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About the Program

Academic Program

General John Kelly (Ret) with CTPP Fellows and Director Tim Nichols after a small group meeting.

There are three components to the academic program. First, Fellows will audit a minimum of six courses during the academic year.  One course per semester has been designed for Fellows:  in the fall, a course on National Security Decision-Making, and, in the spring, a course on Intelligence for National Security. Each fellow will then select four other electives (two in the fall and two in the spring). Fellows may select graduate level or upper level undergraduate courses at Duke University. Cross-registration for classes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will also be available. Fellows will also participate in a two-semester research effort designed exclusively for them to explore topical areas in more depth, interact with faculty, and support the research process. This research effort culminates in a publication-quality manuscript and a presentation to the Duke community. Finally, Fellows will enjoy special access to the rich calendar of special events, lectures by scholars and practitioners, and conferences that take place each semester at Duke and other neighboring universities.  Whenever possible, small group sessions will be arranged for the Fellows to interact with these special visitors.

To complement the academic program, Fellows will be asked to participate in a “writing boot camp” early in the fall semester.  This program will refresh writing skills in areas such as policy papers, book reviews, and academic research writing.

Admissions Process

The fellowship program is designed to accommodate military professionals having attained the grade of 0-5/0-6, FBI special agents and intelligence analysts, CIA operations officers and intelligence analysts, mid-grade State Department employees, homeland security professionals, and other select members of the executive branch who demonstrate potential for future leadership opportunities and who have an overall strong record of performance.   Preferably, candidates will have been awarded a graduate degree, but this is not a requirement.

Agencies and organizations conduct internal selection processes to nominate candidates for the Fellowship.  Nomination packages should be submitted to the Executive Director of the Fellowship program no later than the first week in May for matriculation in August.  Agencies nominating a candidate should provide a letter of endorsement from the organization, a resume, and a personal statement from the nominee (1000-1500 words long) containing the reasons the nominee wants to enroll in the program, how the experience fits into the nominee’s career goals, and the nominee’s research interest. Once approved by the Duke, Fellows are contacted and assisted with all aspects of participation (lodging, scheduling, orientation, mentoring).


What is the title of the fellowship program?

The Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellowship program at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.

What are the specific benefits of the Fellowship?

The Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellowship program is designed to provide professionals in the national security and counterterrorism fields with an intensive educational experience that will enhance their understanding of the American policymaking process, empower them to operate more effectively at higher level leadership and staff positions, and deepen their understanding of and familiarity with the geographic areas most relevant to the national strategy.  The fellowship will provide foundational instruction in national security studies and the policymaking process, as well as more directed courses in areas such as intelligence, national security and counterterrorism policy, and regional studies.

What is the sponsoring Agency or fellowship Institution?

The Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.

Can you describe the Fellows program?

The Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University seeks to prepare individuals for leadership duties and responsibilities both in the public and private sectors.  The Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellows program will provide mid-career government professionals (military, foreign service, law enforcement, and intelligence officers with responsibilities in the national security field) a focused core academic program that is supplemented by relevant electives from throughout the university.  Each Fellow enjoys complete access to the resources of the university, receives individual mentoring from select faculty, and, as part of an exclusive group, participates in activities intended to complement individual coursework.  The program is intended to provide both intellectual rigor and hands-on exposure to the issues comprising the study of counterterrorism, public policy, and U.S. national security.

Can you describe the learning environment?

Duke University has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s top schools in the area of public policy.  There are a number of organizations at Duke that foster the interaction of students with practitioners.  The Triangle Institute for Security Studies, the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, and the Program in American Grand Strategy, all headquartered at Duke, support inter-university collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.  They also support visits by national security practitioners for lectures and small group discussions.  Among the practitioners that have visited campus in the past are:  Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretaries of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and General Joseph Dunford, former Under Secretary of State James Steinberg, Retired Army Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism Juan Zarate, Bob Woodward, and Stephen Flynn.   Fellows will interact with theses policymakers and experts as a complement to their academic program.  Additionally, for select visiting lecturers, the Fellows will be encouraged to participate in small group meetings (usually lunchtime discussions) that give the Fellows exclusive access to the lecturers.

What are the differences between Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellows and regular graduate students?

Fellows are not required to take the prerequisite courses that are normally required to complete a graduate level course of study.  Fellows are not required to compete for admission to the graduate school; instead, they are selected by their organization and screened by the Sanford School to determine suitability to participate in the program.  Fellows audit classes and do not receive final grades.  They are awarded a certificate of completion rather than a graduate degree.  Specialized national security classes have been developed for the Fellows program that may be attended by other graduate students.

Can you describe the mentoring and advisory services available to Fellows?

Fellows will be required to produce a substantial scholarly paper at the end of the second semester that meets graduate level standards and could eventually be published in an academic or professional journal.  This requirement is considered the capstone effort of each Fellow.  To complete this paper, Fellows will have a faculty advisor whose expertise includes the Fellow’s area of study.  The program director and research librarian will facilitate access to any necessary materials or assistance desired by the Fellows.

The Director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security program director will be available throughout the year for advice, assistance, and feedback on their work.

Will security clearances be necessary?

The Fellowship program will be executed in the unclassified realm only.  No classified research or writing will be supported.

Can you describe the facilities and services provided by Duke University?

The Sanford School of Public Policy will provide administrative support for the Fellows.  Fellows will be provided workspaces within the School of Public Policy where they can organize their research, interact with other fellows, write papers, or prepare for classes.  This includes office work space, basic office supplies, internet connectivity, and remote internet access.  The School has its own research librarian to assist with research strategies and acquisitions.  The Sanford School of Public Policy is located on the Duke University Campus in Durham, NC.  Fellows are within walking distance of numerous on-campus dining venues, a world class university fitness facility, all of the main campus classroom buildings, and the student center.

Is the Fellowship program family friendly?

The Sanford School and the Fellowship program encourage family participation in the multitude of events at Duke. Outings such as tailgate events, golf events, theater events, and dinners contribute to a welcoming atmosphere for Fellows and their families.

Who is the Fellowship point of contact?

Tim Nichols
Executive Director, Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellowship Program
Visiting Professor of the Practice
Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security
Duke University
118 Rubenstein Hall, Box 90250
302 Towerview Drive
Durham, NC 27708
(cell) (910) 658-6441