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Master of Strategic Studies

“We prepare and educate the next generation of strategic leaders — military, civilian and academic — in Australia and the Asia–Pacific region by providing internationally-recognised graduate and undergraduate programs in strategic and defence studies.”

- Professor Stephan Fruehling, Head, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre


The Asia-Pacific is being transformed by great power contestation and a spectrum of national and international security challenges. Studying a Master of Strategic Studies or a Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) with the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) at ANU will equip you with the intellectual tools needed to evaluate strategic choices, navigate the strategic environment and understand the challenges of an evolving global order.

If you're interested in issues of strategic importance to Australia, addressing how political ends and military means interact, understanding the origins, applications and implications of war and other forms of organised violence, our strategic studies program is for you. 

The program is designed for graduates and professionals seeking to launch or advance their careers in national or international security, counterterrorism, strategic policy, intelligence, foreign affairs, think tanks and academia.

Our program

The SDSC offers two Masters programs:

Master of Strategic Studies

The Master of Strategic Studies combines the expertise of world leading academics and policymakers to deliver Australia’s foremost Masters program at the intersection of strategic, defence, military and international studies.

Our program is designed for graduates seeking to launch or advance their careers in national defence, international security, counterterrorism, strategic policy, strategic planning, foreign affairs, intelligence, cybersecurity and academia.

The Master of Strategic Studies program investigates:

  • Australian strategic and defence policy
  • Strategic alliances and Australian security
  • Power politics in the Asia-Pacific and its strategic transformation
  • Ethics and technologies of war
  • Civil-military relations and military history
  • Disease, security and biological weapons
  • China's defence and strategic challenges
  • Intelligence, cybersecurity, and nuclear strategy in the Asian century
  • Counterinsurgency in modern warfare
  • The use of terrorism by extremist groups and counterterrorism efforts

Learn more about the program structure and courses.


Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced)

The Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) comprises of two parts: coursework and a research thesis.

In addition to knowledge and skills learnt in the traditional coursework, the thesis component of this program provides an opportunity to hone your research skills while being supervised by our world-renowned academics.

Students wishing to pursue or leave open the possibility of further research work or PhD study are strongly encouraged to complete the Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced).

Learn more about the program structure and courses.


Study with the experts

The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre has a unique multidisciplinary blend of teaching staff that includes not just academics who are leaders in their fields of Asia-Pacific security, defence studies and Australian defence, but former high ranking Department of Defence officials, former intelligence offers, and staff with extensive military and naval experience. This blend of academics and experienced practitioners has made SDSC a leader in the field of strategic studies for more than 50 years. Among the academics are: 

  • Professor Brendan Taylor - specialises in great power strategic relations in the Asia-Pacific, strategy in Asia, Australian strategic policy in the Asia-pacific, economic sanctions and regional security architecture
  • Professor Evelyn Goh - specialises in East Asian security and international relations; US-China diplomatic history and contemporary strategic relations; international relations theory; Cold War history and security studies.
  • Professor Jochen Prantl – specialises in global governance, international security, and strategic diplomacy. He also served in the Policy Planning Unit of the UN Department of Political Affairs and the Delegation of the European Commission to the United Nations in New York.
  • Dr Jean Bou - specialises in the history of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century warfare, aspects Australian military history and was the lead author for a volume of the Australian official history of peacekeeping, humanitarian and post-Cold War Operations.
  • Professor Stephan Fruehling - specialises in Australian strategic policy; nuclear strategy; NATO and US alliances, and was a member of the External Panel of Experts on the 2016 Defence White Paper.
  • Associate Professor Amy King - specialises in Chinese foreign and security policy, China-Japan relations, historical and contemporary approaches to international order, the nexus between economic and security issues, and ideational approaches to the study of International Relations.

The learning experience 

Our courses are designed to accommodate full-time professionals looking to advance their careers and are therefore usually held after work hours. The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) also hosts several events each year with high profile speakers - students are encouraged to attend these as they are relevant to their studies. Speakers from recent events include former Secretary of Defence, Dennis Richardson AO; Minister for Defence, the Hon Marise Payne; Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Duncan Lewis; and US Assistant Secretary of State, David Stilwell and more.

You will graduate from ANU, a world-class university, positioning you firmly in the centre of a global network of leading diplomatic and international legal scholars and policy-makers.

ANU is ranked #1 in Australia and #11 in the world for Politics.

Career pathways

Our Master of Strategic Studies students have gone on to join the Australian Public Service (APS jobs) in: the Department of Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of Home Affairs, Attorney General's Department, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Other career paths include:

  • Think tanks, policy institutes, and research centres
  • Intergovernmental agencies
  • International trade and business
  • International development and aid organisations
  • NGOs
  • Universities and research institutions
  • Multinational corporations
  • International business consultancies
  • Media agencies and journalism


You can get both practical experience and credit towards your Masters degree with an internship. Our students have had the opportunity to intern with organisations such as:

  • the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia (Singapore)
  • the Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • the Australian Army Research Centre 


The Australian National University (ANU) offers a wide range of scholarships to students to assist with the cost of their studies.

Eligibility to apply for ANU scholarships varies depending on the specifics of the scholarship and can be categorised by the type of student you are.  Specific scholarship application process information is included in the relevant scholarship listing. Scholarships available to students commencing or currently enrolled in the Master of Strategic Studies include:

T.B. Millar Grant: the grant pays the tuition fee for the two core courses (or their equivalents) for a total of 24 units of coursework. Available to domestic and international students.

Robert O’Neill Scholarship: $8,000 stipend to assist with accommodation, living expenses and a Canberra-Singapore return economy-class flight. The objective of the award is to provide the means for a high achieving domestic or international student to undertake an internship with the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) - Asia office in Singapore.

The Freyberg Scholarship (New Zealand Defence Scholarship) is available for New Zealand citizens wishing to undertake the Master of Strategic Studies offered by The Australian National University.                                                                          

For further information see the Scholarships website.

Upcoming events can be viewed here

Want to know more?

Enquire now to hear more from ANU or email us at asiapacific@anu.edu.au to organise a time to talk with current students, program advisers, or the academics who teach this program.


Graduate profile

Meet Shayal Singh

Shay recognises that she was, and still is, amazed by the program and the high and well-renowned reputation from the Strategic Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) professors, lecturers and tutors. “Their varied expertise brings a fresh perspective and an interesting theoretical viewpoint”.

» read more

Meet Tommy Sheng Hao Chai

“It is my lifelong goal to be a strategist in international relations. I, just as others, want to prevent history from repeating itself. I envision a regional order where states can conduct affairs without needing to resort to force”.

» read more

Meet David Vallance

“I had a lot of great recommendations about ANU and the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre (SDSC). I investigated the Master of Strategic Studies (MSS) and its academics. SDSC plays a crucial role in preparing future leaders to face challenges. I said to myself oh my God! I have to be here”.

» read more

Meet Rohana Prince

Meet Rohana Prince

I chose to do the Master of Strategic Studies program in order to study with Australia’s leading strategic thinkers.

» read more

Meet Esther Sainsbury

Meet Esther Sainsbury

I did my Masters in the evening while working full-time at the Department of Defence. It was manageable because the program is designed to accommodate the needs of full-time professionals looking to advance their careers. What I learned in class I applied in my professional life, which was a great way to mix theory and practice in my early career.

» read more

Joel Einstein - Master of Strategic Studies

Meet Joel Einstein

I moved from Sydney to study the Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) as it had a perfect mix of course topics I was interested in. The fact that the Centre has close links to government provided amazing career opportunities.

» read more

Meet Samuel John Cox

"The reputation of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) as Australia’s centre of excellence for education in strategy and defence inspired me to uproot my life from Perth and move to Canberra to pursue postgraduate study”.

» read more

Meet Lauren Hanley

In 2019 Lauren graduated from the Master of Strategic Studies (MSS). Lauren is amazed by the opportunities she had throughout her degree. She highlights the study tour to Borneo run by Garth Pratten, which also happened to be her favourite course of the MSS.

» read more

Nathalie Blakely

Meet Nathalie Blakely

I came to ANU to undertake a Master of Strategic Studies after being awarded the New Zealand Defence Freyberg Scholarship. I chose this program because of the world class scholars in the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre. The education I've received here really aligns with what is expected in the sector.

» read more

Anna Samson

Meet Anna Samson

It gives you insights, and challenges the ways in which you’ve looked at these sorts of problems. I could have done a lot of other courses which reinforced what I already knew, but what strategic studies offers is that big picture analysis that allows you to start asking and answering some really big questions.

» read more

Meet Thomas Paterson

Thomas believes that the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) is very unique. “I highly recommend the MSS especially to anyone that is planning to study national security. Why? The calibre of lecturers and the internships opportunities.

» read more

Elke Larsen

Meet Elke Larsen

My ability to think critically has gained new depth. I had a wonderful mentor who taught me the importance of rigorous methodology. I developed a strong ability to think about how strategy is implemented, and gained a greater confidence in my problem-solving skills. All of these skills have proven useful in my job as a consultant at PwC.

» read more

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team