Jeffrey LewisMonterey Masters in Nonpro, Terrorism

Well, this is very interesting. You can now get an MA in nuclear terrorism. Imagine the class projects!

Alright, I kid, but the Monterey Institute has a new degree in “Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies” that brings together the best of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) and the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MonTREP):

The Monterey Institute is launching a new M.A. degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies (MANPTS). The first of its kind in the United States, it prepares students for careers in analyzing, preventing, and responding to terrorist threats and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Courses for this degree will be taught by faculty of the Graduate School of International Policy and Management; by policy, scientific, and technical specialists in the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) and the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MonTREP); and by experts invited from international organizations, government agencies, the private sector, and leading universities all over the world. Students in this M.A. program may also gain practical experience through internships at international organizations or work as research assistants at CNS and MonTREP. Placement assistance from our Center for Advising and Career Services helps graduating students find professional positions in government agencies and international organizations dedicated to combating terrorism or the spread of WMD as well as private firms specializing in security research, corporate security, or related fields.

I am not sure I would have called it MANPTS (Man Points?), but a rose by any other name … If you are interested, there relevant information is here.


  1. Sascha LHX

    That’s actually very interesting but what are the career opportunities? can anybody be a UN inspector?

  2. John Schilling (History)

    Hmm. Why “Nonproliferation and terrorism”, as opposed to say “Insurgency and Terrorism” or “Nonproliferation and Deterrence”, or two other subjects that are actually closely related? The Monterey program promises to “[Emphasize] the synergy between the control of WMD and the analysis of terrorism”, and I question how much synergy there really is.

    Terrorism and nuclear proliferation are different things, done by different people, for largely different reasons, using largely different means. Both are worthy of discussion and study. All too often, that study is distorted by an excessive focus on the small, so far hypothetical, overlap.

  3. yousaf

    The professors teaching the courses in this subject should put John Mueller’s Atomic Obsession on the reading list.

    As the reviewers state:
    “With clear-eyed logic and characteristic wit, John Mueller provides an antidote for the fear-mongering delusions that have shaped nuclear weapons policy for over fifty years. Atomic Obsession casts a skeptical eye on the nuclear mythology purveyed by hawks, doves, realists, and alarmists alike, and shows why nuclear weapons deserve a minor role in national security policymaking and virtually no role in our nightmares. It is the most reassuring book ever written about nuclear weapons, and one of the most enjoyable to read.” —Stephen M. Walt, author of Taming American Power

    “How much should we worry about nuclear terrorism? How far should we go to stop Iran (or North Korea) from acquiring nuclear weapons? In this fascinating and provocative book, John Mueller addresses such questions. Policymakers, scholars, students—indeed all Americans who are concerned about threats and the allocation of scarce resources—must read this volume, ponder its conclusions, and debate what now needs to be done.” —Melvyn P. Leffler, author of For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War

    “Mueller’s achievement deserves admiration even by those inclined to resist his central thesis. The book is meticulously researched and punctuated with a dry wit that seems the perfect riposte to the pomposity of security experts who have so far tyrannized debate. Although by no means the last word on nuclear weapons, Mueller deserves praise for having the guts to shout that the atomic emperor has no clothes… the book should nevertheless be packaged up and sent to Presidents Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Gordon Brown with a simple message: ‘Please calm down.’” —Arms Control Today

    “There is much to agree with in the book. Mueller performs an important service in puncturing some of the inflated rhetoric about nuclear weapons…Mueller provides an unusual and fruitful perspective on nuclear history.” —Science Magazine

  4. simorgh (History)

    50.000$ per year?
    Ok, I can forget about that one.

  5. cstan (History)


    As you mentioned, these fields are often misunderstood or disingenuously exploited. However, the overlap is not as small and hypothetical as you suggest. The demand for CBRN is real, as are the trafficking networks that seek to meet that demand: on the demand side see Al-Qaeda’s efforts to acquire nuclear material in the 90s and the more recent case in Maine involving James Cummings; on nuclear security and (possibly) non-state actors see the 2007 raid on the Pelindaba Nuclear Research Center; on the willingness to use CBRN, check out Sheikh Nasir Bin Hamad al-Fahd’s fatwa on WMD or Aum Shinrikyo’s use of Sarin in Tokyo. There are many other cases involving chemicals, toxins, pathogens, and trafficking in nuclear/radiological material. It is plausible to assume that these materials may fall into the wrong hands in the future.

    As repugnant as mass-casualty CBRN attacks may seem to us, it is dangerous to engage in mirror-imaging with individuals who espouse apocalyptic-millenarian worldviews. These people often mean what they say and there is evidence to support it. To ensure the threat is properly understood, I think it’s fair to say we need analysts who understand the nexus of extremist ideologies that are hostile to [insert country in adjectival form] interests, CBRN security, and trafficking.

  6. Fred Wehling (History)

    There’s quite a bit of synergy between the two primary foci of there program when you include all CBRN rather than just nuclear. I teach a seminar that includes a terrorist attack plan simulation, so we do indeed have some interesting class projects 🙂 Please contact me to get more info on the program or to suggest a different acronym.

  7. bradley laing (History)

    “Man-Pants”: Graduates will have to tailor pleated, Oppenhiemer-style suits to pass.

  8. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    Is Monterery an arcane wonk term, a play on words, or a typo?

  9. Richard Metcalf (History)

    Don’t forget the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute at Texas A&M. The students there are all technicals from the department of nuclear engineering, so you add policy onto an impressive science background for all-source analysis.

  10. Jessica Varnum (History)

    As a graduate of MIIS’s Certificate in Nonproliferation Studies and a current CNS staff member, perhaps I can help clarify something. In the past, students could concentrate in either nonproliferation or terrorism studies within an MA International Policy Studies. The new MA replaces much of the general international policy work with a greater security focus. Students take a certain number of courses in nonproliferation, and other courses on terrorism. While the possibility for CBRN terrorism is certainly a part of their study, it is not per se the focus of the program. To address the questions about career possibilities, many of my peers who graduated from the Certificate program have gone on to work in government, at international organizations such as the IAEA, CTBTO, and OPCW, for think tanks, and to the private sector. I would be happy to discuss the program further with anyone considering it.

  11. Andy (History)

    I’ll pass on this one and keep waiting for a “nonproliferation and feminist studies” program to come along.

  12. John Schilling (History)

    I don’t deny that there is a demand for CBRN among at least some terrorist groups, but if the demand isn’t going to be met, it doesn’t matter. And I have seen no evidence of any actual network devoted to meeting that demand. Just individual, ineffectual incidents, with a side order of paranoia.

    And yes, if we go far enough down the CBRN food chain, the prospect of a terrorist group managing to obtain e.g. a modest supply of actual Sarin isn’t so trivial that it ought to be wholly neglected.

    But neither should it be the focus of discussion. And if “terrorism” is one half of a course of study that also includes “nonproliferation”, I’m pretty sure that it will be. Note that the Monterey curriculum seems to include mandatory courses in nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons technology, but not even an optional course in IED technology. That’s missing the point.

    People studying terrorism, need to spend about ninety percent of their time studying what terrorists might do with machine guns and TNT, and why. People studying non-proliferation, need to spend about ninety percent of their time studying the actions of governments and armies. Trying to force both into a single two-year degree program, is I think rather misguided.

  13. miis student

    Not sure I support the whole idea of combining the two. Looking at the course work it appears that a nonproliferation student could get this degree by simply taking the “intro to terrorism” course and a terrorism student could get the degree by taking the “intro to WMD” course. So what will this amount to? Graduates with little knowledge of Nonproliferation or Terrorism (depending on what they choose). Not really a good step towards maintaining the level of prestige the MIIS nonproliferation program has gained since it’s existence. They should have just left things as they were. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

  14. Fred Wehling (History)

    @miis student: Our goal in developing the program was not to “fix” anything, but to expand the reach and impact of our educational effort in both fields and take it to a new level of excellence. The new program can be customized to fit students’ interests and career plans, but all students have to take core courses in terrorism, WMD proliferation, and science & technology (S&T) as well as write a capstone project. We’re demanding more so our students will get more.