MPS in Security and Terrorism Studies Required Coursework

Students must complete twelve (12) courses comprising 36 credit hours culminating in a capstone project for the MPS in Security and Terrorism Studies. The program format is online and synchronous. The courses occur after 6:00pm ET or on weekends, and are 2.5 hours long. These courses follow a standard Fall or Spring academic semester of 15 weeks.


BSST640: Theories of Security and Terrorism Studies

  • This course will expose students to the relevant theoretical underpinnings of Security and Terrorism Studies. Theories of STS come from across the social science spectrum, but this course will mainly pull from sociological, psychological, and political science theory to help students develop a theoretical foundation for their research.

BSST641: The U.S. Security Infrastructure

  • ​An overview of the federal departments and agencies whose core missions are to provide for security and prevent terrorism. The course will overview the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Intelligence Community as well as state, local, and tribal assets to provide students with a better understanding of interagency successes and gaps.

Research Methods Courses

BSST633: Research Methods in Terrorism and Counterterrorism

  • Applications of security and terrorism studies bridge the social sciences. This course is designed to aid students in developing an interdisciplinary approach to research design. Students will be exposed to the tools relevant to STS, will learn about available data sources, and will investigate the relationship between data and methods.
  • Offered during Spring semesters (January-May)

BSST642: Analytic Methods 

  • This course is specifically designed for students who are mainly interested in developing their skills as practitioners. The course will overview and detail methods used by analysts. Topics will include, but are not limited to, risk assessment, red teaming, data blending, and analytical writing/briefing.

Security Studies Courses

BSST643: Near-Peer Competition

  • This course focuses on the emerging threats posed by state actors termed as "near-peers." The course will discuss topics germane to near-peer competitors, most notably China, Russia, and Iran, but will cover other state actors as necessary. Potential topics covered in this course include disinformation, misinformation, cyber threats, asymmetric warfare, and state support for non-state actors, and gray zone activity.

BSST644: Counterproliferation

  • This course overviews causes and consequences of proliferation of arms and controlled materials including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and missile technologies. Students will investigate preventative measures and policies governments and the international community use to counter individual actors, organizations, and governments who proliferate.

BSST645: Non-state Actors Threats and Responses

  • An overview of the types of non-state actors that influence state actions. The course will examine the economic, political, and social costs of the proliferation of non-state actors globally. While the course will discuss terrorist groups, the main focus of the course will be on actors such as militant groups, insurgent groups, drug cartels, and illicit financial actors.

Terrorism Studies Courses

BSST630: Motivations and Intents of Terrorists and Terrorist Groups

  • This course will provide an introduction to the study of terrorism, and will focus on explaining the formation of terrorist groups and the motivations behind terrorist behavior. To do so, it will draw upon theories from social psychology, sociology, political science, criminology, and history. The course will draw heavily from historical examples as well as current examples of international and domestic terrorist groups around the world.
  • Offered during Fall semesters (August-December)

​​BSST631: Societal Impacts of and Responses to Terrorism

  • This course will address the manners in which a variety of different actors respond to both terrorist incidents and the threat of terrorism. The course will examine local responses to terrorist incidents (9/11 and other events) through emergency response organizations, community organizations, and volunteerism. The course will also look at local impacts of terrorism including effects on individual and group attitudes and behaviors. The course will then move to policy decisions made in response to both terrorist attacks and the threat of terrorism, addressing such issues as homeland security planning, border security, and surveillance. Finally, the course will address individual and community recovery from terrorist attacks, looking at such issues as psychological impacts of trauma, historical memory, and effects of disaster on civil society. The goal of the course will be to develop a multifaceted perspective on individual and community resilience in the face of terrorist threats.
  • Offered during Spring semesters (January-May)

​​BSST634: ​Legal and Criminal Approaches to Counterterrorism

  • The United States and many of her allies have challenged long-standing legal boundaries in their effort to combat terrorism. This course examines these responses, including: increased criminalization of terrorism related activities; aggressive criminal prosecutions; detention of suspected terrorists indefinitely in far-off prisons; implementation of enhanced interrogation techniques; launch of drones to kill alleged terrorists, even U.S. citizens; and deployment of a vast system of mass surveillance.
  • Offered during Fall semesters (August-December)

​​BSST635: ​Countering Violent Extremism: Policy and Practice

  • In recent years, the understanding of how and why individuals engage in violent extremism and terrorism has evolved and become more nuanced, as have the tools to mitigate these threats. A field of policy and practice called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) has emerged that focuses on countering the pull of terrorist recruitment and influence by building resilience among populations vulnerable to radicalization.
  • Offered during Fall semesters (August-December)

Capstone Courses

​​BSST697: ​Capstone
  • The final course in the program, this course requires the completion of a project that can originate from an inquiry stemming from previous coursework, current or former work, or could be developed in conjunction with a BSST faculty member. The student will prepare a project report and presentation which shall contain an executive summary, a literature review, description of project methods and data, a discussion of results, conclusions and further research opportunities. The purpose of the capstone project is for students to examine a real world problem in terrorism and/or security studies, investigate potential solutions, and develop applicable results. 

MPS in Security & Terrorism Studies