Cipher Brief


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NOTICE – The Cipher Brief program is currently paused. We will advise as soon as the program is restarted.

The Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security is excited to announce a strategic partnership with the Cipher Brief as part of its Academic Incubator Program.

About the Cipher Brief

National security is everyone’s business. The Cipher Brief is committed to publishing trusted, non-partisan information that brings together the expertise of the public and private sectors to provide stronger national security for all.

Cipher Brief publishes real-time national security news, insight, and analysis. We produce best-in-class events focused on finding multi-sector solutions to the world’s most complex global security issues. The Cipher Brief was founded on the belief that it is not enough to know what happened; to make confident decisions, you need to understand what it means. For more information, visit

Free Cipher Brief Subscription

As part of the Academic Incubator partnership with the Hayden Center, all Schar School students are eligible for a free Level 1 Membership (normally a $199 annual cost). To receive your free membership, please fill out the form here with your:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • George Mason University email address
  • Degree program
  • Anticipated graduation date

You will receive details about how to access the free subscription upon submission of the form.

Academic Incubator Program

In addition to the free subscription, Schar School PhD and Master’s students have the opportunity to publish articles with the Cipher Brief for its Academic Incubator Program. The Academic Incubator Program shares insights and expertise on national security issues with students who are enrolled in the Program. The program works with accredited University programs across the country to help promote analytic thinking that incorporates multiple perspectives on the issues that impact our future.

Articles submitted for the Academic Incubator Program must meet the following criteria

  • outline a national or global security issue with a call for action or proposed policy solution that addresses it
  • be between 800 and 1200 words
  • have been reviewed by an appropriate Schar School faculty member with expertise on the topic in question
  • should take the form of an analytical opinion essay

Students planning to submit a piece for consideration should therefore ask the faculty reviewer to ensure that it

  • has a clear argument or statement of a problem germane to national or global security stated in the first two paragraphs
  • has a coherent structure that flows from and supports the argument
  • concludes with a clear policy recommendation or call to action

Pieces submitted for consideration should also include hyperlinks (not footnotes or endnotes) to cite all factual claims and sources of arguments. To get an idea of the style and content of Academic Incubator articles before submitting, take a look at past examples here. SUBMISSIONS NOT FOLLOWING THESE GUIDELINES (e.g, containing endnotes or footnotes rather than hyperlinks) WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY REJECTED. Papers or other work previously submitted as a class assignment are more than welcome but should be revised to meet these requirements. If you are unclear whether a piece you plan to submit for consideration meets these guidelines, show this paragraph to the faculty reviewer and ask them to confirm it does.

To submit an article for consideration use the form here. Required information includes:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • George Mason University email address
  • Degree program
  • 2-3 sentence bio
  • Name of Schar School faculty reviewer
  • Draft of the article (as attachment)
  • Headshot to be published with article (as attachment)

The Hayden Center will conduct a final review of the article, return any proposed edits, and submit the draft to the Cipher Brief. Please note that the author will retain copyright to the article, but the Cipher Brief reserves the right to post and publish it in perpetuity and to use it in its promotional material. The Hayden Center will also feature it on our website and may use it in promotional material.

Previous Academic Incubator Columns

Will Nelson, “Containment: A Poor Fit for China,” December 7, 2021

Mason Goad, “The Importance of TEMPEST Standards,” December 7, 2021

Kieran Madden, “Russia’s Arctic Expansion,” December 5, 2021

Winston Favor, “Rethinking U.S.-Africa Engagement,” December 5, 2021

Christopher Kernan-Schmidt, “The Cost of Inaction in Myanmar,” May 31, 2021

Joshua Stone, “Contending with China’s Rise to Great Power Status,” April 29, 2021

Ian Fitzgerald, “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the IC,” March 11, 2021

Alan Maubouche, “The Next World Order is a Gray One,” February 19, 2021

Ameen Karim, “Why the U.S.-Taliban Peace Deal has Already Failed,” October 8, 2020

Alexander Naumov, “Responding to the Belarus Uprising: Not Crimea 2.0,” September 18, 2020

Karina MacLean, “Selling F-35s to Saudi Arabia Risks an Arms Race,” July 3, 2020

Jake Ferguson, “Why the US Should Move on from Saudi Arabia,” May 1, 2020

Youssef Elshamy, “The Problem with Erdogan’s Grand Vision,” April 17, 2020

Alexander Naumov, “A Window into Modern Russian Intelligence Culture,” April 10, 2020

Jonathan Hoffman, “Geopolitical Conflict Underlying the War in Libya,” January 17, 2020