National Security Studies Program

NSSP Application and List of Recommended Courses

Spring 2014 Symposium Keynote Speech from Senator Martin Heinrich - click here 


The mission of the University of New Mexico (UNM) National Security Studies Program is to ensure that interested students develop the knowledge, skills and relationships necessary to successfully compete for Intelligence Community and related national security careers.

About Us

The National Security Studies Program (NSSP) is a student focused initiative helping a new generation of New Mexico students develop the knowledge and skills necessary in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world. NSSP is tailored to prepare UNM students from a broad spectrum of disciplinary and professional fields of study for careers in U.S. government service. Click here for Intelligence Community career listings.

NSSP is sponsored by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which is a member of the 17 member U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). UNM is now designated as an Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence.

The program is designed for students at both the pre-baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate level. It does not establish a new department and does not introduce a new major or minor program of studies at UNM, but is instead designed to augment preparation in traditional disciplinary majors through focused seminars and symposiums, individual mentoring, internships and externships, intensive language study and study abroad programs. 

The NSSP also engages high school students with an annual summer program that focuses on critical thinking skill development and a deeper understanding of the world in which we live. In the program, students have the opportunity to interact with subject matter experts and participate in simulated exercises and field trips. A primary goal of the summer experience is an increased student awareness of greater career opportunities through higher education.

Back to Top

The Challenges

The National Security Studies Program is by its nature multi-disciplinary and integrative. It draws upon business, law, the sciences, health sciences, the humanities and other areas of specialization. It aims to:

  • Provide interesting seminars and speakers on a wide range of national security related issues.
  • Provide a study abroad experience to select students focusing on a unique cultural experience.  
  • Develop critical thinking and innovative research opportunities.
  • Challenge and engage students and provide career and personal development opportunities.  

The National Security Studies Program at UNM emphasizes theoretical and practical preparation in four critical areas:

  1. Command of research, analysis and critical thinking skills.
  2. Expertise in science or professional fields or understanding of the complex interaction between science and policy.
  3. Knowledge of international, regional and cultural issues of national security importance.
  4. Proficiency in foreign languages and context-sensitive studies.

The program seeks to coordinate and support other activities on campus with related goals.

NSSP scholars' recent accomplishment highlights 

This year many NSSP scholars interned at IC agencies or received scholarships and attended workshops and seminars throughout the country.

Summer  2013 Internships/Scholarships/Study Abroad/IC Conferences included:

Critical Language Scholarship Morocco
Beirut Study Abroad
Guatemala Study Abroad
Nicaragua Study Abroad
State Department Internship, US Embassy Nairobi, Kenya 
Nourish International Community Development Project Research, Western Cameroon
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) Internship, Operations Research Division
ICCAE Summer Seminar: Community Insight - 2 scholars
ICCAE Summer Seminar: Educational Foundations - 3 Scholars
Department of Health & Human Resources Internship, Washington, D.C.
State Department Internship, US Embassy, Brasilia, Brazil
Verizon Internship, Washington, D.C.
Nuclear Regulatory Commision Internship, Washington, D.C.
JET Program Japan

Spring Intercession 2013  Internships/Scholarships/Study Abroad/IC Conferences included:

International Association for Intelligence Education Conference, El Paso, Texas - 3 Scholars
China Study Abroad - 16 Scholars

Spring 2013 Internships/Scholarships/Study Abroad/IC Conferences included:

Spanish Language Study Abroad (1 month), Chile
State Department Internship at U.S. Embassy, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Internship with Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico
World Model United Nations, Melbourne Australia -  
American University of Bosnia-Herzegovina Study Abroad
Taiwan Study Abroad
2013 New Mexico Shared Knowledge Conference - 2 Scholars
UNM Clauve Award

For more information about the program, call Candace Shirley at (505) 277-3223 or email to, or come by NSSP Office at Mesa Vista Hall Room 3019, UNM Central campus.

Back to Top