Master of Arts Program in War Studies

Information on Master of Arts in War Studies


The Master of Arts (MA) in War Studies is a multi-disciplinary program that provides students with the opportunity to explore human conflict in any or all of its military, diplomatic, social, political, psychological and/or economic dimensions. The core program and support to the programmes are located at the Royal Military College campus in Kingston, Ontario. Courses are taught primarily by faculty from the three Canadian military colleges (RMC, CFC, CMR -SJ). For more information, consult the War Studies course offerings listed at: War Studies Programme Timetables. All  War Studies courses are delivered virtually, either asynchronously (online, no fixed meeting schedule) or synchronously (online, fixed class meeting schedule). Exceptionally, some courses may be offered in a “hybrid” mode of synchronous (scheduled) classes which combine on-site and video-conference participants. 

Additional general information about the graduate programmes of War Studies is available at: War Studies Programmes

Required Course

All MA students, regardless of program pattern, are required to complete WS500 - Theories of War from the 18th Century to the Present.

Program Duration

  • Master of Arts program will not take longer than five years to complete.
  • Students who are temporarily unable to continue with their studies due to service, professional or personal reasons may request a Leave of Absence in accordance with Academic Regulation 5.2.7 (See Academic Regulations For Graduate Studies)
  • Students may be withdrawn from the programme in accordance with one of the reasons listed in Academic Regulation 5.6 ( See Academic Regulations For Graduate Studies). 

Program Patterns

There are three patterns of studies in the MA Program of War Studies:

  • The Course only pattern: consists of ten credits (five two-term courses, or ten one-term courses or a combination thereof or;
  • The Directed Research Project (DRP) pattern: consists of eight credits and a directed research project(2cr). For more information on the DRP requirements, see the following page: Directed Research Project Pattern , or
  • The Thesis pattern: consists of six credits and a thesis(6cr). Students can apply to enter the thesis pattern when they have completed six credits.

Thesis Proposal Application

To be eligible for the thesis pattern, students must have completed WS500 and four other one-term credits with a B+ average.

To apply for the thesis pattern, students must submit the following documents to the President of the War Studies programme (Application form available in PDF format)

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  • And a thesis proposal.

Thesis Proposal 

Thesis proposals should provide a brief overview of the topic, the primary focus of the research (e.g., the thesis statement or central research question), the research methodology the student plans to employ, and a preliminary bibliography.

Elements of a Thesis Proposal

The proposal should be approximately 10 pages long and must contain the following elements.

  • Outline of research question and approach
  • Draft table of contents
  • Bibliography of key sources


The outline of the proposed research should include a clear thesis statement outlining the question to be addressed or the hypothesis to be tested. This should be followed by a discussion of why this is a valid question or hypothesis to pursue, including some demonstration that this has not been done in other ways in the existing literature.

The outline should also include an explanation as to how the question will be addressed or the hypothesis will be tested, and why this is a valid approach.

Table of Contents

The draft table of contents should flow from the outline and at minimum should include descriptive chapter headings.

Bibliography of key sources

The purpose of the bibliography is to demonstrate to reviewers that the applicant knows the key sources that must be consulted as part of the research work.

Students are strongly encouraged to work with their supervisor in putting together their proposal.

Proposal Approval Process

The proposal is submitted to the President of the program who then authorizes that the student has completed the required number of credits with the required average grade.

Either the Associate Chair or the President of the program reads the proposal as part of an internal review. If the proposal is ready it will then be sent out to two reviewers from War Studies faculty. Reviewers may approve the proposal, approve with revisions, or reject it.

Once the proposal has been approved by the two reviewers, the student is then cleared by the President of the program to register for TH500.

Thesis Submission

The following applies to all theses submitted for the degree Master of Arts in War Studies:

  • Masters theses will not normally exceed 40,000 words (150 pages), including bibliography, notes and annexes.
  • Theses must be completed in accordance with guidance provided at Division of Graduate Studies and Research Thesis Preparation Guidelines
  • All theses must be submitted to the President of the program a minimum of eight weeks before the intended date of examination.
  • All War Studies theses will be reviewed by an internal examiner prior to being sent for external examination.

Theses must comply with the regulations of the Research Ethics Board .

Directed Reading Courses

Students may take a directed reading course as part of their program, subject to the availability of a supervisor, completion of WS500 and sufficient academic achievement in other courses. The President of the program of War Studies is the approving authority for directed reading courses. Prior to final approval from the Chair and after consultation with the supervisor, the student must submit to the president of the program of War Studies a course proposal to include the following: (a) a description of the content of the course, (b) a reading list, and (c) the course evaluation plan.

Credit granted and Transfer Credit

Students may apply for advanced standing for courses taken elsewhere. Students are only permitted to take up to half of their required course credits at another accredited university. 

Failed Courses

A failing grade in the War Studies Program is any grade less than 70%. As required by the Graduate Studies and Research Division Calendar, this standard also applies to courses taken at other universities regardless of the pass standard at that university.

Academic Regulations

War Studies students must comply with the academic regulations outlined in the Graduate Studies and Research Division Calendar in the Graduate Studies Calendar

How to Contact the War Studies Program

By mail

War Studies Programme

2 Verité Ave
Royal Military College of Canada
PO Box 17000, Station Forces
Kingston, Ontario CANADA
K7K 7B4


By phone: 1 (613) 541-6000 ext 3724
Military (CSN): 271-3724


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