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Master’s Degree Program

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Curriculum

The curriculum is structured around the key policy and organizational design problems that future homeland security leaders are likely to confront, and the analytic skills they will need to meet those challenges. Each course in the curriculum requires students to master the core issues, principles and problem-solving approaches for the topic in question, and apply those fundamentals to the specific challenges confronting their own jurisdictions or sponsoring organizations. The courses are sequenced and integrated to strengthen the overall cohesion of the curriculum, and enhance its effectiveness as professional, graduate-level education.

Students admitted to the 18-month program already hold positions with significant homeland security-related responsibilities. The demands of their jobs prevent most of these professionals from enrolling in a traditional in-residence MA program. To accommodate their time constraints, NPS requires students to be in residence only two weeks every quarter (for a total of twelve weeks for the whole program). Students complete the remainder of their coursework via the web. The program uses a "blended" learning approach in delivery of course material and learning experiences. Four features strengthen this web-based learning:

  1. Online collaborative tools such as forums, wikis, blogs, and messaging facilitate discussion, debate and collaboration among program participants and faculty. Course materials are easily accessible online in various forms, including streaming media lectures, audio recordings of required readings, printed text, and more.
  2. Students engage in active learning through exercises, use case studies, and simulations. Students apply their newly gained theoretical insights and analytic skills in a risk-free environment where strategies and policies can be tested.
  3. Students complete research papers and a Master's Degree thesis on actual policy development issues confronting their state, city or sponsoring organizations. Many research papers are already being operationalized and implemented by government organizations around the country.
  4. Student work is facilitated by the nation's premier Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) which provides access to key policy and strategy holdings across the full range of homeland security-related topics.

NS3180: Introduction to Homeland Security

This course provides an overview of the essential ideas that constitute the emerging discipline of homeland security. It has two central objectives: to expand the way participants think, analyze and communicate about homeland security; and to assess knowledge in critical homeland security knowledge domains: including strategy, history, terrorism, fear management, crisis communication, conventional and unconventional threats, network leadership, weapons of mass destruction, lessons learned from other nations, civil liberties and security, intelligence and information, homeland security technology, and analytics. The course is organized around an evolving narrative about what homeland security leaders need and how the CHDS program helps address those needs.

DA3210: The Unconventional Threat to Homeland Security

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the operational and organizational dynamics of terrorism. It considers those who act as individuals, in small groups or in large organizations; it considers indigenous actors as well as those who come to the United States to raise money, recruit or commit their acts of violence. In every instance, its focus is on violent clandestine activity that, whatever its motivation, has a political purpose or effect. The course addresses such specific topics as suicide terrorism, the role of the media, innovation and technology acquisition, the decline of terrorism and ways of measuring the effect of counterterrorism policies and strategies. The course also looks briefly at sabotage. By the end of the course, students should be able to design effective measures for countering and responding to terrorism based on an understanding of its organizational and operational dynamics.

NS2013: Research and Writing for Homeland Security

The purpose of the research sequence (NS 2013 and NS 4081) is to advance your critical thinking, research and inquiry skills; you will use these skills to produce a strong thesis proposal (in this course sequence), and then later for the final thesis. We will identify and practice the main steps and modalities of good research. This will include exposure to a variety of research methods from which you will choose at least one for your thesis project and develop with the help of your thesis committee. The goal of the sequence is to support the degree objectives of the CHDS Master's program by preparing you to conduct graduate-level, policy-relevant research and deliver the results of this research in an academically rigorous thesis. The thesis is arguably your primary deliverable in the Master's program. By the end of the NS 2013-NS 4081 sequence, you will have prepared a proposal for a thesis that is intellectually rigorous, feasible, and reflects the policy interests and needs of the homeland security community.

IS4010: Technology for Homeland Security

Government agencies in today's Information Age are more dependent than ever on technology and information sharing. This course provides individuals involved in homeland security a broad overview of homeland security technology, information systems, inspections and surveillance technology, communications, knowledge management and information security. The course focuses on technology as a tool to support homeland security personnel regardless of functional specialty. The methodology used in the course will frame technology in terms of its contribution to deterrence; preemption; prevention; protection; response after an attack.

The study of principles and theory is combined with homeland security examples and cases. Students will gain a perspective on the important role of senior management in enterprise level computing and their personal role as change agents and dealing with "disruptive technologies." The objective is to empower the student to influence the plans and actions of homeland security organizations in preventing and preparing for homeland security, homeland defense, and terrorism. Another primary objective of the course is to help the students recognize the possibilities of new technology and novel applications of policies or laws to address threats. The knowledge and skills acquired will make students more effective technology users and help them to recognize opportunities where the application of technology solutions can provide a strategic advantage and therefore make a contribution to homeland security. The ultimate objectives are to show students how homeland security professionals can exploit technology and to use technology in the most efficient, innovative and productive manner.

NS4156: Intelligence for Homeland Security: Organizational and Policy Challenges

The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the ensuing War on Terror have focused the nation's attention on homeland security. This course examines key questions and issues facing the U.S. intelligence community and its role in homeland security and homeland defense. Students will have the opportunity to fully address policy, organizational and substantive issues regarding homeland intelligence support. Course reference materials will provide an overview of diverse intelligence disciplines and how the intelligence community operates. Course emphasis will be on issues affecting policy, oversight, and intelligence support to homeland defense/security and national decision-making. The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Prevention of Terrorism Act is addressed and the course is shaped to focus on homeland intelligence support issues at the State/Local/Tribal levels.

NS4081: Research Colloquium

The purpose of the research sequence (NS 2013 and NS 4081) is to advance your critical thinking, research and inquiry skills; you will use these skills to produce a strong thesis proposal (in this course sequence), and then later for the final thesis. We will identify and practice the main steps and modalities of good research. This will include exposure to a variety of research methods from which you will choose at least one for your thesis project and develop with the help of your thesis committee. The goal of the sequence is to support the degree objectives of the CHDS Master's program by preparing you to conduct graduate-level, policy-relevant research and deliver the results of this research in an academically rigorous thesis. The thesis is arguably your primary deliverable in the Master's program. By the end of the NS 2013-NS 4081 sequence, you will have prepared a proposal for a thesis that is intellectually rigorous, feasible, and reflects the policy interests and needs of the homeland security community.

CS3660: Critical Infrastructure: Vulnerability Analysis and Protection

Critical Infrastructure protection is one of the cornerstones of homeland security. While PDD-63 lists 8 sectors, the National Strategy for Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets lists 11 sectors: Water, Power & Energy, Information & Telecommunications, Chemical Industry, Transportation, Banking & Finance, Defense Industry, Postal & Shipping, Agriculture & Food, Public Health, and Emergency Services. For the purposes of this course, we have divided these into levels with Water, Power & Energy, and Information & Telecommunications forming the first - or foundational - level. Chemical Industry, Transportation, and Banking & Finance are assigned level 2, and the remaining sectors are designated level 3 infrastructures. These levels indicate dependencies - higher levels are dependent on lower levels. Thus we focus most attention on the most fundamental critical infrastructures. This course develops a network theory of vulnerability analysis and risk assessment called "model-based vulnerability analysis" used to extract the critical nodes from each sector, model the nodes' vulnerabilities by representing them in the form of a fault-tree, and then applying fault and financial risk reduction techniques to derive the optimal strategy for protection of each sector. At the completion of the course, students will be able to apply the model-based vulnerability technique to any critical infrastructure within their multi-jurisdictional region, and derive optimal strategies and draft policies for prevention of future terrorist attacks.

NS4239: Special Topics in American Government for Homeland Security

The purpose of this course is to provide participants with an insight into the structural, conceptual and intellectual underpinnings and implications of the homeland security project. Looking at a wide range of topics and problems, the course seeks to stimulate a comprehensive discussion of how homeland security professionals and the general public think about homeland security; whether/why there may be significant differences in professional and public perceptions of homeland security; and how those differences constrain/leverage various elements of the homeland security effort. By incorporating a selection of key texts in Western political and social thought alongside current topical writings, the course seeks to equip participants with a deeper understanding of the prevailing discourse and its impact on the homeland security project.

NS4881: Multi-discipline Approaches to Homeland Security

Homeland security efforts in the United States constitute a project framed by the rule of law. Constitutional concerns, civil rights issues and the roles of the various disciplines engaged in the effort are driven and impacted by the various local, state and federal systems of law. Multi-discipline Approaches to Homeland Security allows students to explore the homeland security project in relation to the laws that support and constrains it. Both historical and contemporary references are used to unpack the various issues and answer related questions. The role of community policing in homeland security and defense, civil-military relations in prevention and response, the USA PATRIOT Act and the handling of US citizens detained for terrorist violations are just some of the subjects that dominate the discourse. While the military, law enforcement and judicial issues are a central concern of the class, students consider the range of issues in relation to many other disciplines engaged in homeland security and defense.

NS3028: Comparative Government for Homeland Security

The objectives of the NS 3028 course are: (1) to understand the transnational nature of terrorism, organized crime, pandemics and other homeland security threats, (2) to assess homeland security strategies employed by liberal democracies around the world; (3) to distill and extrapolate policy implications from these examples; and (4) to apply these lessons to the organizational and functional challenges faced by homeland security leaders in the United States. The course will focus both on a discussion of shared threats such as the global Jihadi movement, Al-Qaeda activity in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Middle Eastern groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah as well as policies and strategies employed by a range of democratic countries to cope with terrorism and other homeland security-related threats.

In addition to looking at specific countries, the course will also look at issue areas such as bio-threats, health system preparedness, airport security and anti-radicalization policies across a number of countries. This course will provide students with a knowledge-base and methodology with which to learn from the practices of other countries and translate those practices into policies applicable in the United States. The course will also enable students to better understand the threats that other countries face (many of which are likely to affect the United States in the near term) and how they cope with those threats.

Finally, the course will enable students to be better prepared to engage with their international partners at the local, state or federal levels as Homeland Security becomes an increasingly global undertaking and all levels of government in the United States move towards conducting greater international outreach.

NS4755: Strategic Planning and Budgeting for Homeland Security

Homeland security requires programs in such disparate areas as counter-terrorism, information security, border security, counter-drug activities, etc. It also requires programs at the federal, state and local levels, which must be coordinated. This raises a variety of issues. For example, how can decision makers at the various levels decide which of these programs should be funded? How large should approved programs be? How do they fit together? How are plans translated into budgets? How do those responsible for the various facets of homeland security justify their budget requests when competing for funds for alternatives uses such as education, etc? Answering these questions requires a resource management system that allows decision makers to see the long-term implications of the decisions they are making today. Choosing among alternatives to provide maximum security with limited budgets requires an analytic approach to allocating resources. This course is designed to address these issues. The course will provide students with an analytical framework useful for translating long-term plans into programs and budgets.

NS4133: The Psychology of Fear Management and Terrorism

This course serves as an introduction for homeland security professionals to terrorism as a psychological phenomenon. Government agencies involved in homeland security need to understand the psychological consequences of mass-casualty terrorist attacks and other disasters. This course provides a broad overview of psychological effects of terrorism; the status of and fallacies related to the interventions applied to victims of terrorism and the generalized fear and anxiety experienced by the public at large; current government strategies used to disseminate information to terrorist groups; psychological phenomena related to media coverage of terrorism; misconceptions and inaccuracies about the socio-political and religious motivations of terrorist groups; "profiling" and the typical psychological and cultural makeup of modern terrorists; and the social and cultural psychology of public conceptions of terrorists and acts of terror.

NS4232: Knowledge into Practice: A Homeland Security Capstone Course

This course is intended to provide participants the opportunity to expand their ability to enact the knowledge and technical learning acquired in the courses leading up to the capstone. The material in other CHDS courses and the capstone experience, taken together, will provide participants with the motivation and skills to perform their professional roles in new ways, ways that will initiate and sustain change even at the level of the broader institutional context of governance in which they must function.

Frequently Asked Questions

CHDS Helpline
chdsmaap@nps.edu
Phone: 831-656-3829
Fax: 831-656-2619

Heather Issvoran
Director, Strategic Communications
Contract Support for The Center for Homeland Defense and Security
Cell: 831.402.4672
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image  The CHDS Master's Program is something of a misnomer. CHDS is not a program, but multiple programs, each of which offers benefits that are distinctive to the CHDS environment. There is the official CHDS academic program, which challenges conventional homeland security wisdom and utilizes a multi-disciplined Petri dish classroom where these challenges become innovations. The faculty that incubates this Petri dish is world-class as well. You'd be hard pressed to find another program anywhere that offers the caliber of professors and guest lecturers this program has assembled. The second program is the unofficial hallway program, where ideas are exchanged, debated, elaborated and collaborated upon, among the students in each tightly-knit cohort. These hallway conversations typically do not stay in the hallways, but are continued in hotel lobbies, restaurants, walks along the waterfront, and often via email or by telephone once the participants have returned home. The mix of state/local/federal/DoD professionals, each with unique and often impressive experiences, provide an inimitable sounding board for these exchanges. The final program comes after graduation, and that is the CHDS alumni network. Upon graduation, entry is granted into an exclusive association of homeland security professionals across the country, all of whom share a passion for protecting the homeland in the public service. A system of homeland security subject-matter experts become available to graduates, and the CHDS graduate connection becomes a reciprocal bond that alumni are honored to share. These three programs provide benefits both tangible and intangible. Students have the opportunity to commit their ideas to papers with academic rigor and lead to real-world policies, programs, and initiatives, providing a visible return on the time invested in the program. The less tangible benefits are those ideas not formulated during the 18 months students are in the program, but the seeds for the ideas that become planted while at CHDS and take longer to take root but have a lasting impact on the homeland security enterprise. I would certainly recommend this program to anyone who is looking at their public safety career through a much broader lens than the jurisdiction or agency in which they work. By that, I don't necessarily mean anyone who gets in to this program should have their sights set on the national stage or using the program as a ticket out of town, but it has been my experience that to succeed in this program you need a much broader picture of homeland security than what one typically finds at home, but need to understand how that larger picture fit into your home. Those that have the "this is how we've always done it" or "this is the way my agency does it so it's right" mentality would probably be pretty frustrated in this program. My experiences at CHDS far exceeded my expectations when I began the application process, and my only lament is that the official academic program eventually ends. The CHDS experience, however, continues long past the date embossed on your diploma.
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Andrew Phelps
Emergency Manager, City of Santa Fe
Graduated March 2012

Main Master’s Program Page

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