Program goal

The Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness degree program is designed in the broadest interdisciplinary sense. Students will learn theoretical and practical knowledge that will prepare them for private or public sector employment in the expanding area of homeland security and emergency preparedness and/or further study in numerous areas of public policy. The curriculum focuses upon international and domestic security and preparedness issues related to terrorist threats, such as the 9/11 attack, and natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, homeland security and emergency preparedness has become a critical aspect of governmental policy at the federal, state and local levels as well as within the private sector. The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs believes that a stable and productive evolution of public and private sector policies in this area can only be achieved if academe recognizes and accepts its role in developing scholars, professional policy analysts and informed governmental decision makers.

The master’s degree is primarily an off-campus, online, distance-learning program. It has both off-campus (online) and on-campus (at VCU) components. VCU’s program takes a broad interdisciplinary approach to preparedness that will give students the ability to see the larger organizational, social, political, ethical and economic aspects of disaster studies, in addition to the policy-making and implementation aspects. The scholarly study of homeland security and emergency preparedness rests at the intersection of national defense, emergency management, law enforcement and policy management. With expertise in criminal justice, geography, government (local, state, federal and foreign), international affairs, policy planning and public administration, the Wilder School is particularly well-suited for such a program. Its location in the state capital and situated just 90 minutes from the nation’s capital also provides easy access to homeland security institutions and practitioners.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Students will achieve comprehension of the theory and practice of homeland security and emergency preparedness and be able to analyze policy and synthesize information in four key areas: risk and vulnerability analysis, strategic planning dilemmas of disasters and disaster preparedness, institutional coordination, and intelligence operations and legal/constitutional aspects.
  2. Students will develop advanced skills in expository writing and oral presentation.
  3. Students will achieve comprehension of the theoretical and practical principles of emergency preparedness for both natural disasters and terrorist incidents and be able to analyze key topics related to natural disasters, emergency planning, terrorism and counterterrorism.
  4. Students will perform research, policy analysis and risk assessment using several methodological and theoretical approaches to homeland security and emergency preparedness.
  5. Students will also be able to evaluate scholarly and practitioner analyses of homeland security and emergency preparedness.