International Security Studies

International security studies is a hybrid concentration of dynamic subjects intended to prepare you for a variety of positions in the domestic or international security architecture of the modern world. 

This world encompasses civil roles with a variety of governmental bodies, foreign service agencies, and the military as well as professional careers in such fields as consulting and nongovernmental agency work.

As an ISS major, you will study subjects such as the origins and termination of war, fourth- and fifth-generation conflict, hybrid warfare, ethnic conflict, human security, the nature and function of intelligence, as well has historical drivers for conflict. You also will study the ethical, moral, religious, and legal limitations imposed on conflict in the modern era, as well as an array of case studies illustrating efforts at managing conflict.

As an ISS graduate, you’ll also be well prepared should you wish to pursue a master’s or Ph.D. in graduate school. 


Program Type






Learning Outcomes

Explore the world through international security issues.

  • Demonstrate and explain comprehensive knowledge of the international system and the role of security within it.
  • Identify and describe all of the major collective security arrangements in the international system relating to global security.
  • Demonstrate specialized knowledge of the political and economic influences that drive security policy formulation and execution.
  • Comprehensively identify, describe and analyze the social, economic and human costs of security.
  • Identify, describe and apply a comprehensive knowledge of the decision processes involved in security policy formulations.
  • Identify and explain the regional, ethnic and constructivist drivers that underpin security interests.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the ethical, moral and religious constructs that govern security.
  • Have the ability to explain what the state can do to secure itself, its people and its interests in the modern world while being faithful to its cherished ethical and moral values.

Program Requirements

Courses for the international security studies major are drawn principally from the history, mathematics and computer science, political science and international relations programs. Students majoring in ISS will complete 36 credits comprising the following.

  • IR 102 Careers in International Relations
  • IR 210/POSC 210 Introduction to International Security Studies
  • IR 290 The Role of Force in the Modern World
  • IR 498 Global Security Problems
  • At least 15 credit hours in IR or ISS as prerequisite
Students are required to take three security elective courses. Some examples of security electives include:
  • IR 219/HIST 209 American Naval and Maritime History
  • IR 295/POSC 295 War and Peace in the Nuclear Age 
  • IR 296 Intelligence Operations
  • IR 300 Intelligence, Covert Action and Counter-Insurgency
  • IR 302 The History and Use of Air Power
  • IR 360/POSC 360 Crisis Management in Complex Emergencies
  • IR 362 Federal Criminal Law Enforcement
  • IR 406/POSC 405 Homeland Security
  • IR 407/POSC 407 Terrorism
  • IR 409W/POSC 419W Ethnic Conflict: Politics & Policy
  • IR 415/POSC 496 Twenty-First Century Terrorism
  • IR 422W/POSC 422W American Defense Policy
  • IR 423W/POSC 429W Comparative Intelligence Agencies
  • IR 437 Intelligence Research
Students must select one course that focuses on a specific location or territory to study more in-depth. Some examples that will fulfill this requirement include:
  • IR 202/POSC 205 Politics of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and South Asia
  • IR 220 The Arabs
  • IR 222/POSC 222 Intelligence and Foreign Policy
  • IR 253/HIST 254 History of the Modern Middle East 
  • IR 279 Culture and Politics of the Middle East
  • IR 293/HIST 293 History of Modern China
  • IR 294/HIST 294 China Today
  • IR 311 European Security and Mass Migration
  • IR 315/POSC 316/WSGS 315 Women in Global Conflict
  • IR 319/POSC 321 Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
  • IR 326/POSC 315 German Foreign Policy
  • IR 328W/MLSP 329W Revolt and Change: Protest in Spanish American Literature
  • IR 376/HIST 376 Revolution: Modern Latin America
  • IR 378/HIST 378 Modern Africa: Independence and Issues
  • IR 379/HIST 379 East Asia and the U.S.
  • IR 435/POSC 437 Political Islam
  • IR 443 American National Security Law 
  • IR 483W/HIST 483W Mexico and the U.S.
  • IR 485W/HIST 485W China in Revolution
  • IR 488W/HIST 488W China and the West
Students are required to take one class that serves as a diplomacy elective. Examples of such courses include:
  • IR 101/POSC 101/CATH 122 Catholic Thought, the State and Security in the Modern World
  • IR 110/POSC 110 Current Problems in International Politics
  • IR 120/POSC 120 International Political Economy
  • IR 201/POSC 201 Human Security in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • IR 272 Governance and National Security in the Arab World
  • IR 301 Intelligence Ethics
  • IR 303/POSC 303 Politics of Immigration
  • IR 315/POSC 316/WSGS 315 Women in Global Conflict
  • IR 342 Global Economic Perspectives
  • IR 345/POSC 345 Security Ethics
  • IR 391 Advanced International Political Economy
  • IR 405 Transnational Organized Crime
  • IR 413W/POSC 413W Human Rights and Human Security: Politics, Policy and Law
Students must select one cybersecurity elective from the following list:
  • IR 404 Introduction to Information Security
  • IR 432 Network Situational Awareness
  • IR 462 Applied Threat Systems
  • IR 464W/COSC 464 Cybersecurity Studies Capstone Project
  • IR 470 Cybersecurity Leadership and Strategy
Six credit hours from any IR prefixed courses in the catalog not already taken, including those above.

The Department and Duquesne's Mission

A holistic approach to the field.

The role of security is paramount to the existence of any sovereign entity, such as a country or state, and the choices made in security policies affect the destinies of generations.  To do this from the lens of moral insight speaks to understanding the need to temper power with moral values.

A university engaged in Catholic liberal arts education should be able to speak with a certain voice in this arena. The Roman Catholic church has spoken on this topic for centuries; the American Catholic church has been a major contributor to this dialogue since the 1920s and produced some of the leading scholarship on the role of force since then. As an international university sponsored by an international congregation, we seek to educate informed, critical thinkers on this topic who will be able to project core values into this forum.

As St. Augustine wrote, "The purpose of all wars is peace."