The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) comprises more than 14 operational divisions that work together to protect the country. Coordinating a diverse collection of security efforts, including border protections, law enforcement, disaster management, and anti-terrorism, DHS recruits and employs professionals from various public safety and security fields.
While DHS hires candidates from many different fields, an online associate in homeland security provides a uniquely specialized type of training for this organization. In addition to many of 240,000 DHS positions, graduates can access various security, legal, and law enforcement professions.
Read on to learn about this degree. For more information, check out our associate in homeland security program guide.
What Are the Best Online Associate in Homeland Security Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||Keiser University||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|2||Hawai'i Pacific University||Honolulu, HI|
|3||Campbell University||Buies Creek, NC|
|4||Central Wyoming College||Riverton, WY|
|5||Georgia Military College||Milledgeville, GA|
|6||University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent, ME|
|7||Barton Community College||Great Bend, KS|
|8||White Mountains Community College||Berlin, NH|
|9||Coastline College||Fountain Valley, CA|
|10||Trident Technical College||Charleston, SC|
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2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Homeland Security Programs
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|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Established in 1977, Keiser caters specifically to the career-focused educational needs of nontraditional students. The school currently ranks as the third-largest nonprofit university system in Florida, with a student body of approximately 20,000 members.
The school offers an online associate in homeland security that is a good introductory credential for aspiring antiterrorism professionals. The program helps graduates secure employment in homeland security-related positions.
Students learn how to identify and safely handle hazardous materials, and they also cover professional incident response and disaster recovery techniques. Those in financial need can access a generous aid program; Keiser has awarded more than $75 million in scholarships over the past two years.
Hawai'i Pacific University
|Honolulu, HI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
HPU boasts favorable student-to-teacher ratios and offers an associate in homeland security that students can complete entirely online. This 60-credit, two-year program centers on major core requirements that cover essential aspects of disaster preparedness.
HPU also grounds its homeland security curriculum in important cultural, historical, and theoretical approaches. By engaging in detailed examinations of recent U.S. history, degree-seekers build advanced understandings of the root causes and presentations of terror threats.
These broad perspectives frame a skills-focused curriculum that encompasses aspects of political science, criminal justice, and U.S. cultural history. Learners emerge with a process-oriented understanding of government response to ongoing threats. Graduates are prepared to pursue immediate employment.
|Buies Creek, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Campbell's entirely online associate in homeland security teaches learners about disaster response and emergency preparedness techniques, strategies, and infrastructure. Students also delve into intelligence analysis, antiterrorism operations, and homeland security administration.
The study path includes 62 credits built around a 24-credit core. In the core curriculum, learners explore terrorism and security from national and international perspectives. Degree-seekers with military backgrounds may qualify for transfer credits and advanced program standing.
Based in North Carolina, Campbell functions as a nondenominational Christian school. The university holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Central Wyoming College
|Riverton, WY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
CWC offers an online associate degree in criminal justice. Learners can configure their studies to earn an associate of arts or an associate of applied science.
The arts path — designed for transfer to a four-year college — takes a multidisciplinary perspective, incorporating topics in sociology, political science, civics, and law. Students can use their electives to learn more about homeland security-related issues. The applied science path serves as a standalone credential for individuals preparing for entry-level careers related to criminal justice and homeland security.
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1976, CWC offers more than 125 academic scholarships. The school's degree and certificate completion rates have increased sharply since the mid-2000s and now top all Wyoming junior colleges.
Georgia Military College
|Milledgeville, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 24%||
GMC allows students to earn an online homeland security and emergency management degree with an associate of arts or associate of science designation. Both options prepare graduates for entry-level careers or bachelor's programs at four-year institutions.
The academic requirements in the arts and science study paths differ somewhat. AA students complete 70-73 credits, while AS students need 65-69 credits for graduation. The AA pathway has a foreign language component, which requires students to take at least two French, German, or Spanish classes.
GMC specializes in career-focused academic programs that empower graduates to make meaningful contributions to society. It holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Maine at Fort Kent
|Fort Kent, ME||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
UMFK offers an online associate of science in cybersecurity and information security that teaches students direct applications related to antiterrorism and domestic protection. The skills that participants develop in this program also translate well into enterprise settings.
Functioning as both a standalone credential and a transitional pathway into a four-year bachelor's program, the program covers topics like vulnerability and threat reduction, incident response strategies, system resilience, recovery methods, and cyberattack deterrence. Participants complete capstone projects and develop a computer portfolio that reflects their academic growth.
Graduates can pursue work as information security analysts — a profession that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects to grow by 32% between 2018 and 2028.
Barton Community College
|Great Bend, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Kansas-based BCC offers an online associate of applied science in emergency management that features a homeland security emphasis. The 64-credit program features 36 credits of major requirements and 10 credits of major electives.
Core classes introduce students to essential aspects of emergency preparedness, with a special focus on terrorism-related events. Learners also take a series of response-oriented classes, learning how to delegate tasks and responsibilities, manage and mobilize volunteers, deal with hazardous materials, and conduct emergency operations.
BCC delivers its virtual classes through its proprietary BARTonline portal. More than 60% of BCC students take at least one course through the web platform, reflecting the system's quality and reliability.
White Mountains Community College
|Berlin, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
New Hampshire's WMCC hosts a hybrid associate of science in criminal justice/homeland security that focuses on the criminal aspects of antiterrorism. Learners cover the causes and manifestations of foreign and domestic threats, and the program delivers a balanced mix of academic theory and practical application.
This online associate in homeland security examines key topics from legal and criminal corrections standpoints. The program trains students for law enforcement careers, while simultaneously supporting transfer into a four-year institution. WMCC maintains formal transfer agreements with multiple New Hampshire colleges, giving graduates a direct path to advanced standing in bachelor's programs.
Graduates of recognized police and state corrections academies can enter this associate track with advanced standing. Applicants should note that the program requires on-campus meetings every other week in Berlin, New Hampshire.
|Fountain Valley, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
California's Coastline College supports an associate of arts in emergency management and homeland security program to help aspiring emergency response professionals land entry-level jobs. The program may also appeal to experienced workers who want to improve their management and communication skills.
Built around a 24-credit core, the program covers the fundamentals of emergency management and homeland security through detailed explorations of preparedness and response, disaster recovery, and hazard mitigation strategies. Learners customize the program through electives, which offer focused study opportunities in targeted areas such as border security, intelligence analysis, and crisis response.
Excellent student retention rates indicate high levels of satisfaction with Coastline College. Data from 2018-19 indicates an 87% annualized end-of-term retention average, which far exceeds nationwide averages.
Trident Technical College
|Charleston, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 14%||
At TTC, degree-seekers pursuing an online associate of applied science in homeland security management study in seven-week terms. The program's curriculum focuses on managing and responding to incidents of international and domestic terrorism.
Classes build critical skills in key response-oriented areas, covering strategic planning, emergency preparedness, and infrastructure protection. Degree-seekers also study international relations and learn how to analyze and evaluate intelligence related to pending threats.
Regionally accredited by the Southern Association on Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, TTC features small class sizes. This online associate degree in homeland security program hosts an intimate learning community that encourages high levels of interaction between students and their instructors.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Homeland Security Program?
Most associate degrees require approximately 60 credits, which learners can complete in less than two years. Most credits in these programs come from general education courses, ensuring students develop the fundamentals necessary for success at this level. Degree-seekers also take 5-10 courses in their discipline, which prepares them for entry-level careers and further studies.
Typically, associate in homeland security programs award either an associate of arts (AA), associate of science (AS), or associate of applied science (AAS). These degree types may differ slightly in their focus and goals, with AA degrees leaning toward the humanities and AS degrees emphasizing math and science. AAS degrees offer job-specific training, which can help graduates find employment but may limit their transfer credit potential.
Prospective learners interested in public safety or law enforcement careers should ensure their program features courses in those fields, whereas aspiring emergency management directors should seek out programs with planning and policy courses.
When choosing a program, students should consider how the curriculum meets their postgraduate goals. Prospective learners interested in public safety or law enforcement careers should ensure their program features courses in those fields, whereas aspiring emergency management directors should seek out programs with planning and policy courses.
Concentrations may be rare at the associate level, but students can create a focus of sorts through careful course selection and internship locations. Many schools offer pathway degrees for DHS hopefuls, allowing graduates to maximize transfer credits and move into a bachelor's program after graduation.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Homeland Security Program?
In a broad discipline like homeland security, courses vary significantly. The following section highlights common classes in online associate in homeland security programs, but readers should note that titles and descriptions may differ.
- Counter Terrorism
Enrollees learn how DHS combats terrorism attempts and threats. The course covers laws and policies, intelligence efforts, and the different branches of government involved in these events. Learners may also study the history of counterterrorism along with tools DHS officials use.
- Disaster Management
This course teaches students about the protocols and policies for responding to disasters. Learners explore the institutions and organizations involved at different events. Students may also delve into historical events and considerations for the future.
Students learn how DHS prepares for and protects against cyberattacks. Learners examine how terrorists and other external threats have used cyberattacks and what the future may hold for this field. Students also learn how to identify threats and recover from attacks.
Criminology courses teach enrollees about the fundamentals of crime. Learners may examine crime statistics, psychology, and various theories. Students explore the criminal justice and legal systems, the nature and causes of crime, and rehabilitation processes across the country.
- Ethics of Homeland Security
Learners study the ethical framework implemented at DHS. They learn how the organization creates and enforces its ethical standards and explore challenges within the system. Additional topics include historical issues and public perception of conduct and force.
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What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Homeland Security Degree?
An associate in homeland security can lead to various career opportunities, including jobs in law enforcement, cybersecurity, and emergency management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of more than 95,000 protective services jobs between 2019 and 2029.
The demand for public safety officials remains relatively consistent regardless of crime rates or the presence of actual attacks, which means that homeland security graduates should stay in high demand.
See where an online associate in homeland security can take you. Learn more about homeland security careers.
- Police Officer
Police officers protect the people and property within their community. They investigate crimes, respond to emergencies, enforce traffic and other laws, and build criminal cases against individuals and organizations.
- Emergency Management Director
Emergency management directors develop response strategies for various disasters and emergencies. They establish a communication network with all the necessary institutions and parties and ensure public safety and medical professionals understand procedures and protocols. According to the BLS, 52% of these directors work for local governments, 15% work for state governments, and 8% work in hospitals.
- Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts help individuals and organizations protect against cyberattacks. They conduct information system assessments, highlight vulnerabilities and risks, suggest or implement security upgrades, and help organizations respond to and recover from attacks.
- Security Guard
Security guards protect people and property within facilities, organizations, and venues. They patrol the area looking for suspicious activities, enforce rules, and perform regular security checks. According to the BLS, 56% of security guards work for the local government, 18% work for casino hotels, and 16% work in other gambling facilities.
- Private Detective
Private detectives investigate various crimes and suspicious activity for individuals and organizations. They may conduct surveillance on a person, search for hidden or missing information, or seek out incriminating behavior.
Homeland Security Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Homeland Security Programs
- Is an associate in homeland security worth it?
An associate in homeland security provides great value for students looking to land an entry-level career with DHS. The degree is also helpful for learners who wish to build a foundation for further protective services and security training. Graduates develop specialized skills in homeland security.
- What can I do with an associate in homeland security?
Degree-holders can apply for entry-level careers in law enforcement, security, and emergency management. They may also pursue a more advanced degree, such as a bachelor's or master's in various disciplines. Some graduates pursue careers in adjacent fields like information technology and healthcare.
- Are homeland security majors in demand?
In general, protective services and DHS careers should remain stable for the foreseeable future. The BLS projects 3% job growth in the field between 2019 and 2029, about the same as the average for all occupations. The BLS also projects jobs for police and detectives to grow 5% over this same period.
- How much money can I make with an associate in homeland security?
Salary potential for graduates with an associate in homeland security depends on their field and position. According to the BLS, protective service professionals earned a median annual salary of $43,710 in 2020, just higher than the median annual salary of $41,950 for all occupations.
- What are the highest-paying jobs with an associate in homeland security?
The highest-paying job for graduates with an associate in homeland security is police and detective work. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $67,290 in 2020, significantly exceeding the median annual salary for all occupations. The top 10% of earners in the field make more than $113,860 per year.