Allison McDowell-Smith

Dr. Allison McDowell-Smith is the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Director of the Graduate Counterterrorism Program, Chair of the Undergraduate Criminal Justice Programs, and Associate, Tenure Professor of Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism at Nichols College. She launched the Nichols Master of Science in Counterterrorism (MSC) Program, the first graduate program in the United States with a focus on Violent Extremism (VE) and leadership for those pursuing careers in the fields of security, intelligence, and public policy. Additionally, she is the co-founder and deputy director of the American Counterterrorism Targeting and Resilience Institute (ACTRI), a cross-disciplinary, nonprofit research organization focused on the broad spectrum of transnational extreme-right, extreme-left, and militant jihadi political violence.

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. In addition to her teaching at Nichols College, she also is an adjunct professor at Worcester State University, where she teaches courses related to emergency management, homeland security, and terrorism.

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 worked in the non-profit sector, most recently 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.

She obtained a Ph.D. from Northcentral University focused on Homeland Security, Leadership, and Policy; M.S. in Criminal Justice administration from Northcentral University; and B.S. in Criminal Justice from Rochester Institute of Technology.


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


Headshot of Allison McDowell-Smith

Allison McDowell-Smith

Associate Dean for the Graduate School of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice & Counterterrorism

Criminal Justice & Criminal Justice Program Chair

Master of Science in Counterterrorism (MSC) Program Chair