Administrative Policies

Our academic policies are designed to help you be successful in our program. Check out the policies below and also see the ISS student handbook for more detailed information.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

You must make satisfactory academic progress to stay in the program. To this, you should:

  • Maintain a grade point average of 3.0 in all graduate course work
  • Complete all coursework within 6 years of your expected graduation date (including any transfer credits)
  • Register for at least 3 units each semester you are in the program (fall/spring) or file for a leave of absence.

If you fall below a 3.0 grade point average at any time you will be put on probation. You will have one semester to bring your GPA up to 3.0 in order to continue in the program.

Leave of Absence

If you require time off, you can apply for a Leave of Absence. To do so, fill out a Leave of Absence form in UAccess. All forms can be found in the GradPath Forms area, with more information on navigating GradPath here. To submit a Leave of Absence, start a new petition and select "leave of absence" as the subject of the petition. This will allow you to keep your student status active while you take a break from your coursework. When returning from a Leave of Absence, you can simply register for courses without having to reapply for the degree program. University policy allows students to leave the university for up to two semesters without needing to reapply.

See the Graduate College info on Leaves of Absence for more details.

Transfer Credits

We can accept a maximum of six credit hours as transfer credits. We need to establish whether credits are able to be transferred on a case-by-case basis. The course work must be related to International Security and be similar to the type of courses we offer in the ISS program. Transfer coursework must also be:

  • From an accredited institution
  • No more than seven years old from the time of expected graduation from the ISS program
  • An A or B grade must have been received.

If you have questions about transfer credit, please contact us. See the Graduate College's policies for details.

Internships for Credit

You can apply an internship toward three credit hours of your program. An internship must meet the following conditions to be eligible for earning ISS credit:

  • It is a formal internship, and not a part of your day-to-day job/occupation
  • It lasts at least 135 hours
  • It is approved by either the Director or Assistant Director of the ISS program

To gain approval for your internship, contact Prof. Kurzer ( 

Once the internship is approved, you must complete these steps to gain credit (download internship forms):

  • Sign a Letter of Agreement that overviews the work to be completed prior to starting the internship.
  • Complete an evaluation form, along with an evaluation from the agency supervisor.
  • Complete a brief report – this is your opportunity to evaluate the internship in light of your completed course work, by drawing connections to your completed classwork and detailing what you learned during the internship. The report should be around 1,500-2,000 words in length.

Looking for more on internships? Check out our internships information page with a list of agencies, companies, and organizations that regularly offer international security-related internships.

Maximum Course Load

ISS students can take a maximum of three courses during the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms.

The ISS program is intentionally condensed into short, 8-week long courses. These courses, however, are also rigorous and can include up to 12 hours of course work each week. It is very easy to become overloaded on coursework, especially if also employed full-time.

In addition, by taking fewer classes learning outcomes improve. Retention of information is higher, students are able to fully immerse into the material when taking a limited number of courses, and there is more time to consider overlap and connections between courses.

If you have a special circumstance and would like to request taking more than the maximum allowed course load, you must gain approval from either Prof. Kurzer.



Select students may be interested in pursuing a thesis project in place of the portfolio. As the thesis option is considered a deviation from the normal ISS plan, students must seek approval from the program administrators before they can pursue the thesis option. The thesis is worth 4 units; as a result, students need to complete only 30 units of substantive course work. 

The thesis is a minimum 25-page (6,500 words) academic research project, with at least 15 different scholarly or refereed sources. To be eligible for a thesis, students must: 

  • Have a GPA of 3.8 or higher after taking a minimum of 9 courses in the ISS program
  • Gain approval from one of the ISS faculty to be a thesis adviser
  • Have the adviser and project approved by the program director

A successful thesis proposal should include the following elements: 

The question to be asked in the paper (see below)

A 1-2 paragraph statement of the significance of this question for the study of international security such as what theoretical questions, debates or controversies will answering your question help to resolve? if it’s not obvious, a BRIEF explanation (just 1 or 2 sentences) of why answering your question is of substantive or policy importance

  • Your proposed answer to the question (necessarily preliminary, but you must have an informed hypothesis at this time)
  • A list of major alternative hypothesized answers to the problem, which you will generate by drawing on common sense and on political science/international relations theories you encountered in other ISS courses. 
  • An explanation of how you will evaluate the merits of your own proposed answer versus the competing hypotheses:
  • What evidence (data) would support or refute your argument, and competing hypothesis? Try asking yourself, “what evidence in the world would convince me that my theory is wrong?” 
  • A bibliography indicating where you will get the primary and secondary data that you need to test your argument against alternative hypotheses (the bibliography is not included in the page limit) 

Your research question should address something that is PUZZLING, and should generally be phrased as WHY question:  We expect (based on the following theories or patterns) to see this, but we see that; WHY do we see this rather than that?  

Once approval is granted, the thesis committee will be made up of the student’s faculty advisor along with the ISS Director: Prof. Kurzer.