Online Master of Defense and Strategic Studies

Pursue career opportunities in intelligence, national security and defense in this 100% online program designed for military and working civilian students.

Explore National Defense & Military Issues. 100% Online.

Take a strategic, in-depth look at major defense, military and security issues facing the United States now and in the future. And do it in a format that’s made for the wide variety of military and civilian national security personnel it attracts—including defense contractors, nongovernmental organization specialists and even media professionals.

In the 100% online Master of Defense and Strategic Studies, you’ll learn about national defense from faculty members who have a wealth of experience and a range of viewpoints. Topics include the big picture and subtleties around the history of the current national security environment, the evolution of modern warfare and special defense challenges facing the country.

This is one of the only graduate degrees of its kind in the U.S. offered completely online at a public research university. And it can help you pursue a number of career opportunities, such as:

  • Working within the U.S. government in intelligence or homeland defense

  • Supporting foreign relations by working in the U.S. diplomatic corps

  • Advancing in the armed services

  • Helping influence defense policy by providing legislative support on Capitol Hill

Get Started

Learn how UTEP Connect can help you earn the degree or certificate you need.
  • 100% online
  • Convenient, asynchronous classes ideal for military and working civilian students
  • Accelerated seven-week courses
  • Ideal for careers in intelligence and national security
  • Financial aid and military benefits available
  • Highly affordable and flexible program
  • Tuition: $490/credit hour (in-state students) or $575/credit hour (out-of-state students)
  • Available on the Academic Common Market*

*If you are a resident in one of the states that participate in the Academic Common Market, you MAY qualify for in-state tuition for this program while residing outside of Texas. For more information, you must contact the ACM Coordinator of the state in which you are residing. For contact info by state, please visit

“I loved every second of my time studying defense and strategic studies, and I cherish the camaraderie that I had with our UTEP team and family. I made lifelong friends that I still speak to routinely, both students and staff. It has significantly helped my work life and personal life alike.”

Command Sergeant Major Paul “Mike” Jones

“I credit my Master of Defense and Strategic Studies (MDSS) with giving me opportunities that my previous academic performance would not have provided. My MDSS degree helped in my selection for Resident Command and General Staff College and the Advanced Military Studies Program at the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS).”

U.S. Army Officer Matthew Graham

Meet Selected Faculty

Joseph P. Bassi

A retired U.S. Air Force officer with 26 years of active duty, Bassi had many space-related assignments in his military career and later worked as a space policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense while working for the Aerospace Corporation. He has a Ph.D. in History and Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in addition to graduate degrees in meteorology (Penn State), astrophysics (University of Colorado) and history (George Washington University). Bassi is an adjunct lecturer and has taught in this program since 2015; he is passionate about national security issues.

Paul Ashby

Ashby will soon have a monograph published with Routledge on his current research, which revolves around North American regional security and U.S. efforts to integrate Mexico into regional security frameworks, amidst escalating transnational security challenges and fractious U.S. domestic politics. He is the director/advisor for this program and teaches multiple courses in it as well as in the security studies program. Ashby has a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Kent in the United Kingdom.

#1 University in El Paso

Best college, best value college and best professors (Niche).

Best University for Career Outcomes in El Paso

Highest average earnings and job placement rates (U.S. Department of Education).

100% Online

The flexible, fully online learning environment helps you advance your education while maintaining your current commitments.

Top 4.5% of Universities in the Country

Out of 2,800+ four-year universities, UTEP is one of 131 in the highest classification for research (R1 for top tier doctoral university with very high research activity).

Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI)

With a student body that is 83% Hispanic, UTEP stands out as an HSI — one of 569 in the country. Plus, it’s one of only 19 HSIs designated as an R1 top tier research university.

Low Out-of-Pocket Costs

Out of all U.S. doctoral research institutions, UTEP boasts one of the lowest out-of-pocket costs. More than $221 million is awarded in financial aid each year.

Connect to Your Future

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