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Master of Science in Security Studies: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the MSSS Program

What is the purpose of the MSSS degree? The major goals of the program are to develop student critical thinking about security issues within a changing environment and to instill graduates with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to gain professional employment in a security-related field. The program thus seeks to integrate knowledge from a variety of fields-criminal justice, public administration, political science, environmental health and safety, the natural sciences, computer technology, etc.,- to develop a holistic approach to the study of security and the development of responses to security threats. The program is professional in nature-designed to develop skills for future policy analysts and program administrators, but would also be good preparation for entrance into a relevant PhD program.

How do I apply for the MSSS program? In addition to the Graduate School's online application form itself, applicants need to submit GRE scores, three letters of reference, a statement of purpose, and official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions you have attended. The MSSS program cannot consider your application until all of the required materials have been received. The application for admission to the ECU Graduate School: http://www.ecu.edu/gradschool/

I am currently enrolled in the Security Studies Certificate program, how do I enroll in the MSSS instead? To transition from an in-progress Certificate to the Masters degree, students must apply again to the Graduate School. You will go through the Apply-Online process again and this time, specify you are pursuing the MSSS. (Yes, you do have to pay the application fee). You will then go through the application process the same as others applying to the MSSS and submit any outstanding required materials. The transcripts you previously submitted are on file. You likely filed 2 letters of recommendation the first time through, so you will have to arrange to have a third letter sent. You will also need to submit official GRE scores.

I am currently enrolled in another Masters program at ECU, how do I transfer to the MSSS? You will need to fill out the Graduate School's Change of Graduate Program form (http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/gradschool/Academic-Policies-and-Forms.cfm). You will then take that form to the Director of your current Masters program for their approval and signature. Then the form will go to the Director of the Security Studies program, Alethia Cook, for her consideration. He will review your application, consider any courses that might transfer, and approve or deny the change. (Only courses with a grade of B or A may be transferred.) Both program directors must sign the form. It then goes to the Graduate School for their approval.

I have completed my Certificate in Security Studies. How would that effect my admissions into the MSSS program and the courses I would be required to take? You will need to go through the full application process to be admitted into the MSSS program. All of the courses you have completed (only courses with a grade of B or A may be transferred) to earn the Certificate will then count toward your completion of the MSSS requirements.

I completed my Bachelor's degree more than 10 years ago. Do I still have to take the GRE to apply for admissions? Students who have been out of school for more than ten years may be able to have the GRE waived. There are many conditions that apply to this exception: the applicant must be employed in a field relevant to the Masters they are seeking; their undergraduate grade point average must be good; and they must contact Dr. Alethia Cook to request a professional waiver of the GRE requirement.

You may also have the GRE waived if your undergraduate was earned here at ECU and you earned at least a 3.5 grade point average or if you completed the Security Studies Certificate at ECU with a minimum 3.2 grade point average.

When are admissions decisions made? Decisions about one's acceptance into the program are made by the MSSS faculty on a rolling basis, as soon as a complete application is received by the Graduate School. Official notification of admissions decisions is made by the Graduate School. Notification about assistantships and out-of-state tuition remissions are made by the MSSS Program Director.

How many hours are required for the MSSS degree? The MSSS program requires 36-semester hours, with 15 hours of core course work, a 12 hour area of emphasis, 3 hours of internship, and 6 hours of thesis.

What topics can I focus on for my area of emphasis? Students must complete at least 12 hours in one of four areas of emphasis:
International Security
Homeland Security Policy
Environmental Health and Occupational Safety
Science and Technology Security
     •Computer Science Specialization
     •Technology Specialization

When are classes offered and are they all available via Distance Education (DE)? The MSSS program is designed so that students may complete it entirely via DE. However, there are some exceptions. All of the core courses can be completed via DE. The areas of emphasis vary in the extent to which they can be done via DE. The International Security and Homeland Security Policy areas of emphasis can be completed entirely via DE. It may be that one of the courses you want to take is being offered Face-to-Face. In that case, you have 3 choices: take it Face-to-Face, take another course or wait to see if it is offered in a future semester via DE. The Science and Technology Security and Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health areas of emphasis cannot be completed entirely via DE.

How long will it take to complete the MSSS degree? The MSSS can be completed in two academic years of full-time study. Since most courses are offered online, the MSSS program is suited both for the part-time employed student and the full-time student.

Does the MSSS Program offer any financial assistance to students? The department offers several graduate assistantships and can offer an out-of-state tuition remission to exceptional non-North Carolina residents. The preferred application deadline for fall is June 1st, although if one is seeking a graduate assistantship then the application should be in by April 1st. A full-time graduate assistantship currently pays $7,500 for the fall and spring terms. Individuals seeking an assistantship or an out-of-state tuition remission should apply as early as possible.

Where can I find out about the faculty? Check out the personal web pages of the MSSS faculty; they contain information about the faculty's research, service, and teaching areas.

Is the MSSS program a participant in the Academic Common Market? Not yet. The process to become part of the Academic Common Market has been initiated. However, it is unlikely this will be completed in time for Fall 2010 semester.

Who should I contact for more information?
Dr. Alethia H. Cook
Director, Security Studies Program
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Department of Political Science, Brewster A-134
East Carolina University
Greenville NC 27858-4353
Phone: 252-328-5869 (office)
FAX: 252-328-4134
Email: cooka@ecu.edu

Dept. of Political Science, Brewster A-124, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858-4353
Phone (252) 328-6189
Fax (252) 328-4134
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