Ph.D. Curriculum

Professor McLanahan and students

Security Studies

The Security Studies cluster is designed to prepare Ph.D. students for rigorous, policy-relevant research of the major threats to international and national security in the 21st century and the relevant forces that will confront those threats.

Topics of study include terrorism; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; rapid shifts in regional and global distributions of capabilities; insurgency, civil war and regional political instability; military force composition and capability; civil-military relations; and innovations in military technologies.

The cluster combines social science training in international security politics and national defense policy and exploration of the technical and scientific aspects of proliferation, weapons innovations, terrorist and counterterrorist operations, and insurgency and counterinsurgency warfare. Students are expected to supplement this interdisciplinary study with some regional expertise.

All students in this cluster are required to take WWS 550, the gateway course in security studies. This course provides an integrated doctoral-level introduction to the study of grand strategy, coercive diplomacy, technical aspects of proliferation and weapons innovations and the application of more general analytical tools to the international security politics of at least one region of the world.

Each student must take a total of 12 courses in the first two years, including a WWS research-design course. In addition, each student must pass two general exams, one in international relations and the other in security studies.   

Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP)

The STEP cluster focuses on applications of natural and social science methodology in the policy arena. Emphasis also is placed on the interactions among natural and social science in policy analysis.

The STEP curriculum helps practitioners develop a deeper understanding of the nature of scientific and technological problems and opportunities, the specialized methods used for analyzing scientific and technological issues and the dynamics of science and technology development and application.

The STEP cluster includes eight WWS faculty with joint appointments in the science and engineering departments. Their expertise covers air quality and climate change, ecology and conservation biology policy, biotechnology policy, information technology policy and nuclear energy and nuclear weapons proliferation.

The course of study for a STEP doctoral student is developed by each student, working closely with a faculty adviser.

In addition to the required WWS research-design course, it includes economics, econometrics and political analysis courses, as well as science courses appropriate for the individual student.

Each student must pass two general exams.