Do you need a graduate degree program that fits well with your busy schedule? Do you want to gain the analytical skills and knowledge that security-related employers want their recruits to have?

The master of science in security studies program at East Carolina University is a truly innovative and challenging curriculum. Students engage with top-notch faculty in an online setting to learn about the diverse fields relevant to security studies. ECU's MSSS program features six core courses to provide our students with a common base of knowledge about the field of security studies, combined with areas of emphasis designed to allow students to gain insights and knowledge about specific security sub-fields of interest to them. The areas of emphasis include international security, homeland security policy, science and technology security (computer science or information technology specialization), and environmental health and occupational safety.

You will study in an online environment designed to accommodate your busy schedule, while allowing you to participate extensively in your classes. Students in the MSSS program come from a variety of career fields and interests providing students with the opportunity to be exposed to different perspectives about security issues. Faculty for the program are drawn from more than 15 departments, which gives MSSS students the opportunity to learn from experts in different fields. Across all the classes, the MSSS program emphasizes the importance of thinking and writing analytically and with clarity, two skill sets that your future employers will be seeking.

ECU Advantage

East Carolina's master of science in security studies program examines security problems and responses from many different perspectives, providing students with a broad base of knowledge. Security issues are examined from the international, U.S., state and local levels. The MSSS program is also interdisciplinary, allowing students to choose classes that best suit their interests while exposing them to perspectives from a variety of different security-related disciplines.

Through the MSSS online program, students will have the opportunity to interface with not just our excellent faculty, but also other students who are engaged in different security fields, including the US Armed Services, National Guard, law enforcement, intelligence, private security, emergency management, and many more. The approach gives ECU's MSSS students a broad understanding of security issues as well as providing them with the analytical skills that are sought after by security-related employers.

What You Will Study

Program Coordinator: Armin Krishnan (119-A Brewster Building; 252-328-6156; krishnana@ecu.edu)

The master of science in security studies offers four areas of emphasis: environmental health and occupational safety, homeland security policy, international security, and science and technology security. The MS in security studies requires 36 s.h. of graduate work, composed of a required core of seven courses and a four-course area of emphasis in one of the above-listed areas.

All students applying for the degree are expected to apply through the Graduate School's online process, take the GRE, submit three letters of reference, and submit a statement of purpose.

With the support of the graduate program director, up to one third of the credit hours in the security studies program may be transferred from a regionally accredited college or university. Requests for transfer credit should be made at the time of admission. To read more about the university's graduate policy regarding transfer credits, see the Academic Regulations section of this catalog.

The required core courses will be offered in a distance education format to enable security professionals to engage in the program without being on campus. The international security and homeland security policy areas of emphasis can be completed via distance education. If a course in the area of emphasis is offered face-to-face, students may opt to take it on campus. Otherwise, they will have to either select another course or wait for that class to be offered again in a distance education format.

1. Core courses - 15 s.h.
  • SECS 6000 - Security Studies Foundations
  • SECS 6155 - Changing Nature of National Security Policy
  • SECS 6250 - Policy and Practice of Security
  • SECS 6300 - Research Methods for Security Studies
  • SECS 6350 - Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
2. Internship - 3 s.h.

Students with relevant work experience in excess of one year may apply to the director of the program for exemption from the internship requirement. Those students who are exempted will complete 33 s.h. instead of 36 s.h.; no academic credit will be awarded for work experience.

  • SECS 6450 - Internship
3. Area of Emphasis - 12 s.h.

All students must complete 12 s.h. in one of the following areas of emphasis.

    Environmental health and occupational safety:
    • EHST 6010 - Fundamentals of Environmental Health
    • EHST 6100 - Elements in Environmental Engineering
    • SAFT 6290 - Fire Protection and Prevention and Emergency Management
    • SAFT 6402 - Applied Safety Management
    • SAFT 6410 - Systems Safety and Risk Analysis
    Homeland security policy:
    • BIOL 6110 - Bioterrorism and Biosecurity
    • EHST 6010 - Fundamentals of Environmental Health
    • HIST 6260 - The United States and the Middle East, 1783 to the Present
    • JUST 6502 - Criminal Justice and Terrorism
    • PADM 6163 - Environmental Policy Analysis
    • PADM 6170 - Intergovernmental/Interagency Relations
    • PADM 6220 - Leadership and Ethics in the Public Sector
    • PLAN 6015 - Hazards and Emergency/Disaster Planning
    • POLS 6345 - Comparative Public Policy
    • POLS 6382 - Global Terrorism
    • SECS 6260 - Intelligence and National Security
    • SECS 6270 - Intelligence Analysis
    • SECS 6320 - Cyber Warfare and Security
    • SECS 6400 - The Foundation of Homeland Security and Defense
    • SECS 6430 - Special Topics Seminar
    • SOCI 5500 - Seminar in Population
    International security:
    • HIST 6210 - War and Society
    • HIST 6260 - The United States and the Middle East, 1783 to the Present
    • INTL 6005 - Communication Across Cultures
    • INTL 6105 - Global Issues
    • INTL 6500 - International Problem Solving and Decision Making
    • INTL 6510 - Global and Multicultural Discourse
    • POLS 6080 - American Foreign Relations
    • POLS 6330 - Political Modernization and the Non-Western World
    • POLS 6360 - Causes of International War
    • POLS 6382 - Global Terrorism
    • POLS 6425 - War, Peace and Security in the Middle East
    • POLS 6430 - Seminar in International Politics
    • POLS 6440 - Seminar in International Organization
    • SECS 6260 - Intelligence and National Security
    • SECS 6270 - Intelligence Analysis
    • SECS 6320 - Cyber Warfare and Security
    • SECS 6380 - The Art of Statecraft and International Security
    • SECS 6390 - Human Security
    • SECS 6420 - Globalization and Security
    • SECS 6430 - Special Topics Seminar
    Science and technology security:

    Students must select one specialization and choose four courses from that specialization. Only students with a technical undergraduate background may apply for this. Students should be aware that the science and technology security and environmental health and occupational safety areas of emphasis do not guarantee that the coursework will be available via a distance education format. Furthermore, the area of emphasis in these programs may exceed the minimum 12 s.h. requirement due to the student's need to have completed prerequisites or the numbers of credit hours associated with specific courses. Students interested in these areas of emphasis are encouraged to contact the relevant department to receive further information about their current offerings.

      Areas of specialization are as follows:
        Computer science:
        • CSCI 5800 - Artificial Intelligence
        • CSCI 6100 - Cryptography and Information Security
        • CSCI 6130 - Networking and Telecommunication
        • CSCI 6300 - Cryptographic Protocols
        • CSCI 7000 - Thesis
        Information technology:
        • ICTN 6823 - Information Security Management
        • ICTN 6853 - Cryptography Algorithms and Applications
        • ICTN 6865 - Fundamental Network Security
        • ICTN 6878 - Legal and Ethical Issues in Information Technology
        • IDIS 6515 - Logistical Security and Safety Management
        • ITEC 6050 - Technology Management Strategy
        • ITEC 6600 - Quality Systems
3. Thesis or non-thesis option - 6 s.h.

Students may take either a thesis or non-thesis option. Students selecting the thesis option must complete a minimum of 6 s.h. of SECS 7000 and prepare a thesis acceptable to a three-person committee with relevant expertise. Students pursuing the area of emphasis in science and technology security, computer science specialization must combine SECS 7000 - Thesis (3 s.h.) with CSCI 7000 - Thesis (3 s.h.) for the total of 6 s.h. of thesis. Students may choose the non-thesis option by taking two additional courses (6 s.h.) in their area of emphasis.


    All students must pass a comprehensive exam.

      For more information about this degree visit the university's academic catalogs.

      Careers With This Degree

      Graduates with this degree are successful in many fields and careers, including the following:

      • Managers
      • Political Scientists
      • Political Science Teachers, Postsecondary

      Career Opportunities

      ECU has developed resources to help you learn more about career opportunities and job market outlook. In addition, the websites below provide specific information on careers in the various majors from which students may choose:

      NC Tower

      This website provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from the University of North Carolina system schools. NC Tower includes data on former UNC students who are working in roughly 90% of all jobs in North Carolina. This database excludes information for graduates who are:

      • Self-employed;
      • Work for the federal government, including the military: or
      • Work outside of North Carolina.

      US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

      This website also provides in-depth information regarding pay, projected new jobs, required education, growth rate and on-the-job training information on various occupations.

      Degree-specific internships

      For information on internship information for specific majors, go to the home page of the department in which the major is located and, as available, find the link to the information on internships in that major.