CISA Internship Program

The College of International Security Affairs (CISA) is one of five component colleges at the National Defense University. CISA’s mission is to educate joint warfighters, civilian national security leaders, and partner nation counterparts in critical thinking to inform national strategy and globally integrated operations, under conditions of disruptive change, to prevail across the continuum of competition and war, with a special emphasis on irregular warfare. In this capacity, CISA is the Department of Defense (DOD) flagship for professional military education and building partner capacity in counterterrorism and irregular warfare at the strategic level. CISA is also a critical repository of subject matter expertise concerning counterterrorism, irregular warfare, homeland defense, international affairs, security studies and area studies. CISA is one of the few places in Washington D.C. or academia, where policy, practice and theory overlap. CISA faculty and students apply knowledge and insights gained in an academic setting to real world security contingencies. Examples include- combating the threat of Boko Haram in West Africa; achieving small state security; and developing new approaches to fighting drug trafficking organizations in Latin America. Finally, interns undertake meaningful work that directly supports the scholarship and instruction that occurs at CISA.

Internship Opportunities

CISA interns have the opportunity to learn from experts in the government, military, and international community in a prestigious academic environment.  Each intern is paired with at least one faculty member to develop various professional skills such as research, writing, and communication. The Fall, Spring, and Summer cohorts vary in responsibility and opportunity based on the academic year.  The faculty and staff at CISA will do all they can to ensure that the internship is academically and experientially rewarding. Interns should expect to work 24- 30 hours per week. Internships are unpaid positions. Duties may include:

  • Research support as requested by faculty members to assist with publications, course materials, and outreach;
  • Research, writing, and editorial support for the intern run newsfeed “The Eagle Eye;”
  • Assist staff and faculty in support of CISA programs, including the Regional Defense Fellowship (RDF) Program and the Joint Special Operations Masters of Arts (JSOMA) at Ft. Liberty, NC;
  • Administrative duties as assigned, including occasional university-wide event support.

An internship at CISA offers numerous opportunities, including:

  • Participation in conferences, workshops, and other programs at the National Defense University featuring academics, subject matter experts, military officers, and diplomats
  • Access to the NDU library and research resources
  • On-the-job experience and professional development opportunities
  • Experience conducting research and individual projects


CISA interns must be enrolled in a degree-seeking program at the time of application. Ideally, the applicant is majoring in international relations, area studies, political science, history or other fields relating to the CISA mission and has completed some coursework in these areas. Potential subjects of interest include, but are not limited to international affairs, area and regional studies, conflict management, counter-proliferation, counterterrorism, environmental security, grand strategy, homeland security, human rights, non-state actors, political economy, and post-conflict reconstruction. Internship applicants will be assessed on their ability in the following areas:

  • Prioritize, organize, and complete tasks with minimal supervision
  • Use library/research resources to gather relevant data to support faculty research
  • Ability to use Microsoft Word and Excel effectively
  • Work as a team player
  • Employ competent research, writing, and communications skills in support of faculty research
  • Write clearly and concisely
  • Display scrupulous attention to detail
  • Work well with different cultures and people
  • Foreign language skills are highly desired, but not required

Schedule and Application Dates

Fall Cohort
Duration: September – December
Fall Application Deadline: August 20th
Fall Final Decision: September 30th

Spring Cohort
Duration: February – May
Spring Early Action Application Deadline: November 15th
Spring Early Action Decision: December 5th
Spring Final Application Deadline: January 1st
Spring Final Decision: January 15th

Summer Cohort
Duration: June – August
Summer Early Action Application Deadline: March 15th
Summer Early Action Decision: March 31st
Summer Final Application Deadline: April 15th
Summer Final Decision: May 15th

How To Apply
You will be asked to submit one single PDF file that includes a cover letter stating which internship cohort you are applying for – Fall, Spring, Summer, a resume, and a writing sample of 3-5 pages of work most relevant to the internship you are applying for. Please email these materials to Ms. Grace Turner at with the subject header “Internship Application, NAME”

Please Note:

  • Due to the volume of inquiries and applications, you will only be contacted if you have been selected for an interview.
  • All internships are unpaid, however many students have been successful in securing work-study grants through their university’s financial aid office.
  • Please read all directions carefully before submitting an application. Your application will not be reviewed if you do not submit all the materials required in one single PDF file.
  • High school students are welcome to apply. However, CISA internship opportunities are highly competitive.
  • Internships will be offered primarily in person at the National Defense University in Washington DC.
  • Applications are not reviewed on a rolling basis. Please see the submission dates above.