Defense & Strategic Studies (DSS)


DSS is an interdisciplinary academic major in which Cadets learn to holistically frame complex strategic problems, develop viable and innovative solutions, and communicate effectively to multiple audiences.  DSS educates future leaders to solve complex problems in an uncertain world. DSS Cadets study national policy, military strategy, operational art, and the use of force to understand, analyze and effectively communicate the relation of tactical action to national policy.

Choose from three curricular tracks and over 50 pre-approved electives. DSS requires only three mandatory courses and caters to Cadet research interests and preference. DSS works closely with departments across USMA to provide Cadet’s a streamlined process for dual majors and minors.

Participate in AIADs with SOCOM, FBI, ATF, DEA and others. Join our annual staff ride to Germany over spring break and interact with your British, French and German counterparts. Engage with your peers at other elite institutions like Princeton, Yale, and NYU for  crisis simulations, conferences and symposia.


Cadets Christopher Drew, Mitchell Dutton, Mark Dabeck and their OIC MAJ Nolan Lasiter

Recently DSS interfaced with Israeli Defense Forces during a West Point Academic Individual Advanced Development (AIAD). West Point Cadets in the DSS Department visited historic sites such as Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea.  Pictured are Cadets Christopher Drew, Mitchell Dutton, Mark Dabeck and their OIC MAJ Nolan Lasiter.


Intellectually Preparing Cadets for Conflict

DSS Courses and Glide Path

DSS Faculty

The eight rotating members of the DSS faculty, led by a permanent Academy Professor, graduate from top tier universities such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Columbia, Eastern Michigan, Texas A&M,  Johns Hopkins, Hillsdale, and Princeton. This relatively small, high-quality faculty has earned West Point’s prestigious Agpar Award for Teaching Excellence in both 2013 and 2014.