One of 14 state-owned universities has developed a graduate-level degree in anti-terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in conjunction with the FBI, aimed at educating law enforcement agents.
For now, the FBI plans to send agents from its own ranks to complete the master of science in strategic studies in weapons of mass destruction at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, about 45 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Eventually, however, the university hopes to offer the course to other agencies.
"It's not going to be open enrollment (or) traditional students," IUP criminologist Dennis Giever told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which reported the new degree Tuesday. "You worry about whether you might be teaching the wrong person this stuff."
The agency first approached IUP about creating a graduate program in 2008, said Doug Purdue, chief of the Countermeasures and Preparedness section of the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate in Washington.
"We went to several different universities," but none had programs focusing on protecting the nation from weapons of mass destruction like IUP's program does, Purdue said. The credit course includes material on radiological, or "dirty" bombs; attacks on electric power grids; and biological attacks on food and water.
Prompted by the FBI, Giever created specialized courses that 34 FBI agents have already completed. Those courses formed the basis of the new degree program, which was approved June 29 by the board of the State System of Higher Education.
The FBI and other agencies will pay roughly $300,000 a year for groups of 15 to 20 students to complete the multiyear degree.