Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis

Program Overview  

Chair, Department of Continuing Studies: Mark Parker 
Program Manager (Interim): Cynthia Levy

The Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis is a bachelor’s degree completion program designed to build upon the military education and experience of Special Operations Forces (SOF) in the U. S. Army and joint military command. The program of study will build upon a soldier’s knowledge in vital areas such as sociology-anthropology, geography, cultural awareness, regional politics, and international conflict, as well as complete competencies in general education needed for the bachelor’s degree. The program is open to those who are on active duty or retired from the U.S. Army Special Operations Forces, including reserve and National Guard components, and to other service members who are assigned to SOF.

The Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis degree is designed to be highly experiential in nature and to integrate the operational and international experiences of SOF soldiers into the curriculum. A soldier will apply course work and study to initiatives and field exercises related to his or her deployment area. Students will conduct research concerning a region’s conflicts and opportunities, incorporate that research and field experiences into the classroom and potentially into the U.S. Army’s body of knowledge of that region. Principles of critical thinking, ethical decision making and leadership interweave throughout the curriculum.

Students entering the Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis degree program may receive the equivalent of up to 60 semester credits for military training courses or preparation in leadership and language study as reviewed for credit by the American Council of Education or a similarly recognized organization. Students may also transfer up to an additional 24 semester-credit hour equivalent from other accredited institutions of higher education for courses that meet specific course requirements in the SSDA program. Students complete the remaining credits through Norwich University in a structured program that will typically require two to four years to complete, depending upon a student’s full-time or part-time enrollment status and military deployment schedule.

Students in the Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis degree program will graduate with the major competencies needed to implement the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Forces agenda in a specific region of the globe. These competencies include the ability to:

  • Identify, describe and explain the geographic features of the region.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the history of the region and its impact on current events.
  • Identify various cultures of the region, explain similarities and differences among them and apply this knowledge to develop problem solving strategies within a range of contexts.
  • Identify political figures in the region, analyze their positions on various issues, and apply this knowledge to develop effective collaborative relationships and/or intervention strategies.
  • Understand the economics of the region, analyze a range of economic factors, and formulate recommendations for economic activities.
  • Appraise and articulate the role of the United States within the region.
  • Appraise and articulate the role of the US Army within the region.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills related to cross cultural competence.

The Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis degree curriculum is provided in four areas of instruction. The first area is designed to ensure that students complete general education courses required for a degree at Norwich University. The second area, program courses, is designed to address specific learning needs of the SOF and related communities. The third area is field studies, in which students put their knowledge into practice by exploring a specific region’s economic, geographic and cultural systems and making recommendations to help effect change within a region. The program culminates with a Capstone Project that will be supervised by a faculty member. The Capstone project is intended to contribute to the U.S. Army’s body of knowledge of regions around the globe including Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.


Curriculum Requirements  

Pre-Program Education and Training

Students accepted into the Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis degree program must have earned a minimum of 60 semester credits from college courses, military training, or other educational experiences such as CLEP tests. A maximum of 84 semester credits may be transferred into the program. General education courses listed below are required unless applicants transfer in approved coursework or training from other institutions.

Number of Semester Credits

General Education Courses
SSDA 306Science and Technology Visual Augmentation Defense Systems3
SSEN 270Military Literature3
SSES 301Environmental Science3
SSHI 310Historical Studies3
SSMA 232Elementary Statistics3
SSRE 300Comparative Religion3
Program Courses
Students complete 18 credits of the following:18
Strategic Communications3
Emergency and Disaster Relief Operations6
Insurgency and Conflict6
Information Operations6
Socio-Economic Studies3
Strategic Planning3
National Security Policy3
Comparative Politics3
International Terrorism3
Military Sociology3
Introduction to Cultural Competence3
Field Studies
Students complete 18 credits of the following:18
Economic Studies6
Cultural and Anthropological Studies6
Area Studies6
The History of Diplomacy in the International System 16
SSDA 400The Capstone Project6
SSDA 490Selected Topics1-6
Total Credits60


Students may be admitted to the Master in Diplomacy Program under an early admissions program and may take GD 511 in lieu of one Field Study.

Faculty Member Institution at which highest degree was earned
Edwin (Leigh) Armistead, PhDEdith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
Laurette Brady, MBASt. Joseph's University
Jack Covarrubias, MAUniversity of Southern Mississippi
John Covell, MSTroy State University
Allison Greene, PhDOld Dominion University
Victoria Greene, MSUniversity of Vermont
John Jennings, PhDUniversity of Hawaii
R. Alan King, MAWebster University
Cynthia Levy, PhDAcademy of Sciences/Zriayi Miklos National Defense University (Hungary)
Charles Lynch, MSNaval Post Graduate School
Martin McMahon, MLittMiddlebury College
Greg Makuch, MSTroy University
Randall H. Miller, MANorwich University
Brett Morash, MAUS Naval War College
Darlene Olsen, PhDState University of New York, Albany
Robert Pauly, PhDOld Dominion University
Russell Ramsey, PhDUniversity of Florida
Robert Greene Sands, PhDUniversity of Illinois
Shawn White, PhDUniversity of Georgia
Lea Williams, PhDUniversity of Oregon

Communications Courses

SSCM 305. Strategic Communications. 3 Credits.

This course introduces students to principles of strategic communication. The course provides a detailed understanding of the important role that participatory web media play in strategic communication. Topics include understanding and defining strategic communication, public diplomacy, who is responsible for conducting strategic communication, challenges of U.S. strategic communication, improving strategic communication, and the future of strategic communication. Practical application of the tenets of strategic communication will be accomplished by reviewing and critiquing high-profile cases from the Iraq war and other significant events. This course will enable students to identify and apply the basic characteristics of effective strategic communication. Prerequisite: None.

Defense Analysis Courses

SSDA 306. Science and Technology Visual Augmentation Defense Systems. 3 Credits.

This course introduces students to the primary concepts of visual augmentation defense technology, particularly with regard to its use by the U.S. Federal Government and the Department of Defense. Students learn the history and evolution of optics as well as the scientific principles that underlie development and utilization of selected technologies. Pre-requisites: none. Note: this course is under development and will be reviewed by the University Curriculum Committee.

SSDA 310. Emergency and Disaster Relief Operations. 6 Credits.

This course examines the principles used by emergency managers to respond to local or regional disasters. Students examine the NIMS (National Incident Management System) and other standards governing emergency management. Pre-requisites: None.

SSDA 315. Insurgency and Conflict. 6 Credits.

Students compare and contrast selected insurgencies and counter-insurgencies from across the globe. Students gain knowledge needed to analyze and establish mission profiles for past, present and future conflicts. Pre-requisite: None.

SSDA 320. Information Operations. 6 Credits.

This course introduces students to the overall concept of information warfare (IW) and information operations (IO), particularly in regard to the US federal government and Department of Defense. Pre-requisites: None.

SSDA 400. The Capstone Project. 6 Credits.

Students analyze and synthesize program learning with a particular focus on ethics and leadership. Students analyze ethical scenarios and a tactical ethics text and present an in-depth ethical analysis paper. Students must address how their work will contribute to the U.S. Army’s body of knowledge about the topic(s) under discussion. Pre-requisites: Completion of all SSDA courses or permission of the Department Chair.

SSDA 490. Selected Topics. 6 Credits.

Students will study a specific topic of interest under the direction of an SSDA faculty member. Pre-requisites: To be determined on an individual basis.

Economic Studies Courses

SSEC 305. Economic Theory-Micro and Macro. 5 Credits.

This course begins with a theoretical overview of key concepts related to micro and macro economics. The focus then moves to exploring the economy of a country from a macro perspective. Sub-topics include: comparing and contrasting the tenets of the economic system of a geographical area of interest with those of the free market system adopted by the US; monetary and fiscal policies, international trade agreements; politics of resources and environmental economics; indicators such as inflation, employment and imports/exports; and exploring various sectors such as agriculture, industry, and service. Pre-requisites: none.

SSEC 310. Socio-Economic Studies. 3 Credits.

Students explore tenets and characteristics of various economics systems, analyze economic indicators, conceptualize problems and recommend possible solutions. Pre- requisites: None.

SSEC 401. Economic Studies. 6 Credits.

In this regional economics course, students complete a research project to analyze the economy of a country or region of interest. Students survey and evaluate the economic institutions and infrastructure of the region. Local, regional and global challenges and opportunities that exist in the region will be explored. The study will include recommendations for improving the well-being of people by strengthening the region’s economic institutions and infrastructure. The course will culminate with a substantive research paper. Pre-requisites: Completion of SSEC 310 or permission of Chair of Department of Continuing Studies.

English Courses

SSEN 270. Military Literature. 3 Credits.

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. Pre-requisites: EN102 or EN108 or equivalency.

Environmental Science Courses

SSES 301. Environmental Science. 3 Credits.

A study of the dynamic interaction between human and environment with emphasis on ecosystem structure and function; the study, analysis and identification of optimal solutions to local and regional environmental issues and problems; and short- and long-term strategies for natural disaster or post-conflict remedial measures. Pre- requisites: none.

Historical Studies Courses

SSHI 310. Historical Studies. 3 Credits.

This is an overview of the historical development of political, cultural and economic behavior of 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 explore and develop an in-depth understand of the history of a region and the impact of that history on current events. Pre-requisites: none.

Management Courses

SSMG 311. Operations and Project Management. 3 Credits.

This course is designed to introduce a broad overview of operations and project management, while exploring a number of important concepts critical to achieving operations and project management success. Operations management is broad in scope, encompassing products and services in a multitude of forms. These products and services range from the cars we drive, the computers we use, the Internet we access, to military operations that safeguard our county. In effect, operations management, as a field, encompasses the activities and tasks that create value for the goods and services all of us use in a variety of ways. In addition, this course will explore project management from the focus on the "nuts and bolts" or fundamentals of project management and practices, and how is supports operations management strategic goals and objectives. We'll also examine some of the key elements of project management from the project management life cycle, key processes and important tools, techniques and measurements of project. Pre-requisites: None. Note: this course is under development and will be reviewed by the University Curriculum Committee.

SSMG 315. Leadership. 3 Credits.

In this course students learn key theoretical models of leadership and apply them to a range of situations in both military and non-military organizations. Students 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. Prerequisite: none.

SSMG 320. Strategic Planning. 3 Credits.

This course is designed to enhance the critical and creative thinking skills needed to solve complex and ill-defined problems. The key themes are problem framing, operational art, leadership, and the outcomes for human security. Students focus on 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. Students complete a major team project that leverages skills learned to focus on a complex problem vignette that requires creating a course of action for the leader to meet the desired end state. There are no pre-requisites.

Mathematics Courses

SSMA 232. Elementary Statistics. 3 Credits.

A course that covers the study of frequency distributions, averages and standard deviations, normal curve, probability, decision-making, sampling techniques, testing hypotheses, chi-square, students-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.

Political Science Courses

SSPO 302. National Security Policy. 3 Credits.

This course introduces students to the issues and institutions of national security policy. Successful students will have 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 invovled in the making and execution of national security policy. There are no pre-requisites.

SSPO 306. Comparative Politics. 3 Credits.

This course introduces students to the basic methods, concepts and substance of comparative politics. Special attention will be paid to institutions and behaviors as well as development and modernization theories. The course provides students with tools to address such questions 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? Pre- requisites: none.

SSPO 318. International Terrorism. 3 Credits.

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 contries by and international organizations, and the problem of balancing public safety and personal freedom in dealing with terrorism. Pre-requisites: none.

Psychology Courses

SSPY 305. Psychology of Resilience. 3 Credits.

In this course students gain a broad overview of the development and evolution of the field of psychology and in particular the recently developed theory of positive psychology. They explore the concept of resiliency and its role in dealing with trauma. Students learn skills and techniques to address psychological trauma that may result from a range of settings including military, firefighting, or First Responder. Pre-requisite: none.

Religion Courses

SSRE 300. Comparative Religion. 3 Credits.

Based upon myth and built upon ritual, religious thought affects politics, economics, international relations and security. This course provides learners with the opportunity to explore and analyze the similarities and differences of world religions to better understand the impact of belief systems and religious themes on culture, human history and current affairs. Pre-requisites: None.

Social Science Courses

SSSO 301. Studies in Cultural Anthropology. 5 Credits.

This course examines the theories, concepts, principles and methods in the comparative study of cultures. The focus is on how cultures are structured and how they evolve over time. Pre-requisites: admission to the SSDA program.

SSSO 330. Military Sociology. 3 Credits.

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; and in terms of structure, it examines the norms, values, traditions, organizations, and culture of the military. It is designed to provide greater insight into the routine life within the military and into contemporary issues confronting the military. Pre-requisites: none.

SSSO 335. Introduction to Cultural Competence. 3 Credits.

Students learn key concepts in the study of cultures and explore how culture and cultural contexts and language influence values, expectations, behavior, communication styles and conflict resolution. Pre-requisites: None.

SSSO 401. Cultural and Anthropological Studies. 6 Credits.

Students complete a study for a particular region in relation to its culture, social groups and organizations, social stratification, and other relevant characteristics of the region. The study will include a comparative analysis of the various cultures and ethnic minorities that exist throughout the region. The study will further explore how the legal structure of the region deals with the cultural challenges and opportunities in the region. The study will include recommendations for improvement and/or strengthening the regions’ societies. The course culminates with a substantive research paper. Pre-requisites: Completion of SSSO 335 or permission of Department Chair.

SSSO 406. Area Studies. 6 Credits.

Students complete a study which surveys and evaluates a particular region in relation to its geographic location, diversity and resources. The study should include a summation of the geography of the region and how it relates to implementation of a project or the resolution of a problem in the region. It will examine the current natural resources and resource challenges of the region, paying particular attention to mineral, oil, water and other high valued items present in the region. It will analyze future challenges of the region in terms of geography as well as resources. The study will include recommendations for improvement and/or strengthening the region’s resources. The course will culminate with a substantive research paper. Pre-requisites: Completion of SSHI 310 Historical Studies or permission of Department Chair.