Best Online Master’s in Homeland Security Programs

Learn about top online master's in homeland security programs. Compare options by cost and flexibility and discover how to launch a new career.

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Published on April 18, 2022 · Updated on May 13, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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Due to the uptick in natural disasters caused by climate change and the increase of cyberterrorism, homeland security experts are in demand. Between 2020 and 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6% growth for emergency management directors, as well as 33% job growth for information security analysts. Homeland security can offer substantial career opportunities.

An online master's in homeland security program is a flexible academic option that can provide a practical pathway toward a career in the field. The following guide explores online master's in homeland security programs, as well as jobs that graduates can pursue. Read on to learn more about these programs, and see what they can offer.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Homeland Security Program?

The best online master's in homeland security programs provide the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to advance in the field. Typically requiring 30-40 credits, these programs tend to feature online lectures, message boards, and group projects.

Online master's in homeland security programs frequently cater to working students, giving learners the flexibility to keep up with personal and professional obligations while advancing their education. These programs typically take about two years of full-time study to complete.

Program coursework often covers topics like political violence and terrorism, globalization of threats and international security, and security and civil liberties. In addition to traditional coursework, an online master's in homeland security usually culminates in a capstone course. These culminating experiences allow students to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations.

Along with core homeland security courses, students may be able to select a concentration that reflects their academic and career ambitions. Common options include cybersecurity, emergency management, and health preparedness.

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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 Master's in Homeland Security Program?

Core courses in an online master's in homeland security introduce students to important concepts in the field. Additionally, students usually complete a capstone project that applies the knowledge they have learned to a real-world problem. Read on to learn about common homeland security courses.

U.S. Homeland Security Policy

This course examines contemporary homeland security issues and provides an overview of the threats and vulnerabilities addressed by homeland security experts. By analyzing institutions, networks, and organizational relationships, learners explore how these entities have evolved and how they collaborate to minimize threats.

Introduction to Software and Network Security

As digital threats become more prevalent, homeland security professionals must understand software and network security. This course explores network security design principles and provides a foundation for identifying vulnerabilities and finding solutions. Learners also explore topics like email security, database security, and encryption.

Critical National Infrastructure

In this course, students examine critical infrastructures involving transportation, energy, and commerce. Coursework also explores the relationships between varying critical infrastructures. Degree-seekers assess threats and vulnerabilities and create plans involving mitigation, response, and recovery. Additional topics include threat analysis, asset identification, and methods for predicting future threats.

Strategic and Tactical Planning

This course explores strategic and tactical planning used on a national level. Covered topics include critical infrastructure, maritime defense, and cyberspace strategy. Students also examine the national security response plan and the national incident management apparatus while using real-world examples to simulate future response strategies.

Disaster Response and Community Health

Designed to address the needs of localized communities in disaster management, this class explores the policies that impact community health and national security. Students participate in a fieldwork project involving community members to establish disaster response plans

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Homeland Security Program?

Online master's in homeland security applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. While GPA requirements vary, many schools require a 3.0 or higher. As these programs typically serve working professionals, schools may also require 1-2 years of professional work experience.

In addition to official transcripts, prospective students may need to submit letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and a statement of purpose. Check with college admissions staff to ensure that you meet all admission requirements.

Application

Online master's in homeland security programs require interested students to fill out an application form, often through an online portal. The application allows users to provide their prospective school with their personal information, educational background, and any previous work experience. Applicants usually upload documents, like resumes or personal statements, to these online portals as well.

Test Scores

Many graduate programs — though not all —include standardized test scores as an application requirement. Homeland security programs are more likely to require the GRE than the GMAT, although some schools do not require either. Interested individuals can find many GRE prep resources to help them earn competitive scores.

Letters of Recommendation

Most schools ask for applicants to submit letters of recommendation from people who have instructed or worked with them previously, either academically or professionally. Ask for letters of recommendation from individuals with whom you maintain a good relationship. Avoid asking people you know personally, like family or friends. Remember to give your letter writers enough time to write thoughtful recommendations.

Resume and Work Experience

Applicants can outline previous academic and work experience in a college application resume. This can look similar to a professional resume, although applicants should emphasize their undergraduate GPA and how their academic background prepared them for this master's program. Although many master's in homeland security programs do not require a professional background in the field, work experience can strengthen your resume.

Essays

Essays help give admissions committees a deeper insight into who an applicant is as a person, beyond their test scores and grades. Colleges often call these admissions essays personal statements or statements of professional goals. Use this opportunity to outline your career and academic aspirations, as well as demonstrate your writing skills.

Official Transcripts

Applicants should contact their previous college to send their official undergraduate transcripts to their prospective program. If you have already completed some graduate coursework, send this transcript to your new school as well. Some master's in homeland security programs award transfer credits; check with your prospective school for its specific transfer credit policy.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Homeland Security Degree?

Career Outlook

The homeland security field is expanding in many areas, providing a robust job market for graduates. For example, the BLS projects 33% job growth for information security analysts between 2020 and 2030. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $103,590 in May 2020. Earning an online master's in homeland security — especially if you pursue a tech-related concentration — can help set you apart from other job seekers.

Learn more about homeland security careers, and see where an online master's in homeland security can take you.

Career Paths

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors oversee the planning and procedures used when responding to emergencies and natural disasters. Working closely with various agencies, public safety experts, and elected officials, these professionals organize emergency response trainings, review emergency operations plans, and assess damage following disasters or emergencies. They also apply for federal, state, and local funding following various emergencies.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $76,250

Law Enforcement Officer

Law enforcement professionals take on numerous roles associated with homeland security and emergency management. They may investigate potential homeland security threats and play a significant role in responding to various emergencies. In addition to monitoring suspects and reviewing counterterrorism intelligence, law enforcement professionals work alongside various legal and logistical entities to prepare for future homeland security risks.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $67,290

Information Security Analyst

Playing an essential role in protecting digital infrastructure assets, information security analysts plan, design, and execute security measures to protect computer networks and systems. These professionals monitor network security breaches, conduct penetration testing to simulate attacks, and recommend security improvements. IT security analysts also create disaster recovery plans.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $103,590

Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Networks and computer systems are constantly targeted as digital threats continue to grow. System administrators manage an organization's servers, computers, and mobile equipment, ensuring that they all function efficiently. These professionals evaluate and improve system performance and make necessary security upgrades.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $84,810

Logistician

Essential to disaster and emergency response, logisticians analyze and coordinate supply chains with detailed knowledge of how to produce and deliver products. These professionals manage the allocation of essential supplies, propose strategies to maximize efficiency, and use complex software systems to oversee product movement.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $76,270

Homeland Security Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

As a master's in homeland security student, you can find doctoral programs in the field too. These terminal degrees exist in different forms, like a doctor of professional studies in homeland security, a Ph.D. in criminal justice with a specialization in homeland security, or a Ph.D. in homeland security leadership and policy.

Individuals who choose to earn doctorates in the field become experts in homeland security. Some of them stay in academia, working as university professors and carrying out research. Others go on to high-level positions at organizations like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Homeland Security Program?

Cost

Cost is a major factor in choosing the right master's in homeland security program. Online and on-campus tuition rates tend to be comparable, although online programs may charge extra technology fees. Private schools tend to charge higher tuition rates than public universities. Remember to look at the true program cost, not just the sticker price of tuition. This takes into account additional expenses like fees, but also financial aid such as scholarships.

Program Format

Consider which program format fits best into your lifestyle. Students who maintain jobs often prefer part-time degrees rather than full-time programs to avoid overloading themselves. Asynchronous and synchronous courses can also make a difference. Asynchronous programs allow students to pursue coursework at their own pace, while synchronous programs include regular meeting times like more traditional degree programs. Finally, students who want to graduate quickly may find accelerated programs.

Location

Even if you enroll in an online master's in homeland security program, location still may be a factor. If you attend a public university outside of your state, you may pay higher non-resident tuition rates. If your online program includes a few on-campus requirements, make sure you can attend.

Accreditation

In short, accreditation is an evaluation process for the higher education system meant to ensure that students receive a good quality education. Just like traditional degrees programs, your online program should hold accreditation. Accreditation can be national, programmatic, or both. Employers and doctoral program admissions committees look for applicants who possess degrees from accredited institutions.

Student Support

Online programs can sometimes feel more isolating than traditional on-campus degree programs. To combat that feeling of disconnectedness, look for distance learning degrees with student support. Mentorship programs can provide guidance in your academic and career pursuits, while internships help you gain work experience in your field. Other student services to look for include tutoring, alumni networks, and career resources.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Homeland Security Programs

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Best Online Master's in Homeland Security Programs

  1. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $39600

    Based in the nation's capital, George Washington University offers popular public affairs, public policy, international diplomacy, and law programs, including a master of professional studies in homeland security pathway.

    This 36-credit program reviews best practices in intelligence analysis, counterterrorism, and understanding evolving threats to national security. The program favors applicants with backgrounds in public and private safety, law enforcement, emergency response, public policy, and the military.

    Course instructors focus on applied knowledge and the practical applications of theory, preparing graduates for careers as homeland security professionals. Students can graduate in 16 months, and online learners begin taking classes in the fall, spring, and summer.

  2. Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    Tuition

    $17520

    Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Mississippi College is the state's oldest higher education institution. The college educates about 5,000 students a year, many of whom study online.

    The college's master of social science in homeland security program can be completed by distance learners and provides advanced study in antiterrorism and border protection. The curriculum includes core courses like legal aspects of homeland security and grant writing for homeland security.

    Graduates of this Christian university are prepared to work in numerous federal agencies. For example, degree-holders can pursue jobs in immigration and customs enforcement, emergency management, transportation security, and the private sector.

  3. Pennsylvania State University
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    Pennsylvania State University offers a fully online master of professional studies in homeland security through its virtual World Campus. The program gives learners a comprehensive view of homeland security issues, preparing graduates to advance in the field or transition to a new career path.

    The 33-credit curriculum examines homeland security issues through the lens of geopolitics. After completing a core set of required classes, students can declare a specialization in one of seven areas.

    The generalist option focuses on government policy and operational organization. Learners can also pursue a highly focused concentration in cybersecurity, counterterrorism, public health, geospatial intelligence, information security and digital forensics, or agricultural biosecurity.

  4. Tulane University
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $37692

    Tulane University's online master of professional studies in homeland security studies focuses on the practical applications of essential security and emergency management principles. Coursework covers domestic and international threats to homeland security. Learners also examine policies and actions that neutralize the harms these concerns can cause.

    Core classes review major homeland security strategies and the policies that inform their design. Students engage in one-on-one consultations with the program director to create a degree completion pathway that reflects their individual interests.

    Tulane holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Students local to Tulane's New Orleans-based campus can also pursue this master's in homeland security in a traditional campus-based or hybrid delivery format.

  5. Saint Joseph's University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $35344

    Based in Philadelphia, Saint Joseph's University offers an online master's in criminal justice with a homeland security concentration that prepares learners for front-line careers in emergency preparedness and disaster management. Students also explore homeland security and counterterrorism theories.

    This 30-credit program examines the causes and effects of human-made threats. The curriculum covers issues in public policy, sociology, political science, and history. It helps guide students to advanced understandings of how and why threats evolve.

    Degree-seekers are introduced to the organizational structures of homeland security agencies, as well as their various functions and roles. Graduates emerge with a comprehensive, professional understanding of homeland security best practices.

  6. Nova Southeastern University
    Location

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Tuition

    $25867

    Offered through Nova Southeastern University's Department of History and Political Science, this master of science in national security affairs prepares students for both professional and academic careers in the emerging field of homeland security.

    The 36-credit program includes 21 core credits and 15 elective credits. Required courses frame contemporary national security issues in their historical and cultural roots. Students also learn about essential aspects of policy, ethics, applied theory, and organizational structure.

    Electives provide opportunities for participants to specialize their degree, and the program also offers a cybersecurity concentration for students interested in the digital aspects of the field. This degree culminates with a final examination or a six-credit directed thesis.

  7. Towson University
    Location

    Towson, MD

    Tuition

    $16148

    Maryland-based Towson University offers an online master of science in integrated homeland security management that expands its focus beyond terrorism to include natural disasters, environmental factors, and human error. The program teaches learners to respond to many types of threats.

    To gain admission into the program, applicants must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, as well as at least three years of professional experience in a health-related, security-related, IT, or emergency response field. Prospective students must also prepare a three-page assessment of a current homeland security issue and propose a policy-based response to address it.

    Specialization options include security policy, information assurance, and health preparedness. Degree-seekers must take at least one elective in each concentration area.

  8. Sam Houston State University
    Location

    Huntsville, TX

    Tuition

    $12516

    Based in Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State University prepares graduates for careers at government agencies and private organizations. The school's 36-credit master of science in homeland security studies features coursework that covers topics like factual analysis, strategic decision-making, and public safety policy.

    This master's in homeland security program accepts applications on a rolling basis, and learners can enroll in the fall or spring. Coursework applies theory to real-world practice through instructive examples and case studies. Faculty members possess the highest degrees in the field, as well as extensive first-hand experience.

    SHSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and about three-quarters of its students continue to work while studying.

  9. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $36727

    Drexel University — a leading provider of public safety education — offers an online master of science in national security management. This program features a project-based learning method that creates high levels of engagement with applied homeland security theory.

    Courses include a trio of applied projects that review recent examples of crisis situations, as well as risk assessment techniques and integrated learning. Through these experiences, degree-seekers learn to evaluate and improve policy, enhance organizational emergency preparedness standards, and apply their knowledge to individual areas of interest.

    A private research university, Drexel holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  10. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $28308

    Boston's Northeastern University offers digital education through its Lifelong Learning Network, which was founded to deliver advanced study opportunities to a global student base. Distance learners can pursue an online master's degree in homeland security on a part-time or full-time basis, graduating in 2-3 years.

    The program develops leadership skills that are applicable to crisis periods. Students receive an introduction to emergency planning and learn about disaster response tools that apply to a variety of scenarios arising from human-made and natural causes.

    Program faculty are seasoned professionals who provide multiple perspectives on core issues. In addition to undergraduate academic transcripts, applicants must furnish two letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a 500-1,000-word statement of purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Homeland Security Programs

Is a master's in homeland security worth it? true

An online master's in homeland security program can be a flexible way to boost career prospects. In addition to introductory homeland security coursework, learners can choose from concentrations like cybersecurity, emergency management, and policy. These programs can lead to lucrative and in-demand careers.

What does a homeland security agent do? true

Graduates of an online master's in homeland security program can enter a variety of fields. Federal groups like DHS, FEMA, and various intelligence agencies all offer career opportunities. Additionally, groups related to essential infrastructures like energy and IT also hire homeland security experts to address security threats.

Is homeland security a good career choice? true

While most careers directly related to homeland security are projected to grow over the next decade, some occupations may be in greater demand than others. The BLS projects that information security analyst positions will grow by 33% between 2020 and 2030. During the same period, the BLS also projects solid growth in law enforcement (7%), emergency management (6%), and network administration (5%).

Is a career in homeland security stressful?

Any career involving homeland security and emergency management includes varying levels of stress. However, most work centers on planning and mitigation rather than direct response to emergencies. Focusing mainly on data and intelligence, these professionals help prepare for and prevent catastrophic homeland security events.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in homeland security?

The most lucrative jobs for graduates with a master's in homeland security depend on an individual's specific industry and experience level. Nevertheless, an online master's in homeland security often leads to positions with ample responsibilities and above-average wages. For example, information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $103,590 in May 2020, while network and computer systems administrators earned $84,810 per year during the same period.

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