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The Asia-Pacific is being transformed by great power contestation and a spectrum of national and international security challenges. Studying a Master of Strategic Studies or a Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) with the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) at ANU will equip you with the intellectual tools needed to evaluate strategic choices, navigate the strategic environment and understand the challenges of an evolving global order. The program is designed for graduates and professionals seeking to launch or advance their careers in national or international security, counterterrorism, strategic policy, intelligence, foreign affairs, cyber security, think tanks and academia.

The Master of Strategic Studies program investigates:

  • Australian security and defence policy
  • Intelligence, cybersecurity, and nuclear strategy 
  • Strategic diplomacy in the 21st century
  • U.S. security policy in the Asia-Pacific
  • Ethics of Peace and War
  • National Security and policymaking
  • China's defence and strategic challenges
  • War Studies, Conflict and Global Security
  • Terrorism and counterterrorism

The Master of Strategic Studies will help you develop the analytical frameworks needed to understand Australian defence policy, Indo-Pacific security, and global strategic challenges; making you critical thinking future leaders.

The program is taught by former intelligence officers, Rhodes Scholars, think-tank analysts and several retired senior military officers who are leading academics and shapers of strategic policy. Their combined expertise delivers Australia’s foremost Master's program at the intersection of strategic, defence, military and international studies.

Advanced option – you can also undertake a Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) which combines coursework with a research thesis of 24 units. If you wish to pursue or leave open the possibility of further research work or PhD study, you are strongly encouraged to study the advanced option of the program.

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If you are interested in issues of strategic importance to Australia, addressing how political ends and military means interact, understanding the origins, applications and implications of war and other forms of organised violence, our strategic studies program is for you.

You will graduate from The Australian National University (ANU), a world-class university, positioning you firmly in the centre of a global network of leading diplomatic and international legal scholars and policy-makers.

ANU is ranked #1 in Australia and globally #11 for Politics and International Studies.

The learning experience

The Master of Strategic Studies is a 72-units program (1.5 years full-time, or part-time equivalent), designed to cater to working professionals. Study load is compatible with professionals looking for a degree they can complete alongside full-time work. You will be trained through academic learning and hands-on policy making through writing policy memos, briefs and engaging in crisis simulations.

The Strategic & Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) also hosts several events each year with high profile speakers - you are encouraged to attend these as they are relevant to your study. Speakers from recent events include our very own alumnus current Defence Secretary, Greg Moriarty; former Secretary of Defence, Dennis Richardson AO; former Minister for Defence, the Hon Marise Payne; former Director-General of Security of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Major General Duncan Lewis; and US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David Stilwell; Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi; Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), HE Ambassador Fernando Arias and more.

Our students have gone on to join the Australian Public Service (APS jobs) in the Department of Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of Home Affairs, Attorney General's Department, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), The Office of National Intelligence (ONI), Office of National Assessments (ONA), the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS).

Other career paths include:

  • Think tanks, policy institutes, and research centres
  • Intergovernmental agencies
  • International trade and business
  • International development and aid organisations
  • NGOs
  • Universities and research institutions
  • Multinational corporations
  • International business consultancies
  • Media agencies and journalism

Alternative entry pathways

Graduate Certificate of Strategic Studies

For those who do not meet the admission requirements or unable commit to the Master program, the Graduate Certificate of Strategic Studies is a pathway option for this degree. This 24-unit (6 months, full-time) certificate provides an introduction to the immersive Masters experience and an option for an early exit. Upon completion, students will receive credits towards the Master degree.

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Graduate Diploma of International Affairs

The Graduate Diploma of International Affairs (GDIA) is a flexible 1-year full-time (or part-time equivalent) postgraduate qualification designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills required for understanding emerging issues in international, political and strategic affairs, both globally and in Asia and the Pacific.

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The Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) is a 2 year full-time (96 units) program that enables students to undertake a 24 unit independent research project, with appropriate research training, to develop deep expertise in a particular dimension of Strategic Studies.

Part-time options available.

If you have any questions or queries, please email