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I’m trying to decide whether to pursue the MSFS or SSP at Georgetown. I’m also interested in the graduate certificate in Arab Studies. My main career goal is to be an intelligence analyst in the counterterrorism field but I’m very interested in politics and international affairs overall. I’ve read that MSFS is the “golden child” program at SFS and I’m worried that the SSP doesn’t measure up to it. I think I am more attracted to the rigor and faculty of the MSFS, but it concerns me that the program is only offered full time (whereas SSP is offered part time). I will barely be able to afford Georgetown as it is so I was really planning on working while in school and taking advantage of employer tuition reimbursement. I don’t want to settle on SSP and spend so much time and money if it’s not as respected of a program. 

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There's enough course overlap in the various SFS programs, I would say that the academic rigor is about the same (except with the examinations particular to MSFS) in these programs. SSP seems to attract more folks with some military background than MSFS. Given the costs of these programs, between the two, I'd pick SSP. But also, why not the Arab studies MA program? If you're looking at reaching the highest language levels you can, I'd 100% go for a regional program.

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It seems like the academic rigor of the MSFS is higher though with the economics prerequisites and language requirements. Plus, it is more well known. I am interested in Arab Studies, but don't want to back myself into a corner with it so he MA in Arab Studies it a little too specific for me. I wish the MSFS was offered part time. 

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Given what you've written about what you want to do, I would strongly recommend you go for the security studies program. Its grads do quite well in that field and it will set you apart and 'brand you' as a security person, which can be quite helpful. Just try to be realistic about your career prospects. If you go in without military experience and lacking a security clearance you're going to struggle. The clearance backlog at this point is at 1.5 years or longer (in other words, pretty much entirely broken)  and the few government agencies that are even hiring are pretty much exclusively hiring veterans. 

Also - your gut is spot-on in terms of avoiding a regional program. Just don't do it.

Edited by went_away
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  • 1 month later...

Hi!  I'm headed to SSP after applying to both programs, and I'm really glad that I chose it.  I didn't realize when I was applying that MSFS has law school-esque curves in all their classes, so the students tend to be more competitive.  Also, MSFS curriculum is designed so that everyone is a full-time student, whereas SSP students often have part-time internships or research positions.  For my personal pursuits (intelligence and security analysis), this turned out to be the perfect program-- even though I have 0 military experience coming in.

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