Masters Student Programming

Internship Funding

The AWC funds rising second-year MA students who take on unpaid summer internships, with the goal of incentivizing these students to pursue work in the public, non-profit, or research sectors in national security.

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Speakers Series

The AWC institutions host dinners with former policymakers, providing graduate students the opportunity to discuss views on U.S. foreign policy, their experience in the policymaking process, and career advice.

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Military Basics Course

Helping students understand the complex structure, processes, and culture of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the different military services as well as U.S. Special Operations Forces.

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Internship Funding

Student Experiences

Marina Dickson,
MA Candidate at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies,
UMD Applied Research Laboratory of Intelligence and Security

This past summer, I worked as a case study drafter for the Applied Research Laboratory of Intelligence and Security (ARLIS) at the University of Maryland. In this role, I supported a DOD/DHS funded project assessing nuclear decisioning making of over-the-horizon (OTH) countries. My analysis focused on the Japan case, relying on metrics for my research such as compliance to non-proliferation norms and regulations, latency levels, and consideration of nuclear history and identity. Working with a team of fellow case study drafters, I presented my findings at the end of the summer to USG officials as well as fellow analysts at ARLIS and START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism).

Jonah Langan-Marmur,
MA Candidate at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies,
DASD-China, OSD Policy

Interning in DASD-China in OSD Policy, I was fortunate enough to be help policymakers think through some of the biggest challenges faced by the United States. I contributed to the US Government's definitive public assessment of China's military and security policy, the 2020 China Military Power Report. My colleagues taught me invaluable lessons about how the Defense Department works, and what we have yet to do to address the China challenge. Going forward, my experience in DASD-China will stay in the forefront of my thoughts on how I analyze China's actions and how I can help the US Government address them.

Holly Geffs,
MA Candidate at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies,
Office of the Secretary of Defense, European and NATO Policy

During Summer 2020, I interned in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, European and NATO Policy. This internship was an incredibly educational experience, as I got first-hand experience supporting US security policy. I was given the opportunity to prove myself a capable member of the Europe policy team and to gain the confidence of my supervisors, who entrusted me with significant responsibility. During my time at EUR/NATO, I worked with the policy portfolio for Finland, Sweden, and Iceland - a trio of nations facing an increasingly aggressive Russia, evolving security competition in the Arctic, financial incursions by China, and their own complex bilateral and multilateral relationships influenced by centuries of history. I exercised the skills gained in my professional and academic pursuits to prepare briefing materials, speeches, and talking points related to the Nordic region for U.S. officials, to support their high-level meetings and international travel. I contributed briefing materials to officials such as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and twice I wrote talking points for the Secretary of Defense. In addition to my work with the Nordic states and security policy in the High North, I also supported, when needed, the Baltic States portfolio and worked closely with Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian government officials on topics such as Baltic-Russian relations. In this multifaceted and educational internship, I proudly worked to cultivate positive and trusted diplomatic relationships in support of U.S. national security goals. This internship was undoubtedly the best professional experience I've ever had, and it's made me more confident than ever in my determination to pursue a career in US government service and national security. I am profoundly grateful that generous support made this professional experience possible.

Interested students should reach out to the AWC administrator from their
respective school to learn more about funding and deadlines.

The Speakers Series

Past speakers include:

Kori Schake , American Enterprise Institute

Kathleen Hicks, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Derek Chollet, German Marshall Fund

Jake Sullivan, Dartmouth College

Military Basics Course

Hosted at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University, the course seeks to “level the playing field” for incoming Strategic Studies students. Its goal is to help students understand the complex structure, processes, and culture of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the different military services as well as U.S. Special Operations Forces. Topics covered include military organizations and DOD structure; budgetary trends; capabilities and weaponry of each service; and the unique nature and value of disparate service cultures, among other areas.  Students who complete this course will be better able to work effectively with military personnel in their future careers, whether as government employees, academics, policy analysts, or representatives of NGOs, international organizations, and the private sector.

Course Instructors

David Barno

Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.) is a Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies and Senior Fellow at the Merrill Center of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International …

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Nora Bensahel

Nora Bensahel is a Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies and Senior Fellow of the Merrill Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She is also …

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Student Praise for Military Basics

I absolutely LOVED taking Military Basics this year and really am not sure how it was not required in the past. I find myself referring back to the things I learned from Prof. Barno and Prof. Bensahel every day, not only in my classes, but when catching up on the news. I definitely learned concepts that I will take with me forever!

Carmela Irato

MA First Year

Since I don’t have military experience, the course was very helpful for me. I found the lessons exploring the different service cultures particularly interesting. Because of Military Basics, I am now doing my Campaign Analysis (the largest academic report in our first year) on the role of inter-service rivalry.

Santiago Previde

MA First Year

Coming into the Strategic Studies program with very limited knowledge of the military, Military Basics was a great introduction to vital information, got me up to speed with concepts I needed to understand to succeed in Strategic Studies, provided me with the tools to talk about nuanced military issues, and most importantly helped me to understand my classmates and their own military experiences better.

Mike Akopian

MA First Year

I liked the general idea of the course, and I found it to be a helpful introduction to key aspects of the military. I also liked that the course was broken up into manageable chunks.

Grant Bubb

Active Duty USA, DIA First Year

Military Basics provided a tremendous and practical orientation to the military services and Department of Defense. Profs. Bensahel and Barno are an incredible teaching duo and covered so much ground in so little time.

Makenzie Drukker

MA First Year

Professors Barno and Bensahel combine their years of experience to deliver a very well detailed class on an overview of the US military.

Kevin Butler

USMC Veteran, MIPP

I thought Military Basics was awesome and I hope to attend the next iteration as a refresher. I’m grateful that Professor Barno and Professor Bensahel put in the effort to teach this course.

Mike Mattson

MA First Year

I am an international student with little exposure to the US military cultures, organizations, the structure of DoD, the chain of command, uniforms, etc and Mil Basics was a great help to my studies in Strat. I still keep the slides of our lectures and I sometimes go back to them and look for specific terms I encounter in my classes. I am grateful that Mil Basics is considerately arranged for students like me, who desire to learn about military affairs but may have little background knowledge. It provides a great transition to Strategic Studies.

Zhiyue Guang

MA First Year