Best Online Associate in Homeland Security Programs
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An online associate degree program in homeland security teaches fundamental skills related to risk mitigation and emergency management. Online homeland security associate degrees are available through a number of universities and community colleges. Community colleges can offer students a well-rounded education at a lower cost, preparing them to enter the workforce or pursue a bachelor's degree.
It takes about two years of full-time study to complete an online associate degree. Most programs require students to earn 60 credits to graduate. Both online and in-person associate degree programs can be completed in 24 months.
The cost of an online associate degree program in homeland security varies widely. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of a two-year program in 2019-2020 was about $11,390. Whether a student attends an in-state or out-of-state school will affect total costs.
Homeland security careers are projected to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in positions for police and detectives are projected to grow by 7% between 2020 and 2030. Security guard jobs are projected to grow 15% during the same period.
Salaries for homeland security associate degree-holders can range from $31,740-$71,740. According to Payscale, the top 10% of border patrol agents made $116,000 per year in February 2022.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Homeland Security Program?
An online associate degree program in homeland security offers practical training for a variety of career paths. Graduates with an associate degree in homeland security understand the political, historical, and criminal basis for homeland security. They are prepared to demonstrate an understanding of key processes in the field.
Useful traits for those pursuing a degree in homeland security include strong analytical and communication skills and the ability to remain calm under pressure. Students with natural leadership abilities tend to do well in this career, as well.
An associate degree in homeland security usually requires students to earn 60-64 credits and can be completed in two years of full-time study. Common concentrations available within homeland security programs include:
- Criminal justice
- Emergency management
Online homeland security degrees are awarded as either an associate of art (AA) or an associate of science (AS). Most programs offer one or the other. AA and AS programs offer similar core curricula. Students may often choose between different elective offerings in AA and AS programs.
Many online associate degrees in homeland security offer asynchronous course formats, allowing students to review lessons and complete work on their own schedules. Students can adjust course schedules to continue working or to make time for personal obligations while earning a degree. Prospective students should note that certain concentrations, such as criminal justice, may require students to complete internships with physical fitness requirements.
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Popular Online Homeland Security Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Homeland Security Program?
Introduction to Criminal Justice
An introduction to criminal justice course offers students a basic overview of the United States criminal justice system. Course content includes information on the judicial process, trial elements, and correctional institutions.
Introduction to Homeland Security
This course covers the history and future of homeland security. Students gain insight into practical and organizational aspects of homeland security. Topics covered include prevention of and preparedness for domestic violence incidents, response and recovery, the role technology plays in homeland security, and definitions of terms.
Terrorism and International Crime
Courses on terrorism and international crime focus on the nature, causes, and consequences of domestic and international terrorism. Topics covered include the structure of terrorist organizations and the roots of political terrorism.
Emergency Management Response
Emergency management response topics include mitigation, preparedness, response in the case of threats, including natural disasters, and recovery. Students gain an understanding of the issues and policies that impact homeland security emergency responses.
Transportation and Border Security
This course gives students an understanding of the organizations responsible for border security, transport, and the supply chain. Topics covered include the legal, cultural, political, and financial concerns related to these areas.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Homeland Security Program?
Admission requirements for an online associate degree in homeland security vary by program. Most programs require proof of a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some also require high school transcripts or test scores.
The University of Maine at Fort Kent, for example, requires new students to submit a completed application form, a letter of recommendation, and high school transcripts.
To create the best opportunity for acceptance, applicants can focus on:
- Writing a unique, compelling personal statement or essay.
- Asking for a letter of recommendation from someone who can highlight strengths.
- Obtaining a score on college entrance exams that reflects your academic capacity.
- Earning a high school diploma or passing the GED test.
Gaining college credit for work or life experience to graduate faster.
What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Homeland Security Degree?
An associate in homeland security can lead to multiple career paths. Graduates can consider careers in law enforcement, border patrol, emergency management, security, or criminal justice. Other possible positions include detective, information security analyst, first line responder, or transit security screener.
Professionals with an associate degree in homeland security have the opportunity to work in growing fields. The BLS projects jobs for security guards and gambling officers will grow 15% between 2020 and 2030. Jobs for police and detectives are projected to grow by 7%.
Graduates with an associate degree in homeland security can earn salaries from $30,000-$70,000. Exact salaries depend on a person's specific career, location, company or organization, years of experience, and additional qualifications.
Police Officer or Detective
Police officers work to create order in society and protect people and property. Detectives gather information and facts related to crimes. Related to homeland security, police officers can work in immigration and customs enforcement. Detectives may work in counter-terrorism offices.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $66,020
Border Patrol Agent
Border patrol agents ensure safe travel and transport across a country's borders. These agents understand the laws and policies related to border protection. Job locations include border checkpoints at airports, railways, and roadways. Some positions may require patrolling a border's waters or remote areas.
Average Annual Salary (February 2022): $77,740
Transit and Railroad Police Officer
Transit and railroad police officers protect railroad stations and other points of transit. Their role is to protect employees, passengers, and products in these areas. An associate degree program in homeland security can qualify graduates for these positions.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $64,930
Transportation Security Screener
Transportation security screeners work to scan luggage, cargo, and passengers. Their role is to uphold the Travel Security Administration's policies. This career may require the operation of an X-ray scanner or hand wand. An associate degree in homeland security can help applicants stand out but is not required.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $31,470
Homeland Security Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Graduates with an associate degree in homeland security regularly go on to pursue a bachelor's degrees and graduate degrees. Credits from accredited programs can often be transferred to four-year colleges and universities to earn a bachelor's degree in two additional years of study. These degrees can open doors to high-paying jobs and greater career opportunities.
After earning an associate degree in homeland security, graduates can pursue bachelor's degrees in:
How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Homeland Security Program?
One major deciding factor in choosing an online associate in homeland security program is the total cost. The true cost of a program is higher than simply tuition. Online students can save on housing and transportation costs, leading to lower total expenses. Choosing an in-state or community college program can also reduce costs.
Programs can be synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous programs have scheduled lectures and meeting times, while asynchronous formats allow students to complete work on their own schedules. Some advantages of synchronous formats are peer connections and faculty interaction. On the other hand, synchronous formats allow more flexibility.
Also consider whether the program is full time or part time. Other possible program formats to look out for are accelerated programs or programs that offer credit for work experience. These can cut down on the time it takes to earn a degree.
Location is an important factor for convenience, travel time, and total costs. In-state tuition can be less expensive than out-of-state tuition. Some programs have on-campus requirements, which have to be factored into planning. Choosing a nearby program can reduce travel time and total costs.
Institutions and programs can gain accreditation to prove they meet certain academic standards. Be sure to choose an accredited school to ensure you can transfer credits to another institution and find employment after graduation.
Accredited degrees are more highly regarded by employers. Choosing an accredited program is essential to ensure degree recognition.
Student support is a major deciding factor for students choosing a college. It's a good idea to research the type of student services a college offers, as well as student services for online students. Mentorship programs for student success can provide additional support.
Some colleges also have work agreements or internships that give students an advantage in applying for jobs.
Best Accredited Associate in Homeland Security Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Homeland Security Programs
Is an associate degree in homeland security worth it?
Yes, an associate degree in homeland security can be worth it. The program can be a stepping stone to a bachelor's degree or graduate degree. Online degrees offer the same education and are just as highly regarded as in-person degrees, but they give students greater flexibility.
Graduates have the option to transfer associate degree credits toward a bachelor's degree or join the workforce. Graduates with an associate degree in homeland security typically earn between $30,000 and $70,000 if they join the workforce right away.
The cost to earn an associate in homeland security can also be more affordable than the cost to earn a bachelor's degree. In-state programs and community colleges are typically less expensive.
How fast can I get an associate in homeland security degree online?
Homeland security associate degrees require students to complete around 60 credits. Learns can usually complete the program in two years of full-time study.
Students can also get credit for work experience and AP classes or tests. This will reduce the time and cost to earn an associate degree in homeland security. If the program offers summer courses, students may be able to earn their associate degree in 18 months.
Students who want to earn an associate degree in homeland security quickly can also choose a college with an asynchronous or accelerated program and take additional credits.
Is an online associate degree in homeland security credible?
An online associate degree in homeland security from an accredited college is credible. Students can get an excellent education online on their own schedule. The degree can open career pathways in security, border patrol, cybersecurity, information technology, or emergency management.
The curricula and faculty of accredited online degrees are held to the same rigorous academic standards as on-campus programs. Online degrees are becoming more widely accepted by many employers as well.
An associate degree in homeland security can be a step toward a bachelor's degree. Students often choose this route to save money on tuition and then go on to complete a bachelor's degree from a four-year university.
Is an associate degree in homeland security in demand?
An associate degree in homeland security can prepare graduates for careers that are growing and in demand. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security employs more than 250,000 workers, up from 180,000 employees in 2003.
Graduates with an associate degree in homeland security can pursue a wide range of positions. These include border patrol agent, travel security screener, police officer, or first responder.
The BLS projects the following job growth rates from 2020-2030 for some possible career paths:
- Emergency management directors: 6%
- Police officers: 7%
- Private detectives and investigators: 13%
- Security guards and gambling officers: 15%
Information security analyst: 33%
How much money can I make with an associate in homeland security?
Graduates with an associate degree in homeland security can expect to make $30,000-$70,000. Salary and earning potential depend on a graduate's specific career path, years of experience, and other qualifications.
Possible positions for those with an associate degree in homeland security include:
- Railroad and transport police officer
- Cybersecurity analyst
- Emergency manager
- Border patrol agent
- Security screener
With experience, there is a possibility for greater earning potential. According to Payscale, the top 10% of border security agents earned an average salary of $116,000 in February 2022. According to the BLS, the top 10% of railroad and transit police earn a median salary of $98,250 in May 2021.
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