Graduate Certificate in Security Policy


Building on UC Berkeley’s strengths across multiple departments, the Graduate Certificate in Security Policy (GCSP) prepares masters students to think critically about security policy, focusing on the policy dimension of a wide range of security challenges, including international security, homeland security, cybersecurity, election security, and climate security. The certificate will equip students with the tools and knowledge necessary to engage security dilemmas emerging from, and related to, their domains of academic and professional specialization.

The Certificate in Security Policy is recommended for graduate students who:

  • want to incorporate education in security affairs and public policy to their degree programs
  • aspire to bridge the gap between advanced academic research and policy application in the arena of security policy
  • aspire to careers in government agencies or government-based research, including at the National Labs

The GCSP is hosted by the Goldman School of Public Policy and  administered by the Center for Security in Politics, led by former Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. Students from any graduate program at UC Berkeley are eligible to pursue the certificate.

Eligibility and Requirements

Applicant requirements:

  • Be registered and enrolled in a graduate degree program at UC Berkeley 
  • Be in good academic standing with a 3.0 GPA or better 

Coursework requirements: 

Minimum of 3 courses (totaling a minimum of 10 units), each of which must be taken for a letter grade. If you do not hit the 10 unit minimum with 3 courses including the core course, you must take more electives.

  1. Required core course: PP 155/255: Introduction to Security Policy  (4 units, taught each fall) 
  2. Minimum of two elective courses, chosen from the list below, totaling a minimum of 6 units. Courses not on the electives list will be considered on a case by case basis
  3. PASS/FAIL on electives + core course is not allowed
  4. B+ or higher on all final grades for courses counting toward the elective

Program Benefits

The curriculum is designed to emphasize the transferability of academic research and education to practical purposes. For example, the Certificate’s core class, “Introduction to Security Policy” formulates student assignments as the kind of professional work product that students would be required to produce as policy analysts, advisors, and researchers. The core class concludes with a crisis simulation exercise that will give students “hands on” experience of managing a major crisis. And the core class will feature a series of guest presenters, including high-profile former public officials, who will be able to share with students their experience of public leadership.

Taken as a whole, the curriculum offered as part of the GCSP will be practical and practice-oriented, characteristics that will enhance the professional prospects of students who graduate from Berkeley with a Certificate in Security Policy.


Complete the Application for Admission Form to plan out your certificate coursework. Students who apply must have already taken the core course PP155/255 or be currently enrolled. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. For students in 2-year masters programs, you are encouraged to take the core course and/or at least one elective during your first year to ensure you are able to complete the certificate requirements.

This application for admission signals a student’s interest in the Graduate Certificate in Security Studies, but does not guarantee that the certificate will be awarded, nor guarantee a seat in GCSP-approved courses.

Core Course

PP 155/255 Introduction to Security Policy is held every fall and is taught by Professor Janet Napolitano and Associate Professor Daniel Sargent. The course presents a theoretical, historical, and practical introduction to the complex arena of security policy. The course surveys the origins and evolution of the governing framework for security policy in the United States, including the post-9/11 creation of Homeland Security. The course will introduce students to key methodologies of security policy, including risk assessment and resource allocation, and it will evaluate the variety of scales at which security policy is enacted, from local and state-level government to the federal scale and beyond, including international organizations and cooperation. The course then dives deep into three urgent security arenas that imperil U.S. society today: our embattled democratic process and its vulnerability to external interference; the emergence of new “cybersecurity” risks across, including to our critical infrastructure; and the variety of security risks that are resulting from the process of anthropogenic climate change. The course will conclude with a daylong crisis management simulation, in which all students will be required to participate.

Elective Courses

The following electives count toward the Graduate Certificate in Security Policy. Note that not every course is offered on a yearly basis. Check for the most up to date course descriptions and class schedule.

PP190/290 Climate Change and Security Policy
PP190/290 Global Challenges
PP190/290 How Washington Works
PP283 Renewable Energy Policy in the United States
PP284 Energy and Society
PP287 Energy Regulation and Public Policy
PP290-013 International Politics and Security
PP290-014 U.S.-Mexico Policy Relations
PP290 The Politics of Civil War
PP290 Politics and Development in the Global South
PP290 The Uses of History
PPC184/ENERES C100 Energy and Society
PPC284/ENERES C200 Energy and Society
PPC285 and NUCENG 285C Nuclear Security: The Nexus Between Policy and Technology
PP286 US National Security Policy
PS220A Theories of International Relations
Law 223.1 Election Law
Law 226.2 Foreign Relations Law
Law 263 International Human Rights
Law 276.11 Cybersecurity in Context
Law 276.12 Future of Cybersecurity Reading Group
Law 276.13 Cybersecurity Law and Policy
Law 276.32 Topics in Privacy and Security Law
Law 276.33 Sec. 001 Hate Speech, Disinformation, and Online Harassment: Regulation of and by Internet Platforms
Law 276.74/INFO 290 Privacy Counseling and Compliance
Law 278.87 Computer Crime Law
EECS C106A/206A Introduction to Robotics
EECS C149/249A Introduction to Embedded Systems
EECS 206B Robotic Manipulation and Interaction
EE 121 Introduction to Digital Communication Systems
EE 122 Introduction to Communication Networks
EE 142/242A Integrated Circuits for Communications
EE 147/247A Introduction to Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS)
EE 192 Mechatronic Design Laboratory
EE 224A Digital Communications
EE 224B Fundamentals of Wireless Communications
EE 225B Digital Image Processing
EE 225D Audio Signal Processing in Humans and Machines
EE 229A Information Theory and Coding
NUCENG 275 Principles and Methods of Risk Analysis
CS 161 Computer Security
CS 171 Cryptography
CS 261 Computer Security
CS 261N Computer Security
CS 276 Cryptography
CS 287 Advanced Robotics
MSE 120 Materials Production
MSE 136 Materials in Energy Technologies
HIST280 The History of International Relations
INFO 271B Quantitative Methods for Information Systems and Management 
INFO289 Public Interest Cybersecurity: The Citizen Clinic Practicum
INFO290 War? Politics, Security, and Emerging Technologies
INFO290-005 Politics of Information
DATA C200 Principles and Techniques of Data Science
DEVENG 290 Innovation in Disaster Response, Recovery, and Resilience
W233 Privacy Engineering
J276 Digital Accountability: Exploring Section 230
276P Information Privacy Law

Elective Petitions

Students can petition for graduate courses (200 level) beyond the standard elective list to count toward the certificate. Particularly 290 Special Topics and 299 Independent Study courses will be considered on a case by case basis, as topics pertain to security studies. Submit the Elective Petition Form  to propose a course. Electives proposed by petition must be approved by the certificate administrator and faculty director for the course to count toward the certificate.

Certificate Completion

Students submit the Certificate Completion Form at the point that all requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Security Studies are complete. Submit this form by April 15 of your graduating year in order for the certificate to appear on your transcript. If you have certificate courses in progress during your final semester, you can indicate this on the form. Final grades will be verified prior to award of the certificate.

Completion of the GCSP will be noted in the memorandum section of the student’s official transcript (not on the diploma). At the time of completion, each student receives a physical certificate signed by the Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy and Faculty Director of the Center for Security in Politics, Janet Napolitano.

If you have any questions, please contact Angelina Soldatos, certificate administrator, at