The growing number of threats to people, property, and national security have stoked demand for skilled homeland security personnel. These professionals address issues such as natural and man-made disasters, terrorism, and cyberthreats. Many universities offer programs to train future homeland security experts, including online master’s in homeland security degree programs to prepare future emergency managers, information security analysts, and law enforcement officers.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, homeland security is one of the fastest-growing fields in education; the number of homeland security degrees conferred increased 44% between 2009 and 2015. Job prospects for graduates are also growing: the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for emergency management directors to increase 8% by 2026. The projected increase in demand for qualified professionals in the field makes now an ideal time to earn an online master’s in homeland security.
The Best Online Master’s in Homeland Security Programs
Online Master’s in Homeland Security Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
1. George Washington University, GW Online
Washington, District of Columbia
Based out of Washington, D.C., GW offers unbeatable connections and opportunities due to its proximity to the federal Department of Homeland Security. The online master’s in homeland security consists of 12 courses for a total of 36 credits. The program takes a tools-based approach, providing students with industry-specific skills and leadership strategies. The curriculum features coursework in political violence, methods of analysis in security, globalization of threats, and interagency cooperation.
Classes last either eight or 16 weeks. Full-time students can graduate in four semesters by taking three classes per term. The program runs on a cohort model, with students completing courses in a prescribed order with the same peer group. The final semester includes a capstone project. Students perform original research, combining theory and analysis to produce a recommendation for improved organizational performance in a public safety agency.
As a private university, GW charges all online students the same per-credit tuition no matter where they live. The school does not list minimum GPA or standardized test requirements. However, candidates should have experience in law enforcement, the military, emergency management, public safety, security, or public health. All applicants must submit transcripts, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. GW allows students to transfer in up to nine credits. Currently, new students may only begin in the fall semester.
GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
2. Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
One of the most prominent state schools in the nation, Penn State maintains an extensive distance learning presence through its World Campus. Penn State has delivered online programs for over a decade and has offered distance education programs for over a century. The World Campus offers hundreds of programs across a wide spectrum of disciplines, including an online master’s degree in homeland security. Students in the homeland security program can choose to concentrate in agricultural biosecurity and food defense; counterterrorism; cyber threat analytics and prevention; geospatial intelligence; information security and forensics; or public health preparedness.
No matter what concentration they choose, all students must complete a total of 33 credits. Penn State delivers all coursework asynchronously, and students are never required to visit campus in State College, PA. Core courses include homeland security administration; social and ethical issues in homeland security; and violence, threats, terror, and insurgency. All students must also complete a research capstone.
All applicants to the program must have already earned a graduate certificate with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additionally, all applicants must submit GRE scores and must have at least two years of professional experience. Penn State prefers applicants who have already completed a professional or graduate degree. Though Penn State is a state university, all online students in the homeland security program pay the same tuition rate.
Penn State is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
3. University of Maryland Baltimore
UMB’s master’s in homeland security online differentiates itself from its peers in that it is legally-focused, awarding a degree in homeland security and crisis management law. As such, the program actually falls under the umbrella of the university’s law school. The program does not require any in-person components. For maximum flexibility, UMB provides its online students with asynchronous coursework and 24/7 technology support. Students can complete the 30-credit program in 16 months of full-time study.
Core coursework includes legal methods, legal research, and the U.S. law and legal system. After their first semester, students must choose to specialize in emergency management, cybersecurity, homeland security and counterterrorism, or emergency public health response. All students must complete three courses and a capstone project in their chosen specialty. Graduates are able to effectively read legal documents, identify different methods for dispute resolution, conduct legal research, and understand the policies that influence the field of homeland security.
Students can apply for admission to the fall or spring cohorts. UMB does not list minimum GPA or standardized test requirements for program admission. The program does not accept transfer credits from any school. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency status. Students interested in the program can attend one of the school’s many webinars and in-person informational events.
UMB is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
4. Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Located in the Miami metropolitan area, NSU has offered online courses since 1985 and distance learning programs since 1972. On its main campus, NSU hosts advanced laboratories, research libraries, and state-of-the-art classroom technologies. Distance learners may take courses on any of NSU’s eight Florida campuses or the Puerto Rico campus. Alternatively, distance learners can enroll in entirely online programs like the online master’s in homeland security.
The program’s 36-credit curriculum combines liberal arts education and applied approaches. Survey courses cover areas such as foreign policy and current issues in national security. Students apply their knowledge through research and practice courses. Since the program falls under the auspices of the university’s history and political science department, those disciplines are front and center in all coursework. All students must also complete a “tabletop examination,” which serves as a capstone experience. All students have the option of completing a 15-credit cybersecurity concentration as part of the degree.
All applicants should have either a 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA or a master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must submit an essay and an academic writing sample. NSU interviews certain applicants. Transfer students may apply up to six approved credits toward the program. Since NSU is a private university, tuition is the same for all online students regardless of where they live.
NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
5. Liberty University Online
Originally a Baptist-affiliated school, Liberty now styles itself as a “Christian academic community.” Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, the school is now one of the world’s preeminent distance education powerhouses. Liberty enrolls over 110,000 students, many of whom take online classes. Over 30,000 of the school’s students are affiliated with the military and many are active duty service members.
The online master’s degree in homeland security is one of Liberty’s many criminal justice programs. In order to grant flexibility to working professionals, the program delivers coursework asynchronously and never requires students to come to campus. The 36-credit curriculum includes foundational criminal justice courses and specialized homeland security courses. Core courses include administration of justice organizations and trends in criminal justice. Specialization courses include legal issues in homeland security, foundations of homeland security, and homeland security organization and administration. Each course lasts eight weeks. Students also complete an original thesis.
Liberty offers eight online start dates throughout the academic year. The school prefers applicants with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, but students who do not meet this threshold can apply for admission on a probationary basis. Liberty is exceptionally transfer-friendly; students may transfer in up to half of the program’s required credits. Tuition is the same for all online students regardless of location. Military members receive a significant per-credit discount.
Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
6. Northeastern University
Located in Boston, Northeastern is consistently ranked one of the best universities in the nation. Approximately 92% of graduates pursue further study or find a full-time job, usually in their field. The school received more than 50,000 applications for the fall 2016 freshman class. The school continues to expand, now operating a campus in Seattle and a new campus in Silicon Valley. Northeastern also offers several distance learning programs, including a homeland security master’s degree online.
Students complete 45 to 47 quarter credits. Distance learners choose between concentrations in emergency management and geospatial intelligence, port security, or organization and infrastructure continuity. Core courses include technology for homeland security, intelligence for homeland security, and crisis communication. Elective options include risk management; security and terrorism; and negotiation, mediation, and facilitation. Students can also earn credits for co-op courses and experiential learning. Coursework is asynchronous and students never have to visit campus.
Northeastern’s homeland security program is particularly noteworthy for its financial aid packages. Currently, 17% of the program’s students receive some sort of aid, with the average amount totaling $3,600. The base tuition rate is the same for all students no matter where they live. Transfer applicants may apply up to 12 quarter hours toward their degree. The program does not list minimum GPA or standardized test requirements on its website.
Northeastern is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
7. Tulane University of Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Based in the heart of New Orleans, Tulane University boasts a long history of providing quality education to working professionals. Tulane’s professional school offered its first continuing education courses in 1884, and has since expanded its options to include distance learning programs. The school has received recognition from U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, Forbes, Bloomberg, and the International Jurist.
Students can choose to complete the online master’s degree in homeland security in either a fully online or hybrid format. The 30-credit curriculum consists of 10 courses: four core courses and six electives. Core coursework includes emergency management, intelligence analysis, and counterterrorism. Elective options include public health law and populations issues during disasters. Upon graduating, students are prepared to serve in roles such as counterterrorism analyst, forensic accountant, cybersecurity manager, and intelligence officer.
Transfer students may apply up to nine approved credits toward their homeland security master’s degree. Tulane does not list a minimum GPA requirement, but most accepted students have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Students who do not meet this threshold can compensate with professional experience. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores. Tuition is the same for all online students even if they live outside of Louisiana.
Tulane is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
8. Saint Joseph’s University
Based in suburban Philadelphia, SJU is a Jesuit-affiliated university that has operated since the mid-19th century. The school’s online presence has expanded in recent years to include a homeland security master’s degree online. The degree is a subset of the online criminal justice program.
The 30-credit curriculum includes four criminal justice courses, four homeland security courses, and two electives. The curriculum focuses on both crisis preparedness and disaster response. Homeland security courses include studies in terrorism, the sociology of disasters, and risk assessment. Students may choose from more than a dozen electives, including white collar crime, juvenile justice, forensic financial analysis, and mental health and the law. The curriculum does not include a capstone or thesis requirement. Online coursework is asynchronous. Most students earn their degrees within two years. Graduates pursue careers in law enforcement, mission support, immigration, and emergency response.
The program offers six start dates throughout the year so students can begin classes immediately. All prospective students must have earned an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.8. Applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores or have any prior background in criminal justice or homeland security. Online students gain access to a student support counselor and technology support. Since SJU is a private university, all online students pay the same base tuition rate even if they do not live in Pennsylvania.
SJU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
9. Adelphi University
Garden City, New York
Adelphi University is one of the oldest colleges in the New York City area. Founded at the turn of the 19th century, the school now operates campuses across the Empire State. The school’s online master’s degree in homeland security combines foundational business studies with topics in emergency management. The program never requires students to visit any of Adelphi’s campuses. The homeland security program was designed for working professionals; most students study part-time in the evenings.
Students complete a total of 39 credits. Distance learners must first complete prerequisite courses in computer applications and mathematics for managers. All complete courses two major courses: homeland and public policy and administration in emergency management. Other courses include emergency management law, health management in times of disaster, business continuity planning, and research in emergency and disaster management. Students also complete a capstone project, which includes original research and a presentation. Coursework is available in an asynchronous format through the Moodle learning platform. Students who take three courses per term are able to earn their degree within two years.
All applicants must have earned an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.8. Prospective students do not need to submit GRE scores. Though work experience is not required, it significantly boosts applications. Students may transfer in up to six credits. Tuition is the same for all online students regardless of residency status.
Adelphi is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
10. Sam Houston State University
Located about an hour outside of Houston, SHSU is one of the oldest public universities in Texas. The school has since become a distance educational powerhouse, offering a diverse slate of undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs online. The school’s online master’s in homeland security focuses particularly on professional development, closely following the Homeland Security Enterprise model. As such, the program is a good choice for students who want to work for the Department of Homeland Security after they graduate.
Students must complete 36 credits to graduate. The curriculum includes studies in industry-standard areas such as critical infrastructure protection, law and ethics in homeland security, and digital security. Elective options include digital forensics investigation and selected issues in geography. Alternatively, distance learners may take courses in criminal justice, security studies, or political science. Students can also choose to complete an internship in the homeland security field for credit. All students must complete a research methods course and a capstone project.
The program accepts students on a rolling basis. New students may begin in the fall or spring. The school does not list minimum GPA or standardized test requirements on its website. Out-of-state online students pay a slightly higher tuition rate than Texas residents. SHSU maintains transfer agreements with many Texas schools and offers several criminal justice-specific scholarships to incoming graduate students.
SHSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
11. Salve Regina University
Newport, Rhode Island
Salve Regina University is a Roman Catholic-affiliated university based in Newport, Rhode Island. The picturesque main campus features Gilded Age estates and 21 historic sites. Women represent approximately 66% of the small student body. The school’s online master’s in homeland security focuses on administration. Students may choose to add a concentration in cybersecurity and intelligence, leadership in justice, or digital forensics.
The 36-credit curriculum consists of 12 courses, including core studies in constitutional issues, theories of justice, and terrorism and transnational crime. Coursework combines hands-on projects with theoretical background. Students also gain soft skills in areas such as cultural competency. The digital forensics concentration leads to ACE/CCE industry certificates. Students can choose to complete the program entirely online or through blended learning, taking some evening courses on campus. Online coursework is available in an asynchronous format.
As a private university, Salve does not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. All learners in the online homeland security program pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Salve does not list minimum GPA or standardized test requirements for admission to the program. Instead, the admissions committee takes a holistic approach to each application, taking into account factors such as extenuating circumstances and work experience. Salve evaluates transfer credits on a case-by-case basis.
Salve is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
12. Arizona State University–ASU Online
One of the largest universities in the nation, Arizona State University currently enrolls over 80,000 students. The school owes a large part of its size and growth to its array of online programs, as distance learners make up around 30% of the Arizona State’s population. As such, the school is particularly strong in distance education.
The 33-credit online master’s in homeland security includes 11 courses. Coursework includes studies in terrorism and weapons of mass destruction; urban design for safe and healthy cities; and hazards governance. The program places a strong focus on emergency management, preparing graduates for careers as risk managers, paramedics, and EMTs. Students also gain a strong foundation in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), an in-demand skill in the field. The program culminates in an applied project. Each course lasts seven and a half weeks, and ASU delivers all coursework asynchronously. Many of the program’s students also hold full-time jobs. As such, completion times vary, with the school offering flexibility in how many courses students take each semester.
All applicants must have either earned a 3.0 GPA over the course of their final 60 undergraduate credits or a 3.0 GPA in a master’s program. The school also requires two years of work experience for admission into the homeland security program. Prospective students do not need to submit GRE scores.
Arizona State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
13. Endicott College
A small private college based in Beverly, Massachusetts, Endicott was originally founded as a two-year women’s college. Today, the college focuses on internships, community, and work experiences. Students can choose to complete the online master’s in homeland security online or in a hybrid format. The program features concentrations in general homeland security, emergency management, or cybersecurity.
The online homeland security degree was primarily designed for professionals already working in the field, but also serves students seeking a career change. All coursework is available in an asynchronous format so students can continue to work full time. The curriculum includes coursework in cybersecurity, transportation security, and emergency management. Many faculty members have experience in the FBI or DHS, providing first-hand expertise to their students. Students in the cybersecurity concentration have option of sitting for the CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst exam, with Endicott footing the bill. No matter their concentration, all students complete an applied capstone project.
Endicott does not specify minimum GPA or standardized test requirements for admission to the homeland security program. The school does not require GRE scores. Once accepted, students gain lifelong access to Endicott’s internship and career center. Additionally, each student gains access to personalized advising and school-organized and affiliated networking events. All students pay the same base tuition rate regardless of residency status.
Endicott is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
14. Mississippi College
The largest private college in the state, Baptist-affiliated MC is best known for its graduate law school. The college also offers an extensive slate of distance learning options, including an online master’s degree in homeland security. The program accommodates the needs of working professionals by delivering coursework asynchronously and allowing students to pursue full-time or part-time courses of study. Due to this flexibility, program completion times vary widely.
The curriculum includes coursework in topics such as legal aspects, grant writing, and emergency management. Electives hone in on specific issues in homeland security, including domestic terrorism and international terrorism. This homeland security degree focuses on justice administration, preparing students for employment in various federal agencies. Past graduates have gone on to work for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Citizenship and Immigration Services.
As a private college, MC does not distinguish between in-state and out-of-state students, charging all learners the same per-credit tuition rate. All prospective students must submit a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and transcripts demonstrating a 3.0 GPA. Students with a GPA below 3.0 may still receive admission with outstanding GRE scores. Applicants should also have completed undergraduate coursework in the social sciences.
MC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
15. St. John’s University
Queens, New York
Founded in 1870, St. John’s is a Roman Catholic university located in Queens, New York. Recently, the university has expanded its catalog to include numerous distance learning programs, including the online master’s in homeland security. The program caters to working professionals, delivering coursework asynchronously and offering full-time and part-time study options. St. John’s offers a 33% scholarship to students currently employed by homeland security or criminal justice agencies. The program also provides one-on-one advising to each of its students.
The 36-credit curriculum includes coursework in research methods, policy, and leadership. Notable courses include U.S. Constitution and homeland protection, critical issues in correctional administration, and police and homeland security leadership. Students may choose from several concentrations, including global security, organizational dysfunction, and criminological theory. All students complete a capstone research project. St. John’s boasts numerous connections in the industry, setting students up with internships or job interviews with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security. Students may complete all of their coursework online without ever visiting campus in Queens; however, students can also opt for a hybrid option with some in-person evening classes.
Applicants must have earned an undergraduate GPA of 3.0. They must also submit an essay and two letters of recommendation. Highly qualified students may apply for certain graduate student scholarships. As a private university, St. John’s charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state online students.
St. John’s is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
16. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Based in the city of Natchitoches, NSU has a long history of innovation in education. The university was the first in Louisiana to offer nursing and business programs. NSU has continued to evolve in the 21st century, expanding its enrollment to over 10,000 students. Online students can earn several degrees through the eNSU Global Campus.
Students pursuing an online master’s in homeland security can choose between a 42-credit non-thesis track and a 36-credit thesis track. Both tracks feature asynchronous coursework and full-time or part-time options. Both tracks share certain core courses, including venue and event security, international terrorism, research design and methods, and network security and cyberterrorism. The program’s course rotation ensures that students can finish the degree in a timely manner. Program completion times vary since most students are working professionals. During the fall and spring terms, each course lasts eight weeks. The university offers certain fast-track courses in a four-week format during the summer term.
Even though NSU is a state university, all online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of whether or not they live in Louisiana. Potential students should have an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, public administration, or a related field. Students with a degree in an unrelated field should first complete an introductory course in homeland security. All graduate school applicants must submit GRE scores.
NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
17. California University of Pennsylvania
Cal U has received national recognition for its academic excellence. The Princeton Review named Cal U one of the top universities in the northeast for the last 13 years; the university is also highly regarded by U.S. News and World Report and the Philadelphia Business Journal. In recent years, the university has cultivated an extensive global presence, now offering online degrees from the associate to doctorate level.
One of Cal U’s most noteworthy distance learning options is the online master’s in homeland security. Focusing primarily on the legal aspect of the discipline, the 30-credit program includes studies in law and ethics; law, civil liberties, and the constitution; and law and public policy. Students also complete homeland security-specific coursework in areas such as terrorism and biological weapons. The program runs on a cohort model with a prescribed course sequence. Students can apply to join an accelerated or regular cohort. Regular cohorts earn their degrees in two years, while accelerated cohorts finish in one year.
Cal U prefers applicants with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Prospective students who do not meet this threshold may apply for conditional admission. The program prides itself on alumni success; past graduates have found jobs with the Border Patrol, the Secret Service, and the Department of Homeland Security. New students may begin in fall, spring, or summer.
Cal U is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
18. Excelsior College
Albany, New York
Based in Albany, Excelsior College is a relatively new school, opening its doors in 1971. A small, private college, Excelsior primarily focuses on distance education and online programs. The school offers degrees in five main areas: business and technology, health sciences, public service, nursing, and liberal arts. The school’s online master’s degree in homeland security is a subset of the criminal justice program.
The homeland security program caters to working professionals, especially military members and individuals already working in the field. The 30-credit curriculum includes courses in risk assessment, counterterrorism, and emergency management. Core criminal justice courses include Constitutional law, criminology, and legal and ethical issues in criminal justice. The program concludes with a criminal justice capstone project. Students develop core competencies in disaster response and mitigation, multicultural issues, and criminal justice responses to homeland security.
Students can earn their degrees without ever having to visit the main campus in Albany. All coursework is available in an asynchronous online format to accommodate working professionals and students with other obligations. Excelsior allows students to transfer in up to 15 approved credits. As a private college, Excelsior charges all students the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of state residence. All students receive one-on-one academic advising from a public service faculty member. Online students may also contact the Center for Professional Development for assistance in writing a resume, applying for jobs, and locating internships.
Excelsior is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
19. Southern Illinois University–Carbondale
The Carnegie Foundation recognizes SIU as one of the nation’s best research-extensive institutions, a distinction awarded to only the top 3.8% of colleges and universities in the U.S. Based in the city of Carbondale, SIU educates students from over 100 countries and all 50 states. The university reaches many of these students through distance learning.
The school’s online master’s degree in homeland security is an accelerated option for students who already have significant experience in the field of public safety. To that end, the school prefers applicants who already have a bachelor’s degree in fire safety, law enforcement, or criminal justice. The program differentiates between pre-service and in-service professionals. While pre-service professionals must complete 39 credits, in-service students only need to complete 30. In-service professionals can graduate in just 16 months. All students must complete coursework in public management, disaster preparedness, and public policy and ethics in the fire services. Additionally, each student must complete a practicum exercise, which in-service professionals can complete at their current workplace.
All applicants must meet the admissions requirements for SIU’s graduate school. Prospective students must have earned either a minimum GPA of 2.7 during their final two years of undergraduate study or a 3.0 GPA during previous graduate study. Students who do need meet these GPA requirements may receive non-declared admission.
SIU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
20. Upper Iowa University
A truly global institution, UIU operates satellite centers in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia in addition to its main campus in Fayette. Most of UIU’s enrollment comes from its satellite centers and its online programs; only 900 students take courses on the main campus. The school’s online master’s degree in homeland security is a subset of the master of public administration program.
The 36-credit curriculum combines core studies in public administration with specific topics in emergency management and homeland security. Classes include the psychology of terrorism, critical infrastructure, and counterterrorism. The program culminates in a research seminar. UIU does not require distance learners to attend any on-campus classes or residencies. The school delivers courses in an asynchronous online format.
UIU requires all graduate applicants to have earned a 2.75 cumulative undergraduate GPA. While students may submit GRE scores to strengthen their application, standardized tests are not an admission requirement. Many students possess prior experience with the military or law enforcement.
UIU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Choosing an Online Master's in Homeland Security Program
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists more than two dozen careers in homeland security, including positions as attorneys, Coast Guard engineers, Border Patrol import specialists, and IT specialists.
While pursuing an online master’s, homeland security students choose from unique programs with different focuses. Some programs emphasize law enforcement, while others are designed for aspiring emergency management professionals. Other programs cover topics in communications and information security.
Students earning a master’s in homeland security online take core classes in emergency management, counterterrorism, and intelligence gathering, along with administrative and leadership courses common to most master’s degrees. However, programs may offer concentrations in counterterrorism, information security, public health preparedness, forensics, or biosecurity, allowing students to tailor the degree to their interests and career goals. Online master’s in homeland security programs often require an internship or a capstone research project.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Homeland Security Program?
Because of the varied nature of the field, all homeland security programs have different requirements. Each program features unique focus areas, emphases, and courses. Students pursuing a homeland security master’s degree online should select the program that aligns with their academic interests and professional goals.
The Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Homeland Security
- Fundamentals of homeland security: This introductory class covers the basics of law enforcement, national defense policy and strategy, and legal issues related to homeland security. Learners explore the overarching themes and threads of the discipline and are prepared for advanced studies in the field.
- Information systems protection: This course prepares students to protect computer networks and information from hackers, viruses, and cyberattacks. Students explore vulnerabilities and risk assessment, threats, firewalls, and other protection measures. The course may use high-concept or hands-on instruction.
- Management for security professionals: Students explore leadership and administrative techniques used in the field of homeland security. Topics include human resources and personnel management, budgeting, critical thinking, strategic planning, and decision-making. The class emphasizes written and oral communication skills.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Homeland Security Prepares For
- Certified Homeland Protection Professional: Administered by the Global Society of Homeland and National Security Professionals, this certificate demonstrates possession of the skills and training needed to protect the nation from internal and external threats. Recognized by employers in both the public and private sectors, CHP certification is available in four levels and requires coursework and testing.
- Certified Emergency Manager: The International Association of Emergency Managers offers the CEM credential to designate high standards in communications, community-wide planning, interagency cooperation, and emergency readiness. Candidates must have at least three years of experience in the field, a bachelor’s degree, and 100 hours of specialized training. They must also demonstrate contributions to the field of emergency management in the form of speaking, publishing, or board memberships.
Online Master’s in Homeland Security Careers
Graduates from online master’s in homeland security programs work in a variety of fields, including law enforcement, emergency management, and private security industries. While completing an online master’s, homeland security students prepare to protect people and property in a variety of contexts.
Emergency Management Director: Emergency management directors plan the response to and recovery from natural and man-made disasters. These professionals train personnel, coordinate with public safety officials, work with state and federal agencies, and communicate with elected officials. Earning a homeland security master’s degree online provides necessary administrative and personnel-management skills.
- Median Annual Salary: $70,500
- Projected Growth Rate: 8%
Police Officer: Homeland security curricula often overlap with criminal justice programs, providing a foundation for law enforcement careers. Police officers protect people and property. They also respond to and investigate crimes, enforce traffic laws, work with district attorneys, and testify in courts.
- Median Annual Salary: $61,600
- Projected Growth Rate: 7%
Information Security Analyst: Information security analysts protect data from hackers, viruses, and cyberthreats. They work for government agencies, corporations, and nonprofits. Their responsibilities include planning, implementing, and monitoring safety networks for computer systems. Analysts with a master’s degree often secure management-level positions.
- Median Annual Salary: $92,600
- Projected Growth Rate: 28%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Homeland Security Degrees
Students planning to earn a master’s in homeland security online should look for accredited programs to ensure their degree will be recognized by other institutions and by future employers. The nation’s best colleges and universities hold accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting agencies, which ensures that schools meet established educational guidelines and standards. National accreditation is typically reserved for trade and vocational schools.
Programs may also hold field-specific accreditation. Although there is no such agency for homeland security programs, the Department of Homeland Security recognizes several schools as Centers of Excellence for their contributions to particular aspects of national security.
Professional Organizations for Homeland Security
Students and graduates of master’s in homeland security online programs benefit from joining professional organizations, which provide networking opportunities, continuing education programs, mentoring, and career development resources.
These associations unite professionals in the field and promote the exchange of information. Professional organizations often host conferences during which new graduates can learn from seasoned veterans, and many also sponsor workshops and seminars, publish journals and reports, and provide career services and job boards.
- Association of Threat Assessment Professionals: The ATAP is a nonprofit membership organization comprising law enforcement professionals, security experts, and legal professionals. The association provides a forum for the exchange of ideas regarding ways to protect the nation from threats and violence. The ATAP hosts conferences, provides networking and continuing education opportunities, and awards professional certification.
- The International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals: The IACSP serves as a center of information and educational services for professionals combating threats to democracy worldwide. The organization publishes a counterterrorism magazine, a journal, a blog, and reports. The IACSP hosts periodic conferences, and members have access to online archives.
- International Association of Emergency Managers: Dedicated to becoming the premier organization for emergency management, IAEM hosts conferences, regional meetings, webinars, and think tanks. The association offers certifications, hosts discussion boards, publishes bulletins, and provides members with access to job postings.