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Curriculum and Timeline

The in-person program is offered in a two-year cohort model curriculum, allowing students to interact as a group throughout the program. Classes convene on three consecutive extended weekends each academic quarter.

Each academic year the MScTRM program is adapted based on the cohort profile; instructors tailor lectures to professions and academic interests represented among the cohort, ensuring the content is relevant to meet students’ learning needs.

The curriculum is designed to offer a broad overview of the field in the first year; in the second year students choose between a scientific or administrative track, allowing degree candidates to pursue a path that best fits their background and career aspirations. As a degree requirement, students are required to complete a capstone project, working in small groups with a faculty member on a comprehensive project.


Applicants are expected to be actively involved in a career that demonstrates a connection with their course of study. Having prior professional or volunteer experience with emergency or disaster response is a plus.

Introduction to Statistical Concepts (Stats Boot Camp)

Some students may be required to participate in the pre-quarter workshop Introduction to Statistical Concepts prior to the beginning of courses. This workshop is offered online via synchronous sessions, once a week for five weeks prior to the start of the Autumn quarter. Students will be notified at the time of admissions if participation in this workshop is mandatory.

Core Courses

Autumn Quarter—Year One

Foundations of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (core)

This course familiarizes students with the fundamentals of emergency management and homeland security. The evolution of emergency management and homeland security is discussed along with a review of significant events that have shaped and influenced practices and doctrine. It identifies key players involved at the national, state, and local levels and their roles and responsibilities in prevention, protection, mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery to a naturally occurring or human-caused hazard. Students learn appropriate federal agency mandates, including those of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services. The content includes a discussion of risks, threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences as well as directives and guidelines included in the National Incident Management System, National Planning Frameworks, National Infrastructure Protection Plan, Homeland Security Presidential Directives, Presidential Policy Directives, the National Fire Protection Association 1600 standard, the Emergency Management Accreditation Program emergency management standard, and the National Preparedness System. Topics also include the weapons, models for dispersion, and public health consequences and counteractions that might be employed in terrorist attacks. The course considers the detection and response to such acts and potential modes of treatment, amelioration, and response. Students also participate in a table-top exercise simulating an actual disaster event.

Instructor: Edward G. Buikema, President, Buikema Consulting LLC
Course Code: MSTR–31001–01

Analyzing and Communicating Public Policy, Legal, and Ethical Issues (core)

This course will focus on converting the tools of policy analysis into action and social change, addressing the regulatory, legal, and ethical issues affecting hazard and response management, privacy, and quarantine. Refusal of medical care will be put in the context of patient rights and public policy. Rules of evidence and practices of forensic management by local, state, and federal agencies involved in the handling of samples from impacted sites are equally important, as are the legal, regulatory, and ethical perspectives on exposed individuals and their families.

Students will apply analytic tools to these and other related policy problems. Issues will be placed in the context of real-world cases in which major policy changes have succeeded or failed in the political process. Examples and case studies from past governmental responses to hazardous events will be used extensively. Exercises in writing and speaking will refine the student’s ability to communicate complex policy ideas concisely and effectively, focusing on how the proponents and opponents framed and communicated their key ideas. In exercises, students will write memos, work in groups, conduct meetings, make presentations, work with the media, and more.

Instructors: S. Catherine Foster, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Canisius College
Edward A. Tanzman, JD, Emergency Preparedness Group Leader, Decision and Information Sciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory
Course Code: MSTR–31002–01

Winter Quarter—Year One

Biostatistics, Data Visualization, and Research Methods (core)

This course will cover basic summary and inferential statistics and data visualization. Emphasis will be placed on building a foundation for understanding, interpreting, and presenting statistical data for research, management, and epidemiology applications.

Instructor: John Cashy, PhD, Lecturer, Master of Science in Threat and Response Management
Course Code: MSTR–31003–01

Leadership and Management (core)

This course organized into two main sections: (1) leadership and (2) team and group effectiveness. The first part of the course investigates human thought and judgement and how these thoughts and judgements can impede or improve your ability to lead yourself and others. Topics in this section include models for effective leadership, leadership style, leadership under stress and pressure, effective listening and questioning, evaluating information and evaluating others.

The second section of this course examines what it means to effectively team with others. Topics include models of effective team/group dynamics and team leadership and membership. Students will learn how to be good members and effective leaders of teams, committees, and other decision-making and problem-solving groups. For both sections of this course, the primary means of instruction will be interactive exercises in which students perform tasks in groups to practice the skills of membership and leadership. Students will also develop strategies to build partnerships and establish networks to ensure effective response when a disaster strikes.

Instructor: Richard H. Axelrod, MBA, Founder and Principal, The Axelrod Group, Inc.
Course Code: MSTR–31004–01

Spring Quarter—Year One

Public Health Investigation and Surveillance—Tracking the Health of Populations (core)

This course is designed to provide information crucial to monitoring the health of the public and responding to outbreaks. Students will learn about public health surveillance systems that collect, analyze, and disseminate data to prevent and control disease and understand how these systems are important to disease outbreak recognition. Students will gain familiarity with decision making in developing surveillance systems including identifying public health problems and priorities, developing case foundations, and systematically tracking public problems for which recognition leads to public health action.

The course will also examine outbreak investigation in-depth including the steps employed by investigators, the integrated approaches used to modify the impact on the public, and lessons learned from real outbreaks of various sizes, complexity, and in different populations in the US and abroad.

Instructor: Mark S. Dworkin, MD, MPHTM, Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health
Course Code: MSTR–31005–01

Psychological, Social, and Behavioral Contexts of Emergency and Hazard Response (core)

This course focuses on the psychological, social, and behavioral consequences of terrorist threats, natural disasters, and catastrophes, as well as preparation for and responses to these occurrences. The course will focus on multiple types of threats including explosives, infectious disease, and biological, chemical, and radiological events. Other topics to be addressed include theory, vulnerable populations, behavioral interventions, social responses, systems of care, risk communication, and research.

Instructor: Stevan M. Weine, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Founder and Director, International Center of Responses to Catastrophes, University of Illinois at Chicago
Course Code: MSTR–31006–01

Scientific/Threat Concentration

Autumn Quarter—Year Two

Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases

This course will consider the clinical, public health, environmental, geopolitical, and emergency management principles unique to infectious disease emergency preparedness and response. We will consider threat-specific (e.g., microorganism) and human-specific (e.g., immunologic susceptibility, fear) factors, surveillance, investigation, containment, and prevention. Both natural and manufactured threats will be examined. Infectious diseases as complications of other types of emergencies will be studied. Students will complete and present a project relevant to their professional backgrounds.

Instructor: Rebecca Wurtz, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
Course Code: MSTR–32001–01

Winter Quarter—Year Two

Radiation Biology, Radiological Exposure, Regulations and Response

This course is designed to cover the basic principles of radiation biology as it pertains to radiation interactions with biological systems, the short and long term consequences, regulatory issues and the underlying science, nuclear and radiological accidents and health effects, radiological terrorism, and countermeasures. Radiological hazards will be defined in the contact of radiological dispersal devices (dirty bombs) and other nuclear devices. Relative radiation risks and consequences as a function of exposure to photons (X- and gamma-rays), beta particles, alpha particles, and neutrons will be addressed. Concepts relating to radiation detection systems, biological exposure and the inverse square law, LD-50 for bone marrow and GI toxicity, and long-term effects such as mutagenesis, carcinogenesis, and birth defects will be covered along with information on currently available medical and chemical interventions to reduce these risks such as the use of radiation protector, mitigators, and chelation therapy drugs.

Instructors: David J. Grdina, MBA, PhD, Professor of Radiation and Cellular Oncology; The University of Chicago
Richard C. Miller, PhD, Research Associate/Associate Professor; The University of Chicago
Course Code: MSTR–32002–01

Spring Quarter—Year Two

Selected Topics in Emergency Management: Energetics, Cybersecurity, the Electrical Grid, and Beyond

This course presents an overview of the following special topics in emergency preparedness: cyberterrorism and cybercrime, urban search and rescue, the medical infrastructure supporting emergency management, critical infrastructure protection, explosive devices, and the electrical grid architecture and vulnerability.

Course Code: MSTR–32004–01

Administrative/Response Preparedness Concentration

Autumn Quarter—Year Two

Complex Adaptive Systems for Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security

A systems thinking perspective that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries is needed to understand the complex adaptive systems of concern for threat management, emergency preparedness and response, homeland security and societal resiliency. Systems science provides the tools for developing critical thinking skills that can be used to analyze such systems. Students will become systems thinkers using various qualitative techniques of complex systems analysis, including network analysis, causal modeling, system dynamics, risk and resiliency analysis, and behavioral modeling. The course examines how these techniques are being applied to inform preparedness and planning decisions, in infrastructure, terrorism, supply chains, public health and other areas. Students will have the opportunity to apply these techniques in class projects and assignments. They also will interact with scientists and analysts from Argonne National Laboratory who are applying these techniques in their current work.

Instructor: Charles M. Macal, PhD, Argonne Distinguished Fellow, Senior Systems Engineer, Leader, Social & Behavioral Systems Group, Global Security Sciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory
Course Code: MSTR–33001–01

Winter Quarter—Year Two

Technology Strategy and Information Systems

Maintaining an appropriate focus on science and technology solutions as they relate to incident management is essential to the ability to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from an emergency. Systems must be compatible and integrated for optimal response. In this course, inter-operability, common communications, data standards, digital data formats, warning systems, geographic information technologies, and equipment and design standards will be covered. Strategic planning for intelligence sharing and the protection of critical infrastructure will be the focal points. The development of testing mechanisms to evaluate these protocols and guidelines will be emphasized.

Instructor: Donald R. Zoufal, MAPA, JD, MA, Safety and Security Consultant, CrowZnest Consulting, Inc.
Course Code: MSTR–33002–01

Spring Quarter—Year Two

Financial and Resource Planning for Risk and Crisis Management

Large-scale events involving multiple disciplines and jurisdictions require the development and management of financial and other practical resources. This course will expose students to the tools needed for forecasting, cost analysis, procurement, and monitoring of funds. A significant portion of the course will be devoted to an in-depth review of the need for mutual aid agreements and will concentrate on the development and refinement of these documents. The course will also cover day-to-day resource management versus methods for managing resources under a National Incident Management System/Incident Command System/National Response Plan operational environment.

Instructor: Vicki L. Wilson, MBA, MPH, Lecturer, Master of Science in Threat and Response Management
Course Code: MSTR–33003–01

Beginning and Completing the Program

Capstone/Practicum Projects

Students are given considerable freedom in selecting a topic for their capstone or final project. Students are encouraged to work in groups in order to simulate responding to a threat or hazard.

Before a student can begin his or her project, a proposal must be approved by the program director. It is strongly recommended that toward the end of the first year of study, students begin forming their groups and identifying a faculty member whose academic background and interest will best serve to guide the individual and the group’s interests. Groups are expected to present their findings at the end of the final quarter leading to graduation. Students will be graded on both their individual contributions to the project and the overall work of the group.

Instructor: Marsha Hawk, RN, MS, MEd, EdD(c), Director, Master of Science in Threat and Response Management
Course Code: MSTR–34000–01


From start to finish the MScTRM degree can be completed in two years.

Year 1

Autumn (Oct–Dec)

2 courses

Winter (Jan–Mar)

2 courses

Spring (Apr–Jun)

2 courses

Year 2

Autumn (Oct–Dec)

1 course + Capstone project

Winter (Jan–Mar)

1 course + Capstone project

Spring (Apr–Jun)

1 course + Capstone project