The Best Online Master's in Homeland Security

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A master's degree in homeland security gives students the knowledge and skills they need to work in areas like cybersecurity, emergency management and preparedness, border control, and law enforcement.

Professionals in these areas enjoy strong job prospects. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for police officers and detectives to grow 5% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals earned median annual salaries of $63,380 in 2018, with the top 10% of earners making more than $100,000 during the same period.

Top 10 Online Master's in Homeland Security Programs 2020

#1 George Washington University Washington, DC
#2 Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA
#4 Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA
#5 Towson University Towson, MD
#6 Fairleigh Dickinson University - Metropolitan Campus Teaneck, NJ
#7 St John's University - New York Queens, NY
#8 Pace University - New York New York, NY
#9 Endicott College Beverly, MA
#10 The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX
#11 Salve Regina University Newport, RI

Best Online Master's in Homeland Security Programs

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5

Towson University 

Towson, MD

About this school

Towson University offers an online master of science in integrated homeland security management that develops skills and knowledge in research and analysis, leadership and cooperative planning, and agency infrastructures.

The fully online, 36-credit program includes core classes, specialization courses, and a capstone research project. Core classes include critical national infrastructures, team-building and leadership skills, emergency communication, and strategic and tactical planning.

To tailor the degree to their interests and goals, students choose from three specializations: information assurance, health preparedness, and security policy. Regardless of specialization, all students culminate the degree with a group capstone project.

The school prefers applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates also need at least three years of post-undergraduate work experience in fields such as security, health, or information technology.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
58%
6

Fairleigh Dickinson University - Metropolitan Campus 

Teaneck, NJ

About this school

Fairleigh Dickinson University's online master's in cyber and homeland security administration is designed for students with professional public service experience. Learners study terrorism, cybercrime, research and policy analysis, and national response plans.

The 36-credit, fully online master's in homeland security includes four core classes: homeland security and constitutional issues, research and policy analysis, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism awareness, and strategic planning and implementation.

Students can tailor the degree to their interests through electives like collaborative and organizational leadership, effective team-building, resolving conflicts in organizations, and values and ethics for decision-making. Students typically graduate within two years. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA and must submit transcripts.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
46%
Percent Receiving Loans
67%
7

St John's University - New York 

Queens, NY

About this school

St. John's University offers a fully online master of professional studies in homeland security and criminal justice leadership through the Collins College of Professional Studies. The program couples theoretical approaches with professional practice. Distance learners can access resources such as financial aid, mentoring, and career services.

The 36-credit program includes 18 core credits, covering topics like police and homeland security leadership, critical issues in correctional administration, criminal justice policy formation, and ethical leadership. Students can customize the degree through electives in criminology and police leadership, global terrorism, or stress management. The degree culminates with an applied research capstone project.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit two letters of recommendation and a 300-word personal essay. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
61%
Percent Receiving Loans
57%
8

Pace University - New York 

New York, NY

About this school

Pace University's online master's degree in homeland security teaches students how to assess, address, and analyze national security threats. The fully online program features mostly asynchronous courses, giving students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.

The 36-credit program includes classes like introduction to homeland security, U.S. Constitution and ethical issues, and public sector management. Students apply theoretical knowledge during a research colloquium and capstone seminar. Full-time students can graduate in two years.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher and submit a resume and transcripts. Pace University is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program, offering financial assistance to U.S. veterans with at least 36 months of active-duty service following the 9/11 attacks.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
56%
Percent Receiving Loans
61%
9

Endicott College 

Beverly, MA

About this school

Endicott College offers a fully online master's in homeland security studies designed for working professionals. Full-time students can graduate in 18 months, and they can take advantage of the collaborative academic environment, job placement support, and networking opportunities provided at Endicott.

The 36-credit homeland security degree program begins with foundational courses in homeland security and graduate writing and research. Learners then take classes in terrorism studies, emergency management, and cybersecurity. The degree concludes with a capstone project that synthesizes degree knowledge and practical skills.

Graduates have secured career opportunities in local, state, and federal government agencies and private companies. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit two letters of recommendation and a short essay discussing their career goals.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
76%
Percent Receiving Loans
74%
10

The University of Texas at El Paso 

El Paso, TX

About this school

University of Texas at El Paso offers a 100% online master of defense and strategic studies. Students in this program gain an understanding of national security and intelligence practices and principles that they can apply to diverse careers.

The 36-credit program includes accelerated, seven-week courses. Full-time students can graduate in one year. Learners take courses on U.S. national security; global security; cyberwarfare; and strategic surveys of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States.

Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit MAT or GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. UTEP is a member of the Yellow Ribbon Program, which offers financial assistance to U.S. veterans. In-state students receive a tuition discount.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
39%
Percent Receiving Loans
39%
11

Salve Regina University 

Newport, RI

About this school

Salve Regina University offers an online master's in administration of justice and homeland security that covers topics in history, philosophy, technology, and public policy. These interdisciplinary perspectives help students understand the complex issues inherent in homeland security studies.

The 36-credit program includes classes on constitutional issues, theories of justice, terrorism and transnational crime, and cultural competency. Students can choose from three concentrations: leadership in justice, cybersecurity and intelligence, and digital forensics. The leadership in justice track teaches students how to lead holistically. Students on the cybersecurity and intelligence track examine technology crimes and cyberthreats. Digital forensics students prepare for forensic certifications.

Faculty act as career-focused mentors, assisting students with networking and career opportunities. Applicants to the online master's in homeland security program must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, and two professional letters of recommendation.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
72%
Percent Receiving Loans
91%
12

Sam Houston State University 

Huntsville, TX

About this school

Sam Houston State University offers a 100% online master's in homeland security studies that gives students the theoretical and practical tools needed to positively impact the field. The 36-credit program includes core courses in foundations of homeland security, critical infrastructure protection, and law and ethics in homeland security.

During their final semester, students can choose to write and defend a thesis; engage in a full-time, semester-long internship; or complete a capstone project suitable for presentation at a professional conference, workshop, or symposium.

Full-time students typically graduate in two years. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Students can begin in the fall or spring. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation from undergraduate professors, a current resume, and an essay.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
52%
Percent Receiving Loans
62%
13

Monmouth University 

West Long Branch, NJ

About this school

Monmouth University partners with the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School to offer a homeland security track within its online MA in criminal justice program. The hybrid, 30-credit homeland security degree includes 15 credits of on-campus criminal justice courses and 15 online homeland security courses.

Criminal justice courses cover data analysis and civil liberties, while homeland security courses examine cybersecurity and homeland security intelligence. Graduates culminate the degree with a criminal justice capstone course. Throughout the program, learners work closely with government agencies, gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers in both the public and private sectors.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and submit two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and transcripts. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
72%
14

California University of Pennsylvania 

California, PA

About this school

California University of Pennsylvania offers a fully online master of science in legal studies with a homeland security concentration. The program examines key homeland security issues, including governmental engagement, interagency cooperation, private sector engagement, and military preparedness.

The legal studies aspect offers a unique perspective on homeland security problems, focusing on ethics, intelligence practices, and civil liberties under the U.S. Constitution. Full-time students can complete this 30-credit program in just one year.

Legal studies courses include law and public policy, law and ethics, and civil liberties and the Constitution. Homeland security courses examine topics such as domestic extremism in the U.S., weapons of mass destruction threats, and intelligence practice in homeland security. Students can optionally add a 15-credit homeland security certificate to the degree.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a preferred minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with a lower GPA must submit a resume, references, and a 500-word essay. In-state students receive a tuition discount.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
53%
Percent Receiving Loans
85%
15

Southern Illinois University - Carbondale 

Carbondale, IL

About this school

Southern Illinois University offers a fully online master's in public safety and homeland security management through its School of Architecture. The program is designed for first responders and fire service professionals who hold undergraduate degrees in public safety or a related field.

Students pursue one of two tracks: in-service and pre-service. The 30-credit in-service track is designed for graduates of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer (EFO) program, while the 39-credit pre-service track is for students who have not yet completed the EFO program. Both tracks include courses on topics like terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, public management of the fire service, and critical issues in homeland security management.

The program enhances critical thinking, leadership, and problem-solving skills. Students culminate the degree with a practicum to gain field experience. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
41%
Percent Receiving Loans
66%
16

Nova Southeastern University 

Fort Lauderdale, FL

About this school

Nova Southeastern University offers a fully online master of science in national security affairs and international relations that teaches students how to diagnose, analyze, and provide solutions to public safety, fire service, and emergency management situations.

The 39-credit program examines topics like border protection, security ethics, and U.S. foreign policy and national security. Learners take courses on civil liberties and American government, bioterrorism, and economic statecraft. Students culminate the degree by completing and defending a thesis or passing a comprehensive examination. Full-time students can graduate in 16 months.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit two letters of recommendation, a resume, transcripts, a writing sample, and an essay. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
50%
Percent Receiving Loans
48%
17

Lasell College 

Newton, MA

About this school

Lasell College offers a fully online master of science in criminal justice with a homeland security and global justice concentration. The program focuses on federal law enforcement practices and international justice policies.

This 30-credit program includes core criminal justice courses on topics like the criminal justice system and advanced criminological thought. Students also take 18 credits of concentration courses, including terrorism and homeland security, transnational crime, and cybercrime and data security. Students culminate the degree with a research project or internship.

Lasell caps classes at 23 students to promote individualized attention from faculty. Full-time students can graduate in one year. All online learners pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit transcripts, a resume, and a short personal essay.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
61%
Percent Receiving Loans
91%
18

Northwestern State University of Louisiana 

Natchitoches, LA

About this school

Located in Natchitoches, Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers a variety of online and on-campus programs, including an online master's degree in homeland security. The program emphasizes the emerging global and domestic challenges of terrorism and organized crime.

Students choose between thesis and non-thesis tracks. Regardless of their track, all learners study international terrorism in the 21st century, counter terrorism, managing chaotic organizations, and harnessing executive leadership skills. The non-thesis option requires an immersive capstone project.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and provide academic transcripts and GRE scores. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
45%
Percent Receiving Loans
57%
19

Liberty University 

Lynchburg, VA

About this school

Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is a private, Christian university that hosts more than 100,000 online students annually. The school offers a fully online master of science in national security with a homeland security concentration that comprises 36 credits and takes about 18 months to complete.

Core national security courses include historic lessons of national security in war and peace, cyberspace policy, and Christian values in national security. The three-course homeland security concentration examines foundations of homeland security, homeland security organization and administration, and legal issues in homeland security. Students culminate the degree with a thesis or additional electives.

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Military personnel and first responders receive a tuition discount.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
50%
Percent Receiving Loans
59%
20

Arkansas Tech University 

Russellville, AR

About this school

Established in 1909, Arkansas Tech University offers an online master of science in emergency management and homeland security that explores emerging technologies and the legal, political, and ethical aspects of the field.

The 36-credit program includes 18 core credits, nine elective credits, and nine credits devoted to a thesis or practicum. Core courses include foundations of leadership, principles of emergency management, and research design and methods. Students who choose the practicum option apply problem-solving and analytical skills during an action research project. The thesis track suits learners seeking research-based positions after graduation.

In-state students receive a tuition discount. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit transcripts, a resume, and a statement of intent.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
41%
Percent Receiving Loans
57%
21

Wilmington University 

New Castle, DE

About this school

Wilmington University offers an online master's in homeland security that teaches students how to protect human, financial, and physical resources during security challenges. The 33-credit program includes core courses such as contemporary issues in homeland security, sociology of terrorism, and crisis leadership.

Students can choose from four homeland security concentrations to tailor the degree to their interests: information assurance, military leadership, organizational leadership, and safety and security. Each concentration comprises 15 credits and culminates with a graduate capstone project.

Applicants to the online homeland security degree must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Active-duty military receive a tuition discount.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
24%
Percent Receiving Loans
83%
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Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online Master's in Homeland Security Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the following degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Choosing an Online Master's in Homeland Security Program

Prospective students should weigh several factors when searching for the best online master's in homeland security program. The following list outlines several important considerations for students.

  • Program Cost: Typically, public schools cost less than private schools, and in-state learners pay less than out-of-state learners. However, some programs allow all online students to pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.
  • Transfer Policies: Many schools offer transfer credit for prior academic work, professional experience, and military training, which can save students time and money on a degree.
  • School Size and Type: A school's size and type can impact a student's learning experience. For example, small private schools may cost more, but they also offer more individualized attention than a larger public school.
  • Program Length: Most online master's in homeland security programs take two years of full-time study to complete, but some programs also offer accelerated timelines.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Some online programs have on-campus requirements, which students should ensure they can meet before committing to a program.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: Many programs have thesis or internship requirements. Students should ensure their chosen programs have requirements that are aligned with their career goals.

What Is Homeland Security?

Homeland security explores the practices, procedures, and theories designed to protect the country from various threats. Master's in homeland security programs cover topics like U.S. foreign policy and national security, intelligence collection and analysis, and interagency cooperation. Some programs allow students to specialize their degrees through concentrations in areas such as counterterrorism, information security, public health preparedness, and biosecurity.

Homeland security explores the practices, procedures, and theories designed to protect the country from various threats.

Successful homeland security professionals have a strong desire to uphold the Constitution. They are detail-oriented problem-solvers who enjoy seeing projects through to completion. These professionals can assume a variety of roles. For instance, they may run security for a large corporation, develop emergency preparedness protocols for metro governments, or consult with the federal government on domestic and international terrorism threats.

The overarching goal for any homeland security professional should be to protect American citizens and their rights.

What Is a Master's in Homeland Security Degree?

Online master's in homeland security degrees examine national security threats and challenges, including physical threats, natural disasters, cybersecurity problems, and bioterrorism. Learners gain knowledge and skills in areas like biosecurity, public health preparedness, information security, and counterterrorism. Students who pursue this degree typically hold a bachelor's degree and have some related professional experience.

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

The following sections cover common master's in homeland security coursework and concentrations in addition to relevant homeland security certifications.

Online Master's in Homeland Security Curriculum

Fundamentals of Homeland Security

This foundational course introduces learners to homeland security theories and methodologies. Students learn how emerging policy solutions can help address 21st-century security needs. The course typically includes a mix of individual and group assignments.

Information Systems Protection

Designed for learners who want to focus their efforts on cybersecurity, this course addresses common challenges around keeping networks and cloud-based systems secure from infiltration. Students learn to identify vulnerabilities, address threats, and implement security countermeasures.

Management for Security Professionals

This course covers topics like strategic planning and intelligence techniques, anti-terrorism and emergency preparedness, the National Incident Management System, and threat and vulnerability assessments.

Homeland Security Concentrations

Homeland Security Policy

This concentration appeals to students seeking careers in local, state, and federal governments. Courses explore topics like justice and public policy, national security policy, intelligence analysis and criminological theory, and terrorism and counterterrorism in practice.

Cybersecurity

This concentration gives students the advanced knowledge and skills needed to protect and secure sensitive data. Classes often cover topics like cryptology and communication security, mobile and ubiquitous computing, and software security engineering.

Emergency Management

Emergency management concentrations focus on creating systems and protocols that help communities and governments effectively respond to natural and manmade disasters. Courses may include budgeting for emergencies and disasters, humanitarian crisis management, project management during emergency situations, and risk perception awareness.

Port Security

Designed for students who want to focus on securing a nation's ports from domestic and international threats, this concentration includes classes on aviation security, disposing of hazardous materials, and multifunctional management of port security measures.

Homeland Security Certifications and Licenses

Homeland security credentials demonstrate specialized expertise to current and prospective employers. The following list outlines common homeland security credentials.

  • Certified Homeland Protection Professional: The Global Society of Homeland Security Professionals provides this credential for public safety professionals who have at least four years of experience and an associate or bachelor's degree.
  • Certified Homeland Protection Associate: This credential offers four different levels to meet the needs of various homeland security professionals. Requirements for the credential vary by level, but each level requires relevant training and an examination.
  • Associate Emergency Manager: Emergency management professionals can pursue this credential to demonstrate expertise in the field. Candidates need at least 100 hours of emergency management training and must pass a 100-question exam.
  • Certified Emergency Manager: This credential requires more education and training than the lower-level associate emergency manager credential. Candidates need at least three years of relevant experience and a bachelor's in emergency management.

What Can You Do With a Master's in Homeland Security Degree?

An online master's in homeland security prepares graduates for a variety of roles in areas like law enforcement, emergency preparedness, and national security. The following sections outline common jobs and potential salaries for graduates, the importance of attending an accredited school, and professional organizations for homeland security students and graduates.

Homeland Security Jobs

Master's in homeland security programs prepare graduates for leadership roles in areas like counterterrorism, information systems, and emergency preparedness. We outline several common jobs for graduates below.

Police Officers and Detectives

Police officers and detectives work to enforce local laws and monitor communities. They routinely make traffic stops, patrol neighborhoods, and arrest suspects. Detectives investigate crimes, which involves following leads, interviewing witnesses, and collecting evidence.

These professionals need at least a high school diploma, but some departments may require a college degree. Police officers must also complete specialized training at a police academy.

Median Annual Salary

$63,380

Projected Growth Rate

5%

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts help organizations develop secure networks and systems. They implement new security software and hardware, identify security breaches, teach employees how to maintain secure documentation, and stay up-to-date on industry trends.

These professionals typically need at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or information security, though some employers prefer candidates with a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary

$98,350

Projected Growth Rate

32%

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors develop protocols and procedures to address natural or manmade disasters as they occur, including acts of terrorism. They may develop training programs, coordinate resource sharing, implement response plans, and apply for funding.

These professionals need a bachelor's degree at minimum. Some states require emergency management directors to have certification.

Median Annual Salary

$74,420

Projected Growth Rate

5%

Accreditation for Online Master's in Homeland Security Programs

When researching prospective online master's in homeland security programs, students should look for a school's accreditation status. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to faculty qualifications, academic rigor, and student learning outcomes. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. Only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many employers prefer to hire candidates with accredited degrees.

Programs within a school may also receive accreditation. For example, the National Centers for Excellence— sponsored by the National Security Agency — awards Center of Academic Excellence designations for qualifying cybersecurity programs.

Homeland Security Professional Organizations

Homeland security students and professionals can take advantage of professional organizations. The following professional organizations offer benefits such as networking, continuing education, and professional development opportunities.

Association of Threat Assessment Professionals

Established in 1992, ATAP represents law enforcement officers, prosecutors, security experts, and other professionals who specialize in threat and violence risk assessment. The organization offers local and regional chapters, certification programs, online continuing education units, and networking events. The group also offers discounts on professional resources.

The International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals

IACSP represents counterterrorism and security professionals. Members can access the Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, a quarterly newsletter, product discounts, an annual conference, and the IACSP blog.

International Association of Emergency Management

With more than 6,000 members worldwide, IAEM promotes emergency management values and principles through certifications, webinars, regional meetings, and an annual conference. Members can access awards and scholarships, a discussion board, and career resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Master's in Homeland Security?

A master's in homeland security is an advanced degree that examines national security protocols, procedures, practices, and theories.

What Jobs Can I Get With a Degree in Homeland Security?

Graduates with a master's degree in homeland security can pursue leadership roles in areas like criminal justice, anti-terrorism, and emergency preparedness.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Homeland Security?

Full-time students can typically complete an online master's in homeland security in two years.

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