A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Students excel in START’s online graduate programs


Students excel in START’s online graduate programs

October 25, 2021Erin Copland

START’s online graduate programs attract both established professionals looking to advance their careers, and early-career professionals eager to enhance their skills and education, with guidance from some of the top experts in the fields of intelligence analysis, national security and terrorism studies.

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree in Security and Terrorism Studies is a 36-credit program appropriate for students who are interested in, or currently working in, fields related to intelligence analysis and national security, as well as individuals interested in conducting scholarly research on terrorism and security.

START also administers a Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis, which is a 12-credit program that provides participants with advanced education on the causes, dynamics and impacts of international and domestic terrorism. Participants also develop the methodological skills necessary to pursue advanced research on, and analysis of, terrorism.

Below, two of START’s graduate students share their backgrounds and experiences both professionally and academically.

Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) Theron Nolen
Counterterrorism Division Unit Chief, FBI
Current Student: MPS in Security & Terrorism Studies

Theron Nolan
Theron Nolen

I am currently a Unit Chief in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, where I oversee international terrorism investigations within the United States. I began my career with the FBI in 2010 as a Special Agent assigned to the Phoenix Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). While assigned to the JTTF, I investigated individuals suspected of providing material support to designated terrorist organizations.

I am a subject matter expert on the ideological threats originating from international terrorist organizations. Since 2015, I have trained counterterrorism practitioners in the U.S. Intelligence Community on the nuances of the Salafi Jihadist ideology.

Prior to joining the FBI, I earned a commission in the U.S. Army after graduating from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1998.

I'm familiar with START's research, publications and the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) as a counterterrorism practitioner. I routinely visit START's website to read the most recent studies on extremism, and I learned about the MPS program after perusing START's website.

My course in Theories of Security and Terrorism Studies is fascinating. The theories describing the formation of anti-systemic groups correlates with designated terrorist organizations. I’m already familiar with the topics covered in my Legal and Criminal Approaches to Counterterrorism course. Still, it’s nice to see the MPS is preparing students for the counterterrorism/intelligence profession.

Jason Grove, D.O.
Consultant Psychiatrist
Prior Graduate: Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis
Current Student: MPS in Security & Terrorism Studies

Jason Grove
Jason Grove

I am a consultant psychiatrist working in operational medicine.  At the encouragement of a past mentor, Dr. Jerrold Post, I enrolled in the START Graduate Certificate program to help in my work tailoring existent literature on extremism and terrorism prevention in support of direct-acting elements and contributing to psychologically-oriented policy formulation.

The professors at START have been key both in helping consolidate a vast and diverse literature into a concise and navigable form and in broadening my perspective to include emerging allied disciplines. I look forward to my experiences in the MPS program academically and professionally with an immersion in the knowledge base and further exposure to organizations and agencies working in extremism and terrorism prevention.  Additionally, I hope to bring to the START program ideas and insights from the emerging interdisciplinary field of counterterrorism medicine (CTM).

Find out more about START’s online graduate programs

Prospective students can apply to either program now, with an application deadline of January 7 for the spring 2022 semester.

Those interested in learning more can sign up for one of our upcoming virtual information sessions, explore the educational programs on our website or reach out to education-start@umd.edu for more information.