7pm) to accommodate students with full-time work commitments during the day. Some units are run in an intensive format where all classes are conducted in a single week.

What is the academic year and main sessions?

Our first semester begins in mid-February with exams in June. Our second semester begins in mid-July with exams in October/November. Most courses (core and elective) take place in these semesters. Some of the intensive courses run officially in special sessions (Summer, Winter and Spring) but we still count them towards the regular semester load to determine full or part-time status. The sub-thesis for the Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) can be taken in either semester or over the summer session (January-March).

How long will my studies take?

The 96 unit coursework Master of Strategic Studies and Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) take four semesters (18-22 months) for full-time students and normally eight semesters for part-time students.

  • However, applicants with a bachelor degree with honours or graduate diploma in a cognate discipline* may be eligible for up to 48 units (2 semesters full-time) of credit.
  • Applicants with a bachelor degree or graduate certificate in a cognate discipline* may be eligible for up to 24 units (1 semester full-time) of credit. *Cognate disciplines include politics, political science, international relations, history, sociology, economics, public policy, public administration, strategic studies and social science.

What if I already have an existing Bachelors degree in a cognate discipline?

If you have a current degree in a cognate discipline, such as in the fields of social science or the humanities, then on application you may be eligible for 24 units (1 semester full-time) of credit towards your Masters degree.

New students are advised of credit provisions in their letter of offer if they are accepted into the program.

What if I already have an existing Masters, Graduate diploma or Bachelors (Honours) degree in a cognate discipline?

If you have a current degree in a cognate area at one of these levels you may be eligible for 48 units (2 semesters full-time) of credit towards your Masters degree.

New students are advised of credit provisions in their letter of offer if they are accepted into the program

Where can I find information on the program structure and courses?

Visit the relevant pages on Programs and Courses:

What sort of careers does a Strategic Studies qualification lead to?

Many of our graduates find careers in relevant public sector organizations (such as defence, foreign affairs and intelligence), others work in the private sector and the media, while some work for international and research organizations. Our graduates are sought after by employers seeking employees with excellent analytical skills.

Is a Strategic Studies qualification a pathway to a PhD?

Yes, some of our graduates are undertaking PhD studies in leading international universities including ANU. The SDSC has a PhD program for which entry is extremely competitive. Strategic Studies students seeking to undertake a PhD should complete our Masters of Strategic Studies (Advanced) degree or ensure they have previously completed a good quality research thesis in their earlier studies.

I have further questions. Who do I contact?

Please email us on sdsc@anu.edu.au

Updated:  23 March 2016/Responsible Officer:  Su-Ann Tan/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team