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Counter Terrorism Degree

Following the attacks of 9/11, counter terrorism has been a major point of emphasis for the federal government which aims to defend US citizens from the growing threat of terrorism from around the world. Individuals who pursue a counter terrorism degree can find many opportunities to contribute to this important mission.

Unlike some law enforcement-related disciplines, the goal of sifting through the myriad of online, print and other media to transmit information relating to terrorism is so great that not just federal agencies are involved. In fact, as many news outlets have reported, there is a growing number of civilian firms that are involved in data mining and other activities. Careers include but are not limited to those in the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, the military, the NSA and various state agencies interfacing with those agencies.

Did you know? Counter terrorism professionals often gain information from sources inside terrorist communities so secrecy and safety are always a high priority.

Counter Terrorism Training and Courses

There are several goals in a counter terrorism degree program. First, graduates should be able to understand terrorist organizations in detail along with their motives, threats, tactics, etc. Second, they should be able to conduct basic counter terrorism and counter intelligence operations. Third, they should be able to plan and execute programs for intelligence gathering. Fourth, they should be able to analyze the collected data and turn it into pertinent information — be able to to collate and separate data that supports possible threats from so-called “noise.” Finally, they should be able to conduct contingency planning around terror threats.

Along with that, counter terrorism students studying in the discipline learn the principles of managing a team from a leadership standpoint, including applying general principles of counterterrorism, intelligence and assessments.

CJDS Fact Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), whose members come from various government agencies, have a presence in at least 103 cities in the US and consists of over 4,400 members1. This number has quadrupled since September 11, 2001.

To strengthen their understanding, many students looking to obtain a bachelor’s degree in counterterrorism will specialize in an area of the world. Fleshing out the counterterrorism-specific coursework will be cultural studies and language training to enable them to better understand their target audiences. These specialists are most desirable for agencies where their areas are current global hotspots.

Examples of courses in a counter terrorism degree curriculum include:

  • Global Politics
  • Terrorism and Society
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism
  • Advanced Counterterrorism
  • Advanced Domestic Terrorism
  • Cults and Charismatic Leaders
  • Cyberterrorism, Cyberwarfare, Cybercrime
  • Strategic Intelligence
  • Extremist Organizations
  • Advanced Intelligence Collection

Profiles of Counter Terrorism Degree Programs

Henley-Putnam University offers a Master’s of Science in Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies that helps students develop key skills in counter-terrorism tactics and threat management. Core courses required to earn the degree include Advanced Surveillance and Counterterrorism, WMD Terrorism, and Advanced Strategies/Crisis Preparedness. Students also choose two options from fourteen available concentrations to personalize their degrees with an area of specialization. All Henley-Putnam University students are eligible to take part in an optional mentoring program that pairs students with faculty and outside professionals for advice and guidance as well as networking. Henley-Putnam University specializes in protection, intelligence, and counterterrorism education and its faculty bring real world experience to the classroom for the benefit of students. The school is recognized as being military friendly and through its partnerships the school offers several scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students.

American Military University offers an Associate of Arts in Counter Terrorism Studies program that can be completed entirely online. Throughout the curriculum students learn about counter terrorism tactics, skills, and knowledge at all levels of government and emergency response, as well as the organizations and causes of terrorism. Through real-world case studies students develop their ability to think strategically and implement effective strategies for counter-terrorism responses. Students who already hold a graduate or undergraduate degree may be interested in American Military University’s Undergraduate and Graduate Certificates in Terrorism Studies, which are also offered in an online format. Enrollment in the school’s counter-terrorism programs is open to students of all educational backgrounds, including active military personnel and working adults. Although classes are held online, students have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities such as the Golden Key Honor Society and Alpha Phi Sigma.

Monterey Institute of International Studies awards a Master of Arts in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies to students who complete its comprehensive graduate program in nonproliferation. The highlight of this program is its interdisciplinary approach to study, which combines the study of policy analysis, security, history, and technology among other subject areas to prepare professionals for careers in counter-terrorism. The intensive 60 credit hour curriculum includes foundational and nonproliferation and terrorism studies specific courses, as well as a required 12 credit hours in language and intercultural studies. Monterey Institute of International Studies is a graduate school of Middlebury College, and was the first school in the world to offer a graduate degree in WMD curtailment and terrorism response. The school is also home to the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program, which are globally recognized counter-terrorism research centers that provide students with opportunities to access internships and assistantships at firms and government entities across the globe.

Counter Terrorism Degree Requirements

Pay is strongly linked to the government pay scale, as most work is provided by either the federal, or in some cases state governments. Recent labor statistics from the BLS show that median salaries for federal law enforcement were nearly $90,000 and about $75,000 for those working for the various state governments. Keep in mind that most federal agencies require at least a bachelor’s degree and many state agencies require at least 60 credit hours, though some are also moving towards a bachelor’s degree minimum.

Counter Terrorism Degrees, Programs and Online Criminal Justice Schools

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What Jobs Can You Get With a Counter Terrorism Degree?

Some possible job titles for counter terrorism graduates include:

See our criminal justice job board for current job openings in your state.

1. Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/terrorism_jttfs

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.