Homeland Security

Graduate Program HeadAlexander Siedschlag
Program CodeHLS
Campus(es)World Campus (M.P.S.)
Degrees ConferredMaster of Professional Studies (M.P.S.)
The Graduate Faculty

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The intercollege Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security (iMPS-HLS) degree program is designed to prepare professionals and develop leaders for the field of homeland security by providing exceptional graduate education that includes an integrated curriculum, expert faculty, and student interaction. The program is comprised of courses from several Penn State colleges and delivered via distance education through the Penn State World Campus to accommodate the needs and careers of professionals who are already active in homeland security and related fields of civil security, or those interested in transitioning into the field. The program provides select graduate students with an integrated, cross-disciplinary curriculum that is focused on a set of unified educational goals to help them understand and manage the complexities of homeland security in a global environment. Within the degree program and in addition to its common core curriculum, students choose one of seven specialization areas that represent main elements, capabilities, and risk-informed priorities of the homeland security mission space:

  1. base program
  2. agricultural biosecurity and food defense option;
  3. counterterrorism option;
  4. cyber threat analytics and prevention option;
  5. intelligence and geospatial analysis option;
  6. public health preparedness option; or
  7. information security and forensics option.

The participating academic units for this collaborative program are: Penn State Harrisburg, the College of Medicine (in collaboration with the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center), the College of the Liberal Arts, the College of Information Sciences and Technology, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Penn State Great Valley.

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Core Application Packet

Statement of Purpose and Curriculum Vitae

A statement of professional experience and goals (up to 500 words) and the applicant’s vita or résumé must accompany the application.

Letters of Recommendation

  • The individuals writing letters should be familiar with you and comfortable discussing your professional and/or academic strengths and accomplishments.
  • The Admissions Committee prefers that all letters be written within the last six months and reference the applicant’s current career goals and/or ability to perform graduate level study.
  • A person choosing to submit a letter of reference will do this through the online application system.
  • A person choosing to submit a letter of reference may either select our pre-formatted template or upload their own letter.
  • The program may waive letters of recommendation upon request from the applicant.

GPA Requirements

The applicant's grade-point average is interpreted by the Admissions Committee in the context of a completed application.

Other Considerations

Special backgrounds, abilities, and interests related to homeland security are desirable.

Degree Requirements

Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.

The Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security program requires a minimum of 33 credits, 24 of which must be earned at Penn State. Up to 10 graduate credits may be transferred in from a regionally accredited institution (subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit); if the full 10 credits are transferred, the minimum total number of credits in the degree program will be 34. At least 18 credits must be courses at the 500 or 800 level, of which 6 credits must be in 500-level courses.

Students are expected to maintain a B (3.0) or better average in academic courses to be retained in the program. Graduate Council policy requires that students must have a GPA of 3.0 or above in order to graduate from the program.

Each student will take a 9-credit core curriculum consisting of HLS 801/PADM 801, HLS 803/PHIL 803, and HLS 805/PLSC 805, as well as a non-credit Orientation Course. Students will also take 12 credits of prescribed courses for the specialized option. There are 9 elective credits that are chosen from an approved list in consultation with the student’s academic adviser. The list of electives is maintained by the Base Program and Option Directors and is provided to the students in the respective specialization area. Finally, each degree candidate must complete a capstone project on a topic related to homeland security and defense, in association with HLS 594/AGBIO 594/GEOG 594/INSC 594/IST 594/PHP 594/PLSC 594.

Time Limitation

All degree requirements for the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security must be met within five years of admission to degree status.

Prescribed Courses

Homeland security refers to the unifying core for the vast global network of organizations and institutions that are involved in the efforts to secure society.  Regardless of field of specialization, or chosen discipline for graduate study, all professionals in the program will participate in a Unifying Core Curriculum with the following educational goals and objectives:    

  • Understand major policies and legislation that shapes homeland security in a globalized society. 
  • Become familiar with organizations that play a key role in the implementation of homeland security policies and administration, and recognize the interactions among them.
  • Understand the way in which a person or group responds to a set of conditions so as to prevent and respond to incidents and catastrophic events when needed.
  • Recognize the impact that catastrophic events, both natural and man-made, have on society and the domestic and global economy.
  • Identify and assess potential threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences.
  • Apply leadership skills and principles that are necessary for producing and acting on information of value within a collaborative setting.
  • Communicate effectively in the context of particular institutional cultures.
  • Use, conduct, and interpret research and data effectively in decision-making.
  • Practice ethics and integrity as a foundation for analytical debate and conclusion.
  • Develop an appreciation of the cultural, social, psychological, political, and legal aspects of terrorism and counterterrorism.

The Core Curriculum consists of the following four courses:

Required Courses
HLS Orientation Course (non-credit) - Overview of program expectations, parts, academic specialization areas, and mechanics; as well as an essential overview of the field of homeland security and its community of practice. The Options may add content to aspects of homeland security that are specific to their academic specialization area.0
HLS/PADM 801Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs3
HLS/PHIL 803Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues3
HLS/PLSC 805Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency3
Total Credits9

Listed below are the courses required/suggested for the Base Program and for the Options:

Homeland Security (Base Program)

Required Courses
HLS Orientation0
HLS/PADM 801Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs3
HLS/PHIL 803Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues3
HLS/PLSC 805Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency3
Base Program Prescribed Courses
HLS 811Fundamentals of Homeland Security and Emergency Management3
HLS 812Homeland Security and Homeland Defense in Practice3
HLS 813Multifaceted Approaches to Homeland Security3
HLS 558Whole-Community Disaster Preparedness3
Electives
Choose 9 credits from an approved elective list in consultation with adviser. The list of electives is maintained by the Base Program Director and is provided to the students in the base program.9
Capstone Experience
HLS 594Research Topics3
Total Credits33

Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense Option

Required Courses
HLS Orientation0
HLS/PADM 801Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs3
HLS/PHIL 803Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues3
HLS/PLSC 805Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency3
Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense Option Prescribed Courses
AGBIO 520Agricultural Biosecurity: Protecting a Key Infrastructure3
AGBIO 521Food Defense: Prevention Planning for Food Processors3
AGBIO 801Veterinary Infectious Disease Diagnostic and Surveillance Systems3
AGBIO 802Plant Protection: Responding to Introductions of Threatening Pests and Pathogens3
Electives
Choose 9 credits from an approved elective list in consultation with adviser. The list of electives is maintained by the Option Director and is provided to the students in the option.9
Capstone Experience
AGBIO 594Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense Capstone Experience3
Total Credits33

Counterterrorism Option

Required Courses
HLS Orientation0
HLS/PADM 801Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs3
HLS/PHIL 803Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues3
HLS/PLSC 805Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency3
Counterterrorism Option Prescribed Courses
PLSC 836Root Causes of Terrorism3
PLSC 569Counterterrorism3
PLSC 838Tools and Analysis of Counterterrorism3
PLSC 837Radicalization, Counter-Radicalization, and De-Radicalization3
Electives
Choose 9 credits from an approved elective list in consultation with adviser. The list of electives is maintained by the Option Director and is provided to the students in the option.9
Capstone Experience
PLSC 594Research in Political Science3
Total Credits33

Cyber Threat Analytics and Prevention Option

Required Courses
HLS Orientation0
HLS/PADM 801Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs3
HLS/PHIL 803Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues3
HLS/PLSC 805Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency3
Cyber Threat Analytics and Prevention Option Prescribed Courses (Choose 4 out of the following 5)12
Data Mining
Web Security and Privacy
Network and Predictive Analytics for Socio-Technical Systems
Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management
Contemporary Information Systems Architecture
Electives
Choose 9 credits from an approved elective list in consultation with adviser. The list of electives is maintained by the Option Director and is provided to the students in the option.9
Capstone Experience
INSC 594Research Topics3
Total Credits33

Intelligence and Geospatial Analysis Option

Required Courses
HLS Orientation0
HLS/PADM 801Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs3
HLS/PHIL 803Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues3
HLS/PLSC 805Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency3
Intelligence and Geospatial Analysis Option Prescribed Courses
GEOG 882Geographic Foundations of Geospatial Intelligence3
GEOG 483Problem-Solving with GIS3
GEOG 479Spatial Data Science for Cyber and Human Social Networks3
GEOG 885Advanced Analytic Methods in Geospatial Intelligence3
Electives
Choose 9 credits from an approved elective list in consultation with adviser. The list of electives is maintained by the Option Director and is provided to the students in the option.9
Capstone Experience
GEOG 594ACulminating Experiences in Geospatial Intelligence1
GEOG 594BGeospatial Intelligence Capstone Experience2
Total Credits33

Information Security and Forensics Option

Required Courses
HLS Orientation0
HLS/PADM 801Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs3
HLS/PHIL 803Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues3
HLS/PLSC 805Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency3
Information Security and Forensics Option Prescribed Courses
IST 454Computer and Cyber Forensics3
IST 456Information Security Management3
IST 815Foundations of Information Security and Assurance3
IST 554Network Management and Security3
Electives
Choose 9 credits from an approved elective list in consultation with adviser. The list of electives is maintained by the Option Director and is provided to the students in the option.9
Capstone Experience
IST 594Research Topics3
Total Credits33

Public Health Preparedness Option

Required Courses
HLS Orientation0
HLS/PADM 801Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs3
HLS/PHIL 803Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues3
HLS/PLSC 805Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency3
Public Health Preparedness Option Prescribed Courses
PHP 410Public Health Preparedness for Disaster and Terrorist Emergencies I3
PHP 510Public Health Preparedness for Disaster and Terrorist Emergencies II3
PHP 527Public Health Evaluation of Disasters and Bioterrorism3
PHP 830Critical Infrastructure Protection of Health Care Delivery Systems3
Electives
Choose 9 credits from an approved elective list in consultation with adviser. The list of electives is maintained by the Option Director and is provided to the students in the option.9
Capstone Experience
PHP 594Research Topics3
Total Credits33

Minor

A graduate minor is available in any approved graduate major or dual-title program. The default requirements for a graduate minor are stated in Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies, depending on the type of degree the student is pursuing:

Student Aid

World Campus students in graduate degree programs may be eligible for financial aid. Refer to the Tuition and Financial Aid section of the World Campus website for more information.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Homeland Security (HLS) Course List

Note that the options in the Homeland Security graduate program have separate course lists.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates from the iMPS-HLS program will be able to…

  1. SEARCH AND SYNTHESIZE literature to integrate homeland security principles into disciplines and professional fields. 
  2. INTEGRATE the use of disciplinary methods, techniques, and knowledge to solve practical problems.
  3. IDENTIFY AND ASSESS potential threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences in a context from local to global environments.
  4. EVALUATE scientific evidence and best practice to inform and improve real-world decisions.
  5. PRACTICE ethics and integrity as a foundation for analytical debate and conclusion.
  6. APPLY leadership skills and principles to produce and act on information in a collaborative setting.
  7. COMMUNICATE the major issues of their discipline effectively to a diverse community of the Homeland Security Enterprise.

Contact

Campus World Campus
Graduate Program Head Alexander Siedschlag
Program Contact

Lesa Irene Stanford
777 West Harrisburg Pike
131W Olmsted Bldg.
Middletown PA 17057
lis12@psu.edu
(717) 948-6050

Program Website View

Option Directors

  • Base Program: Alexander Siedschlag
  • Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense Option: Gretchen Kuldau
  • Counterterrorism Option: Andrew Vitek
  • Cyber Threat Analytics and Prevention Option: Robin Qiu
  • Intelligence and Geospatial Analysis Option: Gregory Thomas
  • Information Security and Forensics Option: Jeffrey Bardzell
  • Public Health Preparedness Option: Eugene J. Lengerich