Request More Info


Curriculum and Timeline

The Master of Science in Threat and Response Management program is an in-person, part-time program. It is offered in a two-year cohort model, allowing students to interact as a group throughout the program. Classes convene in downtown Chicago over three extended weekends each academic quarter.

Each academic year the emergency management program is adapted based on the cohort profile. Instructors tailor lectures to the professions and academic interests represented among the cohort, ensuring the content is relevant, current, and meets the students’ learning needs.

The curriculum offers a broad overview of the field in the first year, with students taking six core courses. In the second year students have the flexibility to choose three elective courses, allowing them 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.


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 emergency management 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.

Instructor: John Cashy, PhD, Lecturer, Master of Science in Threat and Response Management

Core Emergency Management Courses – Year One

Foundations of Emergency Management and Homeland Security

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

Statistics, Data Visualization, and Research Methods

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

Emergency Management, Policy Making, Law and Ethics

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.

Instructors: Edward A. Tanzman, JD, Emergency Preparedness Group Leader, Decision and Information Sciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory
L. Paul Lewis, JD, MS, Technical Programs Attorney, Risk and Infrastructure Sciences Center, Global Security Sciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory

Systems Thinking for Emergency Preparedness

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

Crisis Leadership and Management

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.

Communication Strategies for Crisis Management

This course focuses on evidence-based communication strategies, tools and tactics in crisis situations. Theoretical approaches will be tested against actual practice in risk communication (pre-crisis), crisis communication, and post-crisis communication with a range of audiences, including general publics, regulators and legislators. Role play in devised scenarios give students the opportunity to develop communication strategies in a real-time, real-world environment. Communication tactics include creating written materials, such as news releases, brochures, informational videos and congressional testimony, as well as dealing with hostile audiences in face-to-face situations.

Instructor: S. Catherine Foster, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Canisius College

Elective Emergency Management Courses – Year Two

Each elective course is offered once each academic year.

Psychological, Social, and Behavioral Contexts of Emergency and Hazard Response

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

Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases

This course will focus on the epidemiologic, environmental, geopolitical, and emergency management principles unique to infectious disease emergency preparedness and response, including pandemic preparedness. The course will not focus on the clinical management of individual cases. We will consider threat-specific (e.g., microorganism, vector) 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

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

Evolving Technologies in Emergency Management

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.

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: Andrew Velasquez III, President, AV3 Strategic Solutions Inc

Disaster Management and Resilience in Urban Settings

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.

Instructor: Bronwyn Rae, Anesthesiologist, Feinberg School of Medicine and Senior Consultant, Seed Global Health

Business Continuity, Resilience and Sustainability

Business Continuity, Resilience and Sustainability is a new course and is currently under development. A course description will be available shortly.

Instructor: TBC

Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources

Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources is a new course and is currently under development. A course description will be available shortly.

Instructor: TBC

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


From start to finish the Master of Science in Threat and Response Management 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