Allison McDowell-Smith

Dr. McDowell-Smith is the Program Chair of the Criminal Justice & Criminal Psychology Programs, and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice & Counterterrorism at Nichols College. She is the creator and former Director of the Master of Science in Counterterrorism (MSC) Program, which is the first graduate program in the United States with a focus on Violent Extremism (VE) and leadership. The MSC Program was created for those interested in pursuing careers in the fields of security, intelligence, and public policy.

She has spearheaded pioneering innovative approaches to shape understanding of violent extremism and terrorism globally while pursuing data-driven policy security solutions and tackling unique proficiencies needed to understand the field of the study at both private and public sector levels. As an interdisciplinary researcher and educator, she strives to identify and advance criminological approaches that may be relevant to violent extremist and terrorist thought and violence, offering unique perspectives on the often-overlooked relationship between the two.

Beyond her teaching experience in the fields of violent extremism and terrorism and program management skills, she has a significant record of collaborating and liaising with law enforcement, military, and intelligence components on security related trends and events, focusing on a wide range of issues, from violent extremist and terrorist motivation to technology and cyber security threats. Prior to her academic life, she has worked in the non-profit sector as a Senior Research Fellow for the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE), where she conducted research on ISIS recruitment strategies, de-radicalization processes, and counter messaging. Most recently, she is the Co-Founder and Deputy Director of the American Counterterrorism Targeting and Resilience Institute (ACTRI) which is a cross-disciplinary, nonprofit research organization focused on the broad spectrum of transnational extreme-right, extreme-left, and militant jihadi political violence.

She obtained a Ph.D. from Northcentral University in Business Administration, with a focus on Homeland Security, Leadership, and Policy; M.S. in Criminal Justice Administration from Niagara University; and B.S. in Criminal Justice from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).


  • PhD, Business Administration, Conc. Homeland Security, Northcentral University
  • MS, Criminal Justice, Niagara University
  • BS, Criminal Justice, Conc. Communication, Rochester Institute of Technology


Mass. Gas Grid Blows Up, and Answers Are Elusive : Who.What.Why Article: MSC Director Dr. Allison McDowell-Smith Shares Perspective on Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions

Courses Taught

  • MSC-705 Homegrown Violent Extremism
  • MSC-730 Capstone: Counter Violent Extremism Strategies
Headshot of Allison McDowell-Smith

Allison McDowell-Smith

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Management

Criminal Justice Management Chair

Director of Master of Science in Counterterrorism (MSC) Program