College of General Studies

National Preparedness and Homeland Security

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National Preparedness and Homeland Security Overview (PDF)

The Certificate in National Preparedness and Homeland Security (NPHS) is designed to teach current and future emergency professionals to analyze information and make decisions in dynamic and complex crisis environments using new and powerful analytic tools. Through experience-based learning activities, certificate students will develop the skills they need to thrive in homeland security and emergency preparedness careers.

This unique 18-credit certificate incorporates hands-on learning methods. The program features dynamic modeling tools developed at the University of Pittsburgh to plan for and respond to disasters; exercises and simulations that follow protocols established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and tools that use virtual reality, visualization, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to integrate information for crisis decision making.

Who should participate:

  • Employees of local, state, and federal entities engaged in emergency preparedness, homeland security, and related fields
  • Business people who are charged with risk management and are interested in applying industry tested analytics to developing emergency management and continuity of operations (COOP) plans
  • Professionals in organizations with first-responders and first receivers, and those looking to step into such leadership positions
  • Veterans interested in building on their expertise in decision-making and crisis leadership
  • Career changers and current degree seekers looking to enter a growing and important field that uses a data-driven approach to preparedness activities involving both planning and implementation.

Upon completion of this certificate, participants will be able to:

  • Develop and implement organizational risk profiles, COOP plans, business recovery plans, and other risk management activities
  • Use knowledge of federal, state, and local agency responsibilities to effectively plan and execute emergency response plans
  • Apply incident command protocols and consensus building approaches
  • Communicate effectively in a crisis, orally and in writing, and transfer information effectively to obtain positive outcomes
  • Plan prevention and preparedness operations and measures that help communities handle efforts related to damage limitation, emergency response, and recovery

Admission requirements

Applicants must have completed at least 60 credits with a grade point average of 2.0. If you are not currently enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, you must submit official transcripts from all prior institutions with the application. Students must meet requirements for admission to a certificate program in the College of General Studies. For admission guidelines and an application, go to

NPHS Program Web site

Many program-related questions are answered on the NPHS program website. Students can see a schedule of upcoming classes, peruse the list of approved electives, learn about program partners, and see a list of news and events. Upon registration, students will be given a password to access special course-related materials.

Curriculum: 18 credits

The certificate is composed of twelve credits of required core courses, and six credits of elective courses. Core courses cover foundational content and procedures central to national preparedness and emergency response, in addition to analytical tools and approaches. They include a capstone experience in which students will plan, role-play, and report on a complete disaster scenario involving critical infrastructure sectors such as energy, government, transportation, health, and telecommunications. Elective courses allow students to gain further knowledge or experience relevant to their current or intended career paths in such fields as health, information security, and business continuity. All courses are 3 credits, unless otherwise noted.

  • No course with a grade below C will be accepted for certificate credit
  • To earn the certificate, students must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average
  • All four required core courses must be completed at the University of Pittsburgh to earn the certificate
  • A maximum of six credits may be accepted from other institutions for elective courses
  • Students should consult with their advisor and/or core course faculty early in their program to identify elective courses appropriate for their career and/or academc interests

Required courses: 12 credits

Students must have successfully completed at least one other core course prior to registering for the capstone course. The capstone course may be taken concurrently with another core course.

NPHS 1510 Federal and International Framework for Emergency Preparedness

NPHS 1520 State and Local Framework for Emergency Preparedness

NPHS 1530 Analysis, Intelligence, and Decision Tools for Emergency Preparedness

NPHS 1540 Capstone Course in Emergency Preparedness

Elective courses: 6 credits

The following list shows a sample of courses already approved as electives:

ADMJ 1234 Introduction to Cybercrime

ADMJ 1238 Cyber Security, Law, and Money Laundering

ADMJ 1245 Terrorism

ADMJ 1260 Resource Protection Planning

ADMJ/PUBSRV 1425 Principles of Homeland Security

CS  1655 Secure Data Management and Web Applications

GEOL 0820 Natural Disasters 

INFSCI 1068 Geospatial Information Systems or IE 1015 Geographic Information Systems 

INFSCI 1070 Introduction to Telecommunications and Networks

INFSCI 1074 Computer Security

NPHS 1900 Internship

NPHS 1901 Independent Study

NUR 1061 Independent Study (1 cr.) 

PS 1583 Topics in International Relations: European and Global Security

PUBSRV 1320 GIS in the Public Service

Students must meet all relevant course prerequisites. NPHS Internship and NPHS Independent Study courses may be repeated for credit with permission.

Requirements subject to change. Check with an academic advisor before registering.


If you have further questions about the National Preparedness and Homeland Security certificate, please contact Krista Stokes, CGS Academic Advisor, at   

Center for National Preparedness

The Center for National Preparedness ( is an interdisciplinary collaboration of experts and departments at the University of Pittsburgh. It provides research, education, and service aimed at advancing the science, policy and implementation of effective federal, state, and local preparedness efforts across the public and private sectors. The Center possesses expertise in business continuity, information technology, engineering, medical research, national security policy, and public health.