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Best Online Master's in Homeland Security Degrees

By Margaret Wack | Updated 8/3/2022
2020 Best Online Master's in Homeland Security Badge

This list highlights the 25 best value colleges offering online master's programs in homeland security. A degree from University of Colorado Denver has an impressive return on investment, with an annual tuition of $11,358 and alumni reporting a mid-career salary of $120,708. Texas A&M University-College Station offers distance learners a Executive Master of Public Service and Administration - Homeland Security for $15,708 per year. Alumni reported a mid-career salary of $120,308.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 University of Colorado Denver $11,358 $120,708
# 2 #2 Texas A&M University-College Station $15,708 $120,308
# 3 #3 The George Washington University $20,610 $117,262
# 4 #4 Adelphi University $14,400 $111,683
# 5 #5 American University $35,180 $118,304
# 6 #6 University of Massachusetts - Lowell $21,975 $111,757
# 7 #7 Northeastern University $16,698 $108,369
# 8 #8 Arizona State University $8,512 $104,687
# 9 #9 The University of Texas at El Paso $10,350 $104,083
# 10 #10 Fairleigh Dickinson University $11,520 $101,250
# 11 #11 Pennsylvania State University - World Campus $15,351 $101,900
# 12 #12 University of Maryland Global Campus $11,862 $98,635
# 13 #13 Johns Hopkins University $55,530 $115,703
# 14 #14 Clemson University $14,840 $98,877
# 15 #15 Salve Regina University $10,890 $97,200
# 16 #16 West Virginia University $7,995 $95,384
# 17 #17 Central Michigan University $11,466 $96,642
# 18 #18 Wilmington University $8,296 $94,668
# 19 #19 Thomas Edison State University $12,024 $94,700
# 20 #20 University of Alaska Fairbanks $9,240 $92,800
# 21 #21 Virginia Commonwealth University $14,229 $93,985
# 22 #22 Saint Louis University-Main Campus $12,640 $92,004
# 23 #23 Upper Iowa University $9,990 $89,100
# 24 #24 University of South Florida Online $18,538 $89,765
# 25 #25 Excelsior College $9,675 $85,713
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Homeland Security Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 University of Colorado Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $11,358
  • Median Salary: $120,708
  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Colorado Denver offers a Master of Criminal Justice and a Master of Public Administration with concentrations in homeland security and emergency management. Students in both programs receive advanced instruction in responding to emergencies, hazards, and disasters through coursework in assessment, management, planning, policy, and homeland security. The online degree programs are typically completed part-time and require the completion of 36 credit hours in core courses, concentration electives, and a culminating capstone project or thesis.

#2 Texas A&M University-College Station

  • Annual Tuition: $15,708
  • Median Salary: $120,308
  • Locations: College Station (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students in the Executive Master of Public Service and Administration program at Texas A&M University College Station can choose to concentrate their studies in homeland security. The homeland security track provides students an advanced education in the fundamentals of the discipline, including the laws and policies that define homeland security, foreign and domestic terrorism threats, border security policy, cybersecurity, and weapons of mass destruction and bioterrorism. The 39-credit hour online degree program includes core coursework in public service and administration and electives in homeland security. To apply, students must have at least five years of experience in public service, preferably in homeland security. Two one-week residencies on campus are required.

#3 The George Washington University

  • Annual Tuition: $20,610
  • Median Salary: $117,262
  • Locations: Washington D.C.
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The George Washington University offers a Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security program for students with the goal of advancing the security, privacy, and safety of the country and its citizens. The program faculty includes former counter-terrorism and homeland security professionals, benefitting their students with first-hand, real-world experience. Students in the online homeland security degree program complete 36 credit hours of coursework in counter-terrorism, emerging security threats, intelligence analysis, and relevant public policy and legislation.

#4 Adelphi University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,400
  • Median Salary: $111,683
  • Locations: Garden City (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Adelphi University offers a Master of Science in Emergency Management that provides students the opportunity to focus their studies in homeland security. Students in the 39-credit hour program are educated in the advanced foundations of the discipline through coursework in securing the homeland, emergency management law, and public policy and administration in emergency management. Students graduate the online program prepared to protect the security and privacy of the country and its citizens from both natural and man-made threats, disasters, and hazards.

#5 American University

  • Annual Tuition: $35,180
  • Median Salary: $118,304
  • Locations: Washington D.C.
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Students studying for a Master of Science in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security at American University graduate the program prepared to secure the nation and protect its citizens from external threats. Students develop an advanced understanding of national domestic security, homeland security public policy, and domestic threat data, statistics, and analysis. The curriculum of the program includes coursework in national security, law and policy, cybersecurity, and theories of political violence. Graduates of the online homeland security program have gone on to work for the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Senate, and Interpol.

#6 University of Massachusetts - Lowell

  • Annual Tuition: $21,975
  • Median Salary: $111,757
  • Locations: Lowell (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The University of Massachusetts – Lowell offers two online degrees in homeland security. The Master of Arts in Security Studies emphasizes policy administration and research studies. Students may add a concentration in Homeland Defense, Industrial and Economic Security, or International Security. The comprehensive curriculum covers contemporary security systems, intelligence analysis, and research design. The program culminates in a research-focused capstone paper. Also offered is a Master of Science in Security Studies degree for students seeking specialized knowledge of digital forensics, bioterrorism, and infrastructure protection. Concentrations are offered in Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Security, and Weapons of Mass Destruction (CBRNE). Students can complete the 30-credit degree in two years. Admission requirements to the master’s degree programs include completion of an undergraduate degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. The GRE is required, and applicants must have verbal and quantitative scores in the top 20th percentile. The MAT may be substituted. These online master’s degrees in homeland security may lead to careers in security jobs in the government, industry, or research sectors.

#7 Northeastern University

  • Annual Tuition: $16,698
  • Median Salary: $108,369
  • Locations: Burlington (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Northeastern University hosts an online Master of Arts in Homeland Security with elective concentrations in Geospatial Services, Emergency Management, Organization and Infrastructure Continuity, and Port Security. The program aims to prepare students for leadership roles, covering how to manage situations like global pandemics, natural disasters, and domestic terrorism. Courses can be completed in two to three years, depending on whether the student enrolls full-time or part-time. Courses cover the multifaceted aspects of homeland security, such as critical communication, technology, intelligence gathering, and protecting critical infrastructure. Students must complete a capstone seminar or a research thesis toward the end of the program. Northeastern University’s online master’s in homeland security is customizable to suit those new to the field and to satisfy professionals already working in homeland security. Prospective students must submit an online application, a statement of purpose, transcripts, two reference letters, and undergraduate transcripts. Students are admitted on a rolling basis and may begin their studies at the start of the fall, spring, or summer term. Graduates of the program may find jobs with emergency management agencies, the FBI, the U.S. Department of State, and private industries.

#8 Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,512
  • Median Salary: $104,687
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arizona State University offers a 33-credit hour online master’s in homeland security that can be completed in a year. The homeland security course of study is one of five concentrations available to students pursuing a Master of Arts in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. The program of study entails 10 classes that are each seven-and-a-half weeks long. The curriculum focuses on security, law enforcement, data intelligence analysis, and infrastructure protection. Core courses cover homeland security operations, hazard management, data analysis, and program evaluation. From these and other courses, students learn how to apply public policy and management theories to enhance public safety and effectively respond to local, national, and global threats. Admission requirements include a degree or professional work experience in a related field, such as criminology, sociology, public administration, or public health. Prospective students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Graduates of the program may find employment in the public and private sectors working with policy analysis, emergency preparedness, safety operations, and security. Online students can receive assistance in academics, scheduling, resume building, and job searching from online services coordinators and career advisors.

#9 The University of Texas at El Paso

  • Annual Tuition: $10,350
  • Median Salary: $104,083
  • Locations: El Paso (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas at El Paso offers a completely online Master of Defense and Strategic Studies degree that focuses on national defense and homeland security. This 36-credit program is geared toward working professionals, including military service personnel, who are seeking flexible, asynchronous classes. The program consists of 12 courses that can be completed in one year. The curriculum takes an in-depth look at world diplomacy, international conflicts, domestic conflicts, and strategic development. The program is meant to foster an appreciation of the big picture of homeland security by covering topics like security threats, modern warfare, defense challenges, and national military operations. The program also aims to prepare students for high-level government positions, military career advancement, and public policy analysis related to homeland security. Faculty have real-world experience in specialized areas of homeland security, such as counterterrorism and national security law. Admission requirements include an application, official transcripts, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, MAT or GRE results (unless the applicant is in possession of a graduate degree), a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation. Online support includes access to the writing center, UTEP Library, technology support, career services, and a student success advisor.

#10 Fairleigh Dickinson University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,520
  • Median Salary: $101,250
  • Locations: Teaneck (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Fairleigh Dickinson University offers an online Master of Science in Cyber and Homeland Security Administration. Students can select a concentration in Emergency Management, Homeland Security Leadership, or Security Studies to complement their career goals. Students learn how to develop national response plans, manage disasters, investigate cybercrimes, and lead in crises. This course of study entails 12 eight-week courses that can be completed within two years. The four core courses focus on homeland security, research, policies, and strategy. Students select electives to reach a total of 36 credit hours, the required amount for degree completion. Asynchronous, self-paced classes allow students the flexibility to work on their courses at convenient times. Classes are taught by student-centered faculty with hands-on experience in the field. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and an overall GPA of 2.75 or higher for admission to the program. GRE or GMAT scores are not required. Student success in this program is bolstered by an online support team that can assist with the enrollment process, financial aid, and academic advising.

#11 Pennsylvania State University - World Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $15,351
  • Median Salary: $101,900
  • Locations: University Park (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Several online master’s degrees in homeland security are offered at Pennsylvania State University. Students pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security – Base Program may specialize in the following areas: Agricultural Biosecurity and Food Defense, Counterterrorism, Cyber Threat Analytics and Prevention, Geospatial Intelligence, Information Security and Forensics, and Public Health Preparedness. The cross-disciplinary program allows students the flexibility to leverage their plan of study to achieve specific career goals. In the 33-credit Base Program, students study homeland security strategies, policies, legislation, and planning. Students learn how to prepare for catastrophic events, respond to disasters, and aid in recovery processes. New students must complete a no-credit orientation during their first semester for an overview of homeland security. The core curriculum consists of nine credits in homeland security administration, societal issues and ethics, and terrorism. Many diverse electives are available. The program culminates in a three-credit capstone research project. Admission requirements are a bachelor’s degree and transcripts. Customized degrees can lead to careers in emergency preparedness, continuity of operations planning, infrastructure protection, security, and law enforcement. Remote resources include 24/7 tech support, library access, and academic and personal counseling.

#12 University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $11,862
  • Median Salary: $98,635
  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Maryland Global Campus hosts a 36-credit Master of Science Information Technology degree with a Homeland Security Management concentration. Also offered is a 36-credit Master of Science in Management degree with a Homeland Security Management concentration. The master’s in IT degree teaches students how to protect critical infrastructure and plan for operational recovery. Courses are geared for those seeking to hone their skills in IT systems and project management. In contrast, the master’s in management degree is designed for mid-career professionals looking to deepen their knowledge of business administration and emergency management. Developed in consultation with industry experts, the curriculum teaches applied theory and practical skills. Students learn to conduct risk assessments, develop emergency preparedness plans, and coordinate disaster recovery. Requirements for admission are an application (with fee) and a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Up to six transfer credits may be accepted. All classes are accessible online 24/7. Optional noncredit courses in research methods, finance, and graduate writing are offered to support students’ success.

#13 Johns Hopkins University

  • Annual Tuition: $55,530
  • Median Salary: $115,703
  • Locations: Baltimore (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

John Hopkins University offers a rigorous online Master of Arts in Government – Security Studies degree for students interested in managing and protecting national security. The curriculum is geared toward working professionals desiring advanced skills in political leadership, problem-solving, and policymaking. Courses are offered in an online format and in Washington, D.C. The program involves 12 courses taken over the course of 16-24 months. Core courses and electives focus on democracy, government, global trade, criminal investigation, and constitutional law. Lecture, class discussion, and original research papers help develop students’ critical thinking and support skill-building. Students must write and defend a master’s thesis. Faculty hold high-level advisory positions in government and industry. Admission to the program is selective and based on review of several factors, such as undergraduate GPA, work history, letters of recommendation, resume, statement of purpose, and responses to writing prompts. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis for summer, fall, and winter start dates.

#14 Clemson University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,840
  • Median Salary: $98,877
  • Locations: Clemson (SC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Clemson University offers a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Homeland Defense and Security. The program is geared toward professionals currently working in government or nonprofit agencies. Students pursuing an MPA degree must earn 39 to 42 credit hours, including 21 credits of core courses in public policy and administration. Electives in the area of homeland security prepare students to identify threats and vulnerabilities in systems and infrastructure. An advanced seminar teaches students to consider the historical context, civil liberties, and the intersection of government policies when analyzing national security challenges. Students must pass a comprehensive examination or complete a capstone research project to graduate. This online degree is taught using a live, online platform. Courses are recorded for those who miss a session. Via webcam, professors and students present information, participate in discussions, and engage in small group activities. Professors also offer online office hours. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree and submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume. International applicants should also submit TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS scores . The program supports student success by providing online access to free software and the Clemson University library.

#15 Salve Regina University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,890
  • Median Salary: $97,200
  • Locations: Newport (RI)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Salve Regina University offers a fully online Master of Science in Justice and Homeland Security. Students may customize their degree by adding a concentration in Cybersecurity and Intelligence, Digital Forensics, or Leadership in Justice. The program focuses on the multifaceted legal, historical, ethical, psychological, technological, and policy aspects of homeland security theory and practice. The program sets itself apart by emphasizing social justice concerns, such as racial and psychological profiling. Students learn analytical skills and methods for tackling modern-day security threats in a global context. Courses can be taken completely online, through a hybrid of classroom and online settings, or in an evening classroom format at the Salve Regina Newport and Warwick campuses. Students can earn an online master’s in homeland security by completing 12 courses for a total of 36 credits. Core courses cover constitutional law, justice theory and management, public policy, National Incident Management System (NIMS), terrorism, cross-cultural competency, and research methods. In consultation with an online advisor, students round out their plan of study by selecting electives or a concentration that aligns with their interests and career objectives. Admission requirements are an application, transcripts, a personal statement, a resume, and two letters of recommendation.

#16 West Virginia University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,995
  • Median Salary: $95,384
  • Locations: Morgantown (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

West Virginia University offers a 30-credit Master of Legal Studies degree with an emphasis in homeland security. The curriculum is divided into 21 credit hours of core classes and 9 credit hours of electives. The program emphasizes the legal dimensions of homeland security—students research the U.S. legal system, regulatory law, dispute resolution, and legal processes. The program culminates in a capstone project that demonstrates the student’s ability to apply scholarly research to real-world problems within a legal framework. This flexible, asynchronous program is designed for busy professionals working in related fields, such as criminal justice, social work, and government regulation. Full-time students may complete the program in 18 months. Part-time options are also available. Admission requirements include a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, a bachelor’s degree, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. International students must also provide English proficiency test scores. Students may submit or request a waiver for GRE, GMAT, or LSAT scores. Online students are supported by enrollment coaches, academic advisors, and the Blackboard learning system.

#17 Central Michigan University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,466
  • Median Salary: $96,642
  • Locations: Mount Pleasant (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Central Michigan University offers a 36-credit Master of Science in Administration degree with a concentration in Homeland Security. The program focuses on responses to natural and human-made threats and disasters. Through it, students learn how to use emergency management tools when engaging in disaster prevention, preparedness, and recovery. The curriculum includes core courses in administrative management, crisis response, and strategic planning. The concentration area focuses on homeland and global security. The program culminates in an applied research project or a directed administrative portfolio of writing assignments. Courses are offered online using the interactive Blackboard platform and are usually in an asynchronous format. Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) with a minimum GPA of 2.7. A GPA of 3.0 or higher in the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate degree completion is preferred. Students must also fulfill prerequisite course requirements in financial accounting and statistics before or during enrollment in the program. Graduates may find jobs in the public and private sectors, working with security, data analysis, operations management, or human resources. Online support includes assistance from an online student ally, free cloud storage with OneDrive, and free access to the Microsoft Office Suite.

#18 Wilmington University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,296
  • Median Salary: $94,668
  • Locations: New Castle (DE)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Ten different types of online master’s degrees in homeland security are available through Wilmington University. Options include a Master of Business Administration in Homeland Security, a Master of Science in Administration of Justice, a Master of Science in Cybersecurity – Cyber Terrorism, a Master of Science in Management – Homeland Security, and a Master of Science in Homeland Security with optional concentrations that lead to a specialized homeland security degree. Wilmington’s online homeland security degrees allow students to enroll in a program tailored to their career goals. Asynchronous, flexible classes are designed for the convenience of students working in law enforcement, military service, and other professional capacities. Classes are taught by experienced professors who are active in their professional fields and homeland security organizations. Online, hybrid, and on-campus opportunities are available for students interested in field practicum experience, research projects, and hands-on learning. Programs can be completed in two years—or less, if a student opts for an accelerated track. The 33-credit Master of Science in Homeland Security entails 11 three-credit classes that can be finished in one year. Wilmington has open, rolling admissions that do not require a minimum GPA or test scores for most programs. Online services include access to an online help desk and live web conferencing through Zoom.

#19 Thomas Edison State University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,024
  • Median Salary: $94,700
  • Locations: Trenton (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Thomas Edison University offers an entirely online 36-credit Master of Science in Management degree with a concentration in Homeland Security. The program is designed for experienced managers who want to take their career to the next level or expand their scope of responsibilities. Students must meet the 24-credit-hour course requirement of the MSM degree, including the completion of 12 credit hours of homeland security coursework. Management classes cover leadership skills, accounting, finance, marketing, and human resources. Courses in the homeland security concentration focus on counter-terrorism, balancing safety and civil liberties, law enforcement strategies, emergency management, and continuity of operations in business environments. The curriculum was designed in consultation with law enforcement officers and emergency management experts. The MSM degree culminates in a three-credit capstone research project that demonstrates mastery of organizational leadership and strategic change. Prospective students who do not hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field are encouraged to consult with an online advisor to discuss additional preparation that may be needed.

#20 University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Annual Tuition: $9,240
  • Median Salary: $92,800
  • Locations: Fairbanks (AK) (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers a completely online 30-credit-hour Master of Security and Disaster Management degree. Concentrations are available in Arctic Security, Business Continuity, Cybersecurity, Disaster Management, and Strategic Leadership. The program attracts both new and experienced homeland security managers. The curriculum focuses on developing the critical thinking and analytical skills that professionals need in order to implement security strategies and plans for continuity of business operations. Students take courses on legal issues, disaster management, security operations, and system vulnerabilities. Classes are self-paced and asynchronous. Most students enroll in nine credits per semester and earn their degree in two to three years. Applicants are not required to submit GRE or GMAT scores if their overall GPA is 2.75 or higher. Those with a graduate degree from another university may be considered for admission without entrance exam scores. Graduates may pursue jobs in arctic operations, fire departments, government, military, the Red Cross, emergency management services, and homeland security agencies. Interdisciplinary faculty have real-world experience in public safety.

#21 Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,229
  • Median Salary: $93,985
  • Locations: Richmond (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at Virginia Commonwealth University is a 36-credit interdisciplinary degree. This program prepares students for jobs in emergency preparedness and/or advanced study in public policy. The program’s curriculum emphasizes emergency preparedness and responses to natural disasters and terrorist attacks. In this course of study, students learn to apply theory to the practice of emergency management. Courses cover risk assessment, vulnerability analysis, intelligence operations, legal issues, strategic planning, disaster preparedness, and cybersecurity. Toward the end of their studies, students must take a three-credit capstone seminar course, which guides them in applying their skills to homeland security preparedness scenarios. Courses are taught using the Blackboard platform, which provides access to a course syllabus, recorded lectures, writing assignments, and weekly discussion groups. Participation in online discussions is required and factored into each student’s grades. Admission is based on factors such as a minimum 2.7 GPA in the last 60 semester hours of coursework; satisfactory GRE, GMAT, MAT, or LSAT scores; professional accomplishments; and other indicators of academic potential.

#22 Saint Louis University-Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $12,640
  • Median Salary: $92,004
  • Locations: St. Louis (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Saint Louis Missouri offers two 36-credit online master’s in homeland security degrees: the Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence and the accelerated bachelor to Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence. Designed for working professionals, courses are taught entirely online in eight-week modules. Students can begin their studies in the fall, spring, or summer terms. The program attracts students from diverse backgrounds seeking a new job or career advancement in the intelligence field. Students learn to apply classroom theories to real-world scenarios. Courses prepare students to evaluate information sources and to use that knowledge to develop a course of action. Graduates of the program can apply for jobs as data analysts or leaders in intelligence industries and government agencies, including the CIA, FBI, and NSA. Although not required, prospective students should have two or more years of prior experience related to homeland security and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their undergraduate coursework. The program offers students the opportunity to earn a graduate certificate while earning their master’s degree.

#23 Upper Iowa University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,990
  • Median Salary: $89,100
  • Locations: Fayette (IA)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Upper Iowa University offers a 36-credit Master of Public Administration - Emergency Management and Homeland Security degree. Students may enroll part-time or full-time, but all coursework must be completed within five years. This online degree requires the completion of 21 credits of MPA core coursework and a minimum of 15 credits of electives related to emergency management and homeland security. Core MPA courses focus on ethics, program evaluation, finance, regulatory policy, and research methods. Electives in the concentration area focus on terrorism, counterterrorism, all-hazard approaches to emergencies, comparative national security strategies, public policy, and infrastructure protection. Through these, students can gain the knowledge and skills to lead emergency management services in the private and public sectors. Asynchronous online classes are readily accessible on the multimedia Brightspace platform by D2L. Courses are offered in eight-week modules during the academic year; accelerated six-week modules are available during the summer. Admissions requirements are an undergraduate degree, a minimum GPA of 2.75 overall or 3.0 in the last 60 credits, and GMAT or GRE test results. TOEFL scores are required for international students. Online learners can avail themselves of online library resources, tutoring, technical assistance, and counseling.

#24 University of South Florida Online

  • Annual Tuition: $18,538
  • Median Salary: $89,765
  • Locations: Tampa (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of South Florida hosts an online 42-credit Master of Public Health in Global Disaster Management, Humanitarian Relief, and Homeland Security. The required 18 credit hours of courses in the MPH program cover public health systems and population assessments. Courses in the area of concentration focus on emergency response, disaster recovery, biodefense, public health emergencies, and safeguarding critical infrastructure. Through these course topics, students learn to use a public health framework to anticipate, mitigate, assess, and respond to tsunamis, earthquakes, pandemics, and terrorist acts. Along with taking online courses, students work with an advisor to design applied practice experiences that may include hands-on activities, such as community service, field practice, studying abroad, and professional networking. Students nearing the end of their plan of study must pass a public health comprehensive examination. Graduates of the program are trained to manage homeland security programs, respond to public health threats, oversee disaster recovery cycles, and supervise other humanitarian aid workers. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The application involves submitting GRE results, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume or CV.

#25 Excelsior College

  • Annual Tuition: $9,675
  • Median Salary: $85,713
  • Locations: Albany (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

An online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree with a concentration in Homeland Security and Emergency Management is available from Excelsior College. In this program, students must complete 30 credits in criminal justice studies, including selected classes in the concentration of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The curriculum examines how homeland security has changed since the September 11th al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center. Students study all-hazards planning to manage critical communications and social media, intelligence gathering, cybersecurity, border security, counterterrorism, and transportation safety. Excelsior College presents course content in learning modules of varying lengths. Each module contains instructions and goals. Within each module, students listen to lectures, review charts and graphs, submit writing assignments, take exams, and interact with their instructor and classmates. Courses are eight weeks long. Up to 15 transfer credits may be counted toward degree completion. Excelsior College does not require GRE scores for admission to the program. Earning an online master’s in homeland security can lead to career opportunities in criminal justice, emergency services, and national security administration.

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.

Still undecided? Check out similar online degrees at the master's level: cybersecurity, emergency management, or criminal justice.

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:

Introduction to Homeland Security

This foundational course is often one of the first courses that students must take. Introduction to Homeland Security introduces students to current topics within the field, allowing students the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to analyze and understand national security problems and strategies, as well as the historical context of the discipline within the United States.

Critical Infrastructure Protection

Critical infrastructure is one of the core components of homeland security. In Critical Infrastructure Protection, students learn about the infrastructure of the United States, how it functions, and how to assess, analyze, and give policy recommendations for specific infrastructure sectors.

Integrated Emergency Management

Integrated Emergency Management focuses on developing skills to minimize the impact of emergency events, like natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Students will become familiar with the tools and technologies to assess and predict risk as well as prepare for and recover from emergencies. They will also learn skills that allow them to better operate during high-stress emergency situations, including crisis decision-making, communications, resource allocation, and more.

Hazards Governance

Hazards Governance explores the relationship between hazards; administrative management; and local, state, and national policies. Students learn how policies can help mitigate the effects of hazards and promote resiliency in the short and long term. Faculty also focus on developing students' skills when it comes to assessing and advocating for risk-reduction policies.

International Human Rights

The study of international human rights is an important part of a degree in homeland security. Students who take a course in International Human Rights will learn how an individual’s rights are protected under international law and how to behave in accordance with international agreements surrounding human rights.

Information Security Management

Students who take courses in Information Security Management will cover topics including security technology, risk identification and assessment, security policy and planning, security auditing, and more. They may also explore concepts in operating system security, network security, legal and ethical issues, and more.

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.

Emergency Management

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.

Public Safety

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

Annual Median Salary: $76,730

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

Annual Median Salary: $102,600

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 Engineer

Annual Median Salary: $88,050

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

Annual Median Salary: $66,020

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:

Potential Advantages

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.

Potential Drawbacks

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.

Bottom Line

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.

Getting a homeland security master’s degree online is one way to jump-start your career in this field and delve deeper into subjects that interest you. Some students may even be able to pursue scholarships offered by employers in order to further their higher education goals.

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