The CAS in National Security and Counterterrorism Law is a highly interdisciplinary, 15-credit program of study for law and graduate students looking to specialize in national security, counterterrorism, homeland security, cybersecurity, and related fields.

Students benefit from multiple faculty perspectives, from College of Law professors and others in public policy, international affairs, information studies, computer science, engineering, and elsewhere. Academic opportunities include group research projects, simulations, field trips, and study abroad. Students also can join the SPL-supported National Security Student Association.


“SPL is the ultimate institute to develop your foundation in national security and counterterrorism law because the unique interdisciplinary course offerings and varied experiences of the renowned faculty offer unparalleled legal and policy perspectives to students. The professors provide tailored mentorship and make an avid effort to connect students to professionals in their field of interest during their time at Syracuse. Being a part of the SPL community coupled with hard work is a near guarantee for postgraduate success!”—Kristina Cervi, Law ’19

“The experience I gained from SPL goes well beyond knowledge of the black letter law. I learned to quickly analyze problems while incorporating policy and ethical considerations and to effectively convey the results of that analysis to the appropriate audience. Most importantly, I made connections with practitioners in the field, especially alumni, that helped launch my career.” —Ryan D. White, JD/MPA ’18

“SPL allowed me to explore the national security and counterterrorism field through challenging coursework, independent research, and cross-cultural learning experiences abroad. I feel well prepared to begin a career in research and policy analysis.”—Emily Schneider, Law ’13

“I greatly enjoyed the time I spent deeply involved at SPL and with its projects.  Thanks to SPL, I have spent two years studying counterterrorism, one year researching armed conflicts, plus a summer in Israel among counterterrorism practitioners.  All these experiences greatly impacted my life.”—Courtney Schuster, Law ’13

Who Can Apply?

The certificate is available to both law and graduate students—interested students are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to visit the SPL office during the spring semester of their first year to register for the certificate and to discuss a course plan with staff.

How Do I Apply?

  • Complete a Graduate School Internal Admission Application FormYou will need this to complete the SU Law Student Services Request below.
  • Inform the SU Law Office of Student Life that you intend to pursue a CAS in National Security and Counterterrorism Law. Do this via a Student Services Request, following the steps described below. If you have any questions on this procedure, please visit the Office of Student Life.

  • Log on to SU Law’s Intranet system.
  • Click on “Students.”
  • Click on “Student Services Request.”
  • Click on “Other Services” under “Type of Request.”
  • Click on “Additional Requests.”
  • Fill out the web-based form on this page. Under “Description,” write “I am enrolling in the CAS in National Security and Counterterrorism Law program.”
  • Visit the Office of Student Life with your Graduate Enrollment Internal Admission form to complete the request. Alternatively, email the form to


If you require more information, contact the SPL office at or 315.443.2284.

How Do I Receive the Certificate?

  • Law and graduate students must file a diploma request form on MySlice (and update their addresses). Filing on MySlice activates the certification process and awarding of a degree.
  • You will be reminded by SPL in February/March of your final year to complete the Diploma Request Form and to submit a Final Program of Study Form.
  • Projects or courses otherwise not listed may qualify for credit subject to approval by the Program Director. To petition to have non-listed study qualify for the CAS, complete a Waiver Petition Form and submit it to SPL.
  • The Program Director will recommend granting the CAS in National Security and Counterterrorism Law to students who have met all of the requirements and who are in good standing.

What Are the Requirements?

To earn the CAS in National Security Law and Counterterrorism students must:

  • Complete 15 credits of coursework—six credits from the Required Course List and nine credits from the Elective Course List. Students are encouraged to select courses with the help of a faculty advisor and/or SPL staff.
  • Maintain an overall 3.0 GPA average in required CAS courses.
    • Audited classes may not be counted towards the CAS.
    • Classes taken pass/fail may not be counted towards the CAS. 
    • Note: Courses graded on the alternative grading system (F/P/H/HH) are not considered pass/fail for CAS purposes.  They may be used towards the CAS.  
  • Complete the Writing Requirement:
    • An academic paper on a security topic that satisfies the upper class writing requirement for Syracuse Law; OR
    • Students may take at least one course that requires a significant written product on a security topic. SPL has designated courses with a [W] that meet this standard—Law 883, Law 822, and Law 832 (see Required Course List).
  • Complete the Capstone Project:
    • Examples of a Capstone Project include, but are not limited to, a research paper, clinical work, an externship, or a substantial collaborative project. The project must be approved by the Program Director; OR
    • Students may take one or both of two classes whose cumulative work constitutes a Capstone Project. These classes—Law 883 or Law 822 (see Required Course List)—are designated with a [C].

Students will …

  • Determine the applicable legal rules from multiple sources of the law in the national security contexts and seek to reconcile any competing principles.
  • Locate and evaluate research materials specific to the field of national security.
  • Demonstrate writing capacity, preferably through drafting law and or policy memoranda.
  • Solve security problems that require solutions and suggestions from non-law disciplines such as public administration, international relations, history, economics, social science, and political science.

1) Required Courses—take six credits:

Using a series of case studies that jump off the front page, this course examines critically the hardest US national security law and policy challenges of the decades ahead. Topics include:

  • Decisions to intervene and what laws apply if we do intervene in humanitarian crises, insurrections, or civil wars.
  • Dealing with the “Arab Spring.”
  • Dealing with Iran and North Korea, related to nuclear weapons.
  • Anticipating and controlling new technologies in warfare and surveillance.
  • Managing civil/military relations in protecting the homeland.
  • Countering cyber threats to our infrastructure and cyber attacks waged by nation states, such as China and Russia.
  • Managing public health as a national security issue.
  •  Resource depletion and global warming as a national security issue.


This course concerns US and international law responses to terrorism and include a brief overview and history of terrorism. Topics include:

  • Legal definitions of terrorism.
  • Investigation and intelligence collection in the US and abroad.
  • Apprehension of terrorists across borders.
  • Immigration and border controls.
  • Prosecution of terrorists.
  • Sanctions against terrorism and its supporters, including reprisal, assassination, and asset freeze and forfeiture.
  • Crisis and consequence management in the event of terrorist attacks, including martial law and detention, domestic use of the military, catastrophic emergency measures, and hostage and rescue operations.
  • Law reform issues.

For more information, click here.


This is a three-credit, one semester course on the legal, policy, and management aspects of cybersecurity. It is conducted through a series of seminars co-taught by a professor from the School of Information Studies and a professor from the College of Law’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. The course combines legal, political economy, and technology perspectives, examining cybersecurity from the standpoint of private sector activities, national governments, and international law and politics. In recognition of the interdisciplinary nature of cybersecurity problems, the co-teaching between Law and iSchool provides a richer environment for the students. The course also welcomes students from public administration, policy studies, communications, and computer science. Students will be exposed to some basic technical material regarding the nature of the Internet, cyberspace, vulnerabilities, exploits and incident response techniques and methods, but this is not a technical course and does not require computer science expertise.

Offered by William Snyder (College of Law) and Lee McKnight (iSchool).


This seminar examines US engagements with foreign governments, organizations, and individuals. We will focus on the diversity of legal orders, actors, and spheres of action implicated in contemporary foreign relations. Central questions include:

  1. How does the US government negotiate coexisting obligations under conventional, customary, constitutional, statutory, and administrative legal orders?
  2. What roles do legislatures, executives, courts, agencies, non-state entities, non-governmental organizations, and multi-national corporations play in ordering foreign relations?
  3. How do the foregoing legal orders and actors function differently across contexts of war, occupation, migration, trade, aid, intervention, and reconstruction?

We also will consider normative debates surrounding the preceding descriptive questions. By both canvassing and critiquing the law, policy, and history of US foreign relations, students will acquire the basic knowledge and skills required for analysis and argument within the field.


This course introduces students to the legal framework and underlying principles in the developing field of homeland security law. While national security is hierarchical, secretive and strategic, homeland security is collaborative, transparent and operational. This is a simulation-based course with a focus on administrative law processes in critical infrastructure protection, emergency management, border control, and counterterrorism efforts.


The National Security and Counterterrorism Research Center serves as a working research laboratory for law and other graduate students interested in national security and counterterrorism issues. Students will work in teams on research projects assigned by the director. Other faculty within Syracuse University and experts outside the University may also participate in the development and implementation of research projects. Typically, the projects will involve assessments of legal and law-related issues of concern to federal, state, and local government officials in responding to national security and terrorism threats. Other projects may examine private sector security concerns. Research projects may by arrangement with sources external to Syracuse University, while others may be developed from within the College of Law or the University.

A course that covers the fundamental topics in national security law, using case studies, simulations, and class discussions.

  • Part 1: Framework of National Security Law
  • Part II: International Law as ”Our Law”
  • Part III: Using Force Abroad
  • Part IV: Intelligence Operations and Collection
  • Part V: Homeland Security


2) Elective Courses—take nine credits

NOTE: Elective courses change each semester. To view the most current graduate courses and descriptions, visit the College of Law Course Descriptions and the Graduate Course Catalog.

Climate Change (LAW 891)
Comparative Civil-Military Relations (PSC 785)
Comparative Foreign Policy (PSC 783)
Computer Crimes (Law 759)
Crisis Management (PSC 759/PAI 700)
Culture in World Affairs (PAI/ANT 707)
Economic Dimensions of Global Power (PAI 716)
Emerging Technologies & Global Security (LAW 844)
Federal Courts (LAW 721)
Federal Criminal Law (LAW 735)
Fundamentals of Conflict Studies (PAI 601)
Fundamentals of Postconflict Reconstruction (PAI 719)
Health Law and Policy (LAW 740)
History of International Relations (HST 645)
Homeland Security (PAI 730)
Humanitarian Action: Challenges, Responses, Results (PAI 765)
Immigration Law (LAW 788)
International Human Rights Law (LAW 778)
International Law (LAW 728)
International Law & Organizations (PSC 752)
International Security (PAI 717)
International Security Theory (PSC 749)
Internet Law (LAW 775)
Law, Courts, & Human Rights (PSC/PAI 700)
Law of the Global Commons LAW (975)
Middle East Anthropology (ANT 668)
Perspectives on Terrorism (LAW 790)
Political Leadership (PSC 788/PAI 700)
Privacy Law (792)
Responding to Proliferation of WMDs (PAI 727)
Rule of Law in Postconflict Reconstruction (LAW 813)
Smart Grid: Security, Privacy, & Economics (LAW 868/PAI 730)
Theories of International Relations (PSC 651)
The Modern Presidency (HST 615)
Transnational Crimes, Drugs, & Terrorism (PSC 700)
UN Organizations: Managing for Change (PAI 764)
US Defense Strategy, Military Posture & Combat Operations
(PAI 739)
US Intelligence Community: 1947 to the Present (PAI 738)
US National Security & Foreign Policy (PAI 718/ PSC 706)
Veterans Legal Clinic (LAW 926)
Women, War, & Peace (ANT 676)