Homeland security is a relatively new term referring to the systems, resources and personnel in place to respond to terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other large-scale emergency situations that threaten people and property in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was launched in 2002 (largely in response to the 9/11 attacks), and has since grown into one of the largest federal agencies; DHS currently employs more than 240,000 full- and part-time staff working in areas like airport and border security, cyberterrorism, emergency response, and public health.
The academic discipline of homeland security is concentrated in the laws, ethics, protocols, and processes that guide various federal and nonprofit agencies. Coursework will cover a wide array of topics related to different branches of homeland security like terrorism, health, and resource protection. Most careers in homeland security are attainable with a bachelor's degree ― or less, in some cases ― but a master's degree in homeland security is the ideal pathway for students who plan to assume leadership positions after graduation. Master's in homeland security programs often culminate in a capstone course, during which students must use the skills and knowledge they have gained to address real-world concerns related to public safety and security. Internships may be required, as well. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their master's degree in homeland security online, rather than in a classroom. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, often leading to the same number of post-degree job opportunities. The flexible, study-from-home schedule are ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other important commitments.
Learn more about what you can do with an online master's degree in homeland security and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
- IS A MASTER'S IN HOMELAND SECURITY WORTH IT?
Many of the fields that graduates are prepared to enter will experience above-average growth rates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Professionals with a master's degree also have a higher earning potential. Read more here..
- WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A MASTER'S IN HOMELAND SECURITY?
Graduates are prepared for many careers, including emergency management specialist, emergency response coordinator. and disaster recovery coordinator. Read more here..
- WHAT IS A MASTER'S IN HOMELAND SECURITY?
Homeland security refers to the systems, resources, and personnel used to respond to terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other emergency situations. The academic side of homeland security focuses on the laws, ethics, and protocols, that guide various federal and nonprofit agencies. Read more here..
- WHAT COLLEGES OFFER HOMELAND SECURITY DEGREE?
Many colleges offer a master's in homeland security, either online or on-campus. This includes George Washington University, Mississippi College, and Nova Southeastern University. Read more here..
- WHAT DEGREE DO YOU NEED TO WORK IN HOMELAND SECURITY?
Most master's in homeland security programs require applicants to have an accredited undergraduate degree, which does need to be in any specific field. However, students with a degree in an unrelated field may be required to complete prerequisite courses. Read more here..
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN HOMELAND SECURITY PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
A master's degree in homeland security will prepare students for the challenges of this demanding ― yet often rewarding ― career path. Many programs allow students to concentrate their studies on specific areas of homeland security, such as cybersecurity, chemical warfare, narcotics, and public health. Those who follow a specialized track will be especially well-positioned for job opportunities in their chosen niche field. Capstone experiences and internships further boost a student's career prospects by exposing them to real-world problems and conditions they can expect to encounter upon entering the workforce.
WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN HOMELAND SECURITY PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online master's degree programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional higher education. Students are able to download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from their home with minimal (if any) required campus visits. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable Wi-Fi devices. For added convenience, students can usually coordinate internships at locations that are reasonably close to their current residence.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER'S DEGREE IN HOMELAND SECURITY?
Job eligibility for online master's in homeland security degree recipients will largely depend on their chosen specialization. Those who concentrate their studies on cybersecurity and digital forensics will be well-positioned for careers in IT, while a specialization in epidemiology or disease prevention will be the ideal track for a career in public health. Other common roles for these degree-holders include emergency management directors, information security analysts, logisticians, and security consultants. Doctoral degrees in homeland security are quite rare, so the master's is considered a terminal degree path.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN HOMELAND SECURITY PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master's degree in homeland security programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online master's in homeland security, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Master's in Homeland Security Programs
George Washington University
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
At the George Washington University, students can earn a highly regarded master of professional studies in homeland security in as little as 16 months. This 36-credit program is led by experienced and recognized professionals in homeland security, international security, emergency response and management, strategic analysis, and intelligence.
In the first semester, students engage with foundational studies in political violence, global threats, and security analysis methodology. In the second semester, coursework proceeds to cover intelligence analysis, information systems, and strategies for balance between security and civil liberties. The third and fourth semesters cover strategic planning, emergency response, and interagency cooperation topics before culminating in a comprehensive capstone project.
Between 2009 and 2018, 100% of respondents to George Washington University's graduate student graduation survey rated the program's instructors as "very good" or "excellent." Learners have the option to complete this master's degree in homeland security online or in person at the school's campus in Washington, D.C. Students can attend traditional classes in the evenings once per week and one Saturday per month.
To qualify for admission to this military-friendly, Yellow Ribbon-endorsed program, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field must also have at least two years' experience working in law enforcement, finance, information technology, public safety, homeland security, or for an intelligence- or security-related government contractor. For the online-only program, admissions cycles run multiple times per year with deadlines in April, June, and November.
Tulane University of Louisiana
|New Orleans, LA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
Based in New Orleans, Tulane University of Louisiana gives students the option to complete their master of professional studies in homeland security studies entirely online, on campus, or in a hybrid format that combines virtual and traditional classrooms. The program is designed to endow learners with job-ready skills in technical fields related to domestic safety, border security, and emergency management. Graduates emerge ready for dynamic and meaningful careers in intelligence, counterterrorism analysis, law enforcement, transportation and infrastructure protection, and border protection and immigration.
In completing the required 30 credit hours, learners have the option to transfer in up to nine credits of eligible master's-level coursework. Tulane's online master's in homeland security also offers enhanced customization options through a diverse and intensive set of elective courses. Core courses cover 12 credit hours and explore subject matter including counterterrorism, emergency response, intelligence analysis, and community health and safety issues.
The admission process takes a favorable view of candidates who have served in the military or as first responders. However, the program remains open to all applicants who have at least a B average (3.00 GPA) for their bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Prospective students must also prepare a personal statement detailing their related extracurricular experience and career objectives.
Applicants can submit their materials for admission consideration throughout the year. The program's senior director personally reviews all student applications in tandem with the admissions committee and may offer conditional admission to students with strong extracurricular credentials who do not meet the standard academic requirements.
|Clinton, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
The master of social science in homeland security at Mississippi College focuses coursework on justice administration issues along with a customizable program of homeland security electives. In core courses, students learn actionable and practical job skills, covering topics like homeland security law and grant writing, and conduct thorough analysis of key issues in domestic, international, and cyber terrorism.
Mississippi College's online master's degree in homeland security specifically prepares learners for counterterrorism careers. Graduates qualify for positions with government bodies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Office of the Inspector General, and Citizenship and Immigration Services.
A Christian university, Mississippi College happily accommodates learners seeking to balance their educational aspirations and life needs. Students in this fully online program study asynchronously, engaging with lecture material and coursework on their own self-directed schedules. General admission requirements include a bachelor's degree in a subject area providing foundational background knowledge of information security, law enforcement, counterterrorism, domestic and international social and political issues, law, or civics. Students should have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or above.
Founded in 1826, Mississippi College remains the state's oldest degree-granting institution. It aims to deliver relevant, high-quality, career-focused programs that ground coursework in Christian values and viewpoints. The school has attracted record numbers of students in recent years thanks to major infrastructural and campus improvements and holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Liberty University delivers one of the most flexible online homeland security master's programs. This fully online program schedules courses in rolling eight-week terms, creating focused yet efficient opportunities for deep engagement with subject matter. Students with previously earned credits in related graduate programs enjoy the opportunity to transfer in up to 50% of their degree requirements. Full-time students typically complete the program in about 18 months, but students who maximize their transfer credit options can graduate in less than one calendar year.
Core courses prioritize the legal and administrative framework of the Department of Homeland Security, ensuring that students emerge with a sound and complete understanding of all relevant laws, procedures, and political issues. Configured as a master of science in criminal justice with a homeland security concentration, the program ranks not only as one of the best but also among the most affordable of its kind.
Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University ranks as the largest nonprofit higher education institution in the United States. This Christian school meets the demanding accreditation standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has been a leading innovator in distance education since the 1980s. A military-friendly school, Liberty offers significant tuition discounts to service members. Active law enforcement professionals and first responders also receive 25% off tuition fees along with numerous exclusive administrative and academic support services.
Nova Southeastern University
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Offered by the Department of History and Political Science, Nova Southeastern University's master of science in national security affairs combines theory and research with skills training and development. This 36-credit program features intensive core requirements consisting of seven courses for 21 credits. The core helps students develop advanced critical thinking and analysis proficiencies helpful in their future careers. Coursework focuses on counterterrorism, intelligence gathering and analysis, field work, and historical and current geopolitical issues shaping the contemporary domestic security landscape.
One differentiating aspect of NSU's online homeland security master's degree is its innovative structure. Students proceed through the 21-credit core in their initial semesters before moving on to the program's 15-credit elective component. This allows students to explore areas of interest during the foundational semesters, yielding opportunities to engage with more specialized topics and material later in the program.
Flexible, customizable delivery options mark another strength of the program. Learners can complete the degree fully online, entirely in class, or through a hybrid configuration combining both formats. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University boasts a beautiful and historic campus and holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Applicants should possess a bachelor's or master's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, two recent letters of recommendation, academic writing samples, and a personal statement of 500-1,000 words. Prospective students must also offer tangible evidence of their professional interest in homeland security through work experience or previous academic study.
Sam Houston State University
|Huntsville, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
Headquartered in Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State University ranks among the Lone Star State's oldest higher learning institutions, with a storied history dating back to 1879. Long recognized as a leading higher education innovator, SHSU boasts accolades from multiple independent publications and reviewers, and its master of science in homeland security studies has earned acclaim for its overall excellence and the quality of its instructors.
Unlike many other homeland security degrees, which frequently take an exclusive focus on preparing students for positions with government agencies, SHSU's program also emphasizes transferability to the private sector. Graduates thus enjoy a broader range of potential career paths, with many going on to occupy analyst, management, and policymaking roles with prominent agencies and companies.
This 36-credit program offers three learning paths: thesis, internship, and capstone. Students on the thesis path work toward a dissertation practicum wherein they compose and defend an advanced research paper. The internship path marks an excellent applied learning opportunity, matching students with field placements in the Huntsville and greater Houston areas. Capstone students undertake an intensive elective course and complete a comprehensive portfolio project.
Texas residents enjoy tuition discounts through SHSU's guaranteed price plan, which reduces costs by approximately 10%. Students can begin their studies in either the fall or spring semester and have the option to attend fully online or complete some or all degree requirements at the school's Woodlands Center campus.
St John's University
|Queens, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Covering an intensive 36 credit hours, the St. John's University-New York's master of professional studies in homeland security and criminal justice leadership offers a strong balance between theory and practice. The program's design addresses an emerging shortage of homeland security job candidates with leadership qualities. This online master's in homeland security emphasizes leadership development from start to finish, producing graduates with the ability to step in and make immediate impacts in homeland security, immigration, and border control roles as well as law enforcement, the justice system, and criminal corrections.
Students in the program enjoy one-on-one academic advisement opportunities, helping them select the electives that best match their interests and career goals. St. John's University-New York also helps matriculants secure gainful employment in two key ways. First, the program offers internship opportunities where students can gain practical experience and broaden their professional networks. Additionally, the college's career center delivers helpful professional planning and job search assistance.
Students have the opportunity to study full or part time, and the program's design specifically caters to working professionals and learners with personal commitments outside of school. While students can complete most program requirements online, St. John's University-New York also offers in-class learning opportunities for applicants interested in hybrid formats. Learners can attend traditional classes in Queens, Staten Island, or at the college's Long Island Graduate Center in Hauppauge, New York. Applicants currently employed with the Department of Homeland Security or qualified law enforcement agencies also enjoy a guaranteed scholarship covering one-third of tuition costs.
Saint Joseph's University
|Philadelphia, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
Located in Philadelphia, Saint Joseph's University affords students the opportunity to train for multiple domestic safety and counterterrorism career paths through its master of science in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security. This acclaimed online master's in homeland security moves beyond policy and theory, training students in practical aspects of emergency preparedness and disaster response.
Learners engage with historical and current causes of political extremism and terrorist activity while developing detailed understandings of how disasters and attacks affect communities over the short, medium, and long term. Supplementary course material develops management and risk assessment proficiencies while exploring fundamental aspects of agency structure, interagency cooperation, and policymaking.
By graduation, students emerge with one of the most complete and versatile skill sets of any available online master's degree in homeland security. The program's 30-credit structure includes four required courses, four specialized homeland security electives, and two electives drawn from a wider range of related options.
The federal government's Department of Homeland Security ranks as a leading employer of program graduates, who also qualify for positions in other agencies in law enforcement, immigrations and customs enforcement, and emergency preparedness. Government contractors and private sector companies also hire alumni for career paths that involve management, analysis, and policy development responsibilities.
Earning widespread recognition and acclaim from many leading evaluation and rankings agencies and publications, Saint Joseph's University holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This military-friendly college also commands accolades for its priority treatment of veterans and service members.
|La Jolla, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
As San Diego's largest, private nonprofit institution of higher learning, National University offers online learners a versatile and valuable learning experience. Students in the school's master of science in homeland security and emergency management proceed through the program on a compact schedule that delivers classes in four-week mini-terms, enhancing flexibility. This structure allows learners to focus on one topic at a time while completing their degrees in compact timeframes.
While many homeland security programs focus primarily or exclusively on terrorism and political violence, National University expands its scope to cover natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and severe storms. The program's process-oriented pedagogy guides students as they develop expertise in emergency preparedness, disaster response, and organizational continuity. Thus, graduates emerge with critical hard skills of high value to organizations in both the public and private sectors.
Proficiency with technological and offline tools for developing, implementing, and updating domestic safety strategies and solutions leads the list of learning outcomes. Students also emerge with advanced critical thinking skills and elite management, threat detection, threat analysis, and policy assessment capabilities.
National University offers students the option to earn the degree entirely online or through a combination of online and in-class learning. The school, founded by military veterans and home to generous military-friendly policies, maintains more than 20 physical campuses throughout California and Nevada.
|Albany, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
At Excelsior College, students interested in domestic security careers can pursue an online master of science in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security and emergency management. Delivered over 10 courses totaling 30 credit hours, this online master's in homeland security begins with an intensive core of classes covering key topics in criminology, criminal justice policy, constitutional law, and ethics. Students also develop highly evolved quantitative analysis and research skills before proceeding into the nine-credit homeland security and emergency management specialization.
Specialized courses cover three critical subject areas: terrorism and counterterrorism, emergency management, and risk assessment. The course culminates in a three-credit capstone project, which affords learners the opportunity to showcase their newly gained knowledge and apply it to real-world situations.
Transfer students benefit from a program structure that allows them to receive credit for as much as half of the total degree requirements. Noted for its generous military-friendly policies, Excelsior College supports the Yellow Ribbon Program and offers qualified online students full access to the social, administrative, and academic services available through the school's Veterans Center.
Founded in 1971 as Regents College and based in Albany, New York, Excelsior College holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The school operates as a private, nonprofit institution and holds membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, an organization helping military veterans and service professionals achieve their educational goals.
|Beverly, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 75%||
The Van Loan School at Endicott College offers an acclaimed master of science in homeland security studies that draws highly qualified instructors from the ranks of the United States Armed Forces, the FBI, and Department of Homeland Security. This Yellow Ribbon-affiliated, military-friendly program features a flexible design intended specifically for working professionals. Motivated learners without transfer credits can complete the degree in just 18 months.
Configured in a cohort structure, this fully online program offers specializations in emergency management and cybersecurity. Both specialization paths stem from a common set of core courses covering major current threats to U.S. homeland security, the dynamics of the American intelligence apparatus, and multiple topics in emergency management, security, and the psychology of extremism.
The emergency management specialization branches into a detailed focus on ethics, leadership, response, recovery, safety, and planning for crisis situations. The cybersecurity track offers learning opportunities to students interested in defending American digital assets and telecommunications infrastructure from disruptive attacks.
Adopting a collaborative approach to learning, the program encourages student interaction and embraces the interdisciplinary nature of homeland security studies. Online students enjoy full access to personal academic advisement services, which help learners discover and pursue their individual aptitudes and interests before committing to a specialization.
Endicott College delivers an excellent return on investment, combining highly affordable tuition rates with networking events and job placement services. Admission consideration does not require GRE scores.
|New Castle, DE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Wilmington University's master of science in homeland security provides a fully online degree path designed for working professionals, military service members, law enforcement personnel, first responders, and information assurance workers. Designed with the direct input of recognized homeland security experts, the program offers four concentrations along with field training opportunities that enhance the learning experience.
Through an intensive, in-depth set of core courses, students develop skills that combine theoretical models and research methodologies with practical proficiencies. Carefully chosen, experienced professionals lead classes, ensuring students emerge with up-to-date skill sets that reflect the current realities of the homeland security landscape.
Beyond the core requirements, learners can opt for one of four concentrations: information assurance, military leadership, organizational leadership, and safety and security. Each specialization prepares students to meet a varied set of job-related challenges and consists of four courses.
Eighteen of the program's 33 required credit hours come from core requirements, while students in all concentrations culminate their learning with a comprehensive capstone project. The capstone includes an optional field placement, affording students the opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-world situations and form valuable networking connections.
Students local to Wilmington University's New Castle, New Hampshire campus have the option to study in a hybrid format that blends online and in-class learning. Motivated learners can complete this online master's in homeland security program in as little as one calendar year.
Wilmington University holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Applicants can schedule personal advisement opportunities with admissions specialists for assistance preparing required materials.
Salve Regina University
|Newport, RI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
Newport, Rhode Island's Salve Regina University features a master of science in administration of justice and homeland security that embraces emerging concepts in this dynamic and constantly evolving field. In particular, the program emphasizes the role of technology, both as a potential weapon of extremists and as a tool for maintaining high levels of domestic security.
Structured to include 12 classes totaling 36 credit hours, this acclaimed online homeland security master's degree includes eight required courses and three specialization options. Instead of declaring a specialization, students may choose electives from any approved Salve Regina University graduate program. Specialization options include cybersecurity and intelligence, digital forensics, and leadership in justice. All specialization courses supplement the common eight-course core, which analyzes the theory and practice of domestic security through the lenses of constitutional law, ethics, and public policy.
In the cybersecurity and intelligence stream, learners study intelligence systems and discover how criminals use technology to prepare and launch terrorist attacks and other critical security threats. The digital forensics stream teaches students how to find, recover, and document digital data in support of criminal investigations and prosecutions. Students specializing in justice in leadership develop the budgeting, grant application, and leadership skills needed to become effective organizational managers.
Salve Regina University holds accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The university boasts an excellent graduate success record, with 98% of students finding gainful employment or enrolling in advanced studies within six months of matriculation.
|West Long Branch, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
Founded in 1933, Monmouth University in western Long Beach, New Jersey, serves over 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Monmouth is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
For online education, the school offers students advanced degrees in nursing, forensic nursing, and criminal justice. The 30-credit master of arts in criminal justice with a homeland security track is a hybrid program that splits coursework evenly between e-learning and face-to-face participation.
The curriculum covers local, state, and federal levels of homeland security and anti-terrorism operations in the U.S. Specialists in the homeland security field learn not only about how to secure borders and defend against threats domestic and afar but also how to handle chemical or manmade hazards and natural disasters.
In this online master's in homeland security, students learn how to prevent and counter terrorism, mitigate the threat of damage, and recover from attacks and disasters. Learners receive a balanced perspective of homeland security strengths, areas of improvement, and subfields, with the opportunity to delve further into areas such as intelligence analysis and strategic planning. Courses include advanced criminology, applied data analysis in criminal justice, and civil rights and liberties.
The admissions committee admits students three times a year for the summer, fall, and spring semesters. Eligible applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 overall and 3.0 in their major. Applicants must also submit a personal essay describing their preparation for the program and what they hope to gain from an advanced degree in criminal justice from Monmouth.
Angelo State University
|San Angelo, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 37%||
Angelo State University (ASU) educates more than 10,000 students at their campus in San Angelo, Texas, and online. Founded in 1928, the public university offers over 100 majors and concentrations through six colleges. ASU also administers more than 35 online and blended degrees, certificates, and certification programs.
The regionally accredited public university offers a fully online MS in homeland security that incorporates theoretical and practical studies. The curriculum includes six required courses, plus a choice of interdisciplinary electives. Learners can round out their online master's degree in homeland security with classes in applied statistics, data mining, cyber vulnerability, research cryptology, and emergency planning.
ASU offers eight-week courses, but graduate classes in this online homeland security program each require 16 weeks of study. In the final semester, students take two seminars on criminal justice agency ethics and border security. Learners can complete all degree requirements in 18 months. ASU allows students to transfer up to nine credits from a regionally accredited institution into the program.
Graduates of this homeland security master's degree online program leave with skills in critical infrastructure protection using geographic information systems and identification and countering of terrorism. The program also addresses the rise of cyberthreats and the benefits, limitations, and vulnerabilities of technology.
This program prepares students for careers in criminal justice, law enforcement, and emergency management. ASU created the program with the specific interests of military students in mind.
Prospective students must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and provide evidence of a 2.75 overall GPA or 3.0 GPA for their last 60 credits of undergraduate work. They also must submit an essay that discusses the importance of homeland security.
California University of Pennsylvania
|California, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
California University (Cal U) in California, Pennsylvania, serves over 7,300 students a year. The regionally accredited public university offers more than 200 programs, including associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees, embracing distance education with more than 75 programs delivered entirely online.
A 30-credit MS in legal studies with a concentration in homeland security explores topics such as domestic extremism, terrorism, and biological, chemical, and nuclear threats. Cal U's program provides an interdisciplinary approach to the major, as students also concurrently study the humanities, business, and political science. Other concentration options with the degree include criminal justice and law and public policy.
In the homeland security track, learners delve into the prevention of terrorism and the protection of the U.S. and its citizens. This online master's in homeland security proves an ideal degree for law enforcement professionals looking to move into and qualify for leadership positions. Countering terrorist threats and ways to make U.S. citizens less vulnerable are also key focuses of the program curriculum.
Students of this online home security master's degree graduate with the skills and knowledge to monitor the nation's borders, craft policies related to preparedness in the face of security threats, and facilitate effective collaboration at the local, state, and federal levels.
The program features thought-provoking courses that require students to critically think and apply concepts to address modern-day issues, events, and crises. Topics include civil liberties under the Constitution; intelligence practices in homeland security; and ethics, law, and public policy.
Potential students must possess an accredited bachelor's degree and a GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0 can still apply but may only receive conditional admission and must submit additional materials like a resume and essay.
Pennsylvania State University - World Campus
|University Park, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Penn State World Campus launched in 1988 and today operates as the second-largest campus in the Pennsylvania State University system. The global school serves more than 20,000 students and offers over 150 degree and certificate programs.
A program that takes an all-hazards approach to the emerging academic discipline, Penn State's master of professional studies in homeland security totals just 33 credits. Graduates of the fully online, flexible program gain a fundamental understanding of homeland security in a global context and leave equipped with the skills and knowledge to work in both the public and private sectors.
Students in this online master's in homeland security can choose either the general curriculum core or follow one of six specialization tracks: cyberthreat analytics and prevention, counterterrorism, public health preparedness, geospatial intelligence, information security and forensics, or biosecurity and food defense.
Each specialization allows students to tailor their degree to better connect with their career goals. For example, the information security and forensics track proves ideal for learners interested in a career working with data and solving problems related to cybersecurity.
Applicants to the program must possess a four-year degree from an accredited institution, plus GRE test scores or a waiver. To qualify for the GRE waiver, a prospective student must meet one of four criteria related to GPA, work experience, and their highest degree earned.
Thomas Edison State University
|Trenton, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Chartered in 1972, Thomas Edison State University (TESU) in Trenton, New Jersey, is one of the oldest schools in the U.S. created specifically for working professionals and students aiming for career advancement, personal development, or lifelong learning. Today, the average age of the TESU student hovers around 35 years old.
Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. With a student base of over 17,000, the university offers more than 100 areas of study and confers degrees at all levels.
The 36-credit MS in homeland security prepares students for leadership roles in homeland security and emergency preparedness. Learners develop competencies in theory, analysis, practice, and policymaking in both U.S. and global issues.
The curriculum includes 24 credits in core courses, six in electives, and six for research and a capstone experience. Coursework covers issues in law enforcement, cybersecurity, biosecurity, public administration, emergency management, and terrorism.
Through electives, students can focus on a particular area of homeland security, emergencies, or disaster preparedness. Possible electives include the psychology and sociology of disaster, the legal and ethical issues involved in international situations, and pandemics.
TESU allows students to transfer up to 12 credits into the program. New cohorts start in October/April or January/July, and classes last 12 weeks each. Students take two courses per term and generally graduate in two years of full-time study.
The admissions committee assesses each candidate thoroughly, and applicants must hold an accredited four-year degree with a GPA of 2.75 or better. All graduate programs at TESU require applicants to possess 3-5 years of professional, managerial, or related experience.
Fairleigh Dickinson University
|Teaneck, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 39%||
Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus (FDU) in Teaneck, New Jersey, serves 4,000 undergraduates and 2,350 graduate students. Regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the Metropolitan Campus offers over 175 majors and minors and more than 125 graduate degrees and certificates.
Students in the 36-credit MS in cyber and homeland security administration (MSCHSA) can choose from three concentrations: terrorism and security studies, emergency management, and leadership. In general the program focuses on practical and theoretical aspects of enforcing and maintaining U.S. security.
Twelve courses comprise the MSCHSA program, including three required courses on homeland security and constitutional issues, research and policy analysis, and terrorism awareness. Learners then complete six courses in their chosen concentration, two electives, and one capstone project. Students select from 9-10 course offerings for their area of focus, which allows them to customize a plan of study best suited for their future careers.
In addition to gaining knowledge of cyber and homeland security, students also learn to work strategically, communicate effectively, research with purpose, and apply critical thinking. The MSCHSA program proves ideal for students with a background in public service. Graduates leave the program qualified for roles like emergency management specialist, intelligence analyst, and policy analyst.
Students admitted to the program can transfer up to nine credits for which they earned a 3.0 or better. Admission criteria include a four-year degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 2.75 GPA. FDU does not require GRE or GMAT test scores.
|New York, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Pace enrolls more than 13,000 students a year and offers over 135 bachelor's and 130 master's programs that benefit students at both the main campus in New York City and a second campus in Westchester County.
The MA in homeland security at Pace University prepares public safety professionals for readiness in cases of natural or manmade disaster, infrastructure failure, and acts of terrorism or violence. Graduates of this 36-credit program leave with the skills and knowledge to effectively respond to and recover from emergencies and crises and mitigate the impact of terrorist attacks.
The curriculum of this master's degree in homeland security online program totals five core courses and seven electives. Students study topics like comparative governments, public health, international human rights, ethical and constitutional issues, and protection of technology and critical infrastructure.
Pace delivers all courses through an asynchronous format, meaning that students can view lectures, complete related assignments, and catch up with discussions on their own time. Aside from the first course that introduces homeland security, students can take the remaining courses in a sequence that works for them. Full-time students can complete all degree requirements in two years.
Applicants to the program must possess a 3.0 minimum GPA for an accredited bachelor's degree in any field. Pace does not require the GRE or GMAT exam.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
|Natchitoches, LA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 39%||
Northwestern State University (NSU) in Natchitoches, Louisiana, administers 40 online degrees through the university's global campus. NSU first offered courses and programs in 1884 and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
NSU offers the MS in homeland security with a thesis option for 30 credits and a 36-credit, non-thesis option that also requires a comprehensive final exam. Both tracks cover the same material and emphasize homeland security.
Students study topics such as transnational security, causes of international and domestic terrorism, identifying terror groups and organized crime, and the challenges involved in negotiating homeland security with constitutional law. Learners also explore ethics and the fundamentals of leadership and diplomacy.
As with the best online homeland security master's programs, the MS in homeland security from NSU presents streamlined courses that allow students to hone their skills in an area they find interesting.
For example, security policy planning and decision-making increasingly rely on data and analytics. A course on research design and methods provide students with the basics behind data collection, interpretation, and analysis.
Note that NSU requires all students to take an introductory course on homeland security if their undergraduate major was in a field other than homeland security or a related field like public safety. For homeland security and public safety majors, this course falls under program electives. Applicants must provide GRE results and two letters of recommendation. Online-only students at NSU pay no out-of-state fees.
|Tiffin, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Founded in 1888, Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio, educates over 3,000 students through three schools in the arts and sciences, business, and criminal justice and social sciences. The regionally accredited private university offers 25 graduate programs, including an online homeland security master's degree. Top programs at TU include criminal justice, management, exercise science, homeland security, and forensic psychology.
A 30-credit MS in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security at TU explores contemporary security in a globalized world. Students learn to navigate and lead in various areas, including budget and finance, policy formulation, and strategic planning. The program also addresses ethical issues that crime and justice experts face and how to work within an ethical framework.
The homeland security track covers border security, cybersecurity, emergency management, terrorism, and coastal threats. Ideal for students looking to enter the homeland security field, either from a related field or an entirely different sector, graduates from this master's in homeland security online leave prepared for roles that require the skill set and knowledge base to think critically, pragmatically, and strategically.
Students in the homeland security track can choose from courses that focus on specific areas of the field, such as intelligence, policy, or research. The curriculum culminates with a leadership capstone project.
TU offers flexible start dates six times a year, and students can take two, seven-week terms every semester — allowing full-time learners to graduate in a year. Part-time students typically take two years to fulfill the program's 30 credits.
Upper Iowa University
|Fayette, IA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Upper Iowa University (UIU) in Fayette, Iowa, serves more than 5,200 students nationally and internationally. In addition to the main campus in Fayette, UIU also operates 21 U.S. locations, one satellite campus in Hong Kong, and a booming online campus.
The 36-credit online master of public administration from UIU requires students to complete 18 credits in core areas such as democracy, public policy, regulatory policy, and the political economy and 18 credits in a concentration. For the emergency management and homeland security track, learners take two electives and four courses of their choosing.
UIU's emergency management and homeland security track features several courses that reflect the national security conversation today. Students can explore leadership issues arising from critical incidents, compare security strategies, and unpack the evolution of terrorism throughout history.
In a counterterrorism course, students examine where global policies, strategies, operations, and organizations stand following the aftermath of 9/11. They can also inspect the psychology and culture of terrorism and terrorism typologies.
By program's end, students possess the know-how to make informed decisions in situations of emergency management and homeland security. They should graduate with the skills to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from threats and hazards that require immediate attention and action.
Students must maintain a 3.0 average or better to stay in the program, and full-time learners can complete all degree requirements in 1.5 years. Admission criteria require that applicants hold an accredited baccalaureate degree with a 2.75 undergraduate GPA or a 3.0 for their last 60 credits of coursework. UIU requires GRE or GMAT exam scores.
Southern Illinois University
|Carbondale, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Located in Carbondale, Illinois, Southern Illinois University (SIU) annually enrolls over 14,500 students, with approximately 30% working toward their professional or graduate degree.
SIU offers several non-degree certificates, bachelor's, degree-completion, and master's degrees online. The school's graduate programs cover high-growth sectors like behavior analysis, health informatics, and public safety and homeland security management.
The 39-credit master's degree in public safety and homeland security management at SIU expands a student's existing body of knowledge. Admitted students must hold a bachelor's degree in public safety, fire services, or a related field and bring several years of experience in the industry.
Through the fully online program, learners enhance their skills in critical thinking and problem solving specific to the areas of public safety, fire service, and emergency management. As with other online homeland security master's degree programs, graduating from this program also provides students with the credentials needed for career advancement.
Required courses combine lectures and hands-on learning. Topics include terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, public policy and ethics in the fire service, critical issues in homeland security management, and disaster preparedness and crisis management. For the program's practicum exercise, students plan, design, develop, conduct, and evaluate a simulation or drill.
Students can complete the program in as few as 16 months of study by taking three courses for three consecutive semesters. To apply, applicants must hold a four-year degree for which they earned a 2.7 GPA during the final two years.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Homeland Security Program?
From concentrations to curriculum and program structure, the options a program offers for earning a homeland security master's degree online will help you determine which program is right for you. As you explore the best homeland security degrees online, keep in mind that the details of these programs will vary from school to school.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN HOMELAND SECURITY
|Concentration||Description||Careers this concentration prepares for|
|Emergency Management||Learn how to develop and execute contingency plans for emergencies, from natural disasters to terrorist attacks. You'll learn how to complete Geographic Information Systems analysis, develop a strategic plan, and budget for disaster relief and humanitarian aid.||Emergency management specialist, Peace Corps member|
|Port Security||Examine ways to keep U.S. ports safe and secure. You'll learn about the policies, laws, and international agreements that govern our ports, including maritime security and aviation security, and which federal agencies play a role in port security.||FEMA research analyst, maritime security manager|
|Cyber Intelligence||Learn about the history of cyber intelligence and the impact it has on U.S. safety and policy today. The topics you'll focus on include computer crimes, the ethics of cyber security, intellectual property and privacy issues, and signals intelligence.||Information security analyst, CIA cyber threat analyst|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN HOMELAND SECURITY
The courses you choose to take while you earn your online master's in homeland security will influence what kind of careers you'll be eligible for upon graduation. While courses vary between schools and programs, you'll find a sample curriculum below:
- Crisis Communication: Examine how to communicate within organizations and with the public during a crisis, from natural disasters to sexual harassment accusations. This course often includes analysis of case studies from real life crises, allowing students to determine where an organization may have gone wrong in their own crisis communication efforts. Taking this course prepares you for a variety of careers with organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- Critical Infrastructure: Developing a plan to detect the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure — and how to protect it during a crisis — is a cornerstone of homeland security studies. In this course, you'll learn how to conduct model-based vulnerability analysis, assess risk within systems, and apply risk-reduction techniques. Taking a course on critical infrastructure is a must for those who want to work at the Department of Homeland Security.
- Terrorism: Learn about how to detect and monitor threats of terrorism, both foreign and domestic. This course covers the history and ideology of terrorism and helps you identify major terrorist groups operating today and the role homeland security plays in diminishing the threat of terrorism in the U.S. Courses on terrorism are a good foundation for careers in federal agencies like the DHS, FBI, and CIA.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN HOMELAND SECURITY?
Full-time students can typically earn an online homeland security degree in two years. Programs often require you to complete 30 to 40 credit hours. How long it takes you to complete your online master's in homeland security will depend on how many credits you take and whether you have any transfer credits.
As you develop your shortlist of the best homeland security degrees online, consider whether a program follows a cohort model or allows you to study at your own pace. In a cohort model, you will start your online graduate program at a set time and work through the program at a predetermined pace with your peers. Some homeland security online degrees allow you to work through the program at your own pace. That means you may be able to take more credits per semester or complete coursework during summer semesters, allowing you to earn your degree quicker.
CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER'S IN HOMELAND SECURITY PREPARES FOR
- Geographic Information Systems Professional Certification: Many careers in homeland security require thorough knowledge of GIS analysis. GIS users choose to receive certification from the GIS Certification Institute. Before professionals can apply for the GISP certification exam, they must have at least four years of experience in a geospatial career.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional: Designed for professionals in the information security field, this certification is granted by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium. It certifies that a professional is competent in their field and capable of designing systems that protect against cyber attacks.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Homeland Security Degrees
Online master's in homeland security programs vary widely, and it's important to make sure that the programs you're interested in are accredited. Accreditation indicates that a school has met certain standards. The schools you encounter will most likely have one of two types of accreditation: national accreditation or regional accreditation. National accreditation is usually reserved for institutions of higher learning that focus on a specific type of education, like distance learning or vocational training. Regional accreditation is given to an institution that has met the standards of a regionally accredited association. There are six regional accreditation associations throughout the U.S. covering different regions, and a degree from a regionally accredited institution is valid in any state.
There is no one organization that's specifically designed to accredit schools within the field of homeland security, but FEMA does keep a list of masters programs for homeland security. You can find FEMA's college list here.
Accreditation associations work in tandem with other organizations to establish the standards that institutions of higher learning must meet. Those organizations include the Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). DOE, a cabinet-level department in the U.S. government, approves accreditors deemed reliable by the Secretary of Education. This is important because the DOE can only provide financial aid to students who attend accredited institutions. The CHEA advocates for self-regulation among accredited institutions of higher learning to maintain high standards. To learn whether a school you're interested in is accredited, you can check the list of schools on the websites of the DOE and CHEA.
JOB PLACEMENT: MASTER'S DEGREE IN Homeland Security
Due to an increased demand for qualified homeland security professionals in recent years, the job outlook is fairly strong for master's degree recipients in this field and healthy growth has been projected in the coming years ― although these trends vary by specific professional title. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the following table has a detailed breakdown of five common career paths in homeland security.
|Occupation||Current Number of Jobs||Projected Job Growth (2014-24)||Projected Job Increase (2014-24)|
|Emergency Management Directors||10,500||6%||+700|
|Information Security Analysts||82,900||18%||+14,800|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||382,600||8%||+30,200|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Comparatively, the BLS estimates that the average job growth projection for all industries between 2014 and 2024 is 6%.
EARNING A LIVING
Earning potential in the homeland security profession is largely tied to one's master's degree field and area(s) of specialization. Using data from the 2016-17 PayScale College Salary Report, the following table features earning estimates for four different homeland security-related master's fields during their first decade in the workforce. Please note that data for the master's in homeland security was not included in the 2016-17 report.
|Master's Degree Field||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)|
|Information Security and Assurance||$71,300||$98,300|
Of the five degree fields listed, the average wage premium (or increase) between the entry-level and mid-career stages is 49.82%. In addition to academic studies, specific job titles also determine how much a master's-holding homeland security employee can expect to make. Other factors include employer size and city/state of employment. The next table looks at 20-year salary growth projections for five popular careers among homeland security professionals with master's degrees.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Emergency Management Specialist||$49,680||$57,744||$63,074||$77,713|
|Emergency Response Coordinator||$47,000||$56,000||$61,000||$61,000|
|Disaster Recovery Coordinator||$68,000||$80,000||$97,000||$105,000|
All four occupations experience a salary growth rate of at least 29% after 20 years on the job. Intelligence analysts reported the highest growth rate: a 57% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Emergency management specialists ranked second with 56.4% salary growth, followed by disaster recovery coordinators with 54.4% growth.
Those who graduate with a master's degree in homeland security will be qualified for dozens of positions ― including some managerial roles ― although their eligibility will depend on their areas of expertise. Four common career routes for employees with a master's in homeland security are outlined below.
Emergency Management Directors: Emergency management directors oversee teams that coordinate response and relief efforts when disasters, attacks and other critical situations arise. They strive to create safe, efficient contingency plans for a wide range of emergency scenarios, many of which depend on support from federal agencies, nonprofits and other peripheral organizations. Nearly two-thirds of emergency management directors work for state or local government agencies.
Project Coordinators: Also known as project managers, project coordinators are responsible for the development and execution of short- and long-term projects; in the homeland security sector, these projects often revolve around emergency and disaster response, relief and reconstruction models, as well as optimizing communications between different organizations and agencies with shared homeland security goals.
Information Security Analysts: Information security analysts are responsible for safeguarding sensitive organizational data from different hackers, cyberterrorists and other online criminals, as well as technical problems like equipment malfunctions and viruses. They rely on an array of tools and platforms to do their jobs ― and in some cases, they may be responsible for developing new programs that address the shortcomings of current ones.
Epidemiologists: Epidemiologists study patterns and trends pertaining to diseases and injuries that impact human health. They publish their findings in medical journals, give speeches at seminars and conferences on behalf of their organizations, and often have a hand in policy-writing.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary|
|Emergency Management Directors||$67,330|
|Information Security Analysts||$90,120|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to homeland security is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for homeland security professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.
- National Homeland Security Association: The NHSA sponsors a national homeland security personnel conference, which was first held in 2005. The association's website also features an extensive blog network, career tools and archived transcripts from the most recent conferences.
- International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals: The IACSP's mission is centered around two overarching goals: the development and dissemination of tools and resources used to minimize the threat of terrorism, and promotion of legal and ethical behavior within the counterterrorism field. Member benefits include online journal and newsletter subscriptions, discounts on entrance fees to IACSP events and access to additional resources on the organization's website.
- SEARCH: SEARCH is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to connect and improve communication between various state, local and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies. SEARCH's website is a compendium of resources; visitors will find information about cyber-crime, data analysis, public safety and other niche areas of law enforcement and homeland security, as well as podcasts, blog posts and other multimedia resources.
Financing Your Online Master's Degree in Homeland Security
Despite the relative affordability of online master's degree programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
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Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
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