Home Graduate Master's programs MPP/MPM Specializations International Security and Economic Policy specialization

International Security and Economic Policy specialization

Over the past half-century, national governments have addressed international security and economic issues largely along separate tracks. The ISEP specialization is built on the premise that this no longer makes sense. The process commonly known as globalization is setting the context and posing the principal problems expected to drive public policy for the foreseeable future. This involves interactions across a range of substantive issues in general, and between security and economic issues in particular. Hence we need a new generation of public officials versed in both.

The International Security and Economic Policy addresses this need by offering grounding in both spheres, with students brought to address first-order 21st century challenges ranging from international financial crises and trade conflicts to the rise of endemic conflicts involving terrorism and increasing access to destructive technology. The program also confronts the gap between the need for international management of these issues and the state of current international institutions. Finally, students are encouraged to take courses in related specializations such as Environmental Policy and International Development.

ISEP alumni jobs

  • Analyst, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
  • Assistant Director for Resource Management, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Defense Analyst, U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • Delegate, U.S. Mission to the U.N.
  • Deputy Director, Program on Crisis, Conflict and Cooperation, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Economic Analyst, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Foreign Service Officer,  Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, South Korea
  • Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
  • International Affairs Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Legislative Direction and Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Congressman Gary L. Ackerman
  • Presidential Management Fellow, US. Department of the Treasury
  • Program Analyst, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Research Assistant Professor, George Mason University
  • Special Assistant to Under-Secretary of Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Senior Policy Analyst, Ploughshares Fund
  • Squadron Section Commander, U.S. Air Force
  • Trade and Defense Analyst, U.S. Department of Commerce

ISEP specialization curriculum

In addition to meeting the core requirements of their degree program, students specializing in ISEP are required to take:

  • International Security Policy (PLCY 720) Reviews the organizing concepts, substantive content and institutional arrangements of contemporary international security policy. Assesses the balance of interests from a variety of national perspectives and some of the major unresolved issues.
  • International Economic Policy (PLCY 781) Examines current issues and institutions affecting international economic relations. Topics include theories of the international economy and trade, international monetary policy and exchange rates, international development, investment and finance, selected regional issues, and broader macroeconomic interdependence and policy coordination. Students should take Macroeconomics before International Economic Policy.
  • The American Foreign Policy-Making Process (PLCY 780) Surveys U.S. institutions and processes for making foreign policy, both security and economic. Explores decision-making theories and their relevance to Washington practice, with particular emphasis on how specific presidents have shaped the policy process.
  • Students must also take at least one ISEP elective, and most take several.  Options include the following (not all are offered every year):
    • Arms Control and Nonproliferation (PLCY 798M)
    • Bombs, Bugs, and Poisons: Critical Issues on Weapons of Mass Destruction (PLCY698Y)
    • Civil Conflict (PLCY 699K) 
    • Current Issues in Federal Acquisition (PLCY689F)
    • Cyberspace: Legal and Policy Implications (PLCY688C)
    • Development and Foreign Aid (PLCY783)
    • Development Diplomacy and Leadership (PLCY688N)
    • Disease, Disaster and Development (PLCY784)
    • Federal Acquisitions: Concepts and Management (PLCY689A)
    • Globalization, Business, and Development (PLCY 699Y)
    • Global Health Policy 
    • International Development Economics (PLCY 782)
    • Intelligence and Policy (PLCY 698C)
    • Science, Technology and International Security (PLCY798C)
    • U.S. Trade: Policy and Politics (PLCY 700)

In addition, any IDEV course can count as an ISEP elective.

ISEP study plan 

Like other SPP students, those specializing in ISEP will typically begin with core courses (e.g., PLCY 610 "Quantitative Aspects of Public Policy," PLCY 640 "Microeconomics") and take most their specialization courses in later terms. For the student entering in the fall and planning to graduate in two years, the faculty suggests three core courses and one ISEP course in the first term, then two or three core courses in the second term with one or two ISEP courses. The second year can then be devoted mainly to ISEP courses and SPP electives.

Below is an example of how a student in this specialization may progress towards her MPP degree semester by semester. It does not represent the only way to sequence the courses.

ISEP Town Hall

Each semester, the head of each specialization holds a Town Hall. At this event, students and faculty discuss course offerings for the upcoming semesters, changes to the specialization and solicit feedback for improvements. Suggestions from previous Town Halls have resulted in new courses. Student led specialization councils also describe their current activities and efforts for student advocacy and engagement. These events are the best way for students to get a comprehensive overview of the specialization and to shape its future direction.

Centers conducting International Security & Economic Policy research

Center for International & Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) 

Center for Public Policy & Private Enterprise (CPPPE) 

Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA)

For more information, please contact the ISEP specialization head, Dr. Nancy Gallagher.