Master's Degree Programs in Terrorism Studies: Program Overview

Many schools offer master's degree programs in terrorism studies designed for professionals in a variety of fields including government foreign service, law enforcement and technology.

Essential Information

Graduate degrees in terrorism studies may be obtained through 2-year Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) programs. The programs are often very specific with emphasis on topics such as nonproliferation of weapons, homeland security, cyber security and criminal justice.

Applicants to these programs need a bachelor's degree, and oftentimes fluency in a language other than English. Although these programs are typically two years in length, some can be completed in as little as 18 months with 32-36 credit hours of study. Graduation often requires completion of written research project or thesis.

Master's Degree in Terrorism Studies

Master's degree programs in terrorism studies are designed for a broad group of students, including first responders (e.g. police and firefighters, government officials and intelligence officers), and cover strategies for analyzing and responding to domestic and international terrorist acts. Students are given a theoretical background in the motives behind terrorist acts and the history and different types of terrorism, alongside more practical skills for assessing threats, collecting intelligence and crafting team-based responses to potential leads. Common course topics include:

  • Motivations of terrorism
  • Organizational responses to terrorism
  • Terrorist organizations
  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • Counterterrorism policy
  • History of terrorism

Popular Career Options

Persons who have completed graduate programs in terrorism studies are often qualified to work as homeland security professionals, or already do so. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), homeland security workers are defined as persons who anticipate and respond to phenomena such as natural disasters, epidemics and especially terrorism ( Titles specific to terrorism prevention and response may include:

  • Emergency response coordinator
  • Information security specialist
  • Infrastructure protection specialist
  • Intelligence analyst
  • Law enforcement employee trainer

Continuing Education Information

Terrorism studies are closely associated with fields such as political science, international relations and criminal justice. Accordingly, students with a master's degree in terrorism studies who wish to conduct further research or to obtain strictly academic positions may wish to enter a terminal Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in these fields.

Students interested in terrorism studies can pursue a master's degree program to specialize in various areas of the field. Graduates can work as various homeland security specialists or go on to earn a doctorate.

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