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Counter Terrorism Degree

Following the 9/11 attacks, counter terrorism has become a major point of emphasis for the US 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.

The task of sifting through the myriad of online and physical media to collect and share information relating to terrorism is so great that not only 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 supporting counter terrorism efforts. Careers include but are not limited to those in the private computing and security industries as well as careers in the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the military, and various state agencies interfacing with these organizations.

Did you know? Counter terrorism professionals often gain information from sources inside terrorist communities. The secrecy and safety of agents and informants 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, and so on. Second, they should be able to independently 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 to separate the relevant information regarding possible threats from the so-called “noise.” Finally, they should be able to conduct contingency planning around terror threats.

CJDS Fact Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) have a presence in 104 cities in the US and consist of over 4,000 agency members worldwide.1 This number has quadrupled since September 11, 2001.

To strengthen their understanding of this field, many students looking to obtain a bachelor’s degree in counterterrorism will specialize in a particular region of the world, such as the Middle East or North Africa. Related coursework will include cultural studies and language training. These specialists in terrorism hotspots are highly desirable, and their fluency in a relevant language can lead to higher salaries.

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 a 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 behind 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.

Middlebury College’s Institute of International Studies at Monterey 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 advanced courses, including a required 12 credit hours in language and intercultural studies. The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey 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 in counter-terrorism is found within the federal government. As of 2015, the median annual salary for criminal investigators, special agents, and intelligence analysts was $77,210.2,3 Keep in mind that most federal agencies require at least a bachelor’s degree and many state agencies require at least 60 credit hours of college coursework, though the trend is 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 Joint Terrorism Task Forces: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/terrorism_jttfs
2. O*Net OnLine, Criminal Investigators and Special Agents: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.03
3. O*Net OnLine, Intelligence Analysts: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.06