Best Online Homeland Security Programs

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The relatively new, rapidly growing field of homeland security concentrates on strategies for monitoring terrorist activity, enforcing border control and managing large-scale emergencies like natural disasters and public health crises. Created in 2002 in response to the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security is today the nation’s third largest cabinet department with more than 240,000 dedicated employees. Additionally, homeland security extends to law enforcement agencies and disaster relief organizations across the country.

Online degree programs in homeland security prepare students to enter this exciting field. The diverse courseload focuses on fundamental aspects of national safety and security, including: emergency planning, management and recovery; terrorism prevention and response; physical and cyber security; border and immigration control; infrastructure protection; intelligence analysis; business continuity; and law enforcement. The courses also stress key skills such as critical thinking and analysis, 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 establish a professional network.

Below, you’ll find our list of the top online bachelor’s degree programs in the field of homeland security. Each school is ranked on the merit of its academic strengths, learning goals, course offerings and virtual classroom experience for online students. If you are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in homeland security, this comprehensive resource will be an effective starting point.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Liberty University

 4/550.41%Lynchburg, VA


Liberty’s criminal justice – homeland security online degree program provides foundational security and intelligence training, with a focus in transportation disaster-response and anti-terrorism. Distance learners who have successfully completed a police academy program or a stint in the military may be eligible to apply these credit hours toward their degree. Professors cover the inner workings of the criminal justice system at the local, state and federal levels. As part of Liberty’s integrative model, students also complete three courses in Christian life and thought to round out the program.

Applicants must have a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Distance learners complete online courses in Blackboard, with each class lasting eight weeks. Liberty instructors recommend a program sequence comprising 30-40 courses, including approximately 10 upper-division classes. Students enrolled in the criminal justice program may qualify for an additional tuition discount if they have experience as an emergency response volunteer.

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Saint Leo University

 3/544.89%Saint Leo, FL


As a leading military college that grounds coursework in the Catholic tradition, Saint Leo offers students a unique perspective with its homeland security online degree program. Courses explore contemporary views of the Middle East and exploitable weak spots in modern terrorist organizations. They also cover legal issues surrounding counter-terrorism.

Applicants must hold a cumulative GPA of 2.0 and have earned at least 12 college credits. Distance learners complete online courses in Learning Studio and Blackboard through a self-paced delivery format. In addition to building a foundation in criminal justice, students must complete six courses in homeland security, along with a final exam and capstone seminar. Like all students at Saint Leo, homeland security students must also take at least four religious classes.

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Southern New Hampshire University

 4/5N/AManchester, NH


Southern New Hampshire’s bachelor’s in criminal justice program features a concentration in homeland security and counterterrorism. Courses detail the nature and history of terrorism, cover the increasing threat of international terrorism campaigns and explore how to best combat them. Distance learners also focus on the psychology behind terrorism and the legal issues pertaining to the American response to international terror. SNHU's program is transfer-friendly, allowing students to transfer up to 90 credits toward the degree. Students are also invited to explore criminal justice internship and career opportunities through the university’s extensive national alumni network.

Students in the homeland security online degree program may complete the program at their own pace over six nine-week terms offered throughout the academic year. Distance learners complete online courses using Blackboard. The degree typically comprises more than 15 courses, including a required criminal justice capstone. In addition to competitive per-course tuition prices, SNHU offers discounts of up to 30% for active-duty service members and their spouses.

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National University

 3/540%La Jolla, CA


In National’s online homeland security and emergency management program, students develop strong leadership skills and unwavering ethics. They explore terrorism and security and learn to best manage and implement emergency plans. The program provides training in how to handle local and global crises before, during and after the emergency event. Course work emphasizes practicing critical thinking and writing skills. The school accepts up to 22.5 prior learning credits for work experience, employee training, a stint in the military, volunteering or community service.

Applicants must have earned a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0. Distance learners complete online courses in Blackboard through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous units. The degree comprises 11 core courses and five electives, totaling 180 quarter units, 76.5 of which must come from upper-level courses. Additionally, students are required to complete a supervised senior project to earn their homeland security degree online.

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University of Alaska Fairbanks

 1/532.24%Fairbanks, AK


UAF offers a practitioner emergency management degree with concentrations in homeland security, cyber security, fire management, emergency medical management and emergency management. Distance learners within the program focus on a variety of aspects regarding homeland security and emergency management to include comparative emergency management and homeland defense and security, risk analysis and assessment as well as planning and leadership. General education courses in all concentrations cover global emergency management techniques addressing natural, manmade, and technological crises.

Students applying to the homeland security degree online program at UAF can transfer in more than two years of previous course work with a C- or better and accepts credit for classes in emergency management or service in the military, emergency/paramedicine, public safety, law enforcement, and fire science. Distance learners generally take 28 courses synchronously and asynchronously using Blackboard and our virtual classroom in Adobe Connect over six semesters. Regardless of their location, online students pay in-state tuition. Online and residents students are able to participate in a number of initiatives on an off campus through the Center for the Study of Security, Hazards, Response and Preparedness (C-SSHRP), our student chapter of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) and Omicron Sigma Sigma, the academic and professional honor society for the homeland security, intelligence, emergency management, and all protective security disciplines.

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Tiffin University

 4/538.82%Tiffin, OH

Tiffin offers a bachelor of criminal justice in homeland security and terrorism. Courses cover modern terrorist practices and the counter-terrorism techniques used to protect American interests. The school promotes problem solving to create new strategies for fighting terrorism in local, national and international contexts.

Tiffin offers a generous transfer policy, allowing students to transfer up to 66 credits towards their degree. Full-time students can complete the homeland security online degree program in two years. Courses are delivered asynchronously in Moodle, in seven-week terms beginning every January, March, May, July, August and October. Students earning a criminal justice degree may be eligible for additional tuition discounts if they have military or police experience.

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Eastern Kentucky University

 2/541.86%Richmond, KY

EKU’s homeland security online degree program models its curriculum on the Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium and the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security. Distance learners explore border protection, manmade disaster relief and counterterrorism strategies. Students also have the opportunity to observe advancements in security technology by participating in interactive cyber-simulations of sample emergency scenarios.

Homeland security applicants at EKU must have earned a cumulative GPA of 2.0 in previous college classes, or a high school GPA of 2.5. Distance learners complete online courses in Blackboard at an accelerated pace, while full-time students typically complete two courses in each six-to-eight-week term. Students may enroll during fall, spring or summer sessions. While EKU offers unlimited transfer credits, at least 32 credit hours must be completed in residence.

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Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

 3/554.95%Fort Lauderdale, FL

Keiser's homeland security online degree program focuses on terrorism and its threat to national security. Students explore cross-cultural dynamics, bio-terrorism and tactical communication in their courses. Distance learners are required to complete a capstone course where they investigate current topics in public safety.

One of the country's most military-friendly schools, Keiser offers tuition discounts and other benefits to active military members and veterans. Transfer applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or better. Admitted students complete a recommended sequence of 28 courses to graduate. Distance learners have the opportunity to start classes at any time of the year they choose, during any of Keiser's monthly enrollment periods.

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Franklin University

 3/513.64%Columbus, OH

Franklin's emergency management and homeland security program emphasizes police, fire, EMS and EMA rescue strategies for public emergencies. Courses cover crisis readiness, disaster preparedness, and risk and threat assessment in national security emergencies. Students are required to complete a safety, security and emergency management capstone project to earn their degree.

Unlike some online programs, applicants are not required to have previous college experience, though many have taken some college classes. As part of the program, distance learners complete more than 26 online courses in Blackboard. Students may choose between six, twelve or fourteen-week courses, and can enroll during ongoing start times throughout the year. Current and former military members may be eligible to count their experience towards their degree.

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Angelo State University

 1/529.75%San Angelo, TX

Angelo State’s security studies program focuses on border and homeland security. Courses promote an advanced understanding of border security by studying cultural competencies between countries with a history of border security conflicts. The curriculum covers material from a perspective grounded in cultural diversity training, ethics in global conflicts and critical infrastructure protection. To graduate, students must complete a seminar or capstone course examining a current transnational security issue.

Applicants with no prior college experience must have graduated in the top 10% of their high school class, or meet minimum ACT/SAT score requirements. Additionally, students should have a composite SAT score of at least 1500. Returning college students must have earned a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 in prior courses. Distance learners complete online classes in Blackboard. Angelo State's instructors recommend a program sequence comprising concentrated courses in the major, along with English, political science, psychology and other liberal arts electives. Veterans and active military members may be eligible for additional financial aid opportunities.

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A bachelor’s degree in homeland security will enable students to pursue a wide range of careers. Some graduates opt for supervisory roles in areas like security administration and project management. Tech-savvy students may work in cyber security as IT specialists, intelligence analysts or security architects. Other common career paths for homeland security degree-holders include criminal and customs investigation, border patrol, infrastructure protection, transportation screening, public health and logistics.

Potential employers in the public sector include the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level. Additionally, homeland security graduates may find work in government agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Secret Service. There are also ample opportunities with private-sector companies for personnel who specialize in areas like information technology and cyber security.

Salary expectations in the homeland security sector will vary by position, employer and location. Additionally, government positions are prorated using the GS pay system, which awards salary based on the background experience of each employee; for this reason, two individuals working in the same position may be placed at different GS levels, thus earning different salaries.

Many applicants to homeland security positions must undergo thorough background checks or security clearances when applying for jobs, although these requirements will ultimately depend on the individual employer. Additionally, most homeland security positions will only consider candidates who are U.S. citizens. Other possible requirements include physical exams and physical and mental health tests.

From security guards and customs officials to managers overseeing large-scale emergency relief operations, these individuals work behind the scenes to keep the country safe and secure. The nationwide demand for these professionals has never been higher, and students who earn an online degree in homeland security are well-equipped to play a vital role in defending the U.S. from various external and internal threats.

Homeland Security Organizations

  • Homeland Security Professionals The Homeland Security Professionals Group on LinkedIn is designed to help connect professionals and students interested in or participating in Homeland Security.
  • Homeland Security Network The Homeland Security Network is a student organization that provides field-specific networking, and academic and professional resources to support national safety and security.
  • International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP) The IACSP is a professional organization dedicated to creating a center of information and resources concerning the security risk posed by terrorism and terrorist-related conflicts. The organization includes professionals, academics, government officials, students and individuals from around the world.
  • SEARCH Search is a national nonprofit organization that helps stakeholders in state, local and tribal law enforcement and public safety effectively use, manage and exchange sensitive information.