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Bachelor's and Certificate Admissions
Specially designed for active duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines assigned to or retired from one of the subordinate commands within the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis program focuses on strategies for improving the security, external relationships, and overall well-being of communities and countries. Students gain the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to develop these strategies through a comprehensive curriculum that builds on their military education and experience, enabling them to apply what they learn in class to initiatives and field exercises related to their current or past areas of deployment.
Students are taught by a highly knowledgeable faculty that includes the former assistant provost of the Naval Postgraduate School, retired military officers, and defense strategy experts from across the globe. Research, critical thinking, ethical decision making, and leadership skills are fostered and woven throughout the curriculum, giving students the tools they need to advance within the military or transition to a new career.
As part of their final program requirements, students complete a series of in-depth, independent research projects on a country or region of their choosing. Based on their research, students develop recommendations for improving conditions in their selected area that take into consideration the historical, political, cultural, and economic influences at play. In addition to its relevant application in the field, the research findings contribute to the military’s body of knowledge of regions around the globe.
If you are planning for or transitioning to a civilian career or want to advance within the military, Norwich’s Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis online bachelor’s program gives you the credentials, skills, and knowledge to assist you in achieving your professional goals. Your bachelor’s degree can help prepare you for numerous positions and opportunities such as military analyst, defense contractor, intelligence officer, security contractor, operations management, and key Department of Defense jobs, among others. Learn more »
Norwich is committed to helping you reach your academic and career goals. We can provide you with information on how to apply, how to manage your time, and how to get the books and materials you need for the Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis program. Let us help you get started.
The Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis (SSDA) curriculum includes four areas of instruction:
More information about program requirements is available in our course catalog.
This course is a study of men and women in war and the military service: their ideals, experiences, and strategies as seen in foreign and American military literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Prerequisite: EN102 or EN108 or equivalency.
Most of the world’s crucial environmental issues and many regional conflicts are related to the degradation and/or overuse of the Earth’s basic resources, including air, water, soil, and energy. This course will focus on the physical and chemical processes associated with the degradation of these resources, as well as an examination of potential solutions. The course will address and integrate into scientific studies two themes that underlie all environmental issues: sustainability and human population dynamics. Prerequisites: none.
This course covers frequency distributions, averages and standard deviations, normal curve, probability, decision-making, sampling techniques, hypotheses testing, chi-square, T and F distributions, correlation, and linear regression. Prerequisite: A college-level mathematics course or equivalent as determined by departmental placement testing. Not open to students with credit in MA311.
This course provides a working knowledge of the science and technology associated with visual augmentation systems, including design constraints as defined by target spectrum and atmospheric properties. You will examine the physiology of human vision and the unique phenomenon of perception. Utilizing the tenets of the scientific method, you will learn to characterize, hypothesize, and predict system performance through experimental observation and quantitative analysis in preparing to become critical operators and informed customers capable of providing valued feedback to system designers. Prerequisites: none.
Based upon myth and built upon ritual, religious thought affects politics, economics, international relations, and security. In this course, you will explore and analyze the similarities and differences among world religions to better understand the impact of belief systems and religious themes on culture, human history, and current affairs. Prerequisites: none.
This is an overview of the historical development of political, cultural and economic behavior and institutions within a specific geographical context. Students will focus on a specific region, e.g., the Middle East, Latin America, Sub-Sahara Africa or Asia. Students will understand the history of a region and its impact on current events. Pre-requisites: none.
In this course, you will explore tenets and characteristics of various economics systems, analyze economic indicators, conceptualize problems, and recommend possible solutions. Economic factors are explored in the context of the U.S. Army’s Political-Military-Economics-Social Infrastructure-Information Systems framework. Prerequisites: none.
This course introduces the issues and institutions of national security policy. You will gain an appreciation of strategic thought and strategy formulation, the ability to assess national security issues and threats, and an understanding of the political and military institutions involved in the making and execution of national security policy. Prerequisites: none.
This course introduces the basic methods, concepts, and substance of comparative politics and focuses on institutions and behaviors as well as development and modernization theories. You will gain the tools to address questions such as: What is a political system? What are the different varieties of democracies and authoritarian regimes? Are some regimes more vulnerable to political violence than others? What explains the transition from authoritarianism to democracy and can that process be reversed? How does geography impact the political, economic, and social development of a region? Prerequisites: none.
This course addresses the effects of a variety of forms of sub-state violence on world affairs. Topics include sources of terrorism, its major characteristics, the problems it poses for global peace and stability, responses to terrorism by countries and international organizations, and the problem of balancing public safety and personal freedom in dealing with terrorism. Prerequisites: none.
This course provides a sociological perspective of the military as both an institution and as an occupation. It examines the social structure and functions of the military and the social factors that influence behavior in and of the military. In terms of function, it examines the changing purposes of the military in view of changing national and international conditions. In terms of structure, it examines the norms, values, traditions, organizations, and culture of the military. The course will provide insight into the routine life within the military and contemporary issues confronting the military. Prerequisites: none.
This course presents key concepts in the study of cultures and explores how culture and cultural contexts and language influence values, expectations, behavior, communication styles, and conflict resolution. Prerequisites: none.
This course examines how emergency managers respond to national, state, or local disasters. Students gain a broad understanding of the functions, challenges, key concepts, and organizing principles of U.S. emergency management. Emphasis is placed on how emergency management is structured and organized by examining the National Response Framework (NRF), the National Incident Management System (NIMS), and the Incident Command System (ICS), as well as other standards that govern emergency management in the United States. You will apply your learning to develop an emergency plan capable of addressing identified threats. This course requires broad knowledge, in-depth understanding, analysis, synthesis, and creativity in regard to the topics addressed. Prerequisites: none.
In this course, you will compare and contrast selected insurgencies and counter-insurgencies from across the globe. You will gain knowledge needed to analyze and establish mission profiles for past, present, and future conflicts. This course requires broad knowledge, in-depth understanding, analysis, synthesis, and creativity in regard to the topics addressed. Pre-requisite: none.
This course introduces the overall concept of Information Warfare (IW) and Information Operations (IO), particularly with regard to the U.S. federal government and the Department of Defense. Pre-requisites: none.
This course is designed to enhance the critical and creative thinking skills needed to solve complex and ill-defined problems. Key themes are problem framing, operational art, leadership, and the outcomes for human security. You will examine historical and contemporary examples of strategic-level planning in highly complex operations and use this learning as a framework for problem solving within and across agencies. You will complete a major team project on a complex problem vignette that requires creating a course of action a leader must follow to meet the desired end state. Prerequisites: none.
In this course, you will learn key theoretical models of leadership and strategies for applying them in a range of situations, both military and non-military. You will identify key functions and skills of effective leaders, explore leadership styles through study of selected leaders, and evaluate the role of communication, negotiation, strategy, purpose, and ethics in leadership. You will evaluate your own leadership effectiveness and develop a leadership tool kit. Prerequisites: none.
This course introduces the principles of strategic communication and provides a detailed understanding of the important role of participatory Web media in strategic communication. Topics include understanding and defining strategic communication, public diplomacy, with whom responsibility lies in conducting strategic communication, challenges of U.S. strategic communication, improving strategic communication, and the future of strategic communication. You will apply the tenets of strategic communication by reviewing and critiquing high-profile cases from the war in Iraq and other significant events. Prerequisites: none.
In this course students will learn about operations management and project management within a military setting. They will learn how to analyze and apply theory to address strategic and operational challenges. Students will address the role of leadership in effective operations and project management. Pre-requisites: none.
Please note: This course is still under development.
In this course, you will complete a field study project to analyze and evaluate the economic indicators and infrastructure of a country or region of interest, exploring its local, regional, and global challenges and opportunities. The study will include recommendations for strengthening the region’s economic institutions and infrastructure. The course culminates in a substantive research paper or academic project that reflects broad knowledge, in-depth understanding, analysis, synthesis, and creativity in regard to the topics addressed. Prerequisites: SSEC 310 Socio-Economics Studies or permission of chair of the department of continuing studies.
In this course, you will complete a study of a country or region in relation to a key aspect of its culture. Within this broad framework, you will explore an issue related to an aspect of cultural conflict or cross-cultural communication by addressing the region’s cultural competence: the ability to navigate complex cultural environments in pursuit of mutually satisfactory outcomes. The course culminates in a substantive research paper or academic project that reflects broad knowledge, in-depth understanding, analysis, synthesis, and creativity in regard to the topics addressed. Prerequisites: SSSO 335 Introduction to Cultural Competence, or permission of the department chair.
In this course, you will study the geography of a region of interest and how geography relates to implementation of a project or to the cause of or resolution to a problem in the region. You will examine natural resources and resource challenges, paying particular attention to mineral, oil, water, and other highly valued assets in the region. Your study will address future geographical or resource challenges of the region and include recommendations for infrastructure changes that would help maximize effective use of resources. The course culminates in a substantive research paper or academic project that reflects broad knowledge, in-depth understanding, analysis, synthesis, and creativity in regard to the topics addressed. Prerequisites: SSHI 310 Historical Studies or permission of the department chair.
This graduate-level course is available for undergraduate credit, and is a comprehensive overview of diplomacy, international relations, and world order in the context of the modern state system, 1648 to the present. It provides an introduction to the international political environment through studies in foreign policy decision making. The course combines the fields of history and political science through an analytical framework of historiography and international relations methodology. Prerequisites: recommendation by the SSDA interim program coordinator and permission from the diplomacy program director. This course is only offered twice per year.
You will analyze and synthesize program learning with a particular focus on ethics and leadership. You will analyze ethical scenarios and a tactical ethics text and present an in-depth ethical analysis paper. For full credit, you must address how your work will contribute to the U.S. Army’s body of knowledge about the topic(s) under discussion. Prerequisites: Completion of all SSDA courses or permission of the department chair.
Alec Adams oversees the administrative and operational needs of online degree completion programs, teaches in the Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis program, and has worked at Norwich University since 2004. Prior to his current role at Norwich, he worked with numerous programs and helped launch the MEd and Master of Science in Organizational Leadership programs. Before joining Norwich he spent seven years teaching, followed by a position as the Head of School where he developed and launched a “traveling” high school called the Academy for Global Exploration. There he oversaw the delivery of secondary education in non-traditional settings (e.g., the jungles of Costa Rica and the islands of Greece). His diverse background includes 12 years in the hospitality industry. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire, a Master in Education with a focus in higher education from Vermont College, and a Master in Business Administration from Norwich University.
Karie Thomson is the student services advisor for the Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice programs and has been with Norwich University for 10 years. Karie is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business management at Colorado State University. Prior to Norwich, she served 4 ½ years in the U.S. Army where she was stationed at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and Camp Zama Japan. Karie also spent 3 ½ years in the Vermont National Guard.
Admissions Department Hours
Monday - Friday: 0800 to 1630 EST
Extended hours available by appointment
The Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis program is an investment in your future that we can help you manage from a financial perspective. We work with military personnel each day to help them maximize their benefits.
There are many ways to get financial assistance and many strategies that can help you achieve your goals. Whatever your individual situation, we can guide you through the financial planning process.
Our admissions advisors are ready to help you plan your education at Norwich University.
Monday - Friday: 0800 to 1630 EST
When someone calls and inquires if he or she can apply for the Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis bachelor’s degree completion program even though the individual does not possess a specific SF MOS or other Special Warfare designation, my thoughts revert back to why the program was created in the first place. SSDA was the brainchild of retired Special Forces who understand the value of training and the ever-changing, ever-challenging mission of the Special Operations community.
Back when SSDA was just a kernel of an idea, the idea was that this unique group of people brings considerable military education and experience to the table that the academic program was designed to complement. Said differently, being a member of the Special Forces community is the prerequisite for entering the SSDA program, and no additional coursework could possibly replace it.
Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis is a mouthful when you start to explain what the program is all about. It sounds important because it is important. SSDA is about cultural and political competence. It is about understanding foreign lands and the language that is spoken and the values that are followed. It is about being involved in civic affairs, keeping the peace, and fostering goodwill in fragile communities. It is about giving of oneself expecting little to nothing in return. It is about risk and sacrifice, and a reward for a job well done. And, it is about keeping promises, especially keeping the promise to finish what you started: a degree with respect and honor.
The program’s foundation is based on the training of the SF soldier and not the other way around. We did not develop the curriculum because we thought cultural competence was a great idea, or that national security policy was a must-do for aspiring 18Ds. It was put into the program because it is what SOF does. The SSDA program places tremendous emphasis on this specialized training by enhancing its relevance through academic theory and application. It is also about your moving forward, reaching new heights in your military career or newfound opportunities beyond the Special Operations community.
At Norwich University, the Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis program is about fulfilling a promise to a very unique subset of our military: the NCOs of the Special Operations community. It is our promise to support them in their goal of completing their education mission: earning their bachelor’s degree while meeting the demands and obligations of their careers. For our students, the SSDA program is more than just taking classes online, completing their studies who-knows-where and who-knows-how. It is about being in a program that is exclusively about them and for them.
I am often reminded about the number of times our students have stated how important it was for them to be part of a unique program, a program that acknowledges their commitment to service, the higher order training, and the sacrifices they make to achieve a greater good. It is a special program geared to a special group of warriors. That is SSDA.
- Alec Adams is the Interim Program Coordinator for the Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis bachelor's degree completion program.