First Students to Secure Ph.D.


This summer Manar Elkhaldi and Marcos Degaut will be the first students to graduate from the UCF Political Science Department‘s Security Studies Ph.D. program.

The Security Studies doctoral program prepares graduates looking to work in military and other governmental and international agencies as well as the private sector that deal with security. It also prepares students for academic careers. The curriculum compromises 62 credit hours, including theoretical approaches, empirical analysis, and research skills related to security.

Manar Elkhaldi credits the program’s rigor and success to its outstanding faculty. She believes that their professional and advanced methodology as well as their commitment to excellence in education is reflected in their teaching.

“I look at political issues as a scientist who is well equipped with the proper tools to think critically and analytically about world affairs,” said the soon to be Ph.D. graduate, Elkhaldi. “I loved the program and would recommend it to anyone who’s willing to systematically work hard to yield amazing results.”

In her dissertation titled, “Rivalry-Prone Dyads? Interstate Religious Differences and Military Conflict,” Elkhaldi focused on how religious differences between states affect the various types of interstate conflicts. Her plans post-graduation involve working in the field of security issue research, varying from institutional to international security.

Marcos Degaut found the Security Studies’ pioneering doctoral program provided unmatched infrastructure, support, and facilities as well as experienced faculty well known in the field. Pontes’ dissertation titled, “Ideas, Beliefs, Strategic Culture, and Foreign Policy: Understanding Brazil’s Geopolitical Thought,” examined how rising powers such as Brazil historically behaved, reacted and constructed a discourse that constrained and motivated its decisions, explained its actions and legitimized its behavior.

“I am proud to say that I am one of the first students to graduate from the Security Studies Ph.D. program. For me, that is a huge honor, as the program is very challenging and demanding,” said Degaut. “It was a unique and extremely life-enriching experience, as I not only learned a lot in this field, but also significantly developed my professional and research skills.”

Degaut also credits the program for improving his teaching skills, for which he was recognized for his exceptional graduate teaching at UCF with the 2015 Honorable Mention for the Political Science Department Graduate Teaching Award.

Currently serving as a political adviser at the Brazilian House of Representatives, Degaut plans to continue working for the Brazilian government. Long term, he wishes to continue teaching and engaging in high quality research.

Both students plan to graduate this semester on Saturday, August 6, 2016 at UCF.


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