Our Mission

Since 1971, The Fletcher School’s International Security Studies Program (ISSP) has prepared students for public and private sector careers in international security. Established with the assistance of the Scaife Family Charitable Trusts, the ISSP was one of the first graduate programs at a public or private American university dedicated to teaching and research on a broad range of international security issues. 

Our curriculum is geared towards developing graduates who can effectively analyze, discuss, and act on key challenges in the international security environment. The achievements of former students and military fellows attest to the success of the program.  They have gone on to work in a variety of fields to include:

  • US Government
  • Foreign Governments
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • International/National Think Tanks
  • Global Consulting
  • International/National Journalism
  • Academia

The ISSP is comprised of three conjoining activities:

First, we offer a full schedule of courses and seminars at the graduate level as a distinct field of study within the multidisciplinary curriculum of the Fletcher School. Our course offerings encompass the security spectrum, offering theoretical and practical instruction, in the first place, on enduring core courses focused on the role of force in world politics; the foundations of strategy; the causes, conduct and termination of war; decision-making and policy analysis; and crisis management.  Our curriculum also reflects those new issues that emerged in the Post-Cold War and Post 9/11 security environment to include: peace operations; internal and transnational conflict involving armed groups; cybersecurity; the strategic dimensions of China’s rise; and WMD proliferation. 

Second, ISSP sponsors a diverse range of "outside the classroom" educational activities. It brings senior level civilian policymakers and military commanders to Fletcher to engage with students on the key security issues of the present day. It holds in conjunction with the Institute of Foreign Policy Analysis conferences devoted to a critical defense-related issue. Often these programs are co-sponsored with one of the US military services or commands.  ISSP also holds an annual two-day simulation exercise focused on crisis decision-making.   Finally, we annually host a group of senior level military fellows who represent each of the US military services.  These officers, who hold the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel, are fully engaged with both the Fletcher students and faculty, providing unique insights and bringing vast real world experiences to our classes and outside the classroom extracurricular activities. 

Third, ISSP provides support for graduate student research, including fellowships, scholarships, and publication opportunities.  Through the Frank Rockwell Barnett Fellowship from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and Lynde and Henry Bradley Foundation, ISSP provides tuition assistance and research support to MALD and PhD graduate students.