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: