The Sanford School seeks applicants from a variety of academic, professional, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. The selection committee considers the applicant’s academic performance as an undergraduate, relevant work experience, range of courses taken, English and writing skills, personal statement, and faculty and/or employer recommendations.

The MNSP is an executive-style, hybrid program (courses mostly online but with campus experiences in the first Summer and twice on weekends in both the Fall and Spring semesters). Prospective students should be prepared to attend these events on campus, as well as have the minimum requirement of seven years of relevant work experience in the national security field. Students will need to be able to provide official transcripts for all undergraduate, or graduate, courses taken prior to starting the program. 

Personal interviews are not a requirement of the admissions process; however, faculty and staff are happy to meet with prospective students or talk with them about the program. Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to submit a short video with their online application.


Applications are submitted online through the MNSP admissions website.

The application deadline for the Duke MNSP Program is January 4 (5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time). The deadline includes receipt of all application materials via the online application system: personal statement, three letters of recommendation, résumé, and uploaded transcripts from all universities and/or colleges attended. Since all application materials are uploaded within the online application, please do not mail or email application documents unless they are requested by the Duke MNSP Admissions Office. Students also have the option to provide optional materials to supplement their application materials, including GRE, GMAT, LSAT (standardized test) scores, writing samples, and a short video introduction (recommended).

A completed application includes:

  • Transcripts. An uploaded undergraduate transcript with degree posted and other official transcripts for all colleges and universities attended.

  • Three Letters of Recommendation. The online electronic letter of recommendation and evaluation form provided are required in lieu of either mailed or placement office prepositioned recommendations. Individual, personalized letters of recommendation (provided in addition to the Duke Evaluation Form) from academic and professional references, who can speak directly about the applicant’s accomplishments and potential during and after completion of the MNSP Program, are encouraged. Considering the seven-year work experience requirement for the MNSP it is appropriate to obtain all three recommendations from work-related professionals.

  • Statement of Purpose. One to three typewritten pages, single- or double-spaced, uploaded with the online electronic application, and addressing:

    • What is your experience in the national security sector?

    • Why are you interested in obtaining a masters of national security policy?

    • How do you see the master of national security improving your current professional practice and helping you to achieve your future professional goals?

  • Resume. Not to exceed two printed pages, uploaded with the online electronic application.

  • Application Fee ($80). Applicants pay the fee by credit card (this option is available only at the time of submission of the electronic application). Applications are not processed until the application fee has been received.

Optional Materials Include:

  • Short Video Introduction (recommended)

  • GRE, LSAT, etc. (test scores)

    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (Optional). Official scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within five years of application. The GRE must be taken before December 1 for scores to be received by the January 5 application deadline; it takes about three to four weeks to obtain GRE scores via the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Those submitting IELTS scores should have an official report mailed prior to the January 5 deadline. All non-US applicants whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores regardless of whether they have attended US academic institutions or participated in ESL programs. TOEFL or IELTS waivers are not provided. U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents do not need to submit a TOEFL score. The TOEFL or IELTS must be taken before December 1 for Sanford to receive the scores by the January 4 application deadline; it takes approximately four weeks to obtain scores—please plan accordingly. The TOEFL institution code number for Duke is 5156 (a departmental code is not required). Applications missing language testing scores may not be reviewed. The score must not be more than two years old, and an official record must be sent electronically via ETS. Personal copies are not acceptable, nor are “attested” or notarized copies. The desired score range for the TOEFL Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT) is 110-120.

  • Writing Samples


All online application materials must be received by the January 4 deadline. This deadline date includes (but is not limited to) receipt of online recommendations, transcripts, and test scores.

Please do not mail application materials unless the school requests them; instead, application materials are required to be uploaded with the online application. If the school requests mailed documents, application materials should be mailed to the below address; the school accepts weekday (Monday through Friday) deliveries via US Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS*: 

Duke MNSP Admissions Office
149 Sanford Building, Box 90239
Duke University, Durham, NC 27708

(919) 613-7355

*For FedEx or UPS service: Delete “Box 90239” and add the area code/telephone number above to the shipping document.


Deferrals (to defer an offer of admission to a subsequent academic term or year) are rarely granted—for exceptions, please contact the MNSP academic advisor. An admission offer is for only the semester specified in the letter of admission. Prospective students should submit their application during the year prior to the desired year of attendance.

Visiting Duke and the MNSP Program

To schedule a meeting (or a phone call or video chat) with the MNSP Program, please contact:

Mark Hart (919) 613-7355 / Email:, or

Tim Nichols (910) 658-6441 / Email:

Visits are encouraged during the fall or spring semesters, when classes are in session and prospective applicants can get a more complete experience of the school. The itinerary may include a meeting with the representatives of the MNSP program, director of career services, and faculty (based on individual policy interests and faculty availability). Students may request to observe classes in session.

To allow time to plan an agenda, please contact us at least two weeks in advance of the projected arrival date. The school will also be pleased to put prospective students in contact with current students and faculty. Visits cannot be scheduled on weekends (Saturday or Sunday) or on designated Duke holidays, breaks, or recesses. Due to winter break and application processing, visits are not scheduled during the period between December 15 through January 11.

Once an MNSP application has been submitted online, visits are deferred until after the student has received the admission decision.

Recruiting Events

The Sanford School attends student recruiting events throughout the United States, as well as specific events for the MNSP program. Visit the MSNP website for upcoming recruiting events: