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SAASS Class XXXIII Graduation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Evan Lichtenhan
  • Air University Public Affairs

After completing their 50-week curriculum, Class XXXIII of the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS) celebrated their graduation at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. June 5, 2024. Two students were awarded Doctorates and 48 were awarded Master of Philosophy degrees in Military Strategy.

“In order to graduate and earn the title SAASS graduate, students must complete the 10-course curriculum with a B average or higher; author a thesis paper that contributes to military strategic thought; and successfully pass an oral comprehensive examination by a panel of three PhD faculty from SAASS and across Air University,” said Col. Robert O’Keefe, SAASS commander and dean. “The Master of Philosophy degree constitutes all the coursework requirements for a doctorate, which SAASS is accredited to award. Students selected for continuation in the Air University PhD program complete and defend a dissertation to then earn a Doctorate in Military Strategy.”

SAASS is a follow-on school for selected graduates of intermediate-level Department of Defense Professional Military Education schools. Throughout the 50-week curriculum, officers are taught critical analysis, broad synthesis and the ability to digest large amounts of disparate information and ideas. These concepts are the core of the school’s foundational competency, strategic thinking.

“All of this is rooted in a deep understanding of military and airpower history and theory to serve as guides to strategy development,” said O’Keefe. “Our curriculum rests on students reading a book for every seminar, during which they engage in critical discussion and debate over both past and contemporary issues our military and the nation have faced, are dealing with today, and may anticipate in the future. The goal is to develop practitioners capable of thinking through problems in unique and creative ways, not to deliver a standardized approach to problem-solving.”

With the necessary tools to think strategically and view problems from a unique and creative perspective, the 50 graduates will go on to help further advance the U.S. Air Force’s effort to reoptimize for great power competition.