Penn State's 33-credit online Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security degree program offers a core curriculum rooted in the homeland/civil security enterprise with a broad range of specializations through options and electives.

Use the Course List below to find course information, including course descriptions and prerequisites.

Course List - Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security - Counterterrorism Option

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. 

Core Curriculum (9 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs HLS 801 Foundation for understanding homeland security history, the development of homeland security policies and organizations, and current management approaches. 3 credits
Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues HLS 803 This course will examine the social, political, legal, and ethical issues that arise in the context of homeland security. 3 credits
Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency HLS 805 Provides an overview of the domestic and global issues related to homeland security. 3 credits


Prescribed Courses (12 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Root Causes of Terrorism PLSC 836 Investigates the role that economic, political, and social factors play in determining patterns of international and domestic terrorism and terrorist activity, with an eye to diagnosing root causes of terrorism and informing counterterrorism policy. The course also contains prominent case studies of the root causes of terrorism and provides an overview of major terrorist threats in world regions.  3 credits
Counterterrorism PLSC 569 Surveys the history, evolution, strategies, techniques, tools, and contemporary issues related to counterterrorism in the world today.  The course has a comparative focus, examining both U.S. counterterrorism and counterterrorism in other states and contexts. The course makes use of specific case examples of counterterrorism and also engages normative/ethical debates on counterterrorism. 3 credits
Tools and Analysis of Terrorism and Counterterrorism PLSC 838 Introduces students to the various resources and analytical techniques available to terrorism and counterterrorism experts today. It introduces them to the major sources of data on terrorist groups, terrorist incident reports, risk climates, and legal and criminal justice data surrounding terrorism and counterterrorism. It provides students with critical data gathering and analysis skills useful to practitioners, and engages them in reporting and threat-briefing exercises.  3 credits
Radicalization, Counter Radicalization, and De-Radicalization PLSC 837 Provides a comprehensive summary of the factors that promote the radicalization process, as well as the theoretical and practical foundations of efforts at counter-radicalization and de-radicalization. 3 credits

Recommended Electives (9 credits)

Students choose 9 credits from an approved elective list in consultation with adviser. 

Title Abbreviation Description Credits

Politics of Terrorism 

PLSC 439

Analysis of political terrorism as a violent alternative for peaceful change and traditional warfare in the nuclear age. 3 credits
Fundamentals of Homeland Security HLS 811 Homeland security policies and strategies established by the United States federal government, as well as state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments; pertinent government plans to meet homeland security policy and strategy goals and objectives; key stakeholders across the homeland security enterprise; and the relevant legal issues. 3 credits

International Relations Theory


A survey of traditional and contemporary conceptual frameworks and theoretical approaches for the analysis of international relations. 3 credits

American Foreign Policy

PLSC 442

Principles of American foreign policy; processes of policy formulation; roles of the President, Congress, the State Department and other government agencies. 3 credits
Comparative Homeland Security and Related Methods

HLS 540

The course will address international cooperation in Homeland Security and compare select national approaches as well as teach related practical methods of analysis. 3 credits
U.S. Military's Domestic Imperative: Homeland Defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities

HLS 832

Provides an overview of the homeland defense mission and domestic support of civil authorities during disasters, and the distinctions between the two. 3 credits

U.S. Homeland Security Law

HLS 875 Analysis of Constitutional provisions, legislative enactments, executive directives, and judicial decisions relating to homeland security. 3 credits
Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security GEOG 571 The application of cultural geography in the intelligence analysis and synthesis process by identifying prominent threats to civil security. 3 credits

Disaster Communication

CAS 553 This seminar provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted nature of disaster communication across phases of a disaster. 3 credits
Capstone Experience (3 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Research in Political Science PLSC 594

Supervised student activities on research projects identified on an individual or small group basis.

A section of this course will be offered exclusively for students in the Counterterrorism option who are engaged in the capstone experience for the Option.

3 credits


Course Availability

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.