Since September 11th, the homeland security field in the U.S. has expanded substantially. Career opportunities are varied, and there is work to be found in areas like emergency management, information security, infrastructure protection, intelligence analysis, law enforcement and physical security. Though most jobs that fall under the umbrella of homeland security involve serving and protecting the public, the field emphasizes the importance of investigating acts of domestic and international terrorism, as well as cybercrime.
Homeland security is a great academic path for those already working in relevant fields like law enforcement and security. By enrolling in an online master’s in homeland security in particular, professionals can continue to hold a relevant position and gain further experience while strengthening their skills, knowledge and chances of upward mobility. Many jobs in security are high stress with long hours; online degrees provide the most flexible and least taxing option. Though a bachelor’s isn’t required for all positions in the field, obtaining a master’s will ensure easier advancement and prove dedication and expertise to employers.
Of course, choosing the right online program is key. We’ve compiled our list of the best online master’s in homeland security programs below.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||Nova Southeastern University||Fort Lauderdale||$$$$$||3301 College Ave|
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
The master’s of science in national security affairs at Nova Southeastern University has students complete core curriculum concentration courses. Students are required to earn at least 33 credits to graduate: 15 are in core requirements, six are electives, and 12 are concentration-based. Concentrations include cyber terrorism and security, criminal justice, homeland security, and international relations and global affairs. The homeland security and international relations tracks include an optional practicum.
Students can submit applications for this online master’s in homeland security to begin in fall, winter, or summer terms. To complete the program, students must pass an on-campus examination in addition to their credit hours. The exam, which tests knowledge of material and critical analysis and application, is offered over a 24-hour period three times a year, in January, May, and August.
|2||LIU Riverhead||Riverhead||$$$$$||121 Speonk-Riverhead Rd|
Riverhead, NY 11901-3499
LIU Riverhead founded the Homeland Security and Terrorism Institute (HSTI) in 2004, and it has been endorsed by the FBI National Academy Associates and designated by Congress as one of seven U.S. Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence. The master’s of science in homeland security management is a 36-credit program that allows graduates to simultaneously earn an advanced certificate in either homeland security management or cyber security policy.
The online program is offered asynchronously through Blackboard, and there are no on-campus requirements. Classes average around 12 students to promote interaction and communication between students and the faculty of seasoned professionals. As a Center of Excellence, the HSTI works closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop new courses. Students in this online master’s in homeland security have unrestricted access to the Homeland Security Digital Library through an academic partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
|3||Wilmington University||New Castle||$$$$$||320 Dupont Hwy|
New Castle, DE 19720
The master of science in homeland security at Wilmington University is offered through the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. There are no on-campus requirements for the program; all course activities are completed through the Blackboard platform. Tuition in this online master’s in homeland security is the same for online and on-campus students. Many faculty members are professionals recruited from the field.
Students are required to choose a concentration in safety and security, organizational leadership, or information assurance. Students who have completed the Delaware Leadership Academy can also pursue a military leadership concentration. The program is 33 credits and must be completed with a 3.0 GPA; a three-credit capstone is required. The capstone can be completed through a field practicum, small project, or research study, in addition to the submission of a portfolio or final paper.
|4||Monmouth University||West Long Branch||$$$$$||400 Cedar Ave|
West Long Branch, NJ 07764-1898
Monmouth University’s master of arts in criminal justice, homeland security track prepares students for working with governmental agencies and in the private sector. Career opportunities include emergency management, cyber security, and law enforcement. The curriculum balances criminal justice and homeland security and is offered entirely online through e-Campus. Courses include civil rights and liberties and terrorism: causes and consequences: the unconventional threat.
Monmouth University is a partner with the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School, and the curriculum in this online master’s in homeland security is based on their program. The 30-credit program concludes with a pass/fail comprehensive examination. Faculty in the program include academic researchers and practitioners in the field who, due to Monmouth’s proximity to New York and New Jersey ports, refineries, and American landmarks, bring an insider’s perspective to understanding potential homeland security threats.
|5||National University||La Jolla||$$$$$||11255 North Torrey Pines Road|
La Jolla, CA 92037-1011
The master of science in homeland security and emergency management at National University combines the fields of homeland security, terrorism, and emergency management. The program applies these topics to man-made and natural disasters, including terrorist attacks, hurricanes, wildfires, tsunamis, and tornados. Operating on the quarter system, students in this online master’s in homeland security must complete 12 courses (54 quarter units).
The curriculum, which includes two capstone classes, has courses in infrastructure protection, domestic terrorism, and immigration issues in security. The program is one of seventy at National that is offered entirely online. The university has an online learning environment that is available to students at all times and offers multiple tools to support various learning styles. The homeland security program director, Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, has been with the university for over fifteen years, following his career in the United States Navy.
|6||Northwestern State University of Louisiana||Natchitoches||$$$$$||University Parkway|
Natchitoches, LA 71497-0002
Northwestern State University offers a master of science in homeland security, one of their 39 online degree programs. The program includes two options, a 42-credit non-thesis option that requires a comprehensive final exam, or a 36-credit thesis option. The non-thesis option includes three hours of electives while the thesis option includes six hours of electives. Online-only students do not pay any out-of-state fees, and there is an additional fee reduction for full-time law enforcement and public safety officers.
Applicants to this homeland security master's degree are expected to have an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, public administration, or a closely related field. Applicants from other backgrounds are accepted with the provision that they take a class in their first semester that familiarizes them with the connection between homeland security and the public safety sector. In addition to the online application, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation, GRE scores are required from all applicants.
|7||Pace University - New York||New York||$$$$$||1 Pace Plaza|
New York, NY 10038-1598
Pace University, founded in 1906, has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, including online programs. The master of arts in management for public safety and homeland security professionals is offered primarily online, with a required one-day, eight-hour weekend residency each trimester, for a total of three residencies per year. The residency is held on Saturdays at the Pleasantville campus or through web conferencing that uses Blackboard. The chair of the program is Professor Joseph F. Ryan, Ph.D., a 25-year veteran of the New York City Police Department.
The program is 33-36 credits and can be completed in two years. All students must complete a master’s project with a focus on developing innovative strategies that can make their communities and nation safe and secure. This online master’s in homeland security participates in the Center for Homeland Defense and Security University Agency and Partnership Initiative, located within the Naval Postgraduate School.
|8||Excelsior College||Albany||$$$$$||7 Columbia Cir|
Albany, NY 12203-5159
Excelsior College’s master of science in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security and emergency management is offered entirely online, with no campus requirements. Courses are offered in eight-week trimesters, and students can finish their degree in less than two years. The curriculum consists of 10 courses, which includes six core courses in criminal justice, three concentration courses, and one capstone course, totaling 30 credits. For applicants who already have graduate credits in criminal justice, students can apply up to 15 transfer credits toward the degree.
The college offers many resources for online students, including online writing and tutoring services, 24-hour technology assistance, and access to academic advisors and the college library. The college states that they charge lower tuition than other online colleges and universities, and active-duty military, veterans, and their families receive discounted tuition and fees. This homeland security master’s degree is designed for working adults, particularly criminal justice professionals and adults with a military background.
|9||Pennsylvania State University - World Campus||University Park||$$$$$||128 Outreach Building|
University Park, PA 16802
The master of professional studies in homeland security is offered by Pennsylvania State University-World Campus. Penn State has a history of distance education that dates back to 1892, when they offered their first correspondence courses, and they were one of the first universities to provide online education when it was initially offered in 1998.
The online master’s in homeland security is a 33-credit program with multiple track options: the general homeland security program, public health preparedness, geospatial intelligence, information security and forensics, or agricultural biosecurity and food defense. The general program focuses on policy and organization. All students in the homeland security program take the same nine core credits, but 12 credits are specific to the individual tracks. Graduates must also complete nine credits of electives and a capstone course.
|10||Angelo State University||San Angelo||$$$$$||2601 W. Avenue N|
San Angelo, TX 76909
Angelo State University’s master of science in homeland security includes courses in infrastructure protection, terrorism and counterterrorism, constitutional issues, drug and human trafficking, and cybersecurity, taught by faculty who are experts in these fields. Students complete 18 credits of core courses, and choose between more than 20 elective courses. Elective options include data mining, port security and maritime defense, and studies in weapons of mass destruction hazards and responses.
Classes in the online master’s in homeland security are completely online and offered in eight-week formats. For students with military service, ASU will maximize training and career experience. Applicants can begin the program in either the fall or spring and must submit an application that includes transcripts, a 750-word essay about an issue in homeland security, and a minimum of two letters of recommendation. All students are automatically considered for Carr Graduate Scholarships, which are based on undergraduate GPA.
Though advanced education isn’t always a requirement to land a position in homeland security, pursuing a graduate degree will put you ahead of other candidates and demonstrate your dedication to future employers. Work experience should be a priority for those just starting out; make sure to pursue internships or maintain a relevant job while in school.
Other keys to pursuing a master’s in homeland security online depend upon your specialization. If you’re interested in information security or investigating cybercrimes, hone your technical skills. Those looking to advance into highly paid criminal investigator roles should gain experience in law enforcement and take courses in criminal justice. Emergency managers often have training as emergency medical technicians and knowledge of public administration.
A number of the aforementioned careers in homeland security show great promise in terms of job growth and pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, emergency management directors, currently earning an average of $69,810 annually, will see an 8% growth in total jobs in the next decade. Information security analysts, earning an average of $91,600 annually, will see a 37% increase in total jobs in the next decade. Detectives and criminal investigators earn $80,540 on average and are expected to see a 5% growth in total jobs in the next decade.
After you’ve earned your degree, frequent the Department of Homeland Security’s job postings, one of the primary place you’ll find open positions in these fields. Consider joining professional organizations to stay abreast of the happenings in the field, like the National Homeland Security Association. Oftentimes, such organizations have conferences that offer opportunities for networking. Improving your skills, knowledge and experience will make you a solid candidate for jobs, but knowing people in the field always helps.