The Best Online Master’s in Homeland Security

by TBS Staff
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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 2021
#1 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
#2 Angelo State University San Angelo, TX
#3 Towson University Towson, MD
#4 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
#5 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
#6 Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus Teaneck, NJ
#7 National University La Jolla, CA
#8 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ
#9 Wilmington University New Castle, DE

Featured Online Schools

Best Online Master's in Homeland Security Programs

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus View School Profile $$$$ University Park, PA 71% 100% 48% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The master of professional studies in homeland security taught through Penn State's Harrisburg School of Public Affairs is one of the first such programs offered in the United States. The 33-credit program provides students with an understanding of global-context security and threats.

Studies include strategic planning, security and defense, and emergency management. Specializations focus on counterterrorism, geospatial intelligence, and public health preparedness. Students may also add an international track or business concentration.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited undergraduate institution. Official college transcripts (minimum 3.0 GPA), GRE scores, recommendation letters, and a purpose statement are also required.

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Angelo State University View School Profile $$ San Angelo, TX 34% 39% 34% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

ASU's master of science in homeland security provides in-depth knowledge about regional, national, and international security issues. It prepares students to start or advance careers in the military, emergency management, or local, state, and federal law enforcement. The 36-credit curriculum focuses on national security policy, criminal justice agency ethics, and research methods, with a capstone seminar.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA or an overall GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 hours. The program also requires all college/university transcripts and a homeland security essay.

Angelo State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Towson University View School Profile $$$ Towson, MD 73% 19% 50% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

TU's master of science in integrated homeland security management balances broad-based knowledge with specialization areas and capstone research. The program teaches homeland security workers to craft, allocate, and employ human and material resources. Graduates come away with research, team leadership, cooperative planning, and crisis rapid response proficiencies.

Studies focus on critical national infrastructures, team building, risk management, and emergency communications. Specializations include health preparedness, information assurance, and security policy. A research capstone pairs students with faculty to develop recommendations for a desired policy outcome.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, with a 3.0 minimum GPA (2.75 for conditional admission). Reference letters, transcripts, resumes, homeland security essays, and a personal statement are also required.

Towson University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Sam Houston State University View School Profile $$ Huntsville, TX 52% 53% 48% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The master of science in homeland security studies degree offered through SHSU combines theory with experience. Students obtain factual field knowledge while developing strategic thinking and policymaking skills. The degree benefits employees at all government levels and those in the private sector.

The 36-credit degree focuses on law and ethics, threats, critical infrastructure protection, and intelligence management. Students also select an internship, thesis, or capstone project.

Applicants must hold an accredited institution bachelor's degree in an allied field, with a 2.5 minimum GPA. Three recommendation letters, a homeland security essay, and a resume are also required.

Sam Houston State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Northwestern State University of Louisiana View School Profile $$ Natchitoches, LA 45% 81% 63% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Taught through its Department of Criminal Justice, NSU's master of science in homeland security provides analysis and understanding of topics such as global security issues, terror group characterizations, organized crime, and cyberwarfare.

Courses include venue and event security, executive leadership, cyberterrorism, and peace studies/conflict transformation. Students may select from a thesis or non-thesis option.

Students must hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The program also requires official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended, GRE scores, three recommendation letters, and immunization records.

Northwestern State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus View School Profile Teaneck, NJ 46% 19% 47% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

FDU's master of science in cyber and homeland security administration teaches leadership training for the security and intelligence fields. Ideal for military veterans, first responders, and healthcare professionals, the program focuses on the field's theoretical and practical aspects.

Key topics studied in this military-friendly program include terrorism, threat assessment, disaster preparedness, and collaborative leadership. Complete the curriculum in 36 credits.

Applicants must possess a four-year degree from an accredited college or university, with a minimum 2.75 GPA. FDU also requires transcripts, a current resume, and a personal statement.

Fairleigh Dickinson University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

National University View School Profile La Jolla, CA 36% 61% 36% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

NU's master of science in homeland security and emergency management trains students for leadership positions by instructing them how to manage disasters and emergencies. The program combines homeland security, terrorism, and emergency management fields relating to man-made and natural disasters.

The 12-course degree includes a capstone element and focuses on domestic terrorism, recovery fundamentals, global security, and communications.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, with a minimum 2.5 GPA (may be waived for satisfactory standardized test scores). NU bases admissions on academic records, test scores, interviews, professional experience, and educational objectives.

National University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

Thomas Edison State University View School Profile Trenton, NJ 100% 18% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

TESU's master of science in homeland security teaches students how to analyze terrorism and build strategic plans to assist with disasters. Graduates can also analyze response and recovery efforts at the local, state, federal, and tribal levels.

The 36-credit curriculum includes natural disasters and security planning, terrorism, balancing security and liberty, and information security. It also requires a capstone. Additional study areas include counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and emergency management.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students with lower GPAs may submit resumes and personal statements for consideration. 

Thomas Edison State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Wilmington University View School Profile New Castle, DE 24% 73% 54% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The WilmU master of science in homeland security teaches leading methods for security challenges affecting organizations and agencies. Led by field experts, the program teaches working professionals, information assurance specialists, law enforcement, and military personnel.

The 33-credit degree's core courses include terrorism sociology, crisis leadership, risk assessment, and criminal justice research methods. Students may also add military leadership or safety and security concentrations to the program.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts from undergraduate programs. Candidates must also schedule a program planning conference with a program chair.

Wilmington University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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.

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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