Credits and costs
Gain Skills and Knowledge to Work in the Field of Counterterrorism
The growth of global and domestic terrorism has brought about a heightened demand for educated professionals who can proactively create counterterrorism policies and swiftly respond to potential or realized acts of terror. As a student in the MPS in Homeland Security - Counterterrorism option program, you can gain understanding of strategic, policy-based, and practical solutions for terrorism that are appropriate for government and the private and nonprofit sectors. You can learn such core skills as terrorism data analysis, security and intelligence assessment, report writing, threat management, counterterrorism briefing, and anti-terrorism assessment strategies.
Who Should Apply?
The MPS in Homeland Security Degree - Counterterrorism option, offered in partnership with the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts' Department of Political Science, is open to candidates who hold a bachelor's degree. It can provide federal, state, and local emergency management officials, law enforcement personnel, members of the military, and employees connected with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies with the knowledge and training to more effectively respond to the threat of terrorism. Individuals in the private sector — including finance corporations, insurance agencies, and security consultants — may also find the program relevant and valuable to their careers.
Penn State's Counterterrorism Curriculum
The MPS in Homeland Security - Counterterrorism option can provide you with a broad base of knowledge relevant to the current policies and programs of the Homeland Security administration. Courses in the option are designed to give students a detailed understanding of terrorist organizations, along with their motives, threats, recruitment strategies, and operational tactics. The program also covers the evolution of, and issues related to, counterterrorism in the U.S. and other contexts. It can further provide you with a focus on understanding terrorist organizations in detail, along with their motives, threats, recruitment strategies, and operational tactics. As a graduate of this program, you should be able to:
- understand the conditions that give rise to terrorism
- identify and evaluate basic counterterrorism operations
- plan and execute programs for intelligence gathering
- collect and analyze data and turn it into actionable information
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.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.
The Counterterrorism option within the 33-credit online Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security degree program provides students with a focused understanding of terrorism, terrorist threats, and counterterrorism strategies and polices.
The Counterterrorism option offers course work on the cause and sources of contemporary terrorism and terrorist groups; the history of counterterrorism and its contemporary application; the data, tools, and methods used to study and evaluate terrorism and counterterrorism; and radicalization and de-radicalization, as well as a culminating experience in which students apply their skills and knowledge to investigate and better understand a policy topic of their choosing (the Capstone course experience).
All students are required to complete the HLS Orientation (non-credit) as part of the HLS core curriculum before the end of their first semester. This orientation provides an overview of the HLS program and the field of homeland security.
Required Courses (9 credits)
Counterterrorism Option Prescribed Courses (12 credits)
Electives (select 9 credits)
Students choose 9 credits from an approved elective list in consultation with adviser.
Capstone Experience (3 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.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
We must receive your completed degree application, including all application materials, by the following deadlines:
- Fall Deadline: Apply by August 1 to start August 21
- Spring Deadline: Apply by December 1 to start January 8
- Summer Deadline: Apply by April 15, 2024, to start May 13, 2024
Decisions will follow shortly after these semester deadlines.
If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.
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.
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
Official transcripts 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. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.
GPA and Test Scores — Official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are not required.
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
References (3) — you will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of three 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.
Résumé — Upload your résumé to the online application.
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.
Start 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 Enrollment Type: "Degree Admission"
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
- Choose "HOMELAND SECURITY" as the major
- Choose “MASTER OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES” as the degree
- Choose “COUNTERTERRORISM OPTION” as the option
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
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 master's degree?
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.
Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way
Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way
Show mastery of specific subjects before your degree is complete. Thanks to shared courses across programs, students can often earn a certificate along with their degree in less time than if they earned them separately.
For questions related to 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]
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.
Itai N. Sneh
DegreePh.D., American History, Columbia University
DegreeLL.B., Faculty of Law, McGill University
DegreeM.A., Eastern European Jewish Studies, McGill University
DegreeB.A., Jewish History, Hebrew University, Israel
Dr. Itai N. Sneh's research and teaching focuses on the history of human rights; American presidential, diplomatic, legal, and political history; international law; terrorism; genocide; Israel; and the Middle East. He is currently working on two books: Torture through Ages of Injustice: Oppressive Power Regimes, Anti Reconciliation, and Untruths and The Encrusted Underside of Glory: Injustice, Inequality, and Struggles in American Legal History.
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.