May 20, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Academic Catalog

National Security Minor

This minor can be declared through the Department of: International Studies and Political Science  

Cadets can embark on a twenty-one credit-hour curriculum leading to a National Security Minor (NSM).

This minor is especially valuable for academically ambitious cadets who intend to pursue:

  • Graduate study in the fields of international security, foreign policy, or strategic studies.
  • Careers in the military or civilian sectors related to matters of national security such as intelligence, diplomacy, area studies, and international relations.

The Minor allows cadets to concentrate on an aspect of national security and strategic studies. Concentrations may include energy, economic health of the US, education, state of the environment, as well as more traditional aspects of defense policy, diplomacy, international relations, and foreign area studies.

The Minor is limited to 10 cadets per class. Applicants must be in their third-class year and have an overall 3.0 or better GPA. Selection is based on grades, defined interests, a writing sample, and recommendations of faculty members.

NSM participants have access to special trips which in the past have included: The National Security Council, the Department of Defense and other “3-letter” national security agencies, and influential think tanks in Washington, D.C. They are expected to take part in at least one national or international competition involving prestigious institutions in national security studies.

While the minor’s focus is on national security, it is open to cadets from all departments.

The course work for the NSM consists of three predetermined courses, an additional elective four courses, and a paid summer internship related to national security.

Most importantly, the NSM requires a supervised senior thesis. The thesis is substantial research paper conducted under the supervision of a faculty member with familiarity in the subject  matter. The thesis is expected to be 12,000-14,000 words (including footnotes) in length. The thesis will answer a question relating to national security through rigorous analysis employing discipline-specific methodologies.

In some cases, the paper can serve as a departmental or Institute honors thesis, but additional academic credit cannot be earned for the paper beyond the 3 hours granted by the National Security Minor.

To apply or for information, contact: LTC Spencer Bakich:

National Security Minor Academic Requirements

A: Course work at VMI: Total 21 credit hours (3 required courses and 4 electives)

2. Category I: Three IS elective credit hours that may include the following courses, or another course that is more relevant to the cadet’s national security interests.

3. Category II: Nine elective credit hours from departments other than International Studies to include History, Psychology, Economics, Engineering, Math, and the sciences.

In consultation with their adviser and director of the minor, NSM cadets are encouraged to find courses that inform their thesis research. NSM cadets must request permission to have these courses meet the class hour requirements for Category I and Category II.

B. NSM Thesis (3 credits):

The Senior Project Experience will produce a substantial research paper, conducted under the supervision of a faculty member with familiarity in the subject matter. The paper is expected to be 12,000-14,000 words (including footnotes) in length and through rigorous analysis answer a question relating to national security.