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Department of Justice, Law & Criminology

MS in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy

M.S. in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy

Master of Science (MS) in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy

The MS in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy is an interdisciplinary program that trains students to understand and explain problems of terrorism and other sub-state threats to U.S. homeland security. Approaching security issues informed by social science with attention to the perspectives of criminology and criminal justice, the program emphasizes development of strategic, policy-based security solutions at the federal, state and local levels of government. The program provides students with grounding in quantitative research methods as well as foundation in fields of criminology, law, and public policy. Students have the flexibility to expand on this foundation with a wide range of security and policy elective courses across the university. Throughout the program, students are exposed to rigorous intellectual challenges and provided the skills and knowledge needed to address current issues facing U.S. law enforcement, intelligence, and homeland security agencies. The degree prepares students for a variety of practitioner, policy and research positions.

Chair's Message

Welcome to the School of Public Affair’s new graduate program, the Master of Science in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy. Admitting its first students in fall 2014, this interdisciplinary program trains students to tackle the persistent problems of terrorism and sub-state threats that endanger the security of the United States. As the name of the degree suggests, our program encourages students to think beyond tactical approaches to develop strategic, policy-based solutions that federal, state and local governments can use to combat terrorism and other current and future security threats.

The M.S. in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy is based in the Justice, Law and Criminology Department, which has a long tradition of academic excellence. Students are exposed to rigorous intellectual challenges and provided the skills and knowledge needed to successfully compete for jobs in law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security. Our renowned faculty members are international experts in terrorism and national security research, and they regularly work with policymakers and practitioners to craft solutions to homeland security problems. Situated just steps from U.S. Department of Homeland Security offices, the School of Public Affairs at American University is the ideal location to study homeland security policy.

I hope you enjoy browsing the website and learning more about the degree program. If I or my colleagues can answer any questions, please contact us at spagrad@american.edu. We look forward to including you in our program.

Richard BennettRichard Bennett
Chair, Department of Justice, Law & Criminology
School of Public Affairs

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Admission to the Program

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for graduate study, applicants must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores. Applicants are evaluated on the basis of scholastic achievement in their last 60 credit hours of undergraduate work, test scores and two letters of recommendation.

Degree Requirements

  • 33 credit hours of approved graduate work with at least 18 credit hours at the 600 level
  • One three-hour written comprehensive examination in the area of Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy. Students must complete foundational seminars and electives prior to taking the examination.
  • Research requirement: ?JLC-680 Introduction to Justice Research I and JLC-681 Introduction to Justice Research II with grades of B or better

Course Requirements

Foundation Courses (6 credit hours)

  • 6 credit hours from the following:
    • GOVT 529 Principles of Homeland Security (3)
    • JLC 601 Law and Social Sciences (3)
    • JLC 607 Concept of Justice (3)
    • JLC 609 Criminological Theory (3)
    • JLC 610 Justice and Public Policy: Controversial Issues (3)
    • ?JLC 643 Advanced Seminar in Policing (3)
    • JLC 672 Terrorism, Crime and Public Policy (3)
    • JLC 673 Seminar on National Security Policy (3)
    • JLC 684 Intelligence Analysis (3)
  • Two interdisciplinary foundation-level courses chosen from the following (6 credit hours):
    • GOVT 529 Principles of Homeland Security (3)
    • GOVT 635 Social and Political Movements, Ethnicity, and Nationalism (3)
    • GOVT 696 Political Violence (3)
    • PUAD 603 Policy Process (3)
    • PUAD 604 Public Program Evaluation (3)

Research Courses (6 credit hours)

  • JLC 680 Introduction to Justice Research I (3)
  • JLC 681 Introduction to Justice Research II (3)

Elective Requirements (15 credit hours)

  • Five elective courses selected from the following list, or from other approved courses in the School of Public Affairs (15 credit hours):
    • GOVT 526 U.S. Intelligence Community (3)
    • GOVT 529 Principles of Homeland Security (3) (if not used for foundation requirement)
    • JLC 683 Cyber Threats/Security (3)
    • JLC 662 Crime/Conflict Nexus (3)
    • JLC 671 Evolution of the Global Jihad (3)
    • JLC 677 Security Challenges in South Asia (3)
    • JLC 674 Domestic Terrorism (3)
    • JLC 683 Investigating Terrorism (3)
    • JLC 684 Prosecution of Terrorism (3)
    • JLC 607 Concept of Justice (3) (if not used for foundation requirement)
    • JLC 608 Constitution and Criminal Procedure (3)
    • JLC 691 Internship in a Justice Setting (Maximum: 3 credit hours)
    • PUAD 603 Policy Process (3)
    • PUAD 604 Public Program Evaluation (3)
    • REL 675 Religion and Violence (3)
    • SIS 609 Conflict Analysis and Resolution: Theory and Practice (3)
    • SIS 610 Theories of Violence and War (3)
    • SIS 619 International Security (3)
    • SIS 619 Transnational Crime and Terrorism (3)
    • SIS 619 Cybercrime, Espionage and Warfare (3)
    • SIS 619 Corruption, Development &Democracy (3)
    • SIS 619 Political Risk Analysis (3)
    • SIS 619 Insurgency and Counterinsurgency (3)
    • SIS 653 US Foreign Policy: Countering Terrorism (3)
    • SIS 653 US Foreign Policy: U.S. National Security Strategy (3)
    • SIS 653 US Foreign Policy: U.S. Policy Toward Weak States (3)
    • SIS 653 US Foreign Policy: National Security and Proliferation (3)
    • SIS 653 US Foreign Policy: Transnational Security Challenges (3)
    • SIS 653 US Foreign Policy: Bioterror in the 21st Century (3)
    • SIS 653 US Foreign Policy: Homeland Security (3)

Faculty in the media

Richard Bennett, professor of justice, law, and criminology, spoke with the Associated Press on August 4 about the differences between Canada and the U.S. regarding cultural expressions of violence, which were highlighted following hitchBOT's destruction in Philadelphia.

Tricia Bacon, assistant professor of justice, law, and criminology, spoke to Voice of America on July 24 for a radio broadcast that aired in Africa. Professor Bacon discussed Al Shabab and issues surrounding President Obama's visit to Kenya and Ethiopia in addition to counterterrorism efforts and challenges in the region.

Jon Gould, professor of justice, law, and criminology, spoke with the Los Angeles Times on July 16 about President Obama's push for prison reform. "Probably his best tool is the bully pulpit to talk about race in the criminal justice system," Gould told the newspaper.

Jon Gould, professor of justice, law, and criminology, appeared on MSNBC on July 15 to discuss prison reform in the United States and the potential benefits and consequences of it.

Joseph Young, associate professor of justice, law, and criminology, was quoted in an article for KUTV.com on July 2 that looked at Americans' increased willingness to aid and support counter-terrorism measures and authorities in light of recent attacks.

Recent Publications

Joe Young: "Repression, Dissent, and the Onset of Civil War," Political Research Quarterly 66(3): 516-532.

Steven Tankel: "Domestic Barriers to Dismantling the Militant Infrastructure in Pakistan," USIP Peaceworks 89 (2013).
"Jihadist Violence: The Indian Threat," Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2014).

Brian Forst: "Criminologists on Terrorism and Homeland Security," book of original essays co-edited with Jack R. Greene and James P. Lynch (2011).