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Old 07-22-2007   #21
J-Man
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J

I take two classes per semester. I spend about 90 minutes every other day reading (but I read very quickly) and then I spend about 4-5 hours writing and then proofreading a paper.
Do you have to complete a thesis as part of your program?
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Old 07-23-2007   #22
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I wouldn't call it a thesis, but there is a "final" class that needs to be taken. I'm still halfway from that point, so I haven't really looked into it.


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Do you have to complete a thesis as part of your program?
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Old 07-23-2007   #23
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I'm in a master's program at AMU (National Security) and my program does not have a thesis. If you prefer a thesis, many programs have that option; you simply substitute the thesis for an elective course. In place of a thesis, my program has a final exam. Unfortunately, I have no information on that as I am only about half way through the program.

The papers due at the end of the courses I have taken generally range from 12-16 pages, certainly not in the neighborhood of a thesis. However, nearly all of my assignments have involved writing so be prepared.

Ski is absolutely correct. Expect alot of reading. I have also not had a test yet. Good Luck!
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Old 07-23-2007   #24
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Default Not a thesis, but a comprehensive exam

When I completed the Master Strat Intel (w/honors) course in '05, the comp consisted of two essay questions picked from a list of five (I think), in an eight hour, proctored sitting (I was able to arrange to do it in two four hour blocks on consecutive days, due to issues with the proctors). I studied by drafting out answers to all five questions repeatedly.

Hard, but fair. After the nightmare stories I've heard about thesis advisors etc, I'm glad I went the comp route.
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Old 07-25-2007   #25
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I wouldn't call it a thesis, but there is a "final" class that needs to be taken. I'm still halfway from that point, so I haven't really looked into it.
Thanks, understood.
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Old 07-25-2007   #26
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I'm in a master's program at AMU (National Security) and my program does not have a thesis. If you prefer a thesis, many programs have that option; you simply substitute the thesis for an elective course. In place of a thesis, my program has a final exam. Unfortunately, I have no information on that as I am only about half way through the program.

The papers due at the end of the courses I have taken generally range from 12-16 pages, certainly not in the neighborhood of a thesis. However, nearly all of my assignments have involved writing so be prepared.

Ski is absolutely correct. Expect alot of reading. I have also not had a test yet. Good Luck!
I don't understand why most programs don't make the thesis an option. Honestly, in many cases, a thesis can end up delaying someone from even graduating from their program in a timely manner. I look at a thesis as being most useful for someone wanting to make a career in academia. But for everyone else, some kind of comprehensive exam would make more sense.

Thanks for your response.

LawVol, I'm just wondering, what will you be using your Master's in National Security for? Are you completing this program to enhance your own educational level in an area of interest? Or will you be using what you've learned to get another job? Are you an attorney?

Last edited by J-Man; 07-25-2007 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 07-25-2007   #27
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Originally Posted by Van View Post
When I completed the Master Strat Intel (w/honors) course in '05, the comp consisted of two essay questions picked from a list of five (I think), in an eight hour, proctored sitting (I was able to arrange to do it in two four hour blocks on consecutive days, due to issues with the proctors). I studied by drafting out answers to all five questions repeatedly.

Hard, but fair. After the nightmare stories I've heard about thesis advisors etc, I'm glad I went the comp route.
Hi, Van. You completed the Master's in Strategic Intel program? That's one of the programs I'm looking at. Do you mind if I ask you some specific questions on it?

1. How long did it take you to complete it? And how many courses did you take at a time?

2. How many hours per week of schoolwork time would you say were needed for each course?

3. Did your courses in this program involve both tests and papers?

4. What concentration did you pick? (intelligence collection, analysis, operations, terrorism, etc)

5. Have you used this program to actually get a job in the intelligence field?

Thanks!

P.S. I've heard horror stories about Thesis advisors too!
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Old 07-25-2007   #28
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1. How long did it take you to complete it? And how many courses did you take at a time?
Close to four years, but there were moves and a mobilization in the middle that make it closer to two and a half years of work. I usually took two at a time, once I really got into the self-flagellation with three, but I was "between opportunities" at the time.

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2. How many hours per week of schoolwork time would you say were needed for each course?
Fifteen, give or take a bit per course... on the average. Some weeks were much less, others much more.

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3. Did your courses in this program involve both tests and papers?
Yup. Both papers and tests in varying amounts. Possibly the most stressful was a course that had only one assignment, three essays of 2-3 pages each, any topics covered by the course, due in the last week. A real "all or nothing" feelling. (That was IN4... something, "Intelligence in Ancient History", a very fun elective).

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4. What concentration did you pick? (intelligence collection, analysis, operations, terrorism, etc)
Intelligence analysis.

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5. Have you used this program to actually get a job in the intelligence field?
Being in a military reserve intell unit is of much greater utility (fellow unit members in the community), as is experience at the tactical level in the military, but I think my name tends to migrate to the top of lists because of it.
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Old 07-25-2007   #29
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Originally Posted by J-Man View Post
I don't understand why most programs don't make the thesis an option. Honestly, in many cases, a thesis can end up delaying someone from even graduating from their program in a timely manner. I look at a thesis as being most useful for someone wanting to make a career in academia. But for everyone else, some kind of comprehensive exam would make more sense.

Thanks for your response.

LawVol, I'm just wondering, what will you be using your Master's in National Security for? Are you completing this program to enhance your own educational level in an area of interest? Or will you be using what you've learned to get another job? Are you an attorney?
I am pursuing the degree because it is an area of interest. I do not forsee working in this area when I leave the USAF. As an attorney, I will most likely move on to a law firm or a defense contractor.
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Old 07-26-2007   #30
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Thanks for your comments and information, Van.

One thing I find really cool about AMU is that the instructors all seem to have experience in the field. Did you have some really great instructors?

Also, when it comes to the actual intelligence courses, did your classes at AMU actually teach you how to do specific intelligence collection work or intelligence analysis-related tasks and methods that you could then take to a job and use as an intelligence analyst?

You're lucky that you're in a reserve intelligence unit. There aren't too many reserve units like that. Is this an Army or Navy unit? And did they send you to their service-specific intel school?

I think your experience in the reserves and your degree can surely get you an intelligence job. If not with the feds, perhaps with the state or local government. Have you ever applied for state or local law enforcement intelligence jobs?
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Old 07-26-2007   #31
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I am pursuing the degree because it is an area of interest. I do not forsee working in this area when I leave the USAF. As an attorney, I will most likely move on to a law firm or a defense contractor.
Understood, LawVol. Thanks for your response.
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Old 07-28-2007   #32
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One thing I find really cool about AMU is that the instructors all seem to have experience in the field. Did you have some really great instructors?
Of 12 (13 counting the comp) courses, 10 (I think, been a while) instructors, there were two that I would recommend avoiding. Marian Leeburg instructed a course in threats to national security, but was only interested in genocide. Rob Rice, instructing a course on naval warfare in antiquity, made it clear that he was the font of all knowledge on the subject, and that I should bow and scrape before him in the hopes that I might assimilate some fragment of his great accumen.

All the others were outstanding, and free from the two great vices of academia (bringing irrelevant agendas to the classroom like Ms. Leeburg, and condescending intellectual arrogance towards your students like Mr. Rice), with great real-world experience as well as academic credentials.

Quote:
(D)id your classes at AMU actually teach you how to do specific intelligence collection work or intelligence analysis-related tasks and methods that you could then take to a job and use as an intelligence analyst?
Don't know about the collection stuff, but I learned some great and extremely useful stuff about analysis.

Quote:
You're lucky that you're in a reserve intelligence unit. There aren't too many reserve units like that. Is this an Army or Navy unit? And did they send you to their service-specific intel school?
Any military reserve unit will send you to service specific specialty schools. Good units will get you to more than the minimum if you want it, and frequently to joint or sister service schools.
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Old 07-28-2007   #33
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Van writes:

"Of 12 (13 counting the comp) courses, 10 (I think, been a while) instructors, there were two that I would recommend avoiding. Marian Leeburg instructed a course in threats to national security, but was only interested in genocide. Rob Rice, instructing a course on naval warfare in antiquity, made it clear that he was the font of all knowledge on the subject, and that I should bow and scrape before him in the hopes that I might assimilate some fragment of his great accumen. All the others were outstanding, and free from the two great vices of academia (bringing irrelevant agendas to the classroom like Ms. Leeburg, and condescending intellectual arrogance towards your students like Mr. Rice), with great real-world experience as well as academic credentials."

That's really great to hear! I'd never expect EVERY teacher in any school to be good. But 10 out of 12 is a real good ratio. And if I do enroll in AMU, I'll be sure to avoid Mr. Rice and Ms. Leeburg. Thanks for those tips.

"Don't know about the collection stuff, but I learned some great and extremely useful stuff about analysis."

I guess I need to be a bit more specific in my question. I'm sure you learned lots of theory, history of the intelligence profession, etc. But did you learn a lot of "nuts and bolts" intelligence analysis skills that analysts can use on the job? You know what I mean? Let's say for instance that someone gets thru the Master's in Strategic Intelligence and gets hired to be an intelligence analyst by some agency. Is there lots of useful stuff learned in the AMU program that can be used right away on an actual intelligence job? Did you work with any intelligence analysis software (analysts' notebook, etc) as part of your assignments? What about writing intelligence briefs and reports? Was there a lot of that in your program? Sorry if I wasn't clear in my earlier question, and I appreciate your insight. Thanks.

"Any military reserve unit will send you to service specific specialty schools. Good units will get you to more than the minimum if you want it, and frequently to joint or sister service schools."

I was in the reserves myself. I'm a former National Guardsman (11B Infantry MOS). I've thought of re-enlisting, and trying to get into an intelligence unit. But from what I hear, it's hard to get into those units these days since so many people are looking to get intelligence training. I have another question for you related to reserve duty. Back when I was in the National Guard, I never thought about clearances and stuff like that.

Now, this may seem like a dumb question, but do people in reserve units automatically get clearances? Did I have one back when I was in the National Guard in an infantry unit?
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Old 07-30-2008   #34
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Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
I'm in a master's program at AMU (National Security) and my program does not have a thesis. If you prefer a thesis, many programs have that option; you simply substitute the thesis for an elective course. In place of a thesis, my program has a final exam. Unfortunately, I have no information on that as I am only about half way through the program.

The papers due at the end of the courses I have taken generally range from 12-16 pages, certainly not in the neighborhood of a thesis. However, nearly all of my assignments have involved writing so be prepared.

Ski is absolutely correct. Expect alot of reading. I have also not had a test yet. Good Luck!
Hello LawVol,

I recently enrolled into the National Security Master program at APU (July 2008), can you provide me with any insight as to pros/cons, preferred instructors, etc?

What is your opinion of the National Security major as a whole so far? I would like to complete the program in one year, is that possible while working full-time?

I'm an Investigator (former Fed), and was thinking of returning to the Fed Gov't in some sort of security-related occupation so I'm hoping this degree might help, plus I'm very interested in the curriculum.

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.........
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Old 07-30-2008   #35
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I'm now 75% complete. Three more classes and a comprehensive exam to follow. Next class starts in September, then I'll crank two out in the first quarter of 09, and then take the exam in APR/MAY 09 and wrap this thing up.

Also at CGSC now, so I decided to slow it down towards the finish so I can get the schoolwork here done above standard...
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Old 07-30-2008   #36
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I'm taking a break after getting through about 1/2 of an AMU masters. My feelings on the program are mixed. Although I've learned a lot, almost all of it has come from simply reading the course material. The program therefore has the feel of a degree factory - simply do some work and you will be rewarded with a career-enhancing degree. To give you an example, I logged in on the last day of class to upload my final paper to discover the professor had already given me an A for the course, even though the final paper was 50% of the grade. I got the paper back the next day and the only comment was "Great Job on your final paper" with an "A" for it.

I have a friend who got his undergrad degree at AMU. He was really happy with that program. He began a Master's earlier this year and was disappointed to find out that many of the course were exactly the same except for the course number. Same reading material, same course description. The only difference was that one cost a lot more and was progress toward a higher level degree.

This isn't to say it's all bad. Some of the professors are quite good as are some of the courses. It's also one of the few places provide national security-related degrees and the only one I know of that does so online. Personally, I'd much rather do NDU, but I can't move to DC to do that - at least not right now.

So I will probably complete my AMU masters, but I have to say that if there were another option available to me, I would seriously consider it.

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Old 07-30-2008   #37
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Default NSS at AMU

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Originally Posted by Shammy View Post
Hello LawVol,

I recently enrolled into the National Security Master program at APU (July 2008), can you provide me with any insight as to pros/cons, preferred instructors, etc?

What is your opinion of the National Security major as a whole so far? I would like to complete the program in one year, is that possible while working full-time?

I'm an Investigator (former Fed), and was thinking of returning to the Fed Gov't in some sort of security-related occupation so I'm hoping this degree might help, plus I'm very interested in the curriculum.

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.........

I took NS500 w/BG Mangum and RC508 (research for Intel studies) with Dr. Keithly. NS500 is quite a bit of reading and some pretty lengthly papers due at the end of the week, but not difficult. I found Dr. Keithly's research class to be pretty challenging and he was pretty tough academically, but a really nice guy and very fair. I would recommend either. Right now, I'm in NS503 with Dr. James, another good course; more reading but less writing. Let me know if you have any other questions.

LawVol-- what course are you taking for NSS right now, and what is your area of concentration?
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Old 07-31-2008   #38
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Hello LawVol,

I recently enrolled into the National Security Master program at APU (July 2008), can you provide me with any insight as to pros/cons, preferred instructors, etc?

What is your opinion of the National Security major as a whole so far? I would like to complete the program in one year, is that possible while working full-time?

I'm an Investigator (former Fed), and was thinking of returning to the Fed Gov't in some sort of security-related occupation so I'm hoping this degree might help, plus I'm very interested in the curriculum.

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.........
Shammy,

I'm exactly half way through a master's degree in NSS and have had no issues with any of my instructors. That said, Wray Johnson and Steven Greer were particularly instructive in the sense that they offered much substantive criticism and perspective in response to my completed assigments. I felt that they brought much more to the table than simply an academic perspective. You can review their biographies to see why.

I am satisfied with AMU thus far because it has met my objectives. I was looking for something more practical than theoretical and I think this fits the bill. My field is the law so my plan was not to use this degree toward some new profession but rather to enhance my own. I simply wanted a course of instruction that provided me with a big picture view of national security so I could better understand current events and the like.

Completing the program within a year may be a little difficult unless you can pursue it full time. Each of my classes have been fairly labor intensive. There has been quite a bit of reading (almost on par with law school as far as volume goes) and most assignments involve writing. I have taken only one class at a time since I've been enrolled. I am currently on program hold while I pursue an in residence LL.M program over the next year so I won't be able to update you with regard to other professors.

Overall, I'm happy with AMU given my goals. However, if I was entering (or seeking to enhance) a new career I'd probably look to a more traditional school. Good luck.
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Old 08-01-2008   #39
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Default I found AMU harder...

than resident courses because you really have to dig into the subject, vice being spoon fed the cirriculum as some institutions do.

The best part of the coursework is you have even greater flexiblity than when attending conventional "night school." As others have pointed out, it is a lot of reading and paper writing, but I feel that is a better way to grasp the subject vice completing multiple guess on-line tests (of which there are a few in the U-G courses, some even require a proctor).

So I can't recommend AMU enough to anyone who desires to receive a quality military oriented education.

The only downside: no frat parties replete with keg stands.
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Old 08-25-2008   #40
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Default American Military University

Has anyone here enrolled with it? I'm considering enrolling but I'm generally suspect of internet education.
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