Carnegie Mellon University

Minor in Military Strategy and International Relations

This minor offers undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon a course of study focusing on military strategy and doctrine, the current national security landscape (including how cybersecurity and artificial intelligence influence national security decision-making), and the full range of strategic challenges facing future American leaders. While the minor is open to all CMU undergraduates, it is in part motivated by a desire to support CMU students preparing to serve and defend the country through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program and others interested in pursuing applied defense-related careers post-graduation. CMU typically has several dozen ROTC students annually, along with many others who go into related areas such as working in the Department of Defense, and these students are spread throughout the university. Many major in STEM fields, where they learn valuable technical skills but are exposed to little of the wider strategic context facing military leaders and decision-makers or the political and institutional frameworks in which they are embedded. The Military Strategy and International Relations minor aims to fill these needs, ultimately helping to foster future military and defense leaders who are fully cognizant of the national and international strategic context they will navigate.

Building squarely on the “3D” concept (Diplomacy, Development, Defense) which has gained increasing currency in US foreign policy circles in recent years, the Military Strategy and International Relations minor recognizes that there can be no successful national defense without making diplomacy and international development key elements in our overall national security strategy. The Military Strategy and International Relations minor will shape future leaders who have a clear understanding of the intersectionality of diplomacy, development, and defense. The minor will engage students in the whys and hows of national strategy, military planning, and the future of warfare. In addition, it emphasizes the political and institutional systems and rules in which military affairs are situated, with core courses on the topics of military strategy, governance, diplomacy, and policy decision-making.  Finally, the minor stresses the use of cutting-edge analytical and social science methods to prepare students for advanced training, study, and government or military service in national and international security. 

Curriculum (60 units)

Core (33 units)
Students must take the following core courses: 

Military Strategy


Diplomacy (Select one)


Elective Courses

Students must complete a total of 27 units (typically three courses) from the following list of courses. At least 9 units must be taken from the Institute for Politics and Strategy and have an 84-number.

84-104 Decision Processes in American Political Institutions
84-200 Security War Game
84-275 Comparative Politics
84-312 Terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa
84-313 International Organizations and Law
84-322 Nonviolent Conflict and Resolution
84-323 War and Peace in the Contemporary Middle East
84-324 The Future of Democracy
84-325 Contemporary American Foreign Policy*
84-326 Theories of International Relations
84-327 Repression and Control in Dictatorships


Diplomacy and Statecraft*
84-365 The Politics of Fake News and Misinformation
84-370 Nuclear Security and Arms Control
84-372 Space and National Security
84-380 US Grand Strategy
84-386 The Privatization of Force
84-387 Technology and Policy of Cyber War
84-388 Concepts of War and Cyber War 
84-389 Terrorism and Insurgency
84-390 Social Media, Technology, and Conflict
84-405 The Future of Warfare

Ethics and Policy Issues in Computing


Naval Science Leadership and Management


Naval Science Evolution of Warfare


Naval Science Leadership and Ethics


Germany and the Second World War


World War I: The Twentieth Century's first Catastrophe


Killer Robots: The Ethics, Law, and Politics of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems


Social Structure, Public Policy, and Ethics

*If not used as a core course, course may count as an elective.

Students may double count a maximum of two courses (18 units) with another major or minor.  Unlimited double counting is permitted with general education requirements.