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New master’s program to prepare future security professionals

Northeastern will launch a first-of-its-kind, interdisciplinary graduate program this fall to train the next generation of security professionals to face the new and evolving challenges of the 21st century. Through this program, students will be equipped with skills in traditional security studies as well as training in technical fields such as cybersecurity policy, business sustainability, and urban coastal resilience.

The master of science in security and resilience studies will be offered through the College of Social Sciences and Humanities in coordination with the College of Engineering and College of Computer and Information Science. Stephen Flynn, co-director of Northeastern’s George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security and director of the Center for Resilience Studies, designed the program.

Flynn, who is a professor of political science, said the country’s national security shouldn’t merely focus on identifying and engaging potential threats or enemies. Security efforts, strategies, and policies must also recognize the wide range of hazards and vulnerabilities—from cyberterrorism to natural disasters—that place the U.S. population and infrastructure at risk, and they must make those systems more secure and resilient. These systems include the energy and transportation sectors, supply chains, and communications networks.

“A good national defense involves more than going after our adversaries overseas,” Flynn said. “Students will learn how to assess and manage the many risks to our communities, critical infrastructure, and the global networks we depend on for our way of life and quality of life.”

The program aligns with Northeastern’s national leadership in research initiatives built around security, which is one of the university’s core research themes along with health and sustainability.

The program is geared toward both recent undergraduates and mid-career professionals, including veterans. Students can choose between a yearlong full-time track or a part-time track, both of which will be offered through the university’s hybrid format of classroom and online learning. They can specialize in one of three areas: cyberspace policy; administration, management, and policy; or counterterrorism. The program will include a capstone project in which students work in the field or conduct supervised research on improving security and resilience.

Flynn said his three decades of experience in the security field informed the program’s design. His experience includes serving in the White House, advising the 9/11 Commission, and consulting with industry. “The security field is dynamic and is rapidly growing outside its traditional base,” Flynn said. “This program is designed to meet what government officials and industry leaders have told me are their workforce needs.

“We are probably going to end up writing the textbooks for this emerging field because there aren’t any right now,” he added. “I’ve been working on this issue for most of my professional career, and I drew on my experiences and numerous resources to make this curriculum cutting edge.”