SPS 1 Celebrates Launch of Grad Program

"SPS 1" Celebrates Program Launch

A shared interest has brought eight unique individuals to Notre Dame. They are a select group that represents a milestone at the College. They are the inaugural students in NDC’s Graduate Program in Security Policy Studies (SPS), the College’s newest graduate program, which officially launched on Thursday, Aug. 18.

The inaugural class in NDC's Graduate Program in Security Policy Studies is known as "SPS 1."
The inaugural class in NDC's Graduate Program in Security Policy Studies is known as "SPS 1."

The graduate students travelled from as far as Serbia to celebrate the launch of the online program and to attend the first of three weekend visits for on-site, practical exercises. Six of them are pursuing the Master of Arts in Security Policy Studies, while two are in the graduate certificate program. Their diverse backgrounds include experience in the military, law enforcement and intelligence fields, and they hope to take their careers to the next level with a master’s from Notre Dame. 

The program’s aim is to educate current and future strategic analysts, managers and decision-makers for careers in intelligence analysis, emergency management and homeland security. It offers a unique approach to its curriculum, combining theory, policy and practical application.

The hybrid program consists of online classes in addition to three strategic weekend visits to campus. Classes include Homeland Security, Terrorism & Counterterrorism, Strategic Leadership, Biodefense and Strategic Intelligence. The coursework consists of case studies and virtual/tabletop exercises, and culminates in a real-world, strategic project from the government or private sector.

Rick DeChant addressed the graduate students during a welcome reception.
Rick DeChant addressed the graduate students during a welcome reception.

The program’s focus is an “all hazards” approach that mirrors the mission of the Department of Homeland Security and aims to prepare professionals for all kinds of disasters, from a terrorist attack, to a flood or even a pandemic outbreak. The degree is enhanced by an interdisciplinary perspective that will integrate knowledge from a variety of fields including criminal justice, public administration, intelligence studies, and biodefense and disease surveillance.

Students in the graduate program, those who already have a master’s, as well as those who are not ready to pursue of full master’s degree also have the option to obtain four different graduate certificates within the program. Notre Dame offers graduate certificates in: Biodefense and Science/Technology Analysis, Transnational Threat Analysis, Terrorism and Critical Infrastructure Threat Analysis, and Strategic Intelligence.

“I salute you for launching this program,” said Rick DeChant, executive director of veteran programs & services at Cuyahoga Community College, who spoke to the graduate students. “It’s ironic that you are beginning this master’s program as we are approaching the 10th anniversary of 9/11.”

In 2004, Notre Dame introduced an undergraduate intelligence studies concentration for history majors. This concentration addressed the increasing demand for intelligence analysts since 9/11. The new SPS master’s built on the undergraduate program’s popularity.

Dr. John Hatzadony directs the new graduate program.
Dr. John Hatzadony directs the new graduate program.

“Each SPS cohort is numbered consecutively. This weekend we launched ‘SPS 1.’ Thus, this cohort will always be very special,” said Dr. John Hatzadony, the director of the Graduate Program in Security Policy Studies. “They will be leaders in a program of leaders and life-long learners, in public and private, domestic and international security.”

During its first visit to campus, “SPS 1” completed an on-campus orientation, participated in several leadership exercises, examined the Khobar Towers Bombing and Cuban Missile Crisis Case studies in depth, and conducted a site visit to the Cleveland Clinic Global Security Office.

“The initial course for the M.A. program is on strategic leadership and decision-making and all subsequent courses are approached with that mind-set,” Dr. Hatzadony said. “Unlike other programs that begin with a survey or research methods course, ours embeds the idea of leadership throughout, in addition to the development of subject matter expertise.”

Over the next two years, the graduate students will refine their expertise and hone their leadership skills. Is there a better way to start than by being pioneers in a new graduate program?

For more information about the Graduate Program in Security Policy Studies select the links below:

By Christian Taske ’07, the editor and writer at Notre Dame College.