A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

Through curricular and experiential learning, START educates, mentors and trains the next generation of national security scholars and practitioners.

Master of Professional Studies in Security and Terrorism Studies

Master of Professional Studies in Security and Terrorism Studies


Program Description Eligibility Application Information Required Coursework Meet the Faculty & Staff FAQs


Welcome from our Head Faculty and Program Directors

Thomas Guarrieri

Thomas Guarrieri

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Assistant Research Scientist, START

Amy Pate

Amy Pate

START Executive Director
and Research Director

William Braniff

William Braniff

Department Chair,
START Director

Liberty Day

Liberty Day

Program Director for
Education and Training, START


START offers a fully online Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree in Security and Terrorism Studies through the University of Maryland's Graduate School. The program is delivered in a synchronous format using multiple online platforms provided by the University of Maryland, College Park.

Application Deadlines:

August 3, 2021 (Fall 2021 domestic/international)

January 7, 2022 (Spring 2022 domestic/international)

Apply Here

Program Description

START's Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Security and Terrorism Studies prepares students to examine the complex social, political, economic, and psychological underpinnings of terrorist and other asymmetric security threats. Students are exposed to the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to pursue advanced research opportunities, or be successful in a professional role where analysis and critical thinking are paramount. The program is appropriate for individuals interested in (and/or currently) working in fields related to intelligence analysis, national security analysis, or analysis of other relevant topic areas, and individuals interested in (and/or currently) conducting scholarly research on terrorism and security.


Information Sessions (Online):

Tues, June 15 at 6:00 p.m. ET

Thurs, July 15 at 6:00 p.m. ET

This is an opportunity to learn more about the program and to ask questions. Email education-start@umd.edu to attend an information session.

The admissions process for the MPS in Security and Terrorism Studies is designed to determine whether the program is a good fit for your background, education and professional development goals. 

Domestic students must have: 

  • Received at least a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university with at least a 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale);
  • Experience, education, and/or substantial interest in terrorism and counterterrorism studies and research; and
  • GRE scores or any other standardized scores are not required for this program.

International students must have: 

  • Received at least a baccalaureate degree at a foreign university or college equivalent to that of a U.S. institution;
  • Acceptable TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores;* and,
  • GRE scores are not required for this program.

*All International students must show evidence of acceptable scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Pearson's (PTE), or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). See information on the University of Maryland Graduate School website for specific admissions requirements, including minimum scores. Please visit the University of Maryland Graduate School website for more information regarding these courses

Note for International Graduate Students: University of Maryland is dedicated to maintaining a vibrant international graduate student community. We encourage applications from international students, however as a fully online program we are not able to sponsor any educational visa for travel to the University of Maryland. 

Application Information

Tuition & Fees

All students, whether they’re living in Maryland or outside the state, are charged the tuition and fee rates posted on the program’s Tuition & Fees website page.

University of Maryland's Graduate Application Process 

The application is available through the University of Maryland Graduate School application system. As required by the Graduate School, all application materials are to be submitted electronically:

  • Graduate application
    • In the Educational Intent section, select the following:
      • Application Type: Degree
      • Level of Study: Master's
      • Intended Program of Study: Security & Terrorism Studies (Online) (MPTS), M.P.S.
  • Within the Online Application, you will be able to upload:
    • Unofficial Transcripts for all college-level coursework outside the University of Maryland, College Park**;
    • Statement of purpose;
    • Resume/CV
  • You will also be able to pay the non-refundable application fee of $75 USD

**Official Transcripts will be requested if admitted.

Completed applications are reviewed by an admissions committee in each graduate degree program. The recommendations of the committees are submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School, who will make the final admission decision.

Deadlines (Both Domestic and International Students)

  • Fall 2021: Tuesday, August 3, 2021
  • Spring 2022: Friday, January 7, 2022

Apply Here

Required Coursework

Students must complete twelve (12) courses comprising 36 credit hours culminating in a capstone project. The program format is online and synchronous. The courses occur after 6:00pm ET or on weekends, and are 2.5 hours long. These courses follow a standard Fall or Spring academic semester of 15 weeks.


​BSST641: The U.S. Security Infrastructure

  • ​An overview of the federal departments and agencies whose core missions are to provide for security and prevent terrorism. The course will overview the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Intelligence Community as well as state, local, and tribal assets to provide students with a better understanding of interagency successes and gaps.

BSST640: Theories of Security and Terrorism Studies

  • This course will expose students to the relevant theoretical underpinnings of Security and Terrorism Studies. Theories of STS come from across the social science spectrum, but this course will mainly pull from sociological, psychological, and political science theory to help students develop a theoretical foundation for their research.

Research Methods Courses

BSST633: Research Methods in Terrorism and Counterterrorism

  • Applications of security and terrorism studies bridge the social sciences. This course is designed to aid students in developing an interdisciplinary approach to research design. Students will be exposed to the tools relevant to STS, will learn about available data sources, and will investigate the relationship between data and methods.
  • Offered during Spring semesters (January-May)

BSST642: Analytic Methods 

  • This course is specifically designed for students who are mainly interested in developing their skills as practitioners. The course will overview and detail methods used by analysts. Topics will include, but are not limited to, risk assessment, red teaming, data blending, and analytical writing/briefing.

Security Studies Courses

BSST643: Near-Peer Competition

  • This course focuses on the emerging threats posed by state actors termed as "near-peers." The course will discuss topics germane to near-peer competitors, most notably China, Russia, and Iran, but will cover other state actors as necessary. Potential topics covered in this course include disinformation, misinformation, cyber threats, asymmetric warfare, and state support for non-state actors, and gray zone activity.

BSST644: Counterproliferation

  • This course overviews causes and consequences of proliferation of arms controlled materials including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and missile technologies. Students will investigate preventative measures and policies governments and the international community use counter individual actors, organizations, and governments who proliferate.

BSST645: Non-state Actors Threats and Responses

  • An overview of the types of non-state actors that influence state actions. The course will examine the economic, political, and social costs of the proliferation of non-state actors globally. While the course will discuss terrorist groups, the main focus of the course will be on actors such as militant groups, insurgent groups, drug cartels, and illicit financial actors.

Terrorism Studies Courses

BSST630: ​Terrorist Motivations and Behaviors

  • This course will provide an introduction to the study of terrorism, and will focus on explaining the formation of terrorist groups and the motivations behind terrorist behavior. To do so, it will draw upon theories from social psychology, sociology, political science, criminology, and history. The course will draw heavily from historical examples as well as current examples of international and domestic terrorist groups around the world.
  • Offered during Fall semesters (August-December)

​​BSST631: Societal Impacts of and Responses to Terrorism

  • This course will address the manners in which a variety of different actors respond to both terrorist incidents and the threat of terrorism. The course will examine local responses to terrorist incidents (9/11 and other events) through emergency response organizations, community organizations, and volunteerism. The course will also look at local impacts of terrorism including effects on individual and group attitudes and behaviors. The course will then move to policy decisions made in response to both terrorist attacks and the threat of terrorism, addressing such issues as homeland security planning, border security, and surveillance. Finally, the course will address individual and community recovery from terrorist attacks, looking at such issues as psychological impacts of trauma, historical memory, and effects of disaster on civil society. The goal of the course will be to develop a multifaceted perspective on individual and community resilience in the face of terrorist threats.
  • Offered during Spring semesters (January-May)

​​BSST634: ​Legal and Criminal Approaches to Counterterrorism

  • The United States and many of her allies have challenged long-standing legal boundaries in their effort to combat terrorism. This course examines these responses, including: increased criminalization of terrorism related activities; aggressive criminal prosecutions; detention of suspected terrorists indefinitely in far-off prisons; implementation of enhanced interrogation techniques; launch of drones to kill alleged terrorists, even U.S. citizens; and deployment of a vast system of mass surveillance.
  • Offered during Fall semesters (August-December)

​​BSST635: ​Countering Violent Extremism: Policy and Practice

  • In recent years, the understanding of how and why individuals engage in violent extremism and terrorism has evolved and become more nuanced, as have the tools to mitigate these threats. A field of policy and practice called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) has emerged that focuses on countering the pull of terrorist recruitment and influence by building resilience among populations vulnerable to radicalization.
  • Offered during Fall semesters (August-December)

Capstone Courses

​​BSST697: ​Capstone​
  • The final course in the program, this course requires the completion of a project that can originate from an inquiry stemming from previous coursework, current or former work, or could be developed in conjunction with a BSST faculty member. The student will prepare a project report and presentation which shall contain an executive summary, a literature review, description of project methods and data, a discussion of results, conclusions and further research opportunities. The purpose of the capstone project is for students to examine a real world problem in terrorism and/or security studies, investigate potential solutions, and develop applicable results. 


Meet the Faculty

  • Bryan Arva – Global Terrorism Database (GTD) Researcher, START
  • Marcus Boyd – Geospatial Research Unit (GRU) Director, Director of Graduate Studies, START
  • Jeffrey Davis – Department of Political Science Associate Professor and Chair at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Michael Egnoto – Affiliated Faculty, Clinical Informaticist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
  • Samuel D. Henkin – Geospatial Research Unit (GRU) Researcher, START
  • Katy Lindquist – Counterterrorism Senior Researcher, START
  • Amy Pate – START Executive Director and Research Director
  • Elizabeth Yates – Radicalization and Disengagement (RaD) Researcher, START

Meet the Staff

  • Eva Coll – Experiential Education Specialist, START
  • Erin Copland – Outreach and Transition Specialist, START
  • Liberty Day – Program Director for Education and Training, START

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is an MPS?

At the successful completion of this program, students earn a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Security and Terrorism Studies. An MPS is an applied program, in comparison to M.A. and M.S. degrees, which are often more research-oriented. The courses in the Security and Terrorism Studies MPS focus on developing professional and practical skills.

Q: Do you need prior professional experience relating to terrorism or security studies to be accepted in the program?

A: No. The students in our program come from a range of backgrounds. We find that the mix of students fosters discussion and provides a variety of perspectives and lived experiences. 

Q: How long does it take to complete the program?

A: As a full-time student, the program takes as few as 15 months (or four semesters) to complete.

Q: Will I ever need to come to the University of Maryland Campus?

A: No. The program is entirely online. In fact, instructors often teach from locations all over the country.

Q: Do you have classes at night or on weekends?

A: At this time, all classes are held between 6-8:30 pm Eastern Time on weeknights. No classes are offered on weekends. Additional course times may be added as more course offerings become available.


Q: Do you have both Spring and Fall admission cycles?

A: No. At this time, we have a Fall admission cycle only.

Q: Is the GRE test mandatory?

A: GREs are not required to apply to this program. We do not consider the GRE scores of applicants.

Q: What is the minimum GPA?

A: The Graduate School requires as a minimum standard an average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in all undergraduate courses taken at a regionally accredited college or university. Adequate performance in prerequisite courses is required. Applicants with international credentials must submit in the original language those academic records that are not written in English. Such credentials must be accompanied by a literal English translation. Both must be submitted at least six months prior to the first day of classes of the semester for which the applicant seeks admission.

Q: Do I have to send official transcripts and degree certificates for graduate admission?

A: The online application requires applicants to upload a scanned copy of their official transcripts/diplomas in English. Official (paper) transcripts can also be sent to:

The Graduate School (Admissions)
2123 Lee Building
7809 Regents Drive
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Q: How can I check to see if my application is complete?

A: When you apply using the on-line application system, you will receive an email confirming that your application has been received. The email will also contain a password and directions on how to log back into the system to check and update your application status.


Q: If I am accepted to the program, would I be considered a full-time student?

A: If MPS students take 9 credits a semester, they will be considered full-time. Please see this Registrar’s Office webpage for more details. 

Q: Do I have to complete the program in two years? 

A: No. It is up to you to determine your coursework plan that best fits with your goals and other commitments. Students will work with the program coordinator before the start of each semester to develop an academic plan. Students will have up to five (5) years from the time of admittance to complete the program. The coordinator will work with you to accommodate any registration issues that may arise during the time you are enrolled in the program. 

Q: Can I attend your program part-time?

A: Our program can be taken part-time. Students taking two or fewer classes per semester will be considered part-time. 

Q: I applied to your program in the past.  Do you still have the information I sent in for that application?

A: No. In order to be considered for admission you will need to complete a new application, pay the application fee, as well as submit all required materials to the Graduate School/Admissions. Please see this Graduate School webpage for more details. 


Q: I live in Maryland. Will I be charged in-state tuition even though the program is online?

A: All students, whether they’re living in Maryland or outside the state, are charged the tuition and fee rates posted on the program’s Tuition & Fees website page.

Q: Is financial aid available for this program? 

A: Students seeking the MPS may be eligible for federal financial aid. Please see this Graduate School webpage for more details.

Q: What is the institution code for the University of Maryland?

A: The University of Maryland, College Park institution code is 5814.

Q: Will I be required to buy books for the courses?

A: Yes. The instructors often require the students to buy at least one book. The book list for each course may change from one semester to the next. Students will be informed of the required textbooks prior to the start of the course. Instructors may make other readings available online.

Q: What benefits will I have as a University of Maryland student?

A: As an online graduate student, you have access to UMD resources listed on the Online Learning & Resources website page.


Q: Will the credits earned for the Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis count towards completion of the Security and Terrorism Studies MPS?

A: The transfer coursework from the University of Maryland or from another institution must have been taken within five years of the award of a University of Maryland master's degree for which the student is currently enrolled. For example, if you are to be awarded the degree in the spring of 2023, graduate certificate courses taken in the prior five years may be applied to your MPS starting with fall 2018 forward. Please see this Academic Catalog webpage for more details.

Q: If I am already admitted to the Graduate Certificate program, can I have my application fee waived?

The department does not waive application fees. However, the Graduate School waives the application fee for applicants who have been members of certain organizations and/or participated in certain preparatory programs. For more information and to view the listing of such organizations/preparatory programs, please visit this Graduate School webpage.


Q: Will I be eligible for a visa? 

A: No. It is a non-residency program.

Q: Do I have to take the TOEFL?

A: You will be required to submit TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores if you do not hold a degree from a U.S. institution or from one of the English speaking countries. If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with international credentials, you will still be required to submit English test scores if you do not hold a degree from one of the countries on this list. For more information, please visit the Graduate School webpage on English Language Proficiency Requirements.

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