Want to Know about a Degree in Homeland Security but Not Sure Whom to ask?

By Bob Lally

CTU Homeland Security Degree - United States SealWith the launch of our new master’s degree in homeland security, Colorado Technical University is sending a clear signal to all stakeholders in the field – from policymakers to players in the public and private sectors, and to all those staking their careers on some facet of this growing arena. We intend to set the educational standard for those who will lead the discipline into the future.

That objective has driven the way the degree program has been structured. From the way we’ve emphasized its importance as a stand-alone degree (not tucked into criminal justice or the business school) to the distinguished faculty sharing its knowledge, we intend to be the program of choice that prepares the thoughtful and strategic homeland security leaders of the future.

Here’s an overview of how it looks:


This master’s program is selective, designed for those with at least five years experience in a field that’s related to homeland security. Candidates must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Candidates – who ideally will become part of a 15-person cohort for the 18-month, online program – are expected to write an analytical essay for admission to this thesis program. The thesis is a critical tool to foster students’ strategic thinking on policy and management issues of the future. The essay will serve as the basis for the thesis.


The core courses will explore the fundamentals of homeland security, with an eye to advancing students’ understanding of the complex infrastructures and dynamics as much as the current and prospective solutions to the issues. For example, courses will focus on terrorism dynamics, counterterrorism across the world, as well as the dynamics between those efforts and what’s happening today in our neighborhoods. Technology, where CTU has strong roots, will be a centerpiece of studies. Organizational and political risk assessment and management are also essential elements.

The program is also launching with two concentrations that are unique to CTU: one in cybersecurity policy and the second in emergency management/public health.

Both are naturals for CTU. On the cybersecurity front, National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated us as a National Center of Academic Excellence. This puts us at the pinnacle of the tech side of cyber issues.

The emergency management/public health concentration is essentially who we are in public health education. This expertise aligns well with the fundamentals of homeland security – issues related to pandemics, biological warfare and dirty bombs, as well as natural and man-made disasters and how medical professionals respond and are trained to those standards.

Other coursework may lead to future concentrations. For example, one area that’s very topical in the wake of Superstorm Sandy (and Hurricane Katrina before that) is the issue of enlisting military support by civil authorities. Take a natural disaster like the forest fires in Colorado. It’s a local situation, so the local police chief or sheriff may take charge. But it’s in a national forest on federal land. So do Federal entities have authority as well? What happens when local resources are used up? From the tabletop scenarios painting a larger strategic picture of coordination and cooperation, we examine the outcomes: What was done right and wrong? What needs to change in terms of future policy?

Distinguished Faculty

We have also incorporated a concierge learning approach that enables students to benefit from the teaching of a variety of preeminent thinkers in the homeland security field. Some of these thinkers will teach courses. Others will be guest lecturers. Some have agreed to represent us at conferences, while others may become thesis advisors.

Among those to join us are Dr. David McIntyre, a pioneer in homeland security, and Gene Pino, who was responsible for forming the Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium. Greg Larson, the nation’s top expert on chemical/biological/nuclear explosives, is another. On the cybersecurity side, we’ve enlisted former top U.S. cyber official Randy Vickers and Doug Deppe, an attorney with ties to the DHS.

In January, our first cohort of students in this program will begin its journey, exploring the many aspects and implications of today’s complex homeland security environment. We’re confident of our relevance, and are excited at how it will all unfold.

Image credit: istockphoto