A military science degree starts you on a career of protecting and serving the United States and her interests at home and abroad. Military science applies insights from the social and physical sciences, mathematics, technology, and engineering to military interests, goals, and research. Military science programs develop your logical reasoning, communication, tactics, and leadership skills while also teaching your military history, negotiation, human behavior, and the military’s role in society. While the most obvious career choice for a person with a military science degree is military service, there are many civilian and armed forces positions available to you if you have a military science degree.
A military science degree gives you an education in leadership, tactics, strategies, history, and technology as they relate to issues of war, peace, diplomacy, and defense. Sometimes referred to as “military studies,” the field of military science is broad and interdisciplinary. In addition to a martial curriculum, you will also receive training in the fields of mathematics, physical sciences, engineering, and communications. The range of knowledge and skills that you build while you earn a military science degree can make you a good candidate for several professional and academic jobs.
The most common use of a military science degree is to acquire a leadership position in the military. Officers in every branch of the military—be it the Army, the Navy, or the Marines—require the skills and knowledge provided by a military science program. Entering service with at least a bachelor’s degree in military science can qualify you to begin your military career as an officer. If being in combat doesn’t sound appealing to you, there are still plenty of military jobs for you. You might prefer to be a researcher or an engineer that creates new and better technology to support service members operating in the oceans, skies, or deserts. Or if you’ve always had an affinity for beakers, test tubes, and microscopes, then you might be well–suited for a career as a military scientist. Options include working with lasers and optics as a physicist or with biotechnology and fuels as a chemist.
If you prefer to use your military science degree as a civilian, there are still many options open to you. Graduates of military science programs can work in various public and private organizations as agricultural specialists, chemical technicians, epidemiologists, fish and game wardens, or in law enforcement. And of course, there is always the option to go into teaching. With a bachelor’s degree in military science, you can teach at the high school level through an ROTC program. With a master’s or Ph.D. in military science, you may be able to teach at the college level.
Your degree level can have a direct impact on your career options. With an associate degree, you’ll be prepared to enter military service as an officer, or to compete for entry–level positions in law enforcement. With a bachelor’s degree in military science, your options increase dramatically. Not only will you have the option of becoming an officer, but you will also have a much wider range of jobs from which to choose in both the military and civilian worlds. Whether you want to be a scientist, an engineer, a warden, or an instructor, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification you’ll need. Continuing into a graduate program in military science, such as a master’s or doctorate degree, will prepare you for jobs in the upper echelons of your field.
What Kind of Accreditation Should My Degree Program Have?
Accreditation is the process by which colleges and universities are evaluated and validated. Colleges and universities that have earned accreditation have met the standards set by accrediting organizations. These organizations are comprised of faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. Legitimate regional and national accrediting organizations are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Typically, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes the same institutions, although CHEA recognition isn’t mandatory. A college or university must be accredited by a Department of Education-recognized accreditor in order for its students to receive federal financial aid.
For a detailed look at the differences between regional and national accreditation, check out What Do I Need to Know About College Accreditation?
- What is Regional Accreditation?
- Regional accreditation is the signifier of quality education; this includes the currency of curriculum, credentials of educators, and credibility of degrees. Regional accrediting agencies only accredit institutions in their geographical area.
- The Six Regional Accrediting Agencies
- Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)
- The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
To find out if a college or university on your list is regionally accredited, check the Department of Education’s Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
- What Is National Accreditation?
- National accreditation is often perceived as a less rigorous standard than regional accreditation and is governed by educational accreditors agencies that are not restricted by region or geography. This means that one such agency can provide accreditation to any college or university in the U.S. that meets its criteria. National accreditation is commonplace among trade schools, religious schools, and for–profit colleges.
Most regionally–accredited colleges do not accept or recognize credits or degrees earned from colleges that lack regional accreditation. However, national accreditation may be a useful indicator of quality for students pursuing vocational training, competency-based education, or other education models that operate under a for-profit model.
To learn more about National Accreditation, check out Understanding National Accreditation.
For help safely navigating the For–Profit Sector, check out our Guide to For–Profit Colleges: What You Need to Know.
- What is Programmatic Accreditation?
- Programmatic accreditation certifies that an institution’s program, department, or college has met the standards of the programmatic accrediting agency. While programmatic accreditation agencies often have national jurisdiction, programmatic accreditation is not institutional national accreditation. In fact, programmatic accreditation often coexists with regional accreditation. In some disciplines, a degree with programmatic accreditation may even be required to earn a license or enter professional practice.
When it comes to military science, there is no specific programmatic accreditation that you need to watch out for. If your school is accredited by one of the accrediting agencies listed above, you should be on safe ground.
The easiest way to determine accreditation status is to contact your school of choice, or visit the website for any of the above accreditation agencies. Each provides a searchable database of accredited institutions and degree programs. You can also look at the Department of Education’s database of all recognized accreditors within its purview.
Or, to learn a little more about navigating the tricky accreditation landscape, check out Accreditation of Colleges and Universities: Who’s Accrediting the Accreditors?
What Kinds of Military Science Degrees Are There?
Associate Degree in Military Science
An associate in military science degree is a 60 credit–hour program that generally takes about two years to complete. In this type of program, you will be introduced to the basics of military ethics, leadership, and history, while also honing your skills in core classes such as English, communications, and math. This military science degree is helpful if you want to begin preparing for a career as a military officer. If you prefer civilian life, this is a good way to qualify for entry–level jobs in law enforcement or management. Like most associate degrees, this degree is most useful as a steppingstone to a bachelor’s degree in military science. Make sure that your associate program is from a reputable, accredited school so that your credits and degree will transfer.
What Military Science Courses Will You Take?
- Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Introduction to Military Studies
- Introduction to Political Science
- Introduction to World War I and II
- Vietnam War
What’s the Difference Between an Associate in Military Studies and an Associate in Military Science?
Military studies and military science are used almost interchangeably as program names. Both refer to the same curriculum and are viewed the same by employers. Just make sure your program is accredited, and you’re good to go.
Bachelor of Military Science
A bachelor’s degree in military science is a four–year degree offered by many institutions of higher learning. Typically, requiring 120 credit–hours, this military science degree gives you professional knowledge of the military’s purpose and organization, along with leadership skills and logistics. Since this program primarily exists to prepare students for commission in the military, it emphasizes leadership and management skills. However, even if you plan to use your bachelor’s degree in military science as a civilian, your knowledge of leadership, strategies, and communication practices will be extremely valuable as you advance in your career. A bachelor’s degree in military science could qualify you for jobs in law enforcement, engineering, physical sciences, or curation, to name a few possibilities.
What Military Science Courses Will You Take?
- American Military History
- Causes of War
- Leadership and Decision–Making
- Modern Security Issues
- Peacemaking History
- Society and War
What’s the Difference Between a Bachelor of Military Science and a Bachelor of Homeland Security?
While both degrees deal with subjects of war, strategy, and logistics, there are differences between a bachelor’s degree in military science and a bachelor’s degree in homeland security. The BS in military science deals with the military writ large, and focuses heavily on leadership theory and practice. On the other hand, the BS in homeland security focuses on terrorism, counterterrorism, hazard management, and intelligence. Both can be useful degrees, especially if you are pursuing a job in law enforcement, history, psychology, or engineering. If you’re interested in military matters as a whole, go for the bachelor of military science. If homeland security seems particularly interesting to you, then you may be better off in a more concentrated homeland security program.
Master of Military Science
A master of military science degree typically takes about two years to obtain. This is an academic degree, adding intellectual and theoretical rigor to the field of military science. At the heart of the program, however, will be issues of strategy, operational art, and tactics. This military science degree is interdisciplinary, so there will also be a strong emphasis on mathematics, engineering, physical sciences, and communication technologies. At this level, you will likely be specializing in a subcategory of military science, such as military history, peace and conflict studies, or military engineering. Because military studies graduate programs are so broad, and the possibilities so vast, the specific requirements for a master of military science degree vary from school to school. These variances aside, a master of military science will prepare you for many leadership roles, in or out of the military.
What Military Science Courses Will You Take?
- Advanced Tactics
- Advanced Strategic Planning
- Military Strategy, Thought, and Theory
- Military Research in History
- Strategic Leadership
- Ways of Warfare
What’s the Difference Between a Master of Military Science and a Master of Homeland Security?
As noted above in the bachelor’s degree section, the differences between a military science and homeland security degree are small. That still holds true at the master’s level. A master’s degree in military science is an advanced degree in the overall field of military studies, while a master’s degree in homeland security focuses more tightly on countering terrorism and other security threats at home. Either degree will prepare you for a career protecting American interests and assets.
Doctorate in Military Science
The doctorate in military science degree is the terminal degree in the field. This Ph.D. will designate you as an expert in military science. In this program, you can expect to undertake your own original research into subjects relating to military defense, strategies, tactics, and history. Coursework for this military science degree typically takes two to three years for completion, and is followed by the writing of a dissertation. Expect to spend five to seven years in total on this degree. It may be lengthy, but with a doctorate in military science, you’ll have advanced career prospects, including senior policy adviser, researcher, or professor.
What Military Science Courses Will You Take?
- American International Policy
- Causes of War
- European Military History
- Independent Research
- War and American Society
What Kind of Licensing or Certification Do You Need?
There are no military science certifications that apply across the field. Any certifications you need to obtain will likely depend on the career path you choose. For instance, if you obtain a bachelor’s degree in military science and then enter law enforcement, you will need to pass physical and mental aptitude tests and undergo training to be licensed as an officer. However, there is no general licensing for military science degree holders.
For most public schools, military science courses with be included as part of an ROTC program. Certifications and requirements to teach in a high school ROTC program vary by state and military branch. For more information, take a look at ROTC Instructor Qualifications, and bear in mind that your particular state may also set its own parameters. Contact the Department of Education in your state to learn more.
What Can You Do With a Military Science Degree?
If you are wondering, “What can I do with a military science degree?” there are plenty of options. Your military science degree can be the key to many challenging and exciting jobs in the military or civilian sectors. For more detail, check out a few of these top military science degree jobs:
- Agricultural and Food Scientists
- Chemical Technicians
- Correctional Officers
- Curators, Museum Technicians, and Conservators
- Environmental Science and Protection Technicians
- Human Resources Managers
- Police and Detectives
- Private Detectives and Investigators
- Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
What Kind of Salary Can You Earn With a Military Science Degree?
Your military science degree could lead you down several career paths, including history, law enforcement, or the sciences. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides median annual salary information as of 2018 for these top military science degree jobs:
|Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers||$48,400|
|Private Detectives and Investigators||$50,090|
|Police and Detectives||$63,380|
|Agricultural and Food Scientists||$64,020|
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists||$71,130|
|Emergency Management Directors||$74,420|
|Chemists and Materials Scientists||$78,330|
|Operations Research Analysts||$83,390|
|Information Security Analysts||$98,350|
|Human Resources Managers||$113,300|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Are There Professional Military Science Associations or Societies You Should join?
Professional associations are a fantastic way to make connections in your field, learn about valuable seminars or certifications, and improve your own credentials. The association or associations you choose to join will depend to an extent on the career path you take. Look for military science associations that correspond with your academic or professional concentration.