Credits and costs
Online Certificate in Counterterrorism
The threat of terrorism and violent extremism remains one of the most pressing security challenges today. Because of this, educated professionals trained to counter the actions of terrorist and extremist groups and individuals are in great demand. Both the government and private industry are looking for specialists trained to craft, implement, and assess proactive counterterrorism policies, and to be able to effectively respond to potential or realized acts of terror.
Geared toward working professionals, the Graduate Certificate in Counterterrorism is open to candidates who hold a bachelor's degree. It is ideal for federal, state, and local emergency management officials; law enforcement personnel; members of the military; and employees in the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies.
Apply Graduate Certificate Credits Toward Your Master's Degree
The certificate may serve as an avenue into Penn State's Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Homeland Security online program. You can apply the 12 credits you earn in the certificate toward the online MPS in Homeland Security with an option in counterterrorism, if you apply and are accepted into the program.
Penn State's Counterterrorism Curriculum
The course work in the Graduate Certificate in Counterterrorism will familiarize you with the current counterterrorism policies, practices, and programs of various agencies in the Department of Homeland Security. Your education will feature a strong focus on understanding the motives, threats, recruitment strategies, and operational tactics of terrorist organizations. As a graduate of this program, you should be able to:
- identify conditions likely to encourage terrorism
- define counterterrorism techniques and operations
- plan and execute intelligence-gathering programs
- turn collected data into actionable information
In this program, you will have the opportunity to study with highly regarded faculty from the Department of Political Science in Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, one of the premier institutions in the world to study and work in the liberal arts disciplines. As a student studying online, you can expect the same quality education that our residential students experience — high academic standards for courses taught by the same faculty with real-world experience, who have been trained to teach online.
Information for Military and Veterans
Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, or application instructions.
This 12-credit certificate program consists of four required courses.
After completing this certificate, you may only need to take an additional seven courses to obtain Penn State's 33-credit online Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security — Counterterrorism Option, if you apply and are granted admission into the master's program.
Required Courses (12 credits)
If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.
Costs and Financial Aid
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,007 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,082 per semester|
Financial Aid and Military Benefits
Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.
Paying for Your Certificate
Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.
Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.
Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
Applications for all semesters are accepted on an ongoing basis. Decisions will follow soon after we receive your completed application.
- Summer Deadline: Apply now to start May 15
- Fall Deadline: Apply by July 1 to start August 21
- Spring Deadline: Apply now to start January 8, 2024
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
Starting Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
Begin the Graduate School application
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
Online Application Materials
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee.
You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
A copy of an official transcript from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed — Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State but must list Penn State as part of your academic history.
GPA & Test Scores — Post-secondary (undergraduate), junior/senior (last two years) GPA is required.
GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required for admission.
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with some exceptions. Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page.
References (2) — You will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of two references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
References should come from current or former academic instructors, managers or supervisors, and/or professional peers. Family and friend references are not acceptable.
Statement of purpose — A statement of no more than 500 words explaining to the admissions committee how your professional experience and goals relate to the program to which you are applying. Your statement could include aspects such as the following: your reasons for pursuing the degree; why you feel you are a good candidate for the program; and any information you would like the admissions committee to know about you personally and/or professionally.
Résumé — Upload your résumé (one to two pages) to the online application.
Review the technical requirements for this program.
Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.
Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?
Start or Advance Your Career
Start or Advance Your Career
You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.
For questions related to the Counterterrorism certificate or the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security — Counterterrorism Option, offered in partnership with the Department of Political Science, College of the Liberal Arts, please contact:
Andrew Vitek, Ph.D.
Assistant Teaching Professor, Counterterrorism Option Director
Political Science Department
217 Pond Laboratories
University Park, PA 16802
Email: [email protected]
Political Science Department
220 Pond Laboratories
University Park, PA 16802
Email: [email protected]
For general questions about Penn State World Campus, please contact:
World Campus Admissions Counselors
Email: [email protected]
DegreePh.D., Political Science, Duke University
DegreeM.A., Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
DegreeB.A., Political Science and International Relations, Bosphorus University, Istanbul
Dr. Nazli Avdan is an associate professor of political science at the University of Kansas, where she also directs the graduate program. She studies international migration and border policies, the security migration nexus, and international security and political violence, including specifically the causes and consequences of terrorism. Dr. Avdan’s work has been published in many of the leading political science and international relations journals. She teaches courses on foreign policy, terrorism, and migration policies.
DegreePh.D., Political Science, Florida State University
DegreeM.A., Latin American Studies, University of California
DegreeB.A., International Affairs, Florida State University
Dr. Justin Conrad is an associate professor of international affairs. He studies international security issues, including terrorism and interstate conflict, and his research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. Dr. Conrad's work has been published in many of the leading political science, security studies, and international relations journals. He has also worked in the international private sector and served as a U.S. military officer.
DegreePh.D., Political Science, University College Dublin
DegreeM.A., International Social Science, University College Dublin
DegreeB.S., International Social Science, University College Dublin and Uppsala University
Dr. Paul Gill's research focuses on violent extremist behavior. It is interdisciplinary in nature, with publications in leading political science, psychology, criminology, mathematics, and general science journals. He teaches on the causes and correlates of terrorism.
DegreePh.D., Philosophy, Political Science, International Relations, Public Policy and Quantitative Methods; State University of New York, Albany
DegreeM.S., Economic Development, Distinction in Applied Quantitative Methods; London School of Economics and Political Science
DegreeB.A., Economics, and Journalism & Mass Communications
Dr. Amira Jadoon is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences and a research associate in the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She specializes in international security, economic statecraft, and political violence, with a regional focus on South and Central Asia. Prior to beginning her career in academia and research, Dr. Jadoon worked as a consultant for Deloitte London (U.K.) between 2006-2011.
DegreePh.D., International Relations, St. Andrews University
DegreeMA, Forensic Psychology, University College Cork
DegreeBA., Psychology, University College Dublin
John Morrison has an interdisciplinary background in psychology, international relations and criminology. His teaching and research interests reflect this. He is particularly interested in the role of trust in terrorist involvement, and the broader psychology of terrorism.
DegreePh.D., Politics, New York University
DegreeM.A., Middle East Studies, University of Michigan
DegreeB.A., Political Science, Loyola University
Dr. James Piazza is a liberal arts professor of political science at Penn State. His research and teaching focus on terrorism, counterterrorism, and the politics of the Islamic world.
DegreePh.D., Political Science, State University of New York at Albany
DegreeM.A., Political Science, State University of New York at Albany
DegreeB.A., Political Science and Philosophy, McGill University
Dr. Andrew Vitek is the director of the Counterterrorism Option and an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Political Science. His research focuses on terrorism, political violence, security studies, and pedagogy. He teaches courses on terrorism, homeland security, and comparative politics.
DegreePh.D., International Relations, American University
DegreeB.A., Political Science, Trinity College
Dr. James Walsh's research and teaching interests include political violence and terrorism, civil war, human rights violations, and intelligence and national security. He is the author of three books, including Drones and Support for the Use of Force, available from The University of Michigan Press. His work has been supported by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, the Army Research Office, and the Minerva Research Initiative.
DegreePh.D., African Studies, Harvard University
DegreeM.A., Government, Harvard University
DegreeM.A., African Studies, Yale University
DegreeB.A., International Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Jason Warner, assistant professor at the Military Academy at West Point, teaches in the Department of Social Sciences and is an associate in the Combating Terrorism Center, where he directs research on terrorism and counterterrorism in Africa. His research focuses on terrorist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Africa, terrorism, counterterrorism, and political violence. He is the co-author or co-editor of three books and has published in leading academic journals in political science, security studies, and African studies.