Nicholas Knowlton, Ph.D.

Recovering Academic and Homeland Security Practitioner with Specialty in International Migration and Terrorism

Specialties & Interests

Borders and Immigration

My areas of specialty include: Terrorism-Related Inadmissibility Grounds (TRIG), Asylum, Refugees, Integration, and International Migration.


As a formally trained political scientist, I specialize in comparative politics, international relations, and methodology.


I regularly conduct or oversee research on terrorist organizations, including group origins, leadership, ideology, recruitment, history, activities, geographic scope, relations with other organizations, and threat assessment.


Possessing over 13 years of combined academic and homeland security experience, Nicholas serves as a terrorism and terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) subject-matter expert and oversees a team of experts at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of the Department of Homeland Security. He and his team provide terrorism-related research, training, and guidance to agency officers, among other services. During his time at USCIS, he has also conducted, overseen, and trained others in interviewing and appropriately screening applicants for refugee or asylum status in the United States.

Nicholas holds a doctorate in political science and a doctoral certificate in African studies from the University of Florida. He is also a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security and the University of Utah. In 2013, he received a David L. Boren Fellowship to pursue national security-related dissertation research in Ghana. He also holds a certificate in international migration studies from Georgetown University.


Making mistakes are less worrisome than the reluctance to admit when they have been made, and the unwillingness to learn from them.


CHDS Master’s Thesis Series: Immigration is both Fascinating and Frustrating

Nicholas Knowlton and Robert O’Malley discuss their research and recommendations concerning the integration of immigrants into American life. Knowlton makes the case that electoral participation among new citizens can facilitate their successful integration.

CHDS Viewpoints

Nicholas Knowlton discusses his CHDS Master’s thesis, “Assimilation Through the Ballot: How Voting Facilitates Integration into American Life,” which investigates the relationship between political participation and integration, with particular reference to electoral participation and the act of voting.

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