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International Security Policy

The International Security Policy Concentration (ISP) is designed for students interested in political violence and conflict management, defense policy, military strategy, terrorism and unconventional warfare, arms control, intelligence, peacekeeping, coercion, negotiation, and alternatives to the use of force as an instrument of policy. It provides a conceptual foundation for understanding conflict and the political, economic, and military components of policies and capabilities for coping with the possibility of war, as well as expertise for analyzing specific functional and regional security issues. The course of study prepares students for employment in a wide range of professional positions: government (for example, the U.S. departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and Energy, intelligence agencies, Congressional Research Service, Congressional Budget Office, legislative staffs, or their foreign counterparts), international organizations such as the United Nations, consulting firms (for example, SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton, System Planning Corporation, DFI International), public interest and policy advocacy organizations (for example, the Arms Control Association, Heritage Foundation, Center for Defense Information), nonprofit research institutes (for example, the Stimson Center, Institute for East-West Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies), Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (for example, RAND, Institute for Defense Analyses, and CNAC), journalism, or other areas.

ISP has attracted many students interested in what is known as Conflict Resolution. The flexible requirements of the concentration make it possible for conflict resolution courses to comprise up to half of the courses needed for concentrating in ISP. Many students interested in non-forcible conflict resolution also decide that it is in their interest to get a solid grounding in how force is used in order to buttress the credibility of their claims, in working environments, to expertise in dealing with conflict. SIPA’s International Conflict Resolution Program has its headquarters in the Saltzman Institute, the SIPA institute affiliate for the ISP concentration (see below for more information).

Columbia offers a wider variety of courses in security studies than all but a handful of other universities in the world. The relative flexibility of the ISP Concentration allows students to tailor their specific course of study to fit their intellectual and career interests.

Many ISP courses are taught by members of the Columbia Political Science Department, one of few in the world with more than one faculty member in security studies. Among them is Richard K. Betts, ISP Concentration Director and Director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. Before coming to Columbia, Betts worked at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., taught at Harvard and SAIS, and served on staffs of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the National Security Council. He has been Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the National Security Advisory Panel of the Director of Central Intelligence, and a member of the National Commission on Terrorism. 

In addition to Political Science faculty, the Concentration draws on courses taught by full-time Columbia faculty from SIPA, the Law School, and Barnard College. ISP also features courses taught by outstanding practitioners and other adjuncts who combine academic backgrounds and publications in public policy with experience in government, the military, and policy analysis institutes.

Curriculum
A step-by-step guide.
Courses
Browse classes in international security policy.
ISP Bulletin
The most comprehensive statement on the requirements of the ISP concentration.
Workshops
Capstone workshops apply the practical skills and analytical knowledge learned at SIPA to real-world issues.
Internships
Get hands-on experience in the field of your choice.
Faculty
Many ISP courses are taught by members of the Columbia Political Science Department, one of few in the world with more than one faculty member in security studies. In addition to Political Science faculty, the Concentration draws on courses taught by full-time Columbia faculty from SIPA, the Law School, and Barnard College. ISP also features courses taught by outstanding practitioners and other adjuncts who combine academic backgrounds and publications in public policy with experience in government, the military, and policy analysis institutes.
Research
Browse through faculty research in the field of international security policy.
Careers
The study of international security policy prepares students for employment in a wide range of professional positions.
Student Profiles
Meet the students of ISP.
The Saltzman Institute
The institutional affiliate for ISP is the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies (SIWPS), founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower when he served as president of Columbia, named in 2003 in honor of Ambassador Arnold A. Saltzman, and located on the 13th floor of the International Affairs Building. This is the center for faculty in security studies. ISP concentrators are eligible, along with graduate students in Political Science and other departments, to be Graduate Student Associates of the Institute.
Contact Us
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Student Organizations
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