Best Online Associate in Security Programs

An online associate degree in security prepares graduates for meaningful and potentially lucrative work safeguarding people and property.

portrait of Juliann Scholl, Ph.D.
by Juliann Scholl, Ph.D.

Published on March 8, 2022 · Updated on March 9, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
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An associate degree in security exposes students to aspects of criminology and law enforcement. This two-year program typically teaches learners the principles of protecting people and property and conducting investigations. A degree in security prepares graduates for careers in various protective services jobs like a security guard, corrections officer, and private investigator.

Tuition and fees for an associate degree vary by location, and individuals enrolling in online programs often save money on housing and other expenses. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total cost of attending a public two-year institution for in-state students averages $3,380 in total. Out-of-state students pay a mean of $8,130.

An online associate in security takes about two years for most full-time students and requires approximately 60 credit hours. Some online programs offer accelerated courses, allowing students to complete their degrees in less time.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for security guards will grow 15% between 2020-2030, exceeding the 8% projected job growth for all occupations for the same period. Local government budgets often drive the demand for security guards and other protective services professionals.

Graduates with an associate in security work in jobs that vary in pay. For example, the BLS reports that security guards made a median salary of $31,050 in 2020. By contrast, correctional officers and bailiffs and police officers and detectives earned $47,440 and $67,290, respectively, in the same year.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Security Program?

People considering careers in security or protective services must thrive in situations that require alertness. Depending on the job, they might need to carry firearms. Successful security professionals tend to exhibit strong communication and interpersonal skills, and they usually enjoy problem-solving.

Most associate in security programs require about 60 credit hours, which takes most students about two years to complete. Some learners can shorten their time in a program by applying relevant work experience, military time, or professional credentials toward transferable credits. Also, students can graduate in less time by enrolling in online programs, which often provide flexible course schedules.

Security programs generally offer core courses in criminal justice, law enforcement, and security fundamentals. Some online associate in security programs focus on certain areas like security management, private security, or security investigation. Students might create a career track by enrolling in specialized courses like security technologies or investigative techniques.

Some occupations require additional training, on-the-job experience, or certification in addition to the associate degree. Security guards need a license to work in most states, and they must be at least 18 years old, complete training, and pass a background check for licensure. Some security guards need to carry a firearm, which also requires a license.

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Popular Online Associate in 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 Security Program?

Introduction to Security Management

A class in security management gives a review of the security field. Topics include homeland security, fire prevention, protection of people and property, drug culture, theft, violence, and threat identification.


Composition teaches students written communication skills vital to protective services and virtually every other career path. This course covers writing fundamentals, grammar, logic and reasoning, organization, and essay construction.

Criminal Procedure

A course in criminal procedure exposes students to the U.S. criminal justice system. It also covers the methods and tools that most law enforcement professionals use. Subjects include evidence collection, arrest, and investigation procedures.

Emergency Management

Emergency management involves anticipating, responding to, and mitigating disasters and crisis events. Students learn about terrorism, natural and human-made catastrophes, and public health and safety threats.

Homeland Security and Terrorism

This course teaches students about maintaining security and reducing terrorist threats at local, state, and national levels. This class typically covers defense planning, economic and political decisions involving terrorism, intelligence strategies, and modern terrorism networks.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Security Program?

Applicants typically need a high school orGeneral Education Development (GED) diploma to apply to a two-year program. Schools also require official transcripts from high school or a previous postsecondary institution. Students might determine if their work history, professional certifications, or military experience qualify as transferable college credits.

Students should prepare anapplication essay that outlines their academic interests, career goals, and interest in the prospective associate in security program. Even if schools do not require them, applicants might consider submitting one or morerecommendation letters. These letters come from former teachers, employers, or mentors who can speak to the applicant's strengths, career interests, and readiness for postsecondary study.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Security Degree?

Career Outlook

Population growth and the reality of crime and vandalism drive the demand for jobs requiring an online associate in security. The BLS projects that protective services jobs will grow 8% between 2020-2030, on par with the average growth rate for all occupations. Acquiring a postsecondary education in this field often increases individuals' employment prospects.

An online associate in security prepares graduates for various occupations, including a security guard or corrections officer. Other career paths include fire inspection, private investigation, corrections, and firefighting. Some graduates obtain academy training to become police officers.

Earning potential for online associate in security graduates varies by location, municipal budget allocation, and occupation. For example, security guards and gaming surveillance officers made a median of $31,080 in 2020. In contrast, police officers and detectives earned a median of $67,290 in the same year.

Career Paths

Security Guard

Security guards protect life and property, although specific duties vary by employer. Some security guards work undercover at retail stores to detect or prevent theft, and others safeguard personnel, equipment, money, and property at factories and offices. Many of these individuals patrol parking lots and grounds to detect safety and security threats.

Median Annual Salary: $31,050

Corrections Officer

Correctional officers oversee individuals serving jail or prison sentences or awaiting court dates. These officers typically take inmates to and from their cells to see authorized visitors. Correctional officers also escort incarcerated individuals to courtrooms, healthcare facilities, and other places.

Median Annual Salary: $47,410

Police Officer

Some individuals with security backgrounds train as police officers or detectives to perform general law enforcement. Police officers' duties typically include patrolling areas to detect criminal activity, protecting people and property, and responding to emergency and non-emergency calls. Some officers receive appointments to special units like narcotics or homicide.

Median Annual Salary: $67,290

Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors regularly assess buildings to ensure they follow local, state, and federal fire safety codes. They also might conduct investigations to determine the cause of fires and fire-related forms of destruction. Forest fire inspectors specialize in fire hazards that occur outdoors in public and residential areas.

Median Annual Salary: $62,210

Private Detective

Private detectives typically work for attorneys, businesses, and individuals, pursuing information on financial, legal, and personal issues. Specific duties include finding missing persons, performing personal background checks, and studying cybercrime. They also might conduct investigative research on behalf of parties in divorce cases.

Median Annual Salary: $53,320

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Continuing Education

Some employers require professionals to hold a license or certificate in addition to an associate degree. For instance, security professionals might need to obtain a firearm license or acquire on-the-job training, depending on the occupation. Although additional credentials usually require more commitments of time and money, they can increase employment opportunities and earning potential for people in protective services.

A two-year degree in protective services typically provides the foundation for students to further their study of various protective service specialties. Individuals with an associate in security can continue their education by getting a bachelor's in corrections, criminology, homeland security, cybersecurity, or law enforcement. Many students can transfer some of their associate credits from an accredited institution.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Security Program?


According to the Education Data Initiative, students pay an average of $10,300 for a two-year degree, with individuals in private schools paying even more. People with full-time jobs might consider an online associate in security to enroll in courses that they can complete without giving up work hours. Students pursuingonline degrees can also save money on housing, parking, and recreation fees but pay more in technology costs.

Program Format

The structure of online programs can influence how long it takes to graduate. Asynchronous courses enable learners to complete their requirements independently without sacrificing work hours. Many online programs offer flexibility that allows students to take classes simultaneously, finishing their degrees in a shorter time.


A program offering an online associate in security helps many students gain greater access to a degree, regardless of location. However, some departments require learners to attend on-site classes or seminars. Therefore, students might consider enrolling in an online program nearby.


Students should enroll in an accredited associate in security program that demonstrates adherence to high academic standards and rigorous graduation requirements. Also, graduates can transfer credits from anaccredited institution to a four-year school. Applicants might consult the U.S. Department of Education for a list of postsecondary schools with accreditation.

Student Support

Quality online education involves more than just coursework. Applicants should choose an online school that offers various student services, such as academic advising, financial aid, and accommodation services for students with special needs. An office of student services can also assist learners in building finding mentors and finding internship opportunities.

Best Accredited Online Associate in Security Programs

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Best Online Associate in Security Programs

  1. Palo Alto College

    San Antonio, TX



    Located in San Antonio, Texas, Palo Alto College enrolls over 9,000 students annually (many of whom come from underserved communities) in career-training and academic programs. This includes distance education options like the online associate of applied science in information security and assurance, which trains students to develop, analyze, and secure computer networks.

    The 60-credit degree includes courses like digital forensics, incident response, and Cisco routing protocols and concepts. The program culminates with an internship, facilitated by the college and an employer. The internship experience enables students to build professional relationships and apply specialized concepts and skills while gaining work experience.

    All courses for this online security management associate degree can be completed asynchronously. PAC welcomes all students through an open admission process that contains no minimum requirements. Tuition is affordable and distance learners have access to a number of scholarship opportunities, including awards for hispanic and transfer students.

  2. Schoolcraft College

    Livonia, MI



    Schoolcraft College serves more than 36,000 students every year through career training and professional development courses and programs, many of which are offered online. This includes an online associate of applied science in homeland security that helps students develop the skills necessary to protect their communities from natural and human-made disasters.

    Students take 60-64 credits in courses like criminal investigation, understanding terrorism, and intelligence analysis and security management. Homeland security is a rapidly growing field and the Schoolcraft program prepares graduates for earning advanced degrees or careers as first responders, aviation security officers, and cybersecurity specialists.

    Schoolcraft's offers its online associate degree in security management as a hybrid program. Students are required to attend certain classes at the Livonia, Missouri campus. All distance learners enjoy affordable tuition prices based on residency status and scholarships are available, including awards for adult learners. Online students can also access tutoring services and career development resources.

  3. Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo, FL



    Saint Leo University enrolls over 16,000 distance learners every year in a variety of flexible online programs, including the online associate of arts in cybersecurity. Through a comprehensive curriculum, students learn to assess risk, troubleshoot problems, and develop methods to protect information systems and networks against attacks.

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the cybersecurity field will grow by 28% between 2016 and 2026 as our world becomes even more connected through technology. Saint Leo graduates stand ready to gain additional academic credentials or occupy leadership positions as network administrators, information security engineers, and program managers.

    Saint Leo students can begin earning the online security management associate degree at six points during the year. The school delivers online classes asynchronously in eight-week terms (although a few courses last 16 weeks). All distance learners enjoy the same affordable tuition rate and may apply for funding, which includes generous merit scholarships.

  4. Ocean County College

    Toms River, NJ



    Located in Toms River, New Jersey, Ocean County College has been providing affordable, career-building academic programs for more than 40 years. This includes distance education programs like the online associate of science in homeland security, which teaches students core skills in emergency preparedness, response, and prevention through asynchronous coursework based on case studies and practical scenarios.

    The 64-credit degree plan consists of classes in risk management and analysis, intelligence function, and domestic and international terrorism. Students can personalize the online associate degree security management curriculum to their specific professional interests with electives.

    Distance learners can access a variety of academic resources, including one-on-one advising, library services, and around-the-clock online tutoring through the Smarthinking platform. The school also provides support for students searching for career opportunities or applying as transfer candidates to four-year colleges and universities. Ocean bases its affordable tuition rates on residency status, and financial aid is available.

  5. St Petersburg College

    St. Petersburg, FL



    Founded in 1927 as Florida's first two-year higher education institution, St. Petersburg College continues to be a leader in accessible learning, providing over 100 remote classes and several online degrees. The school offers an online associate of science in cybersecurity, a well-rounded program that helps students develop the fundamental knowledge and technological prowess to tackle complex information security issues.

    Students take 60 credits in courses such as operating system security, ethical hacking, and incident response and disaster security. They must also complete an internship, gaining valuable hands-on experience and networking opportunities. The program equips graduates with the skills necessary to work in the expanding cybersecurity field in a variety of contexts, such as private healthcare organizations and federal government agencies.

    To apply to this online security management associate degree, applicants need only submit the application form and pay a small fee. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores or meet a minimum GPA. All distance learners can access financial support, including awards for eligible high school students and even funding for study abroad trips.

  6. Delta College

    University Center, MI



    Delta College routinely garners praise for the quality and affordability of its more than 100 programs, which include many online options such as the online associate of applied science in cyber security. Through asynchronous study and hands-on skill development, students gain the skills needed to protect the electronic privacy of companies and individual clients.

    Totalling 68 credits, the degree plan consists of courses like implementing firewalls, network intrusion security testing, and advanced wireless security. Continued job growth in the field means graduates have ample opportunities to find work in positions as security management specialists, information technology managers, and ethical hackers.

    While students can complete most of their online associate degree security management remotely through the Desire2Learn platform, some classes may require on-campus attendance. Delta's tuition is based on residency status and financial assistance is available, including the Nickless Transfer Scholarship for students who want to continue their degree at a four-year institution. Additionally, 150 dedicated transfer pathways make this process even easier.

  7. Broward College

    Fort Lauderdale, FL



    Located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Broward College enrolls over 63,000 students in career-training, technical, and academic programs, including many accessible online degrees. The school's online associate of science in computer and network security trains students in fundamental system and database management skills that prepare them for advanced degree work or entry-level positions in security-based sectors. The 63-credit degree plan contains courses like advanced router technology, internet site design, and network defense and countermeasures. Degree candidates must also complete a ethical hacking capstone experience.

    Broward's online security management associate degree welcomes all students, especially working professionals. In addition to applying prior college experience, students can earn credits towards degree completion from career training and certification, such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate credential. Distance learners enjoy some of the lowest tuition rates around, regardless of where they live. Additional support includes online tutoring and career development assistance.

  8. Campbell University

    Buies Creek, NC



    With roots dating back to 1887 when the first class of 16 students convened in a small church, Campbell University is now a comprehensive degree-granting institution. Among the distance education options the school offers is an online associate of science in homeland security, a 64-credit program that covers fundamental topics in risk management, infrastructure defense, and disaster response, including acts of terrorism.

    Students develop skills through project-based, collaborative study and in-depth analysis of case studies and federal best practices. The entire degree can be completed remotely through asynchronous and accelerated eight-week classes, or degree candidates can opt for a hybrid learning experience by mixing online courses with classes on the Camp Lejeune extended campus.

    Campbell admits students on a rolling deadline, so distance learners can begin the online associate degree in security management at their convenience. Tuition is affordable and nearly 90% of Campbell students receive scholarships or other financial aid.

  9. Eastern Kentucky University

    Richmond, KY



    Located in Richmond, Eastern Kentucky University is dedicated to providing accessible academic opportunities for distance learners. The school offers over 40 remote undergraduate and graduate degrees, including two options for students interested in the security field: an associate in general studies with a concentration in either security management or homeland security.

    Both degree plans total 64 credits and cover fundamental topics like cybersecurity, disaster relief, and team leadership, preparing students for gainful careers or bachelor's programs and beyond. The security management concentration provides a generalist path, while homeland security deals more specifically with contemporary issues of terrorism. Both degrees are entirely online with asynchronous, eight-week classes, enabling students to work while earning their degree full-time.

    Over 80% of online security management associate degree students receive financial aid, on top of EKU's affordable tuition rate. EKU also has a generous transfer policy, accepting up to 49 credits, to further reduce costs.

  10. Miami Dade College

    Miami, FL



    Founded in 1960, Miami Dade College focuses on academically supporting underserved and nontraditional students and its undergraduate population is one of the largest in the nation. Distance learners, too, can find affordable courses and programs, such as the associate in science in security management and administration.

    The curriculum totals 60 credits and helps students develop the leadership and problem-solving skills to work in both the federal homeland defense and private security sectors. Course topics include crime scene technology, human behavior in criminal justice, and transportation and border security. Students also have 12 elective hours with which to personalize their degree plan.

    Most students complete MDC's online associate degree in security management in two years. Tuition rates are among some of the lowest in the nation, especially for Florida residents. MDC also offers generous financial aid packages and 90% of students graduate without incurring any debt. The college also sets up its students for success by providing online tutoring and personalized career services.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Security Programs

Is an associate degree in security worth it? true

An online associate in security can prepare graduates for rewarding jobs protecting property and safeguarding lives. Online degrees offer flexibility, allowing many professionals to achieve their educational goals without giving up some or all of their work hours. Although some jobs in protective services do not require an associate, a postsecondary degree can expand earning potential and job prospects for professionals on this career path. An associate also serves as a solid first step for people pursuing bachelor's degrees in such fields as criminology, law enforcement, and homeland security.

How fast can I get an associate in security degree online? true

An online associate in security takes most students about two years to complete approximately 60 credit hours. Although online degrees do not provide an easier path to graduation, they often allow students to reduce their time in a program. Some online courses offer asynchronous formats that enable learners to complete their readings and assignments at their own pace. In some cases, the time it takes to graduate partially depends on the person pursuing the degree.

Is an online associate degree in security credible? true

An associate in security helps individuals gain access to meaningful work protecting people and safeguarding public and private property. As they keep a vigilant watch of their surroundings, security professionals' mere presence can reduce criminal activity, heightening people's sense of safety. Also, these individuals’ communication and problem-solving skills can transfer to other career paths and professional settings. Many graduates feel a sense of accomplishment from the ability to stay alert and notice unusual elements in a location that others would likely overlook. Finally, private individuals, companies, and government agencies depend on security professionals for their safety.

How much money can I make with an associate in security?

With a postsecondary degree, security professionals can often command higher salaries than individuals with only a high school diploma. Annual pay varies by location, work experience, employer, and occupation. For example, the BLS reports that police officers earned a median of $67,290 in 2020. In contrast, correctional officers, jailers, and bailiffs made a median of $47,440 in the same year. Professionals working in hospitals and government agencies often earn higher pay.

Is an associate degree in security in demand?

Violence, vandalism, and other persistent threats against life and property drive the demand for security professionals. The BLS projects that jobs in protective services will grow 8% between 2020-2030, resulting in about 286,400 new jobs. Many employers will need to replace workers retiring, switching careers, or leaving the workforce. However, increased use of robots, drones, and other surveillance technologies could reduce the need for security guards and other professionals in some settings.

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