Homeland Security covers plans and efforts to ensure that the homeland is safe and secure against threats or to mitigate the effects of threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, pandemics, and natural disasters. Homeland Security is committed to ensuring American interests, aspirations, and ways of life are secured and can flourish. An online masters in homeland security degree can award many opportunities to students interested in the security-related industry. Students who have completed their online homeland security masters can pursue jobs in varied areas within the government, from border protection, law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Opportunities are also abundant in private and non-profit organizations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in protective service occupations is projected to grow 8% from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average, and will result in about 286,400 new jobs. This guide is about the homeland security master’s degree and what it entails.
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The best online Masters in Homeland Security degree programs provide theoretical and practical knowledge vital to advance within this vocation. Since most students in this discipline will be working professionals, the online option is suitable for their requirements keeping in mind time constraints that may apply to them. Various factors influence the ranking of the Best Online Masters in Homeland Security programs like accreditation, financial aid, fees vs. career prospects, admission requirements, program requirements, graduation rates, quality of faculty, and many more factors. With these in mind, here is a list of the best masters in homeland security programs online:
Understanding Masters in Homeland Security Programs
A masters in homeland security online provides flexibility to students who may be working professionals or individuals who have child and family care commitments. The online curriculum is structured in such a way that it is as rigorous as a program offered to students physically attending a school. The online Homeland Security degree trains students to take up leadership positions within the industry. Students of the program will gain important skills in management, planning, communication, technology, intelligence, and risk analysis. They will also be proficient in the political, social, and economic threats facing the United States of America.
Students will be trained to meet regulatory compliance measures and ethical standards even in high-pressure situations through theoretical classes, role-playing, and interactions with professionals from the field of Homeland Security. In most schools, 33 to 40 credits are required for the masters in homeland security online degree program, requiring about 2 years to complete. The programs offered by various schools vary from the completely online model to hybrid programs that require students to be present in school for 2 weeks every quarter.
Career opportunities are abundant for homeland security graduates. This has been the norm once the Department of Homeland Security was set up in 2002 following the September 11 attack.
Masters in Homeland Security Degree Types
Depending on the online Masters in Homeland Security program chosen, the degree may be called:
Master of Science in Homeland Security
Master of Arts in Homeland Security
Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security
Master of Business Administration in Homeland Security
Master of Science in Homeland Security
The Master of Science in Homeland Security (MSHLS) or MS in homeland security online is designed for both civilians and military students. It provides students with a framework to respond to domestic and natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The program is designed to equip students with the capabilities to analyze and understand the challenges that will arise with evolving security situations on the international and domestic stages.
Master of Arts in Homeland Security
The Master of Arts in Homeland Security (MAHLS) or MA in homeland security online helps students develop policies, strategies, plans, and programs to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States and lessen America’s susceptibility to the complete spectrum of additional threats to its homeland security and potentially disastrous occurrences. They also learn to build the organizational and interagency arrangements needed to strengthen homeland security.
Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security
The Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security or MPS in homeland security degree approaches the subject through the lens of professional studies and application. This degree helps working professionals and those pursuing careers in homeland security gain leadership skills and a thorough awareness of current and future homeland security issues.
Master of Business Administration in Homeland Security
The Master of Business Administration or MBA with homeland security concentration teaches students how to properly implement strategies and how to convey technology, gather evidence, and monitor actions at various levels, including business, organization, government, and global, among others. This degree leans more on the business and organizational aspects of security.
Specializations in Masters in Homeland Security Programs
Apart from the regular coursework, specializations in particular fields within homeland security will further arm students with the most relevant knowledge and techniques needed to take the leading role in protecting the country by including risk analysis, international/domestic threat identification, coordination, and analysis of public policy. Here are a few popular masters in homeland security specializations to consider:
Area of Specialization
Information Security / Cybersecurity
This specialization examines existing cyber laws and policies, intelligence collection, and defensive and offensive actions that may be used during cyber-warfare.
This specialization examines the threat spectrum of various hazards and how to plan systematic approaches to identifying critical infrastructure and key resources to counter risk and deal with their mitigation.
Intelligence Analysts, Special agents, Security Management Consulting, Emergency Management Directors, Law Enforcement
A few other specializations in an online homeland security masters would be:
Safety & Security
Applied Homeland Security Intelligence
Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense
Public Health Preparedness
Intelligence & Geospatial Analysis
Public Health Preparedness
Cyber Threat Analytics & Prevention
Curriculum and Skills Gained in Online Masters in Homeland Security Programs
Students of an online masters in homeland security degree will pursue a 33 to 40-credit curriculum that includes a variety of classes, such as Crisis Management, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Security Technology, and Intelligence Analysis. Crisis simulations and scenarios will be used to reinforce students’ skills to succeed in Homeland Security professions in the federal, state, and local government and industry.
Although core homeland security courses students take will depend on the chosen program and college, here are a few students can generally expect:
International Human Rights
Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency
Contemporary Issues in Homeland Security
Multifaceted Approaches to Homeland Security
Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues
Public Sector Management
Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs
Legal Aspects and Policy of Homeland Security
Homeland Security and Defense in Practice
Psychology And Terrorism
U.S. Constitution and Ethical Issues
Risk Assessment and Management
Strategic Leadership and Decision Making
Technology And Critical Infrastructure Protection
Intelligence Gathering Strategies
Public Health Issues for Homeland Security Leaders
Whole-Community Disaster Preparedness
Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation
Sociology of Terrorism
Computer and Internet Forensics
Public Sector Strategic Planning and Budgeting
Most online Masters in Homeland Security degrees require the completion of a capstone project that covers around 3 to 5 credits. The capstone project is usually completed in a host organization. Students complete this capstone as a part of their internship. The internship and capstone project enables students to acquire a mentored experience while working on a capstone project that will benefit the host organization. The capstone may be in the form of an executive position paper or a documentary project. The capstone could also be a new program specifically designed for the host organization based on quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of sources.
Accreditation for Online Masters in Homeland Security Programs
While pursuing an online master in homeland security, it is always better to choose an accredited Master in Homeland Security school. When a school is accredited, it means that the institution has been evaluated by one or more independent accrediting organizations recognized by the U.S Department of Education and the industry. The school is found to have gone through a high educational quality assurance procedure. To be accredited, entire institutions and/or educational offerings must undergo an extended, rigorous accreditation process and pass several stringent checks against pre-defined standards and accreditation criteria. Once accreditation is conferred on the school, the school must follow proper steps to maintain the standards of their school’s programs and retain its accreditation status.
Regional agencies that accredit colleges in the U.S. are the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Timeline for graduation from Online Masters in Homeland Security Programs
A masters in homeland security may be completed in three ways, a full-time program in brick-and-mortar schools, a completely online program, or a hybrid program that is partly online and partly offline. The benefits of each type of program delivery should be weighed with each individual student’s requirements and circumstances before a decision is made.
Usually, full-time students in a Master’s in Homeland Security online program can complete the program in around 2 years. Some online homeland security degree schools also offer an accelerated program that can be completed in 12 to 18 months. The programs offered by various schools vary from the completely online model to hybrid programs that require students to be present in school for 2 weeks every quarter.
Ordinarily, 33 to 40 credits are required in the masters in homeland security online program.
Online Masters in Homeland Security Programs Admission Requirements
The general requirements to be completed before admission in a masters in homeland security online degree are:
A bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
Official transcripts that show completion of the most recent completed Bachelor’s degree*
The minimum required GPA of 3.0 (varies by school)
A criminal background check (required by some schools)
Some masters in homeland security requirements will also include a minimum of two years of professional experience in homeland security, including but not limited to public safety, intelligence, local/state/federal law enforcement, information technology, critical infrastructure, or related government contractors.
*An unofficial copy of the transcript showing completion of the bachelor’s degree can be submitted during the application process. However, the official copy must be submitted once admission is received.
Online Masters in Homeland Security No GRE Programs
Schools in the United States usually require scores from standardized admission tests. The two most common standardized tests are the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). Most online masters in homeland security programs have no requirements for GRE or GMAT scores during the admission process. Trident University, Pace University, Wilmington University, and many other schools offer online masters in homeland security no GRE programs.
Accelerated Online Homeland Security Programs
Accelerated online masters in homeland security programs allow students to complete the program in a shorter time than the normal program requires. In the accelerated online master’s in the homeland security program, students will cover the same content and gain the same qualifications as a regular program. Most online Masters in Homeland Security can be completed in two years. In schools that offer the option of an accelerated program, the same program may be completed in twelve to eighteen months. This is an excellent option for working professionals or students who may have family or other commitments requiring a shorter program duration.
Some schools offer a free masters in homeland security degree online. Students usually must fulfill eligibility criteria before they utilize these online masters in homeland security free. The free program is usually available to active service members and veterans of the U.S. armed forces. Numerous military-friendly colleges and universities offer free courses for masters in homeland security.
This is a hybrid online program in which students are in residence for just two weeks every quarter during the 18-month program. The remaining portions of the students’ coursework are completed online. The Naval Postgraduate School confers the degree fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Cybersecurity has become a concern in recent times. This course equips students with the ability to anticipate cyber-attacks and plan procedures and protocols to be followed to prevent them and mitigate their effects with technology solutions.
Aviation and internet infrastructure are considered ‘lifeline infrastructure’. This course deals with anticipating risks in these sectors and policy planning for their safety and risk mitigation.
How to Pay for an Online Masters in Homeland Security Programs
The cost of an online masters in homeland security varies from school to school. When choosing an online master in homeland security, students should consider the cost of the degree vs. the median salary received by those who have completed the program. The cost of a homeland security online masters varies from around $12,000 to $62,000. The average cost across schools is around $22,000 but depends on whether the program is completely online or in the hybrid mode, apart from other factors. To offset these high costs, students must read the Financial Aid Guide to choose the most suitable financial aid option. Here is a quick look at some options:
Most online master’s in homeland security students should be eligible for scholarships. The scholarship amount depends on factors such as gender, minority status, major chosen, and professional orientation. Scholarships are usually merit-based. While students apply and avail of scholarships, they must exercise caution as there are numerous Scholarship Scams.
The cost online master’s in homeland security can be partially or wholly funded through grants that a student may be eligible for. Grants are usually not merit-based and not based on the students’ accomplishments and academic prowess but are instead based on financial need or given for specific areas of academia and research.
Graduate Assistantships are another way to discount the cost of an online master’s in homeland security. Graduate assistantships are a great way to gain experience and build a network of people and sources of information that will benefit the student even after the program is completed. However, while choosing whether to avail of a graduate assistantship, students must weigh its benefits versus the time they need to invest in the assistantship. Graduate assistants have many responsibilities and are accountable to other students and faculty of the program.
FAFSA is short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is another option for students to offset the price of an online master’s in homeland security. It is available through the federal government, which distributes around $120 billion every year in financial aid to students to help fund their education.
Scholarships for Online Masters in Homeland Security Programs
Scholarships for masters in homeland security online programs are available through national and local government bodies, the private sector, and many industry-related associations. Every scholarship has its eligibility criteria and timelines for application. The scholarship amount depends on factors such as gender, minority status, the major chosen, academic achievements, etc. Scholarships are usually merit-based. They depend on academic prowess and student accomplishments. Here are a couple of examples:
Horizons Women in Defense (WID) Scholarships are given every year to women U.S. citizens who are pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in homeland security, cyber security, international relations, government, political science, law, etc.
The Intel-AFCEA Scholarship is available to 5 students pursuing a major in cyber security, homeland security, intelligence studies, computer science, or electronic engineering.
$10,000 and/or potential opportunity with an intel mentor, an intel job (internship or full-time), access to training and research, intel architecture (hardware/ software), networking with other intel scholars, and more.
June 10, annually
FAQs about Homeland Security Programs
Q. What is a masters in homeland security program?
A. The master in homeland security is an advanced academic degree that encompasses a wide range of duties, and most programs in the sector are made to introduce students to a little bit of each. A typical homeland security masters entails the study of emergency management, bioweaponry, food safety, resilience planning, intelligence systems, public health, public-private partnerships, risk assessment, and more.
Q. Who can do a master’s in homeland security?
A. Almost anyone interested in a career in homeland security is eligible to apply for this master’s degree. Most programs do not have explicit undergraduate major requirements or even course prerequisites for entrance. The main requirement is passing a background check and receiving security clearance (not for enrolling in the master’s program but to be eligible for employment after graduation).
Q. Where to study a master’s in homeland security?
A. master’s in homeland security may be pursued as a full-time program in a brick-and-mortar school, entirely online, or as a hybrid program that is partly online and partly offline. Some of the best schools to pursue a homeland masters are listed on this page.
Q. What can you do with a master’s in homeland security degree?
A. A masters in homeland security will equip individuals for roles in crime prevention, information security, risk assessment, and crisis management. They can work in various settings, including the Secret Service, Department of Labor, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of State, state and local law enforcement, and various military branches. Nonprofits and private companies also hire security specialists to protect their information, customers, employees, and computer networks.
Q. Is a homeland security master’s degree worth it?
A. Yes, a master in homeland security is worth the time, cost, and effort. It is one of the best professional avenues for individuals interested in criminal justice, counter-terrorism, disaster planning and management, and policy planning. Compared to the investment into one’s degree, the salaries one would receive after graduation make it a compelling degree to pursue.
Q. Is homeland security a stressful job?
A. The answer to this question depends entirely on the individual, their abilities, and their mental makeup. Those who like law enforcement and dealing with tricky or risky situations should not find homeland security stressful. Nevertheless, in some instances, working days or nights, and sometimes in remote locations, could make one anxious. Overall, it is difficult to assess whether homeland security is stressful or not.
Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in Homeland Security Graduates
Most homeland security online masters use theory and practical knowledge from skilled professional faculty to ensure students are trained in policy decision making, leadership, emergency planning and management, and concise written and verbal communication. This equips students to apply their knowledge to their jobs immediately, ensuring that they are an asset to the organization that employs them. Graduates of the online master’s in homeland security can be employed by the Department of Homeland Security, local and federal government bodies, and private organizations like banks, hospitals, universities, etc.; the opportunities are endless.
Certifications and Licensing for Homeland Security Graduates
Certifications, along with an online master in homeland security from an accredited university, make for a guaranteed pathway to building a lucrative, successful and fulfilling career within the industry. Homeland security graduates and professionals can choose from two types of certifications – professional and academic.
Professional Certifications – Professional certifications do not require as much time, effort, and financial investment compared to academic certifications. They are designed for working professionals who wish to keep up to date with current practices and knowledge. These certifications are also an excellent way to enhance career prospects and move up the hierarchy within the organization. Usually, recertification is periodically required to be maintained. Examples of professional certifications include:
Certified Homeland Protection Associate, Levels I – IV– The Certified Homeland Protection Associate (CHPA) proves to potential employers that the individual is qualified to start a profession and enhance their career in the field of homeland security through coursework and testing. Candidates must be current students from an accredited university. They should have completed predetermined coursework as specified by the board. They also must pass the Homeland Protection Associate test.
Academic Certifications – Academic certifications are more intensive in terms of time, effort, and financial investment when compared to professional certifications. Prestigious academic certifications require completion of at least five of the following courses:
International and Domestic Terrorism
Leadership Application Course in Criminal Justice
Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Administration
Ethics and Integrity in Homeland Security
National Security Policy
As for licensure, since most jobs are within the purview of governmental agencies, security forces, and the military, departmental or job-specific training leads to automatic licensure – as in most positions are deemed to already have a license to work.
Additional Resources for Homeland Security Professionals
Professionals in homeland security need to coordinate between various departments to effectively fulfill their responsibilities. They also need access to the latest information and technology solutions. Networking with others in the field and using resources to discover new knowledge and skills is always recommended. Here are some resources for master in homeland security online graduates and professionals to explore:
Global Society of Homeland Security Professionals (GSHSP)– The Global Society of Homeland Security Professionals (GSHSP) is a global association made up of homeland and national security professionals from all friendly countries, including government and private sector responders. GSHSP provides certifications and training programs to its members, along with access to a career center and discounts on products and services.
National Homeland Security Association (NHSA) – The National Homeland Security Association (NHSA) sponsors and hosts the National Homeland Security Conference. The Conference is an annual gathering of emergency management and homeland security experts from the largest metropolitan areas in the country. Due to its emphasis on all disaster response disciplines at all levels of government, it has grown to become the most well-attended and eagerly anticipated homeland security and emergency management conference of the year.
Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) – The Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) offers wide-ranging programs geared toward helping established and upcoming homeland defense and security leaders create the organizational structures, policies, and strategies required to combat terrorism, prepare for natural disasters, and address threats to public safety across the country. Apart from courses and programs, CHDS offers a magazine, news and stories, and factsheets and reports.
Analytical Services Inc. (ANSER) – Analytical Services or ANSER is a for-purpose (not-for-profit) organization that has pledged allegiance, first and foremost, to the United States of America, via the government clients they support and the analyses they deliver. ANSWER is committed exclusively to public service and supplies local, state, and federal government officials with timely, objective, and forward-thinking analysis independent and irrespective of commercial or political influences.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Resources – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has put together a list of various resources to help homeland security professionals in areas like all-hazards planning, crisis communications, mental health services, continuity of operations, and more.
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