Master of Science in Nuclear Operations

Master’s Degree #738

Est.imated Completion Time: 3 years

Starts: Spring

Program Area: Space Technology and Operations

POC: Academic Associate

Modality: Distance Learning


The Nuclear Operations curriculum is designed to be completed via distance learning and to provide students with knowledge of nuclear operations such as nuclear deterrence and assurance, nuclear weapons effects, nuclear command, control and communications (NC3), space-based systems used for early warning and communications, nuclear platforms, nuclear command and control (NC2), nuclear policy and nuclear non-proliferation. Students will complete the Space Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (SNC3) certificate (Requirement #1), a nuclear deterrence and policy certificate (Requirement #2), which can be completed through the Naval Postgraduate School or an equivalent pre-approved certificate from another institution such as The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Harvard University Extension School, or Missouri State University. Students will then complete a pre-approved track of four courses (Requirement #3). Currently, one track is available; however, new tracks may become available in the future. Students will complete an approved thesis or capstone project (Requirement #4).

Security clearance: Secret


The following are eligible for this offering:

  • Naval Officers
  • Naval Enlisted
  • Non-Naval Officers
  • Non-Naval Enlisted
  • DON Civilians
  • DOD Civilians
  • Defense Contractors
  • Non-DOD Federal Employees
  • State and Local Government Employees
  • US Civilians

Requirements for Entry

  • Secret security clearance
  • Applicants must have a bachelor's degree (Bachelor's degree GPA of 2.6 or higher)
  • Completion of college-level Algebra 2 and college-level physics with a C or better average

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will examine the strategy of Nuclear Deterrence historically and apply the concepts of Nuclear Deterrence to the present day.   They will also examine US Nuclear Policy and Nuclear non-proliferation. 
  2. Students will analyze the nuclear strategy of the U.S.' two main nuclear rivals, China and Russia, including the broader topic of great power competition concerning these rivals. 
  3. Students will evaluate theories of escalation control and de-escalation and apply these concepts to US nuclear strategy.  
  4. Students will describe nuclear effects and understand how these effects impact U.S. NC3 systems and other military systems.  
  5. Students will explain the characteristics of the earth's atmosphere and the space environment as they relate to the systems used for Missile Early Warning and Nuclear Command and Control
  6. Students will classify and explain wireless communications, including their expected operation of various communications types in a nuclear environment, with special emphasis on protected Satellite Communications.  
  7. Students will gain relevant specific knowledge in a specialization track (such as the Acquisition and Systems Engineering Track).  Other specialization tracks may be added in the future with the approval of the Space Systems Academic Group Chair.  

Application Information

Applications are handled by the NPS Admissions Office. Please visit the admissions website or contact them at

Tuition & Service Obligation

For information regarding tuition, please contact the NPS Tuition office at, or contact this offering’s POC at

For information regarding service obligation, please visit the Admissions Office’s Eligibility/Service Obligation page.

Other Information

Commencing Spring 2025
Deadline for application is January 2025

The curriculum is open to US military officers and US federal government employees. Other nuclear enterprise or US government-affiliated applicants will generally be accepted if sponsored by a US military command or US government federal agency. Applicants must be eligible for a Secret security clearance, which must be obtained before enrolling in the classified courses.

Requirement #1: Space Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Certificate (SNC3 - Curriculum 298)

All students are required to complete the Space Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (SNC3) Certificate (Curriculum 298).

Course Number Title Lecture Hours Lab Hours
SS3011 Space Technology and Applications 3 0
SS3613 Military Satellite Communications 3 0
SS3740/AE3740 Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications Systems - Part I 3 0
SS3741/AE3741 Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications Systems - Part I 3 0

Requirement #2: Complete a pre-approved nuclear strategy and policy certificate

Students will complete one of the five options below:

Via distance learning or in residence:

  1. Great Power Competition Certificate, Curriculum 255 (13 credit hours)

Via distance learning and transfer the credits to the Naval Postgraduate School:

  1. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Nuclear Weapons Effects, Policy, and Proliferation (NWEPP) Certificate (12 credit hours)
  2. Harvard Extension School Nuclear Deterrence Certificate (12 credit hours)
  3. Missouri State Graduate Certificate in Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) (15 credit hours)

In residence:

  1. Complete three courses from the following list:
    1. NS3280: Nuclear Weapons and National Strategies
    2. NS3030: American National Security Policy
    3. NS4990: Seminar in Strategic Studies
    4. NS4991: Seminar in United States Foreign Policy
    5. NS4677: Space and International Security
    6. DA3885: Proliferation and Counter-Proliferation
    7. NS3450: The Russian Military, Past and Present
    8. NS4620: Seminar on the Chinese People's Liberation Army

Note: Requirement #1 (the Space NC3 certificate) and Requirement #2 can be completed in any order.

Requirement #3: Specialization Track

Complete one certificate as a specialization track from the following list:

  1. Systems Engineering Fundaments (Curriculum 282)
  2. Implementing Technological Change (Curriculum 231)

Other tracks are in development and will be approved by SSAG Chair.

Requirement #4: Thesis or Capstone Project

All students will complete a thesis or capstone project as approved by the academic group.

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