Because the project lasts so long and delves extensively into its topic, the student should select a topic that is interesting and engaging. The creative student may, upon beginning research, discover that the chosen topic presents such a new idea to the field that no directly relevant research currently exists. In that case, the student must create the research from scratch. He or she should begin research by reading everything available that relates even indirectly to the field of study; for example, if the student is studying a Mesopotamian text upon which no one else has written, he or she may read journal articles and books that deal with other ancient texts from that location, language, or time period. This is called secondary research, and it aids the student in developing a voice of credibility. Secondary research provides an education in the terms, issues, history, and research authorities that belong specifically to that field of study, and the student who becomes conversant in all these areas can begin to write a masters thesis that can sway the opinions of experts in the field.
Some graduates continue their studies by pursuing a PhD in a related field, but most pursue professional careers in government, defense industry, companies engaged in defense research and analysis, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations with a focus on defense issues and national security policy. The DSS program is highly demanding, but we have found that the great majority of students relish the challenging environment that we offer. We demand excellence, and we are proud to say that our students rise to the challenge.