2023 Best Online Master's in Homeland Security Degrees
|Rank||School||Salary Score||Median Starting Salary|
|# 1||The George Washington University||$106,257|
|# 2||University of South Florida Online||81||$79,700|
|# 3||Columbia Southern University||73||$75,707|
|# 4||Webster University||67||$73,191|
|# 5||Angelo State University||54||$67,712|
What Is a Homeland Security Degree?
A homeland security degree enables students to pursue careers that facilitate national security, defense, and emergency preparedness. Some common courses of study include counteracting climate change, anti-terrorism, cybersecurity, emergency management, and more.
A master’s degree in Homeland Security typically takes one to three years to complete. Students must have completed a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify, and some programs may have minimum GPA requirements and graduate-levelcollege entrance exam requirements, like the GRE.
A homeland security degree enables students to pursue careers that facilitate national security, defense, and emergency preparedness.
At the graduate level, students typically study a subject in greater depth than the homeland security and emergency management classes offered at the undergraduate level. Students pursuing a Master of Science in Homeland Security may be able to develop advanced skills when it comes to assessing and preventing threats — both digitally and in person, including threats posed by natural disasters as well as other humans.
Can You Get a Homeland Security Degree Online?
There are a variety of higher education institutions that offer online homeland security degrees at the master's level or related degrees. Colleges with a homeland security major at the graduate level include University of Colorado Denver, Texas A&M University College Station, George Washing University, Adelphi University, and more.
To complete an online degree in homeland security, students need to complete around 30 credit hours’ worth of classes, and may also need to complete a master’s thesis or final examination. Some homeland security online degrees supplement the online learning experience with in-person internships and applied studies, which allow students to gain real-world experience.
Common Courses for a Homeland Security Major
Courses in homeland security are designed to prepare students to deal with real-world problems: national disasters, terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity threats, and more. Some courses are designed to offer an international perspective on security, while others focus on problems specific to the United States.
Below are some of the core courses for graduate students studying homeland security:
Homeland Security Concentrations
Concentrations allow students to pursue studies in a specific area within the larger field of homeland security. Some common concentrations for a graduate degree in Homeland Security include cybersecurity, emergency management, public safety, and counterterrorism.
Students who choose a concentration in cybersecurity will focus on issues including information security, computer forensics, cyberattacks, and more. Some common courses within this specialization include Computer and Internet Forensics as well as Information Security Management. Students who choose this track may go on to pursue careers as security analysts, incident responders, and security engineers.
A concentration in emergency management allows students to gain the skills they need to identify, analyze, and respond to disasters and other emergencies. Students who pursue an Emergency Management concentration will gain exposure to a range of topics, including emergency preparedness, the role of public, private, and nonprofit organizations in responding to emergencies, community resilience, and more.
Students who pursue a concentration in Public Safety will study community relations, management strategies, emergency planning, public finance, and more. They will work to gain the necessary skills that allow them to to interface between the public and government agencies while preparing for and responding to hazards.
Many Homeland Security graduate degree programs offer courses or a concentration in counterterrorism. Students who participate in a counterterrorism concentration gain exposure to topics including counterterrorism tactics and strategies, threat assessment, biosecurity, crisis negotiation, conflict resolution, and more.
What Can You Do With a Homeland Security Degree?
Homeland security is a competitive but growing field. As the world continues to grow more interconnected and new challenges emerge, experts in homeland security will be in demand across a variety of different industries, both when it comes to protecting the U.S. from threats of terrorism as well as responding to natural disasters and climate change.
Students with a graduate degree in homeland security will have the advanced education and experience necessary to pursue specialized careers in this field.
Homeland Security Careers
Emergency Management Director
Emergency Management Directors plan and direct responses to emergencies, including natural disasters, wars, technological or man-made disasters, and more. According to the BLS,the demand for Emergency Management Directors is expected to continue growing through the end of the decade, with an average growth of 6% and approximately 1,000 new openings predicted each year.
Information Security Analyst
Information Security Analysts protect institutions and organizations from cybersecurity threats. According to the BLS, jobs in this profession are expected to grow 33% in the next decade — which is much faster than the national average. There will be about 16,300 projected job openings per year.
Civil engineers design and build infrastructure projects. In addition to their studies in homeland security, students interested in pursuing a career as a civil engineer will also need to study civil engineering, and may need to obtain a license. According to the BLS, prospective civil engineers can expect about 25,000 job openings per year for civil engineers for the next decade.
Law Enforcement Officer
Law enforcement officers are tasked with protecting property and attempting to keep people safe from threats.Equipped with the skills to protect people in emergency situations and prevent potential disasters, graduate degree holders may choose to pursue a management position in law enforcement. Although a high school diploma is typically all that's needed to apply for an entry-level job as police or detective, prospective FBI special agents must have a master's degree at minimum in order to apply. The job growth rate is 7% in this field, and the highest 10% of earners make more than $105,540.
Is a Master's Degree in Homeland Security Worth It?
For many students, a master’s degree in Homeland Security can help them to pursue careers that allow them to protect their country against potential disasters. Depending on which area students choose to pursue, working in homeland security can also be a potentially lucrative occupation — especially armed with a master's degree. That said, there are some drawbacks to working in this field, including a fast-paced and sometimes stressful atmosphere and potential conflicts between your own personal values and those of your employer.
It's important to consider all the pros and cons:
A meaningful career protecting people: Many employment opportunities in the homeland security field give workers the opportunity to pursue meaningful work, especially when it comes to preparing for and reacting to disasters in order to ensure that people and communities are as safe and secure as possible.
Well-compensated career opportunities: Careers in homeland security tend to be well-compensated. For example, an Emergency Management Director earns a median annual salary of $76,730 per year — which is over $30,000 above the median annual wage for all U.S. workers. While students may have to take out student loans to pursue a graduate degree in this field, high-paying job opportunities may enable them to pay off these loans more quickly.
Stressful situations: Because careers in homeland security are overwhelmingly involved in preparing, preventing, and dealing with the aftermath of disasters, careers in this field can potentially put employees in stressful situations. Workers may have to think on their feet and stay cool under pressure.
Potential conflicts with employers: Depending on which area of homeland security workers pursue a career in, they may face potential conflicts with employers. For example, some workers may not agree with actions undertaken by Border Patrol or Immigration Services.
May require additional clearances: Some employees in the field of homeland security may need to pass additional security clearances or background checks in order to qualify for employment. This may be especially true if they pursue a career in the government, police, or armed forces.
For many, a career in homeland security is engaging, meaningful, and full of worthwhile challenges. While careers in this field can sometimes be stressful and demanding, they are also typically well-paying and growing at a steady rate. Working in the homeland security field can give people the opportunity to protect their country, other individuals, and communities from threats and prepare for a more resilient future.
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