What Is a Military Science Degree?

by TBS Staff
• 6 min read
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A military science degree explores military theories, practices, and institutions. This degree prepares learners for careers in military service, criminal justice, education, and engineering.

Military science explores military theories, tactics, and strategies used in warfare, defense, and diplomacy. Also known as military studies, a military science degree introduces students to military institutions, practices, and skills throughout history. It also explores innovations and applications of modern military technologies.

Military science is a highly interdisciplinary field. During a military science degree, students complete coursework in political science, communication, and social science research. Many military science programs integrate elements of design, information systems technology, and management.

Military sciences students can earn undergraduate degrees in 2-4 years, while graduate programs can take as many as eight years to complete. Careers for military science students vary. Graduates can access opportunities in the Armed Forces, government service, criminal justice, and many other fields.

Is Military Science the Right Career Path for Me?

Military science offers a good fit for individuals who want to serve their country, learn more about the tactics and techniques that go into military decision-making, and explore the future of defense. Aspiring leaders and strategists can thrive in military science programs. Many military science degrees and professions also include physical components, ideal for active and energetic individuals.

You Might Enjoy a Military Science Career if...

What to Expect in a Military Science Program

Military science programs combine physical activity, classroom learning, and individual and group projects as part of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary curriculum. Enrollees study coursework in military history, political science, technical communication, and social and behavioral sciences theory. Lectures and assignments accompany projects and presentations for students to apply coursework individually and with teams.

While Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) isn't always part of a military science degree, students may still participate in military-like exercises such as obstacle courses, rappelling, rafting, and running. Military science classes and ROTC activities are complementary and useful for students, as they both emphasize leadership and management.

Military science programs foster people and human skills, sometimes called soft skills, while building hard skills. The following table offers a clear picture of what to expect from a military science program.

People Skills Taught in Military Science Programs

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Teamwork
  • Dependability
  • Work ethic

Hard Skills Taught in Military Science Programs

  • Leadership
  • Technical writing
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution
  • Data analysis
  • Computer programs
  • Project design and application

What Kinds of Military Science Degrees Are There?

Students can earn undergraduate or graduate degrees in military science. An associate or bachelor's degree in military science often leads to entry-level military and civilian roles. Master's and doctoral degrees in military science allow current members of the military and military-related fields to further hone existing skills and gain expertise in specific areas.

Associate Degree in Military Science

An associate degree in military science typically lasts two years. Learners take roughly 60 credit hours of coursework in English, mathematics, and science. Enrollees also study fundamentals of military theory and practices alongside coursework in psychology, history, and political science.

Military science associate degrees establish foundational knowledge and skills for roles in law enforcement, business, and human services. Learners with associate degrees can also enter some branches of the military to become officers.

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Bachelor's Degree in Military Science

Bachelor's degrees in military science include four years of coursework. During the first two years, students take general education classes in English, science, humanities, and mathematics. Learners also complete introductory major courses in military theory, history, and practice.

As part of a military science bachelor's curriculum, learners explore advanced aspects of military organizations and operations, leadership and diplomacy, and tactics and technologies. Military science programs often include outdoor training to build physical abilities, practical communication, and active decision-making.

After earning bachelor's degrees in military science, students can often enter the military as officers. Military science students can pursue work as military analysts, information security specialists, law enforcement officers, and operations research analysts.

Master's Degree in Military Science

Master's degrees in military science include advanced coursework in military doctrine and theory, applied leadership and decision-making, and warfare strategies and tactics. Ideal for individuals serving in the military, some programs emphasize homeland security, strategic leadership, and military intelligence. These degrees may be valuable to individuals working in government and private sector roles.

Most military science master's degrees take two years to complete. Master's students apply concepts from coursework to research questions and real-world scenarios through group work, thesis projects, or other comparable requirements. A master's degree in military science opens opportunities to work as government officials and staff, civilian contractors, and military instructors.

Doctoral Degree in Military Science

A doctorate in military science is the highest degree in the discipline. Individuals serving in the military can earn doctorates to advance to senior roles in policy advising, instruction, and research. Civilians who teach military science, national security, and related topics can earn doctorates to move into instructional roles in college and university settings.

In conjunction with foundational research and theory coursework, doctoral students carry out advanced research on specialized areas and write dissertations. Concentrations in doctoral programs in military science include military history, strategic leadership, global security, and warfare strategies and operations.

What Can You Do With a Military Science Degree?

The interdisciplinary nature of a military science degree opens the door to employment opportunities in business, information technology, and government service. Many individuals with military science degrees pursue careers in engineering, law enforcement, and the armed forces. With degrees in military science, veterans can apply their military skills and academic credentials to transition into the private sector.

Armed Forces

With coursework in military history, strategic leadership, and the social sciences, a military science degree provides fundamental information to help students thrive in military and civilian careers. Joining a branch of the military after earning college degrees allows individuals to advance to officer status sooner than individuals without degrees.

Students already in one of the Armed Forces can advance to work in specialty fields like logistics, technology, and communications.

Engineering

Individuals who focus on technical aspects of military science can find work in the engineering field. Military engineering includes designing, building, and maintaining military vehicles, communication devices, and technologies used in combat.

In the private sector, engineers with military science degrees can thrive as independent contractors and consultants. Whether an individual transitions from military service to a civilian role or earns a degree without having served in the military, a graduate degree in military science can offer an ideal pathway for government work.

Law Enforcement

The physical training within many military science programs resembles the skills law enforcement officers need. A military science degree can open up positions in military law enforcement for individuals serving in the military. It also serves as a valuable resource for veterans looking to become police officers, corrections officers, or investigators as they transition back into civilian life.

Common Questions About Military Science

What Is Military Science?

Military science is the study of military history, institutions, practices, and technologies. This field also comprises political science, international affairs, and psychological assessment.

What Colleges Offer Military Science Degrees?

Public and private colleges, including the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Air Force Academy, offer military science degrees.

How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Soldier?

Becoming a soldier takes 8-12 weeks, depending on the branch of the military.

What Is the Salary for an Army Soldier?

Active-duty soldiers earn as little as $21,420 annually, while active-duty officers can earn more than $86,000 each year. The average salary for an Army soldier depends on rank and length of service.

Can You Join the Military With a Bachelor's Degree?

Yes. Joining the military with a bachelor's degree can result in moving directly into officer training. In the United States, all commissioned officers must possess college degrees.

Image Credit: Tim Bieber | DigitalVision| Getty Images

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