Frequently Asked Questions

We accept students three times a year, for the start of the fall, spring, and summer terms. View our Admissions Overview page for more on the upcoming application deadlines. 

You must apply online through the UA Graduate Admissions Application. After you submit your application online, you should send us your official transcripts, resume, and statement of purpose. See our admissions overview for details.

After the Graduate College has received all the materials (our recommendation, your transcripts), it will formally admit you and notify you by email.

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Yes, you can still apply as a non-degree seeking student. If you maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher after taking a minimum of two courses, you will become eligible to transfer to the M.A. program. Up to 12 units (or four courses) taken as a non-degree student can be transferred to the M.A. Please note that you will need to officially apply in order to join the M.A. program (including paying the Graduate College fee).

If your GPA is under 3.0, it is possible for us to submit a GPA waiver on your behalf in certain circumstances. This includes at least 10 years of work experience, ideally some of which is in an international security-related field. There are additional documents required for this process:

  1. A statement explaining your low GPA and why you believe you will be successful in graduate school
  2. A letter of recommendation, testifying to your ability to successfully complete graduate work, from somebody able to make that judgment

The GPA waiver is not guaranteed, as it must be approved both by the ISS program and the Graduate College. 

We can accept a maximum of six credit hours as transfer credits. We 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 cannot be more than six years old from the time of your graduation from the ISS program, it must come from an accredited institution, and an A or B grade must have been received. If you have questions about transfer credit, please contact us

To be admitted in the M.A. program, you must have received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and graduated with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Your bachelor's degree could be in any field; it does not need to be security or political science related.

See our admissions overview for details.

All of our courses have a similar format. Content consists of video lectures, readings, and additional materials; all classes also include discussion forums and writing assignments. Learning is self-paced. You are able to do assignments, readings, and discussions when it best fits your schedule. However, the pace of each course is brisk due to the abbreviated, eight-week schedule. It is thus important to complete work within the allotted time for each module and to have a reliable internet connection in order to keep pace with course material. 

No, all courses are delivered online. Each course is scheduled in an eight-week block of time and is delivered through our distance learning platform. Professors and staff are available to answer questions at any time via email, while both video calls (i.e., Skype) and in-person meetings are available through appointment. 

Our tuition rate is $700 per credit hour. The total cost of tuition for the MA is $25,200. There is also one relatively small fee that Arizona Online students must pay each semester. See the tuition cost calculator.

All ISS students pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of residency. We also do not charge any extra program fees. 

We do not provide departmental scholarships or assistantships for this program. We do offer Qualified Tuition Reduction (QTR) to those eligible employees and their families at Arizona universities. 

Students can apply through the UA's Financial Aid office for external funding. The Graduate College also has a list of financial resources available. Note that not all financial aid resources are available to online students. 

Both our M.A. and Certificate programs have been approved by the VA for students to use their GI Bill benefits as well as tuition assistance to cover the costs of the courses. Questions about military benefits can be directed to the VA Liaison, Regina Dowell (email:; phone: (520) 621-9501).

You can register for up to three courses (9 units) in one semester (this applies to both fall, spring, and summer terms). The maximum number of courses you can take applies to the whole semester and not to a single session. 

We restrict the number of courses students can take because the pace of instruction is intense. If you are working, and especially if you are working full time, we recommend that you begin by taking one class per session. This will allow you to get a feel for the amount of work and the time commitments courses will take.

Only the final capstone course is required. The Professional Portfolio (POL 695A) should be taken in your final semester in the program.

Otherwise, you are free to take whichever courses interest you most. If there are courses that you are particularly interested in, we recommend that you make an effort to register for those courses early in your studies to make sure you have a chance to engage with those subjects.

The colloquium for the ISS program is the Professional Portfolio. The portfolio course (POL 695A) is dedicated to giving you time to develop a portfolio that overviews your academic achievements. There are two broad goals for this project: first, there is an academic goal for each student to consider and synthesize what has been learned in the program, including how your studies have added to your knowledge of international security topics, your overall world view, and how education can contribute to your professional advancement. Second, the professional goal of the portfolio is to provide you with tools to advance in the professional world, including writing a professional bio, updating your resume, providing writing samples, and producing an (optional) personal website that can be shared with employers.

Select students may be interested in pursuing a thesis project in place of the portfolio. The thesis is a larger project that involves original research on a topic in international security, for which a social-science approach is used to explore the research question of interest. This option is available, but requires approval from the program director.

The diploma will say M.A. in International Security Studies, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Arizona. It does not mention distance learning or online instruction.

Students have access to all benefits given to Arizona Online students. This includes access to the UA Libraries, the Disability Resources Center, UA Career Services, and participation in our graduation ceremony, See student resources for online students.

Note that Arizona Online students do not have to pay many of the fees that Main Campus students pay, which includes fees for the Rec Center. As a result you do not have access to these benefits, but if you are interested in a Rec Center membership you can pay a monthly fee to gain access.

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:

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

To complete GradPath forms, follow the instructions in the Completing ISS GradPath Forms document.