The Kevin and Cynthia O'Brien Undergraduate Program in International Security

Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC) educates exceptional undergraduate students to prepare them for careers in international security. Our alumni land prestigious positions in the intelligence community, on Congressional committees, in the Department of Defense, in the private sector, and at top graduate schools.

NDISC UG New Mexico Learning Experience
NDISC undergraduates visited New Mexico to learn about the history of war technologies

The Kevin and Cynthia O'Brien Undergraduate Program in International Security offers two options: a selective international security Undergraduate Fellows Program designed primarily for political science majors, and an interdisciplinary International Security Studies Minor open to students throughout the University.

Review the requirements or reach out to one of our undergraduate program directors to decide which is right for you. 

Why study international security?

International Security Studies (ISS) will continue to have a profound influence on the world and the people living in it. Understanding the causes and consequences of war helps us to reflect on how to avoid conflicts—increasing the chances for peace, security, and diplomacy.

Your success is important: both in the classroom and beyond! NDISC will help you:

  • Deepen your knowledge — learn how to assess security issues, how to identify dangers in crises, and how to reduce them.
  • Be aware of global conflicts, both past and present — be an informed global citizen and evaluate security arguments.
  • Be an ISS scholar — you will meet leading thinkers and learn about their research and other professional activities. There will also be unique experiential learning opportunities beyond the classroom in the national security field.
  • Get more than a job: a career — NDISC faculty have years of experience helping students discern their career goals, find internships and jobs, and establish network connections with current and former practitioners in the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, the uniform services, non- and inter-governmental organizations, Congressional representatives and staff, as well as private sector organizations in the international security sphere.


In addition to a robust classroom education on topics around international security, our students also have access to:

Which program is right for me?

Undergraduate Fellows Program

The Undergraduate Fellows Program is a selective program open to Notre Dame political science majors and others with a demonstrated interest in international security issues and a minimum GPA equivalent to cum laude (currently 3.84). Students can apply in their freshman, sophomore, or junior year, and must agree to meet all of the requirements, including a yearlong senior thesis and an internship in national security.

Students accepted into this program become NDISC undergraduate fellows and receive research support, internship funding, mentorship from accomplished leaders in the field, and priority access to NDISC networking and professional development opportunities.

Learn more about the Undergraduate Fellows Program Learn more about how to apply

International Security Studies Minor

The International Security Studies Minor is open to Notre Dame students in any major, and no application is required. Minors and fellows take the same specialized coursework, and both groups participate in the NDISC seminars, but the other requirements differ. A capstone is not required to complete the ISS Minor, although students are welcome to pursue one in consultation with the minor’s directors. ISS minors are also welcome to participate in NDISC networking and professional development opportunities as long as space is available.

Learn more about the ISS Minor

Interested or have questions?

Contact Us

NDISC is grateful for the generous support of our undergraduate program from the Kevin and Cynthia O’Brien Family Endowment for Excellence.

The NDISC undergraduate fellows also have their own podcast!

Listen to the "Students Talk Security" podcast