Thomas M. Nichols, PhD

Professor of National Security Affairs, Naval War College and Adjunct Professor, Air Force Institute of Technology

Thomas M. Nichols is professor of national security affairs at the United States Naval War College, where he was previously a Secretary of the Navy Fellow, the Forrest Sherman Chair of Public Diplomacy, and a chairman of the Strategy Department, for which he was awarded the Navy's Civilian Meritorious Service Medal. He is also a senior associate of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs in New York City and a fellow of the International History Institute at Boston University.

In 2012, he received the Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award from Harvard Extension School. He previously taught international relations and Soviet and Russian affairs at Dartmouth College and Georgetown University. He holds a PhD from Georgetown, an MA from Columbia University, a certificate of the Harriman Institute of Advanced Study of the Soviet Union at Columbia, and a BA from Boston University.

He was personal staff for defense and security affairs in the United States Senate to the late Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania, and served as a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He was also a fellow in the International Security Program and the Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School.

His most recent book, No Use: Nuclear Weapons and US National Security (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), is an analysis of American nuclear weapons policies and proposals for the reform of US nuclear strategy.


  • PhD Georgetown University


Courses with Thomas M. Nichols

Fall term 2017

Nuclear Weapons and International Security

This course examines the role of nuclear weapons in US and international security. In addition to familiarizing students with the types and effects of nuclear arms, the course considers several topics, including the history and future of nuclear strategy, the control and reduction of nuclear weapons, and the dilemmas of nuclear proliferation.

Spring Term 2018

Popular Culture and US Foreign Policy During the Cold War

This course examines the cold war through the prism of popular culture: books, music, literature, motion pictures, and television. The goal is to understand how culture expressed the major concerns of the American public at various points in the cold war, and what effects those concerns had on the making of American foreign policy.

The Origins and Evolution of Deterrence Theory

This course considers both the theoretical bases and practical applications of deterrence theory. It examines the origins of classical deterrence theory after World War II, traces its development during the cold war, analyzes its application to nuclear strategy, and considers its evolution into the twenty-first century.