Interview with Peter Woolley, Ph.D. about the Online M.S. in Cyber and Homeland Security Administration Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University

About Peter Woolley, Ph.D.: Peter Woolley is the Director of the School of Public and Global Affairs at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He earned a Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh and was a long-time researcher in the field of contemporary U.S.-Japan defense relations, publishing two books and many articles on the topic, which emphasized the over-arching importance of this alliance to global peace and stability. In recognizing the power of public opinion in the democratic countries of the U.S. alliances, he founded a survey research group, PublicMind, to measure hot topics in elections, business, and culture, gaining national coverage for the poll.

Dr. Woolley later brought together graduate school faculty in several disciplines and in two countries under one School of Public and Global Affairs, where he encourages project-based teaching and learning, and facilitates mid-career changes for working professionals. He is proud to induct about twenty students each year into Sword and Shield, the national honor society for homeland security, intelligence, emergency management and cyber security and administration.

Interview Questions

[] Could you please provide an overview of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s (FDU) Online Master of Science in Cyber and Homeland Security Administration, and how it is structured? How does this program prepare students to engage in important security work against terrorism, cyber crime, natural and man-made disasters, and other threats?

[Dr. Woolley] Our core courses assume that you will be in-charge, the one who is responsible for accurate threat assessments, appropriate responses and, inevitably, crisis management. We want our graduates to be the leaders in the room when it comes to strategic planning, policy implementation, evaluation, and closing the loop. We also encourage our students to dig deep into emergency management and threat assessments before- the-fact. We think successful people master leadership skills–because it’s not just about knowing the right answer. You need to motivate and move a big team.

We have four required courses, which includes constitutional issues as well as strategic planning. You have a choice of concentrations in Terrorism and Security or Leadership, or mix and match as suits your career needs, with choices ranging from Network Security to Bio-terrorism to Effective Team Building.

[] How does FDU’s Master of Science in Cyber and Homeland Security Administration (MSCHSA) differ from a master’s degree specifically in cybersecurity? As FDU also offers a Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance, what should students take into account when deliberating between these two program offerings? Who is the typical student for the MSCHSA, and how does this program help them meet their specific career goals?

[Dr. Woolley] The student who wants to write code or wants to crack code should examine programs in engineering and computer science. But seasoned professionals who need to expand their knowledge of the cyber-world, understand the myriad new threats, participate in high-level planning, and implement policy, will likely find our Masters in Cyber and Homeland Security Administration meets their career needs.

[] FDU is a military-friendly school that is a participant in the G.I. Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program, which offers financial aid and other benefits to active military members and veterans. May we have more information about how this program is particularly well suited to active members of the military as well as veterans seeking to apply their military experience to leadership roles?

You’ll find many veterans in your classes in Homeland Security and at FDU in general. Vets know how much we rely on computer networks and data caches. They understand the stakes. They are more aware than most of the need to anticipate every eventuality. They appreciate the contingency planning process. With this background, they can make a significant contribution to any civilian organization whether governmental, non-profit, or private.

We also have lots of scholarship opportunities to supplement the Yellow Ribbon Program and your other financial aid. Apply for these after you are accepted and by July 1st.

[] What online technologies does this program use to facilitate interactions between course faculty and students? Are classes primarily asynchronous, synchronous, or a combination of both?

[Dr. Woolley] Every student has a different learning style and some people have more than one. We try to meet people where they are. This program is largely asynchronous, so you can do it at your own pace and on your own schedule. But the professor is there with you when you have questions and your classmates are relying on you, as you are relying on them. We also offer opportunities to be in-person or teleconferenced into some classes when you feel you prefer a cohort-style or a hybrid class. In all cases, we encourage students to collaborate in group projects.

[] What role does faculty mentorship play in Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Online Master of Science in Cyber and Homeland Security Administration? Independent of faculty instruction and support, what career development resources and academic services are available to students of this program? How can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems while in the program?

[Dr. Woolley] Our faculty are not just teachers, they are also mentors. They are academics, but they are also professionals who have been in the field. We encourage project-based teaching and learning and we offer research courses in which students can participate in a much larger, multi-year project – kind of like the real world! We also encourage students to take advantage of our faculty’s professional networks.

[] For students who are interested in Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Online Master of Science in Cyber and Homeland Security Administration, what advice do you have for submitting a competitive application?

[Dr. Woolley] We are looking for students who have joined the workforce, usually in a governmental or large, non-profit organization, who are ambitious enough to want to move up in that organization or change specialties altogether. We work best with students who are taking charge of their life and career. Applicants should tell us about their career experiences as well as their career ambitions.

[] What makes Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Online Master of Science in Cyber and Homeland Security Administration program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students? From faculty expertise and mentorship opportunities to the quality of the curriculum, what are some standout aspects of the program that you would like prospective students to know about?

[Dr. Woolley] Cyber and Homeland Security are now functionally present and inescapable in every governmental organization as well as in the private, business organizations that supply local, state, and national governments with goods and services. Cyber Security is not left just to the geeks who write and crack code. It is an everyday administrative function at all levels. We want you to have the skills and insight you need to bring to your organization, and that’s possible because our faculty have done it with theirs. And while the threats will evolve, we’ll teach you to evolve with them.

Thank you, Dr. Woolley, for your excellent insight into Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Online Master of Science in Cyber and Homeland Security Administration!