National Preparedness and Homeland Security Certificate

Our nation faces threats every day, from severe weather and natural disasters to crime- or terror-related emergencies. Medical professionals, law enforcement officers, and other necessary personnel must be equipped to respond swiftly.

Security professionals and first-responders are not the only ones that can benefit from national preparedness training. Businesses, educational institutions, and other facilities also must have plans in place for these situations. Increasingly, human resources, marketing, or information technology directors are charged with overseeing their organization’s emergency response and crisis communications plans.

This 18 credit interdisciplinary certificate in National Preparedness and Homeland Security draws on the expertise of University of Pittsburgh’s Center for National Preparedness, an interdisciplinary research institute. Our certificate provides students with the theory and skills they will need to aid in decision-making, from boots-on-the-ground efforts to back-end data analysis.

The CGS Difference

This flexible certificate can be completed as a standalone program or in preparation for a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a national security-related field.

Program Expectations

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  • Develop and implement organizational risk profiles, continuity of operation plans (COOPs), 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, verbally 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

Credit Requirements

  • The National Preparedness and Homeland Security certificate requires 18 credits, including 12 credits of required courses and six (6) elective credits.
  • No course with a grade below C will be accepted for certificate credit.
  • Students must achieve a minimum grade of C (2.0) or better for all courses required for the program.
  • All four (4) required core courses must be completed at the University of Pittsburgh to earn the certificate.
  • A maximum of six (6) credits may be accepted from other institutions for elective courses. 
  • Students must meet all relevant course prerequisites. NPHS Internship and NPHS Independent Study courses may be repeated for credit with permission.

Flexible Format

Many CGS programs offer a blend of face-to-face and flexible online class formats, all designed to meet our students' needs and schedule constraints.

Online courses are marked with (Web) or (Hybrid). Courses offered in both face-to-face and online formats are marked with (F2F and Web) or (F2F and Hybrid). Courses with no indicator are offered face-to-face only.

Visit CGS Courses to learn more about our online formats and how to search for CGS classes in the course catalog.

Required Courses: (12 credits)

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.

Students must have successfully completed at least one (1) other core course prior to registering for the capstone course. The capstone course may be taken concurrently with another core course.

Catalog Number Title Credits
NPHS 1510 Federal and International Framework for Emergency Preparedness (Hybrid, available as of Spring 2022) 3
NPHS 1520 State and Local Framework for Emergency Preparedness (Hybrid, available as of Fall 2021) 3
NPHS 1530 Analysis, Intelligence, and Decision Tools for Emergency Preparedness (Hybrid, available as of Fall 2021) 3
NPHS 1540 Capstone Course in Emergency Preparedness (Hybrid, available as of Spring 2022) 3

Electives: (6 credits)

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.

The following list shows a sample of courses already approved as electives. Students should consult with their NPHS advisor and/or core course faculty early in their program to identify elective courses appropriate for their career and/or academic interests.

With the approval of the NPHS advisor, students enrolled in the SHRS Emergency Medicine (EM) program may apply up to six (6) credits of EM courses toward the NPHS certificate electives.

Catalog Number Title Credits
ADMJ 1234 Introduction to Cybercrime (F2F and Web) 3
ADMJ 1238 Cyber Security, Law, and Money Laundering (F2F and Web) 3
ADMJ 1245 Terrorism 3
ADMJ/PUBSRV 1425 Principles of Homeland Security 3
CS 1655 Secure Data Management and Web Applications 3
CS 1675 Intro to Machine Learning 3
CS 1699 Special Topics in Computer Science: Privacy in Electronic Society 3
ECON 0150 Economic Data Analysis 3
GEOL 0820 Natural Disasters  3
INFSCI 1068 or IE 1015 Geospatial Information Systems or Geographic Information Systems (or equivalent) 3
INFSCI 1070 Introduction to Telecommunications and Networks 3
INFSCI 1074 Computer Security 3
NPHS 1900 Internship (Hybrid) 3
NPHS 1901 Independent Study (Hybrid) 3
NUR 1061 Independent Study 1
PS 1503 International Organization 3
PS 1509 Conflict and War Theory 3
PS 1583 Topics in International Relations: European and Global Security 3
PUBSRV 1320 GIS in the Public Service 3


As you plan your certificate coursework, please make sure to review the CGS Course Overlap policy for information on how many courses can be double-counted if a student elects to pursue a CGS certificate in combination with other CGS and non-CGS majors, minors, and certificates. If you have questions, please contact your CGS advisor or CGS Advising at

For questions about the National Preparedness and Homeland Security certificate, please contact Krista Stokes, CGS Academic Advisor.