The next generation of national security professionals must engage some of the most important and challenging questions of our time …

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Must Americans compromise civil liberties to enable government surveillance of suspected terrorists? How does the US respond to cyberattacks? How can the laws of war be applied to non-state actors? How does the rule of law guide strategies for responding to domestic threats?

The Institute for Security Policy and Law’s interdisciplinary law and graduate academic programs—and their calibrated mix of academic research and real-world practice—are designed to give law and policy students the best possible theoretical and practical training as they prepare themselves for careers in national and international security, counterterrorism, international law, postconflict reconstruction, and cybersecurity.

In addition to its three certificates of advanced study—in National Security and Counterterrorism Law, Security Studies, and Postconflict Reconstruction—SPL directs a study abroad program in Israel; supports student-run organizations; and sponsors advanced graduate research.

With tools shaped and honed at SPL, alumni have secured positions in the US government (CIA, NSA, FBI, ODNI); international organizations (ICC, World Bank); US military (JAG Corps); and think tanks and consultancies (Booz Allen, Deloitte).


  • Matriculated law and graduate students can choose from SPL’s three certificates of advanced study in National Security and Counterterrorism, Security Studies, and Postconflict Reconstruction.
  • Additionally, the Program on Security in the Middle East offers cross-cultural engagement with scholars, experts, and practitioners, through Graduate Study Abroad fellowships and the Carol Becker Speaker Series.
  • calibrated mix of workshops, seminars, symposia, simulations, real-world research projects, field trips/staff rides, panel discussions, and speaker series broaden and deepen students’ academic experience. 
  • Other student opportunities include capstone projects, internships, graduate assistantships, study abroad fellowships, individual research fellowships, and student-run organizations.
  • Our program is lead by distinguished subject matter experts: the Hon. James E. Baker, one of the most highly regarded national security lawyers and policy advisors in the nation, and Vice Admiral Robert B. Murrett (Ret.), former Director of the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Other faculty members are drawn from a wide range of disciplines, including political science, public and international affairs, international law, humanitarian law, peace studies, sociology, anthropology, history, communications, economics, computer engineering, and more.
  • Graduates benefit from SPL’s academic/public sector partnerships with other universities (such as the Institute for Counter-Terrorism and Georgetown Law), government and UN agencies, municipalities, NGOs, and think tanks.
  • Alumni have found national security and PCR sector work in a diverse range of national and international organizations. 
  • Alumni form an extended, active, loyal, and influential network, and stay in touch via social media channels and networking events.
  • SPL is the home of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, the world’s only peer-reviewed journal devoted to national security law and policy topics.

Other Academic Opportunities

Syracuse University Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence

Syracuse University has been designated as a United States Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence (ICCAE)—a highly competitive, congressionally mandated program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Intelligence Agency, which partners with universities to increase the diversity of the U.S. intelligence workforce. The ICCAE offers undergraduate and graduate students unique coursework as well as programmatic and training opportunities to prepare for professional positions in any of the 17 agencies of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Program on Security in the Middle East

SPL’s Program on Security in the Middle East is a multi-part, international, interdisciplinary initiative that takes a cross-cultural approach toward understanding the historical, religious, social, and political complexities that impact the region. It includes the Becker Speaker Series and a study abroad option for law and graduate students. 


“SPL is the reason I came to Syracuse. I knew I wanted to go somewhere that would provide opportunities other law schools would not, and SPL far exceeded those expectations. Taking Institute classes and working with its faculty provided a priceless experience, with truly amazing job opportunities and formative professional relationships I will maintain long after the end of my academic career.”—Shelby Mann Law ’19

“SPL fostered my interest in national security law and broadened my understanding of this interdisciplinary field. The institute also ignited my interest in international law and gave me the unique opportunity to explore how the international community intersects with the domestic security community. Through SPL I participated in projects that have reached actual clients and that introduced me to giants in the field. I cannot imagine a better network and foundation of knowledge than the one SPL has provided.”—Molly White, LAW ’16

“SPL’s Certificate of Advanced Study in Postconflict Reconstruction program gave me a profound understanding of what conflict is, how it manifests itself, and its impact on individual people, communities, and countries. This understanding has helped me to improve my programs everywhere I have worked, from Somalia and DRC to Haiti and China. SPL’s PCR program taught me the skills, tools, and abilities I can use to empower others to reconstruct for themselves.”—Joshua Daley, MPA/MAIR ’11