The Best Online Homeland Security Degree Programs

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‘Homeland security’ is a broad term that encompasses a country’s coordinated efforts to minimize, address, and respond to terrorism, natural disasters, and other large-scale threats to human life, property, and natural resources. The term originated in 2002, when the Bush Administration created the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then, the department has grown to more than 240,000 employees and homeland security-related jobs can be found across the country.

In response, many colleges and universities created bachelor’s degree programs in homeland security. Other schools feature programs in related fields ― such as emergency management and informations security ― with homeland security concentrations or minor options. Homeland security programs often include internship opportunities as part of the curriculum, allowing students to receive supervised training from experienced professionals.

Today, many students are choosing to earn their bachelor’s degree in homeland security online. Web-based programs follow the same curriculum as traditional brick-and-mortar options. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online homeland security degree programs is also convenient for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties, and other important commitments that may interfere with campus-based education.

Read on to learn more about what you will learn in a homeland security program, and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to upon graduation.

WILL AN ONLINE HOMELAND SECURITY DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Online homeland security programs prepare students for a variety of roles in the industry. The diverse course load covers fundamental aspects of national safety and security. These include: emergency planning, management, and recovery; terrorism prevention and response; cybersecurity; border and immigration control; infrastructure protection; intelligence analysis; business continuity; and law enforcement. Courses help students develop key skills like critical thinking and analysis, logistical planning, leadership, communication, and problem solving. Many programs enlist homeland security experts to instruct courses, giving students the chance to glean real-world insight from experienced individuals and to establish a professional network.

WILL AN ONLINE HOMELAND SECURITY DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online bachelor’s in homeland security programs offer a flexible alternative to classroom-based education. Students can access course lectures and readings, submit written assignments, take exams, and communicate with their professors on their own schedule. Current educational technology also enables them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY HOMELAND SECURITY BACHELOR’S DEGREE?

Due to the number of jobs in homeland security, students with an online bachelor’s degree in homeland security can choose from a range of professional roles. Emergency managers and coordinators develop contingency plans for national emergencies and manage logistics when disaster response is required. Information analysts and network security specialists monitor online traffic for signs of suspicious activity. Other jobs involve securing and protecting borders, airports, waterways, and other areas that experience significant international traffic. Most entry-level positions in homeland security are attainable with a bachelor’s degree.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE HOMELAND SECURITY BACHELOR’S PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online homeland security programs in the United States. If you want to pursue a homeland security degree, and you value the opportunity to study online, read on to learn more about the top online homeland security programs in the country.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Liberty University 69.17 4/5 46% Lynchburg, VA

With nearly 100,000 distance learners logging on from throughout the world, Liberty, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, is the largest private, nonprofit institution in America. Students seeking an online homeland security degree are often drawn to the BS in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Homeland Security. This program is appealing to those with prior experience, as the school offers both an emergency response personnel discount and life experience credit hours for those who previously served in law enforcement or the military. Graduates are qualified for careers in counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and transportation security. The program requires 120 hours for completion and offers a range of minors to complement the degree. 30 hours must be taken through Liberty. The program includes classes in criminal law, biblical studies, and criminal justice. Transfer students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher from an accredited institution.

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2 Saint Leo University 64.33 3/5 43% Saint Leo, FL

In 1889, Saint Leo University was founded as a Catholic liberal arts college in Tampa, Florida. The institution is a diverse, innovative learning community that values the free exchange of ideas from students coming from all over the world. SLU’s BA in Criminal Justice includes the option to specialize in Homeland Security. The online program is 120 credit hours. Courses in the cover the modern middle east, legal issues in counter-terrorism, and exploitable weaknesses in terrorist organizations. Students without professional experience can complete a field placement with the DEA, U.S. Secret Service, and U.S. customs to gain real-world experience. During field placements, students earn a police standard certificate. Learners have the opportunity to join Alpha Phi Sigma, a nationally-recognized honor society for criminal justice students. Graduates are prepared to study at a higher level; Graduate-level online degrees in criminal justice are offered by the university.

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3 Anderson University 61.00 3/5 48% Anderson, SC

With a commitment to liberal arts education, Anderson University in South Carolina is consistently ranked amongst the best and most affordable private, nonprofit institutions in the country. The online homeland security program from Anderson is available as a concentration to those working toward their bachelor's in criminal justice. Curriculum is designed for students without much experience or academic background in criminal justice. The program is 123 credit hours and delivered through eight week blocks, allowing students to complete their degrees at an accelerated pace. Courses include studies in terrorism, strategic planning for homeland safety, vulnerability and risk assessment, and incident management. Graduating seniors must complete a senior seminar, including a research project demonstrating academic growth over the course of their studies. Students must maintain a “C” average in all major coursework. Full-time students can complete the program in eight semesters. Online coursework is completed through Canvas.

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4 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 60.67 4/5 60% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Keiser University was expressly created to provide quality education to adult students looking for career-focused degree programs. The university serves more than 20,000 students annually from its 18 Florida-based campuses and distance education offerings. The online homeland security bachelor degree prepares students for managerial roles within the field by teaching the skills they’ll need to work in homeland security at the local, state, or federal level. The program covers cultural management, emergency management planning, and protection of critical infrastructures. The 120 credit hour program doesn’t require a field placement, but it’s still an option for students; administrators can help students find a suitable site in their area. General education is structured to assist students in future pursuits, including the Computer in Criminal Justice and Sociology of the Urban Community classes. Graduates will be able to form emergency plans for multiple agencies and have an understanding of current issues threatening American society.

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5 University of Alaska Fairbanks 59.33 2/5 33% Fairbanks, AK

Operating as part of the larger University of Alaska system, the Fairbanks campus was the first to be established in 1922 and continues to be the central point of operations for both local and online learning initiatives. Students gain the experience needed for jobs in cyber security, public health, and homeland defense through the Homeland Security and Emergency Management bachelor’s program. The program requires students to earn 120 credits in general education, major, and concentration courses. Learners have the option to choose a concentration in cyber security management, emergency management, emergency medical management, fire management, or homeland security. Online students pay the same tuition costs as residents of Alaska, saving them more than $250 per credit as compared to the cost for non-resident students. UAF has minor options available to complement the degree; Minors include Emergency Management and Military Security Studies. The program offers an occupational endorsement in Emergency Management. A graduate degree in security and disaster management is available through UAF.

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6 Concordia University-Portland 55.50 4/5 45% Portland, OR

Concordia University is a private liberal arts institution operating from a Christian perspective in Portland, Oregon. Online students currently comprise 74% of the total learners. The university provides a homeland security degree online in the form of a bachelor’s in Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness. The homeland security core curriculum is 48 credits and includes classes in emergency management, cyber security, security policy, and risk assessment. Full-time students at Concordia have the option to finish their degree in 16 months. Topics covered in major requirements echo real-life situations, providing students with context on the psychology of terrorism and understanding how religion plays into modern foreign relations. The program uses an advanced simulator that gives students experience handling many different disaster and emergency scenarios. A capstone project is done during the final semester. The program is asynchronous; students can take classes on their own schedule. Concordia is the only school in the Northwest that offers this degree.

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7 Southern New Hampshire University 54.50 4/5 59% Manchester, NH

Southern New Hampshire University currently serves more than 60,000 online students and 3,000 traditional learners from their Manchester campus. SNHU’s mission is to provide flexible, career-focused degrees that can be completed easily and quickly. The online homeland security bachelor degree at SNHU is offered as a BS in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Homeland Security & Counterterrorism The 120 credit hour program includes courses in Counterterrorism Techniques, Fundamentals of Threat Assessment, and how to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance, And Reconnaissance. Students can further concentrate the degree with the 24 free elective credits. Every course is taught asynchronously, and incoming students can choose from six different start dates per academic year. Graduates will know how to combat terror and respond to domestic and international terrorist campaigns. Students seeking an internship component are encouraged to make use of the school’s extensive alumni network to find a suitable location.

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8 National University 53.50 4/5 40% La Jolla, CA

National University in La Jolla, California has been building world-class education programs since its 1971 founding. Citing the need for flexible, accredited, and career-oriented degree options for students outside its home-base, NU began offering a range of online programs to meet their needs. The BS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management gives students an overview of everything they may come in contact with in their careers, ranging from security issues and cultures of terrorism to emergency preparedness and navigating the politics of keeping our nation secure. The program requires students to earn 180 credits to earn a degree. Learners looking to complete their degrees quickly can take accelerated one-month terms, allowing them to start at different times throughout the year and to focus intently on a single topic. Students are expected to take part in a supervised and comprehensive senior project lasting approximately two months and comprised of extensive research and writing requirements.

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9 Mercy College 53.17 3/5 34% Dobbs Ferry, NY

Mercy’s BS in Corporate and Homeland Security is designed for future professionals who want to protect America’s infrastructure from attacks launched both domestically and abroad. Provided by the school of business, this 120 credit hour program prepares graduates for roles in the public and private sectors in managerial positions. Graduates will be prepared for roles in public safety, criminal justice, emergency management, and federal law enforcement. The coursework, built around the National Incident Management System, places strong emphasis on producing students who know how to work in dynamic team environments; this goal is further augmented by a range of internship opportunities. One of the central tenets of Mercy’s academic approach is providing hands-on experience to understand how theoretical concepts apply to real-world occurrences. Mercy is based in Dobbs Ferry, New York and has more than 67 years of experience in educating future leaders.

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10 Campbell University 48.33 4/5 51% Buies Creek, NC

2017 marks 130 years of Campbell providing quality education through a Baptist perspective. Campbell’s student body is just shy of 6,500 students; its online classes are developed with adult and military students in mind. The online homeland security degree program is offered as a bachelor of science and requires students to earn 124 hours to qualify for graduation. Students learn about topics surrounding the history of security in America, critical infrastructure protection, and interagency operations. Learners with previous college experience are allowed to transfer up to 64 hours of credits from an accredited two-year college or military training program. Online classes provide flexibility through the school’s eight-week delivery format. The program ends with a senior seminar which focuses on policy and operational concepts and implications; research, writing, and practical applications of key issues is involved. Graduates will be prepared for careers in national security, intelligence, and law enforcement.

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Timeline
4 to 5 years. Accelerated online options are also available, which allow students to complete their degree requirements within two years or less.
Program Costs
$10,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition
Popular Minors and Dual Areas of Study
Emergency Management, Information Security, Network Administration, Logistics, Management, Nonprofit Administration
Accreditation
There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.

Job Placement

Due to the high and constant demand for qualified security and protection professionals, homeland security is considered a recession-proof industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects average to above-average growth for different jobs in the industry over the next decade. Using data from the BLS, the following table highlights job growth projections for some of the most common positions in homeland security.

Occupation Projected Industry Growth (2014-24) Number of Jobs
Emergency Management Directors 6% +700
Information Security Analysts 18% +14,800
Network and Computer Systems Administrators 8% +30,200
Financial Analysts 12% +32,300

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Because ‘homeland security’ is a multidisciplinary sector, unemployment rates for different homeland security personnel vary by their professional field. According to September 2016 data from the BLS, employees in information professions face a 5.2% unemployment rate. The rates are lower for employees in financial activities (3.0%) and education and health services (3.7%).

Earning a Living

Like job growth and unemployment rates, your salary in homeland security will depend on your individual job title and experience level. The following table examines career salary expectations for five of the most common career pathways for homeland security bachelor’s degree recipients.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Emergency Management Specialist $50,000 $59,000/td>

$65,000 $70,000
Emergency Response Coordinator $42,000 $56,000 $59,000 $62,000
Disaster Recovery Coordinator $57,000 $73,000 $102,000 $105,000
Intelligence Analyst $58,000 $72,000 $82,000 $93,000
Logistics Manager $50,000 $63,000 $69,000 $76,000

Source: PayScale

As the table shows, all five professions exhibit career salary growth of at least 40%. Disaster recovery coordinators saw the highest growth: a salary increase of roughly 84% between the entry-level and late-career marks. Intelligence analysts ranked second; on average, their salaries rise by 60.3% after 20 years in the workforce.

PayScale also publishes salary estimates for employees working in the Department of Homeland Security. According to current data, top-earning positions at the DHS include intelligence officers, management and program analysts, personnel security specialists, and supervisory special agents.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who graduate from online bachelor’s in homeland security degree programs will be qualified for most entry-level positions, as well as some managerial roles normally reserved for candidates who have received a formal college education. Below, we’ve covered four common professions graduates from homeland security programs.

Emergency Management Directors: These directors manage teams that coordinate emergency response and relief efforts. In order to safely and efficiently respond to large-scale disasters, they must often work with elected officials, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other outside parties. According to the BLS, roughly 64% of the nation’s emergency management directors work for local or state government agencies.

Project Coordinators: These professionals specialize in handling administrative and logistical tasks over the course of short- and long-term projects. In homeland security, projects are often tied to emergency response, relief, and reconstruction efforts. They may also work to develop contingency plans or improve communication lines between different agencies or organizations.

Information Security Analysts: Information security analysts develop programs and tools used to protect organizational networks and computer systems from hacking, cyber-terrorism, and other ongoing threats. They also conduct investigations when their organization is compromised, and regularly evaluate and revise response procedures in order to efficiently respond to future attacks.

Logisticians: Logisticians coordinate supplies, transportation, human support, and other resources used in emergency response procedures. They conduct thorough inventory checks and work to improve the supply chain of their agency or organization in order to prepare for time-sensitive emergency scenarios.

Occupation Median Annual Salary
Emergency Management Directors $67,330
Information Security Analysts $90,120
Project Coordinators $39,980
Logisticians $74,260

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Many students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in homeland security eventually pursue a master’s degree. For more information about opportunities for grad students, please visit our Guide to Online Emergency Management Master’s Programs. You can also read more about a similar undergraduate field in our Guide to Online Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Programs.

Professional Organizations

Making connections and learning as much as you can about homeland security is crucial to your professional success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for homeland security professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • National Homeland Security Association: The NHSA sponsors a national homeland security personnel conference, which was first held in 2005. The association’s website also features an extensive blog network, career tools, and archived transcripts from the most recent conferences.
  • International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals: The IACSP’s mission is centered around two overarching goals: the development and dissemination of tools and resources used to minimize the threat of terrorism, and promotion of legal and ethical behavior within counterterrorism. Member benefits include online journal and newsletter subscriptions, discounts on entrance fees to IACSP events, and access to additional resources on the organization’s website.
  • SEARCH: SEARCH is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to connect and improve communication between various state, local, and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies. SEARCH’s website is a compendium of resources: visitors will find information about cyber-crime, data analysis, public safety, and other subfields of law enforcement and homeland security, along with podcasts, blog posts, and other multimedia resources.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Best Online Homeland Security Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
2 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
3 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
4 National University La Jolla, CA
5 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK
6 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH
7 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
8 Kesier University - Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
9 Franklin University Columbus, OH
10 Angela State University San Angelo, TX