M.S. in Security and Intelligence Studies

The Master of Science in Security and Intelligence Studies (MSSIS) degree program is offered by the College of Security and Intelligence.  It is designed to produce competitive graduates for professional service in the intelligence, aviation, military, homeland defense, and corporate security communities.  The MSSIS degree will enhance the career prospects both for entry-level professionals and mid-level leaders, managers, operators and analysts.  For many security and intelligence professionals currently working in these communities, the Master’s degree will be seen as one qualification for promotion in the middle and even upper levels of management or military command.

The degree program provides graduate students and security and intelligence professionals with an opportunity to explore both theoretical and practical knowledge across the disciplines that compose the field that security and intelligence studies has become.  These include strategic concepts; the integration of science and technology in the security and intelligence realms; the principles, processes, and presentation of products; the importance of cultural understanding in key regions of the world; the evolution, nature, and roles of states and non-state actors; and the forms of international conflict and cooperation that constitute the playing field of the intelligence and policy communities.  The elective course offerings in the MSSIS provide the student with the opportunity to specialize to a degree in one of the areas of security and intelligence studies.  In this way, the program enables the student to structure his or her own elective program within the schedule of courses offered each semester.

The MSSIS is a 36 credit hour program, composed of a General Core (18 credit hours), and Electives (18 credit hours).  Normally, elective course work will be selected from the list of courses below, although occasional experimental courses may also be considered.  Not all elective courses are offered every year.  Check with an adviser for a schedule of current course offerings. Summer registration is not required, but is encouraged. A course for which the student receives a grade of less than a B cannot be counted as having met a requirement for the MSSIS degree.

The MSSIS program will consider applicants with an undergraduate background in college-level history, political science, international relations, geography, foreign language, psychology, computer science and applications, and any of the physical and natural sciences.  The prerequisite knowledge for any graduate course must be satisfied before enrollment in the course is permitted.

Degree Requirements

Security and Intelligence General Core

SIS 502Fundamentals of Security and Intelligence (*)3
SIS 505Homeland Security and Intelligence Integration3
SIS 510Strategic Intelligence: Diplomacy, Covert Operations, and War3
SIS 515Legal and Ethical Issues in National Security and Intelligence3
SIS 535Advanced Analytical and Research Methodologies3
Complete one of the following 6 credit options:6
Experimental Research Project
Graduate Reading and Review
Graduate Thesis
Total Credits21

Students who have earned an undergraduate degree in Global Security and Intelligence Studies may replace this course with an elective. See your advisor for additonal information. 


Select 15 credits of electives from the list below:
SIS 525Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Technology Systems3
SIS 530Intelligence and the Spectrum of Social Conflict3
SIS 550International Security Operations and Management3
SIS 560Intelligence in Military Operations: Conventional and Asymetrical3
SIS 565Advanced Counterintelligence: Denial and Deception3
SIS 575Counter-terrorism3
SIS 585Special Investigations and Advanced Forensic Techniques3
SIS 600Science, Space, Technology, and Intelligence3
SIS 625Global Transportation and Supply Chain Security3
SIS 650Area Studies3
SIS 655The Security Implications of Climate Change3
SIS 657Cyber Warfare: Threats and Counter-Operations3
SIS 670Mastering and Managing Security Operations3
SIS 680Mastering and Managing Intelligence Operations3
SIS 696Graduate Internship in Security and Intelligence Studies1-3
SIS 699Special Topics in Security and Intelligence3-6

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are academic appointments that are reserved for qualified graduate students.  Graduate assistants may be involved in research activities under the direction of a faculty member or may assist with administrative duties.  In the case of research, a graduate assistant should be paired with a faculty member such that the graduate student is involved in research that will enhance his or her own topical interests and progress toward the Experimental Research Project or Master’s Thesis.

To be eligible for a graduate assistantship, a student must have been accepted to full graduate status in the MSSIS Program. Current students submit an application form, resume, and a 500-word essay directly to the College of Security and Intelligence Office. Newly admitted students submit their application materials via the Graduate Admissions Office. After the first semester of working as a graduate assistant, in order to retain the assistantship, the student must have maintained a CGPA of 3.50 out of a possible 4.00 or above. Please note that any student who is eligible to receive VA benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program is not eligible to apply for a graduate assistantship.

Graduate assistantships carry a stipend set by the University and recipients are expected to devote up to 20 hours each week.  Students are permitted to accept other University employment; however, University policies limit all students to a total of 25 hours of work per week, including the graduate assistantship. All graduate research and administrative assistantships require that the recipient be registered for at least six graduate credits at Embry-Riddle for any semester of their appointment.

Guidelines for Graduate Research Projects, Theses and Comprehensive Examinations

The MSSIS Program requires the completion of an Experimental Research Project, a Master’s Thesis, or a Comprehensive Examination each of which carries six-hours of course credit.  Those students planning to do a Research Project should register for SIS 690, those planning to complete the Master’s Thesis should register for SIS 700 and those planning to take the Comprehensive Examination should register for SIS 698 Graduate Reading and Review. 

The Comprehensive Exam is designed to intensively test the student’s acquisition of the knowledge and skills provided by the MS SIS curriculum and is tailored for each student. 

Comprehensive Examination procedure:

The Instructor for each of the courses taken by the student will contribute questions to the student’s Comprehensive Examination.  The examination will be in two parts: Part I and Part II. The time allotted for the completion of the examination will be in two three hour segments, with an hour break for lunch.  The student will be given Part I in the first segment and Part II in the second segment.  If a student fails a portion of his/her exam, they will be issued an incomplete (I) grade must retake the entire exam again; students will not be allowed to retake exams during the same semester as the initial attempt.  Students retaking the exam must wait until the following semester to do so.  If his/her second effort proves unsuccessful, they will be issued an F and fail out of the program.

The Experimental Research Project provides the student with an opportunity to conduct security and intelligence-related research in an area of the physical or behavioral sciences.  The Master’s Thesis is a more traditional approach and normally requires library or archival or survey research.  The general requirements for both SIS 690 and SIS 700 are the same in three areas.  First, the project or thesis must present an original approach to its topic, whether in the collection or analysis of data, and in its conclusions.  Second, the graduate student will be required to present and defend his or her thesis in a public presentation open to faculty, students and the interested public.  Third, the work should be suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.

Steps in the Completion of the Research Requirement

  1. TOPIC: Generate ideas for research in consultation with the graduate faculty.  This will allow the student to arrive at a research and/or thesis topic that is consistent with the curriculum and objectives of the MSSIS Program and is of genuine interest for the student.  It would also be useful if the research project or thesis would be consistent with the student’s professional interests.
  2. COMMITTEE SELECTION: Choose a committee of three people.  This committee must consist of two faculty members of the College of Security and Intelligence, one of whom must be chair of the committee.  The third member may be anyone from the faculty or from outside the University who can contribute to the project.  Note that a faculty member may remove him or herself from the committee at this (or any) stage of the process.  If this happens, the student must then choose an alternate member.
  3. PROPOSAL: Write a proposal of from 3-5 pages.  The proposal  must consist of: an introduction, a clear problem statement normally (but not always) in the form of a hypothesis, an outline of the methods to be used, and a preliminary list of sources.  The format for the proposal and all other documentation should conform to the APA Guide.  A copy of the proposal signed by the entire committee should be placed on file with the Administrative Assistant to the College.
  4. HUMAN SUBJECTS: For all projects that require the use of human subjects, the student must submit an approval from through the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB).  Forms for this process are available through the Sponsored Programs Pre-Award Office at Daytona Beach.
  5. RESEARCH: The research should be conducted in close consultation with the committee.  If the committee is not consulted on a regular basis through this process, the chance of approval of the final product diminishes.
  6. DOCUMENT PREPARATION: Writing the Research Project results or the Thesis should not be started until the student’s committee has given approval.  The process of writing should begin as early as possible, but no later than the beginning of the semester of anticipated graduation.  As the committee approves each section, the student may move on to the next section.  The student will be allowed to finish when and only when the committee has signed the “approval to defend” sheet.  Note that summers are allocated for completing the research and and starting the writing process.
  7. FINAL DEFENSE: Once the penultimate document is prepared and approved for defense, the oral defense will be scheduled by the College and invitations to the campus faculty and student body will be issued.  The final defense of the Research Project or Thesis will require a formal presentation using PowerPoint or other presentation software.  This presentation will be limited to 30 minutes, with another 15 minutes for questions from the committee and the audience.  After the defense, the student’s committee will advise the student whether he or she has passed and what revisions are necessary for the final document.  At this point, the committee will decide whether to sign the signatory page.
  8. COMPLETION: Finally, the student must complete all necessary paperwork for graduation (assuming that all coursework has been completed as well).  Both the final report of a Research Project and the final version of the Thesis must be bound and two copies presented, one to the Library and one to the College’s Administrative Assistant.
  9. ENROLLMENT: Once a student has enrolled in SIS 690 or SIS 700, he or she must enroll in a subsequent semester for 1 credit while he or she is working on either the Research Project or Thesis. Additional enrollments must be approved by the Dean or CAO.

Deadlines for Research Project and Thesis Preparation

Each semester the College establishes and posts the deadlines for committee organization, proposal submission, completion the first three chapters of the Research Project or Thesis, the defense confirmation, delivery of the penultimate document to the committee, final defense, and delivery of the bound copies.