The Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism & Interdisciplinary Learning at SU

Hello, future Maxwellians! My name is Frankie Garrison and I am a Master Public Administration and Master of Arts in International Relations graduate candidate at the Maxwell school. While I am focusing my graduate studies on issues of international and national security here at Maxwell, and I am also working as a Graduate Assistant in INSCT, SU’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (pronounced: In-skit). Graduate assistantships are a form of financial scholarship, that combines a tuition credit, employment benefits, and a salary for work. At Maxwell they are offered as either 10 hours-a-week or 20 hours-a-week assistantships. A large number of people in the cohort each year are offered them, and people work for different faculty and departments across Maxwell.


INSCT is a collaborative interdisciplinary center shared between the Maxwell School and Syracuse University’s College of Law. INSCT is focused on the study of national and international security. Because of INSCT’s interdisciplinary nature, it is home to students and faculty from Maxwell, and the law school. INSCT also offers Certificates of Advanced Studies in Security Studies, National Security and Counterterrorism Law, and Post-conflict Reconstruction.

Certificates of Advanced Study (CAS) are essentially the graduate version of a minor. It is a way to demonstrate significant course work in a particular field or topic. When looking at graduate programs, I highly recommend exploring what different interdisciplinary centers universities have and if there are different opportunities for you to complete one of these certificates as a part of your main degree.



INSCT is one of the main reasons I chose to come to Maxwell, and interdisciplinary studies is an area that I think Syracuse University particularly excels in. When I started at Maxwell, I made a point of enrolling in INSCT’s advanced certificate in Security Studies, and because of my work it has become my work and study spot on campus. In INSCT, I work alongside several other graduate and research assistants, as well as other students from Maxwell and the law school. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to move beyond Maxwell and meet law students interested in issues of national and international security. As a policy person, the perspective of the law students on many different national and international security issues has been particularly interesting to me. In the Fall, as a part of my advanced certificate, I took a class titled “Central Challenges of National Security.” The class was half law students, and half Maxwell students. The mix of perspectives and expertise in the class created an incredibly interactive class environment where we were able to learn a great deal from one another.

I have found these kinds of interdisciplinary experiences to be incredibly valuable part of graduate school. When looking at graduate programs, I highly recommend that you look at what opportunities there are to take classes outside your program of admission and beyond your university’s walls. Here at Maxwell, many students take classes in the School of Business, the School of Education, the Law School, and within the many Maxwell departments, like Anthropology, Political Science, and Sociology. Networking with students and faculty outside of your program can be incredibly valuable. At most universities as a graduate student, there are often many options when it comes to crafting a customized education, and I highly recommend taking advantage of this.

If you happen to be interested in issues of national and international security, and the Maxwell School, I highly recommend taking visiting INSCT’s website,, or coming to visit if you are ever on campus.