Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis FAQs

1. What does the strategic studies and defense analysis (SSDA) bachelor’s degree completion program entail?

The SSDA bachelor’s degree completion program is designed to build upon the military education and experience of Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel. The program expands on students’ training and knowledge in vital areas such as sociology-anthropology, geography, cultural awareness, regional politics, and international conflict as well as general education areas. Students apply their class work and studies to initiatives and field exercises related to their deployment areas. Students also conduct research on a particular region’s conflicts and opportunities and contribute their research and field experience to the U.S. military’s body of knowledge of that region. Principles of critical thinking, ethical decision making, and leadership are interwoven throughout the curriculum.

2. Who may enroll in the program?

The program is open only to students who are active duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines assigned to or retired from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and its subordinate commands and sub-unified commands.

3. I have no military background but the program interests me. Can I apply?

The SSDA program was designed exclusively for, and to build upon the military training and experiences of, military personnel assigned to or retired from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and its subordinate commands and sub-unified commands. Unfortunately, this program would not be available to anyone outside of this audience. Our bachelor's program in National Security Studies could be a great fit as it builds upon the education and experience of Combat Arms and Combat support personnel in the military, law enforcement personnel, and members of the intelligence community.

4. Is the program entirely online?

Yes. Norwich has built a leading-edge online learning environment that promotes networking, peer support, and one-on-one interactions with faculty and student support staff. Classrooms are virtual, accessible from your home military base or in a theater of operations, and filled with extensive online learning resources.

5. What are the admission requirements for the program?

In addition to being an active, separated, or retired SOF member, you must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the program:

  • For service members, the program is tailored to those who have successfully completed one of the following: the U.S. Army’s Civil Affairs Qualification Course (38), Military Information Support Operations (37), Special Forces (18), Warrant Officer (180), MOS courses, or related occupations.
  • At least sixty (60) semester credit hours through prior college or military training (as reviewed by ACE) or both.
  • Earned credits must include proficiency in basic math and English writing skills through either prior college or training credit in these areas.

To apply, you must submit the following items:

  • Program application
  • Letter of Intent (1-2 pages) outlining your SOF experience, prior learning, and educational/career objectives
  • Official military training transcripts (Joint Services Transcript/CCAF)
  • Official transcripts from all colleges previously attended. Mail official transcripts to: Norwich University College of Graduate and Continuing Studies – ATTN: SSDA, PO Box 367, Northfield, VT 05663
6. How many credits will I take, and can I transfer additional credits to apply toward my degree?

To complete your SSDA degree, you must earn 120 credits. As an admissions requirement, 60 of those credits must be earned prior to enrolling in the program through military training, CLEP, or college courses completed at another institution. You may transfer up to 30 additional semester-credit equivalents from other accredited institutions of higher education for courses that meet specific SSDA requirements.

7. How much does the program cost?

The per-credit cost for the SSDA program is $250. The federal government’s Tuition Assistance (TA) program covers the per-credit cost for active duty military personnel. For detailed information about program costs, visit the tuition information page.

8. I would like to use my VA benefits. What is the process, and whom do I contact for more information?

The SSDA program is approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, all GI Bill® and other military payment options will be available to students applying for admission to the program. For consolidated information about specific programs, visit our Veterans Benefits page.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at

9. Is this program covered under federal financial aid?

The SSDA program is eligible for Federal Student Aid, including need-based (i.e., Pell Grants and Direct Subsidized Loans), and non-need based (i.e., Direct Unsubsidized Loans) programs. To get started on your Federal Student Aid application, you will need to complete the FAFSA form.