We asked Anna, who is in the Managing Disruption and Violence (MDV) master’s degree program here at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security (DMGS), questions about what it’s like going to our national security graduate school here in Washington, DC (just a few blocks from the White House), what she thinks of the classes and professors, and why she chose DMGS. If you are thinking about attending graduate school and want to someday work in the intelligence and national security communities, contact us and we can talk more about how DMGS would be a good choice.

How did you find out about DMGS?

I found out about DMGS through The Catholic University of America. I worked there as an undergrad, and happened to be working the day a DMGS staff member came in to talk about setting up an information session. I instantly looked up the school website as I was listening to the woman talk, and got on the mailing list because it seemed like a perfect fit for what I wanted to accomplish.

What made you choose DMGS over other graduate schools?

I actually have an interesting story about choosing DMGS over other schools. Despite loving DMGS from the moment I learned about it, I had decided that I was going to put all of my efforts into applying for jobs after graduation. I knew I wanted (and needed) to start working and gain experience, and decided grad school could wait. However, the same DMGS staff member that had visited Catholic had other plans for me. She kept in touch with me, telling me more about the school and why she thought I belonged here, and asked me to visit the school despite my intentions to not apply. I ended up loving that DMGS is downtown in the middle of the city, that the professors and staff were so knowledgeable and experienced in the field and in the classroom, and that the other students were so were very friendly and understanding. The visit, combined with the staff member’s confidence in me really led to my choice to apply to DMGS. I can safely say I haven’t regretted my decision in the slightest.

What’s the admissions process like and how long does it take?

The admissions process is actually really not that terrible. There is an online application, or you can download it and mail it in. It asks for a statement of interest, official transcripts, writing samples, a current resume or CV, and recommendation letters. For me, the admissions process did not take too long overall. Once all my materials were in, the process moved fairly quickly which was actually quite comforting knowing that I wasn’t going to be waiting ages for an answer.

Which program are you in?

I am in the Managing Disruption and Violence (MDV) program here at DMGS.

What courses have you taken and what did you think of them?

I have taken Introduction to National Security, Fundamentals of Intelligence, and Elements of Digital and Human Influence Operations. These classes are actually the three introductory courses for each pillar of study at DMGS. I really wanted to give myself a foundation in each of the three because I had never taken classes directly pertaining to this field before since my bachelor’s is in Psychology, with a Sociology minor. I really enjoy the classes; the professors are absolutely fantastic, and the material is interesting. Each professor ties in their real life experience to the material and makes the readings come alive through their own experience.

What is the class dynamics like at DMGS?

The class dynamic at DMGS is unlike any class experience I’ve had. It’s a small class–the max is 7 students; and the professors treat every class like almost like a conversation. The professors really encourage questions and discussions about the topic, or even current topics that are relevant. Most professors teach not just from the material but from their real life experience, and that’s what I truly enjoy–learning from the experience of others.

What are the professor like and how do they help you?

The professors are truly amazing. They each have their own experiences in the national security and intelligence field, and they bring that to the table each and every class. They really take interest in their students’ success, and really go the extra mile to do what they can to help them do well.

What about the leadership and staff, what are they like?

Just like the professors, the leadership and staff take such an interest in the students at DMGS. There is such a strong desire to ensure that the students here have what they need to not just be successful at DMGS, but in their future careers as well.

What’s it like going to school in downtown Washington, DC?

I love being downtown; it adds a whole new aspect to being a grad student. There are so many opportunities in this city, and we’re in the center of it all. Being at DMGS, you can take a walk on your lunch break and end up standing in front of the White House, or walk to an event at any one of a number of places. There’s always something exciting about being in a city, and going to school here only makes it better.

What’s the housing situation like?

So in terms of housing, I know most students live either in or around the District; I personally live on the outskirts of DC. Since DMGS is downtown, there isn’t exactly a campus to have dorms. However, Marymount University does have a partnership with DMGS to accommodate students in terms of housing if needed.

Is it expensive? What are the costs of living and going to school there?

Honestly, being in any city as a recent graduate living on their own is expensive. Being in DC isn’t any different, but it is manageable if you do research on how to make it work with your budget. I really worked hard to find a way to move to DC after graduation, and to do it on my own. I currently work three jobs on top of being a full time graduate student to make ends meet. It’s very difficult at times, but for me it’s completely worth it to say that I fully support myself and to not burden my family with more financial stress. Everyone has a different financial situation, so some may have it easier than I do, or harder; it’s just a matter of your personal situation.

Are students full-time or do they work elsewhere?

There’s a good mixture of students that are full-time, and that work as well. There are even some students that do both: work full-time, and be a student full time. Personally, I intern 32 hours a week, am a full-time grad student, and have my two other part-time jobs. Everyone has their own mixture of work and class in some way, shape, or form.

Do you take night classes? Are they safe downtown?

I do have one night class, and I personally feel fine in terms of my safety. I’ve become used to being in a city at night, and I’ve learned how to pay attention to my surroundings and do my best to stay safe. Most students here have night classes, and I feel as if we are all comfortable enough in our surroundings to not be extremely concerned.

How does DMGS prepare you for a job in national security? What career path are you on?

DMGS is working towards the creation of a Career Strategy Office to aid students in their career development. However, while that is being constructed, students mostly take the initiative on their own to speak with professors and advisors for advice on how to go about applying for positions in their field. The classes, events, and speakers here all aid in the foundation each student needs to work towards getting a job in this field.

Personally, I am working towards pursuing a career in federal law enforcement.

What kind of special opportunities have you had at the school?

At DMGS, I have had the opportunity to be on the Student Advisory Group, as well as to be the lead on developing the Career Strategy Office. As a member of the Student Advisory Group, I meet with other students and the President of the school in order to voice questions, concerns, or anything else from the student body, and to create plans to either fix the issue or get a new project started. The initiative for the Career Strategy Office actually came from one of these meetings, and I was appointed the task to create an online resource to assist students in their career development!

Who have you been able to meet as a result of being a DMGS grad student?

There have been many events here at DMGS in which speakers from the intelligence and national security come to give lectures to the students and guests of the Academy. Some of my favorites have been: Terry Roberts, former Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, Fran Moore, retired CIA officer and Deputy Director for Intelligence, and David Cohen, former Associate Deputy Director of Intelligence (1991-95), former Deputy Director of Operations (1995-97), and NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence from 2002-2013.

Why should I go to graduate school at DMGS?

In coming to DMGS, you will be able to not only earn a Master’s degree in one of our three pillars, but you will learn about yourself. You will learn or expand upon your specific interests, how to develop them, and even how to potentially turn them into a career. You will become stronger in not only your studies, but in your confidence as a young professional. Becoming a DMGS student means working towards a better version of yourself to put forward to future employers, and to be able to say that you have the knowledge and experience to fulfill the position. Being a DMGS student is the best decision I’ve made, and I hope that other students have the opportunity to say the same.

Thinking about graduate school? Let us know your interest:

ANNA’S STORY

She particularly enjoyed the way that he illuminated the theory of each topic by providing compelling historical examples together with his own personal experience and insights from his illustrious career in the National Security field.

“During the Bosnian wars, Dr. Meyer was The Deputy Chief of the CIA Taskforce in the Balkans. That’s the level of real-world experience that our professors have. We are taught and mentored in classes of around 7 students by faculty of that caliber.  It makes for a phenomenal experience, probably unique to our school, I would venture to say.”

Anna also talks excitedly about Professor James Anibal’s exceptional teaching style where students engage in multiple thought-provoking exercises, including some where they try to build and break deception types, guided by Anibal’s own extensive experience in the field.

“Learning by completing these exercises really cements the theories in our minds. These classes are invaluable to any student interested in the topic and will – without a doubt – make us much better practitioners ourselves.”

Anna also enthuses about the significant potential of the DMGS’ student body, where she has found lifelong friends who share her passion as well as her determination to become a leader in the National Security and Intelligence communities. A testament to her care and pride for her fellow students, Anna takes an active role in DMGS’ Student Government Association, where she has served as Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-President and President.

“I can truly say that I am frequently inspired by the students of DMGS because of their constant drive to do more, achieve more, and learn as much as they can. I, myself, learn something from my fellow students every day.”

Anna is especially appreciative of the external experiences DMGS has made possible for her, including representing the school at the 2017 Women in National Security Conference and competing in the 2017 Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 Competition. However, perhaps the most memorable opportunity afforded to her by Daniel Morgan was the chance to participate in the Oxford Analytica Global Horizons Conference in Oxford, England, in both 2017 and 2018. It is precisely through such enrichment provided by DMGS that Anna has been able to travel outside the United States for the first time in her life. Wide-eyed, she describes how exploring the campus and halls of the prestigious Christ Church College at Oxford University was a surreal experience for her, as she and her fellow DMGS students were able attend seminars, panels, and plenaries with experts from all over the world. She emphasizes how this experience effectively gave her a chance to expand her knowledge, her worldview, and her overall understanding of the importance of National Security and Intelligence studies at a global level. A lasting memory of this extraordinary opportunity was of the conference black-tie gala at Blenheim Palace, the familial home of Winston Churchill.

“The memory that will forever stand out to me is walking up the Palace stairs in a ball-gown on what was my third day ever in another country. It was truly magical!”

Finally, Anna sums up her experience at the school by crediting DMGS with advancing her career through networking opportunities where she was able to meet career professionals in the National Security and Intelligence communities that she would have never been able to meet otherwise. She is particularly grateful for the faculty who took the time to help her discover her passion so she could determine her career path and who have guided and opened doors for her.

“The school really invests in its students not just through education, but through external experiences as well, and that investment really pays off for us when it comes to establishing our careers. When deciding upon a graduate school, DMGS was my choice without hesitation and I would make the same decision again every time.”

Kenneth’s Story

His artistic talent earned him a place at the Art Institute of Boston, majoring in illustration.  However, Kenneth left after a year because he was disappointed with the course content and did not want to waste his time on a course that did not fulfill him or develop his talents and aspirations.  After some self-reflection, deliberation and research, he eventually decided to go to CUNY to study business and entrepreneurship to learn how to turn his artistic skills into “a business not a just passion.”

Upon graduation from the CUNY program, he took a break for a year to evaluate his next step.  He experimented and explored different areas, starting a number of innovative art ventures and productions.  He also took hospitality jobs to help finance his ventures.  Yet Kenneth still felt as though he were missing something and, while he was contemplating joining the Peace Corps, his mentor advised him to look at DMGS.

He is well aware that many may not immediately make the connection between the study of Intelligence in conjunction with Business Entrepreneurship or Art.  Consequently, Kenneth goes on to explain that there are many areas in the private sector that require intelligence skills, describing it as an underserved field that is wide open for graduates.  As time has progressed, Kenneth’s eyes have increasingly been opened to the niche positioning that a Master’s in Intelligence could bring to him to make him highly marketable in his fields of interest.

“I realized that being adept at intelligence-gathering in Business Arts and Media would be a specialized niche.  I wouldn’t have to start my own business but instead would instantly have differentiated value upon graduation.”

To explain this further, Kenneth describes how intelligence is a key factor in making effective market and business decisions since being competitive requires knowing what competitors are doing in the marketplace.  Even coming up with the title to a song can be amplified by intelligence gathering techniques as that information strengthens all strategic decision-making.

‘The Fundamentals of Intelligence course really taught me how to gather human intelligence – not just as it applies to spies – but to effectively make “informed decisions” using competitive intelligence.  I learned how to craft a market analysis through public information.  Knowing where to look and how to search things out it essential in all areas of business.”

Kenneth then turns to the subject of his professors.  Like all the other students at DMGS, Kenneth cannot help but comment on how exceptional members of DMGS’ faculty are.  In his opinion,, compared to other professors who “speak much but say little,” DMGS’ professors really deliver what he calls “the bottom line of knowledge in their subjects,” adding that there is “no fluff or wordiness” as they simply and clearly present relevant information in a succinct and pertinent form.

“They have years of experience and can therefore distill down what really matters in a real work setting. They then communicate the essence of each topic in a way that sticks with the student. Educators like this are few and far between.  It is amazing to be in such small classes with such great professors.”

At DMGS, one can’t help but feel the warmth and camaraderie amongst the students.  This is something that Kenneth clearly feels very deeply himself. 

“I also admire my fellow students who have all done such amazing things before coming here.  They inspire me to up my game and it humbles me to break bread and to study alongside people who have experienced even greater challenges than I and who ensure that I always keep an open mind.”

Pressed for an example of this, Kenneth talks about a couple of his fellow students: one who is a Kurd from Iran and one from Georgia who has lived in the shadow of the Soviet Union.

Before ending the discussion, Kenneth says that he must also stress two other things: DMGS’ speaker series and the school’s founder, Abby Moffat. The events, he says, have been hugely important to the learning environment because they reinforce what students are taught in the classroom and they also provide great networking opportunities, as students have the chance to engage with a number of prominent people in their fields of interest.

In describing Abby Moffat, he recounts how much she adds to the positive culture of DMGS.  Kenneth also mentions that Abby has been particularly inspiring and encouraging to him on a personal level and that has made a big difference in his life.

“Abby Moffat brings a nurturing and compassionate entrepreneur spirit to the school.  Her strength, kindness and insights drive the organization, just as my grandmothers’ strengths and courage drove the successes within my own family.”

Margalita’s Story

“I quit my job and embarked upon my second Master’s degree at DMGS because I realized that program would benefit me a great deal. I would not have left my job if I hadn’t anticipated this and I wasn’t disappointed. It was one of the best decisions that I have ever made as it has now led me to even higher paths.”

Nor was leaving her job an easy decision.  Before DMGS, Margalita had been working for the UN and EU.  She grew up in Tbilisi during the civil war and learned to count from the traces of the bullet holes against a building wall. Coming face to face with war at such a young age affected her career choices in later life and motivated her into positions where she would help people affected by conflict.  Specifically, she worked on projects that supported the Prime Minister’s office in her native country of Georgia. She worked in a new agency commission on a National Action Plan implementing the UN Security Council’s Resolution on Women, Peace and Security. Her assignment was to identify the needs of conflict-affected women and girls.  Together with the UN Women’s Mission as well as several government officials and advisors on human rights, Margalita travelled to villages along the Administrative Boundary Lines. Her mission was to identify the needs of these women and girls and to translate their aggregate problems into policy to support Georgia’s Three – year UN Action Plan.  Margalita then went on to assist in building the necessary capacity to support the implementation of these policies and solutions under the European Union Project.

Margalita says that what drew her to DMGS and what ultimately drove her to take the significant step of leaving her UN position was the quality of the faculty at the school.

“It’s not the name or the history of a school that matters, it’s the professors.”

She is now very glad that she took the steps that she took in coming to DMGS. One of the professors she enthuses over is David Kanin whom she describes as “one of the most educated professors in the universe” and whose classes she describes “are like paradise.”  In fact, Margalita is extremely enthusiastic about all of her professors whom she collectively describes as not just as compelling academicians but as extraordinary individuals.

“Even the five-minute interactions during the class breaks is something that we all look forward to.”

The extent of her satisfaction with the teaching at DMGS has been so great that she insists that the quality benchmark for lectures and discussions is now much higher than previously experienced and that she and her fellow students have consequently become “professor and lecture snobs.”

“We now all see how much others miss out on in traditional classes.  We have never experienced and probably will never experience this type and level of teaching again.”

Another important facet of DMGS is the free-thinking aspect that underpins its pedagogic approach as the professors encourage their students to question everything rather than blindly following one school of thought. This is an approach which Margalita describes as “unique in today’s world that is oversaturated by opinion.”

“The minute you create an environment when you shut each other down, the learning ends.  DMGS clearly understands this and opens up the learning environment to embrace all ideas.”

This openness to multiple viewpoints also extends to multiple cultures.  By opening up its programs to those from other countries who seek to make the world a better and safer place, DMGS creates a dynamic and exciting learning environment.  Margalita is also very enthusiastic about this and about the impact it has on the school’s environment.

“It’s a real privilege to be in the class with people from so many different backgrounds.  It adds to our discussions in an amazing way.”

Finally, Margalita is also extremely enthusiastic about DMGS’ location and networking opportunities.“Being in D.C., magic happens outside the classroom.  We meet the people that we only read about previously. We effectively meet history here.”

SHANNON’S STORY

Upon her return to the United States, Shannon completed her undergraduate degree in her areas of true passion and was later accepted to continue her graduate studies at University of Glasgow.  However, after one semester there, Shannon came to the realization that the program was not a good fit for her due to its intensely theoretical approach. Having been at the forefront of action rather than deliberation, Shannon found a theoretical program to be too confining for her needs and aspirations.  Luckily, one of her professors at the university was Peter Jackson, a renowned editor of multiple major intelligence publications. Immediately understanding the frustrations of a student who had already experienced so much and wanted to do much more, hee advised her,

“If you are looking for something practical, there is a new, specialized school in Washington D.C. and everyone there has a fundamentally practical approach to graduate studies. I think that it would be a perfect fit and would get you where you want to go.”

Having taken his sage advice, Shannon is now at DMGS in her second semester and says that she is loving the experience.  She goes on to say that Daniel Morgan has certainly lived up to the practical teaching and experience that she was looking for.

“When you are uninformed or ill-advised you blindly pick a school for the name without really understanding the importance of the professors who will teach you.  That is a big mistake.  Anybody looking at the bios of DMGS’ professors can see that this is THE place to be if you want to go into National Security”.

To illustrate her point, Shannon talks about one of the first professors she had at DMGS, a former diplomat who worked on the 911 commission and was, therefore, able to give her and her fellow students an inside perspective on actual events that others merely read as history.

Describing one of the biggest differences she is experiencing at Daniel Morgan compared to what she had encountered in higher education thus far, Shannon points to the exceptionally small class sizes:

“I don’t think other graduate students experience the personalized attention we get at DMGS. Each student  gets immediate direction and mentorship; at most graduate schools a student would wait 3 weeks to get a paper back and then would have to make an office appointment 2 weeks after that for in-person guidance . Not here.”

Shannon also enthuses over the extraordinary opportunities that she has been given at DMGS.  Thanks to a trip sponsored by the school, where she went on a week-long security summit just outside Prague, she was introduced to the UN NATO program (Youth Atlantic Treaty Association) and is now a UN Youth Ambassador. This means that, once per month, Shannon attends international conferences around the world.  Shannon is, not only delighted to be a part of this, but is also very grateful for the way her professors at DMGS are so accommodating and encouraging to her in these endeavors.

Another significant advantage of being a DMGS student is the flexibility of having classes scheduled in the evening. Shannon is particularly appreciative of this since it has allowed her to obtain the best internships as well as to get the best out of her internships:

“I am able to work and come to class in the evenings.  Other interns consistently have to leave and come back to work to attend classes during the day.  As a result of DMGS’ class schedule I get better training than the other interns and it makes it easier for me to apply for jobs without class times getting in the way.”

Shannon believes that these factors all play into the reason DMGS graduates get such wonderful career positions upon graduation.

“I couldn’t believe some of the places that DMGS students have gone.  A number of my fellow students have gotten jobs with the top contractors in National Security and one even just got a job at the White House.”

Shannon points out that this is a testament to how good the education and opportunities are at Daniel Morgan. She points out that top firms want DMGS graduates because they are extremely well-prepared, noting that high profile firms are keen to hire DMGS graduates even before the school has obtained the full accreditation status which is expected next year.

Shannon ends her story with a summary of her enthusiasm about the Daniel Morgan School:

“DMGS has been a perfect fit for me. I can’t even describe how wonderful this place is. Everyone is so kind and so intelligent and so well-connected. There is not a better school especially for anyone who has an interest in National Security.  As the school is young, it is like a best kept secret …but it probably won’t be a secret for long.”

TOMASZ’ STORY

Tomasz is now at The Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security where he hopes to get an American perspective on issues related to Russian and global security. As he is obviously already extremely well-versed in this area, Tomasz sought out a program with the utmost authority and credibility to augment his own well-established base in the field.  Tomasz found that level of authority when he came across current Daniel Morgan – and former Harvard professor, Yuval Weber’s biography.  Seeing Dr. Weber’s well-documented expertise, Tomasz said that he “realized that DMGS was the right place to be.”

Now that he attends Daniel Morgan, he says that he is even more certain of the fact that DMGS was the place where true expertise in the field resided.  In addition to the formidable intellect of Dr. Weber, Tomasz has also been struck by the depth of national and international expertise that resides within the DMGS faculty as a whole.  In his own area of expertise, he has further been engaged by the extensive knowledge and insights of incoming professor, Dr. Edward Lemon, formerly a professor at Columbia University and now a DMGS-Kennan Institute Fellow. Dr. Lemon is a global authority on Eurasia. Talking enthusiastically about his experience at DMGS, Tomasz notes:

“It gives me a different angle and a truly global perspective in my chosen field which is particularly fascinating. These extremely erudite professors and stimulating courses have really shed light in several areas and have helped to unfasten the complex international geopolitical knot.”

Another reason Tomasz was drawn to The Daniel Morgan Graduate School was the possibility to be in the center of Washington D.C. amidst the hub of prestigious think tanks and media outlets with whom he had hoped to make connections. Tomasz says that his actual experience has greatly exceeded his expectations, as DMGS has given him significant access and entrees to several key organizations through its prestigious partners and events.

“It’s so easy to have extraordinary networking opportunities here at DMGS. Many doors have been opened for me and I have already been connected to many people and organizations that I would not have even dared to imagine.”

Gilbert’s Story

He says that his experience at the school has gone well above his already high expectations, going so far as to add that it has completely changed his perspective in multiple areas that he had previously viewed through a more narrow contextual lens.  He is currently enrolled in the National Security M.A. program, with a specialization in International Relations.

“This gives me a special perspective and understanding of security across the globe.  I increasingly understand the importance of studying security issues with a global backdrop since the impact of the National Security is not isolated.  It is intertwined because of the interconnectedness of the modern world.”

To achieve his specific career and learning objectives and work within the confines of his prominent career,, Gilbert is obliged and has been approved to take an accelerated track that would enable him to complete this in only 15 months.

 “The deans and professors at Daniel Morgan have been incredibly supportive in working with me to make the adjustments that I need to achieve my career objectives while meeting all the necessary academic milestones.  They don’t put up roadblocks.  They look for the solutions to the roadblocks.”

Gilbert is also impressed with DMGS’ personalized approach at the instructional level.  He notes that the small classes result in everyone having a chance to express themselves and to better engage with the material being covered.  He also explains how DMGS’ professors have a fascinating way of leading and guiding the class through their subjects, while deftly merging students’ international perspectives into the discussion.

“At this school, different skills and cultures come together in a very special way that enhances the learning experience for every one of us.”