Program Overview

Designed for military personnel on educational assignment and college graduates seeking an intensive, one-year master’s program, this interdisciplinary program gives students a foundation in moral and political philosophy and international relations. Students can earn a master’s degree in military ethics in 12 to 24 months, gaining perspective from faculty in the humanities and law. 

Applications received by January 15 are given priority review. Learn more about applying to graduate programs at Case Western Reserve University and how to apply for the master of arts in military ethics program.

The Program

The program has been thoughtfully designed to educate students on and guide their research into vital global issues in military ethics. These issues include (but are not limited to) modern applications of classical just war theory and traditional warrior’s codes, the principle of noncombatant immunity, human rights, international humanitarian law, humanitarian intervention, the ethical use of emerging military technologies, civil-military relations and society’s obligations to troops and veterans, transitional justice, and the moral foundations of sustainable peace.

The study of military ethics supports long term humanitarian goals, such as preventing unjust wars, decreasing incidents of war crimes, genocide, human rights abuses, and other atrocities produced by the dehumanizing effects of armed conflict, supporting the mental health and successful transitions of military service members and combat veterans, and fostering a lasting peace founded in justice.

The Field 

Military ethics is a broadly interdisciplinary study, incorporating concerns about the conduct of war, decisions on how and when to engage in military operations, and issues relating to the moral psychology and care of those who serve and of veterans of military service. Traditional just war theory also plays a key role in international relations (political and moral philosophy governing when the use of military force is justified for the resolution of international conflicts) and international law (including Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and international humanitarian law).

Military ethics focuses on the core values and moral principles that collectively govern the men and women serving in the military forces of nations around the world, as members of what is sometimes termed the “military profession” or “the profession of arms.” The ethical foundations that define the profession of arms have developed over millennia from the shared values and experiences, unique role responsibilities, and reflections of members of the profession on their own practices – eventually coming to serve as the basis for various warrior codes and the LOAC.