American University Online Master of Science in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security Curriculum

American University’s Master’s curriculum features a mix of homeland security courses and counter-terrorism courses that build interdisciplinary knowledge in counter-terrorism and its details, including national security law and policy, cybersecurity, and the theories of political violence.

The two-year, 36-credit program consists of 12 courses and an internship (option in local area or in D.C.), including:

Course Descriptions

Core Course Toolkit – 6 Courses

This course provides an introduction to the key concepts that you will cover in this program including a high level discussion of defining and understanding terrorism, types of national, international, and transnational threats, and frameworks for legal, intelligence, and community based responses to these threats.

An introduction to the study of terrorism and political violence through multiple lenses, including psychology and rational choice theories. Examine why people join violent organizations to further political aims and how tactics are influenced by choices and motivation.

Investigate the causes and consequences of domestic terrorism and political violence using insights from psychology, political science, economics, history, and other disciplines.

First class of two focused on aspects of intelligence analysis. This course will focus on the role of intelligence in an operational and tactical manner in both the law enforcement and intelligence communities. Students will learn and be able to practice hands on skills with access to recognized analytic software.

Second class in a series. This class will focus on the applied use of intelligence in the formulation of national and homeland security policy through a focus on the role of an intelligence analyst in the U.S. government’s policy process.

In this course, students will delve into the constitutional, legal, and policy framework to combat threats to the U.S. both at home and abroad, through the use of force, detention, immigration enforcement, and other rule of law issues.

Research Methods – 2 Courses

First class in a two part series. This course will provide the foundations for understanding social science research as it applies to the study of terrorism and political violence. Course topics will include research design and research methodology including case and observational studies.

Second in the series. Focus on the ability of students to design, critique, and execute social science research in the terrorism and political violence realm. Apply knowledge of methodology learned in previous class to analysis of data, case studies, and other social science research information sets.

Residency – 1 Course

There is a residency requirement in Washington, D.C. as part of this class. Gain a foundation for understanding how policies related to contemporary security issues are made and executed, with a primary focus on terrorism and insurgency.

Selected Topics – 3 courses

An overview, discussion, and assessment of the legal, sociological, and policy constructs used by federal U.S. law enforcement to detect and investigate terrorism through a study of parameters of identifying, assessing, and surveilling threats.

This course looks at the relationship between criminals and terrorists by examining the nexus of terrorists and criminal networks, their commonalities, affinities, and disparities, along with implications for policy responses.

This course provides students with the tools necessary to understand the nature of the cyber threat to government and private sectors and to understand and evaluate proposed cybersecurity policies for addressing the threat.