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For many people, the concept of homeland security brings to mind national security issues, but if you work in this field, you know the field encompasses much more than that.
For professionals working in homeland security, emergency management, public safety, law enforcement, disaster recovery or even management, earning a master’s in homeland security allows you to advance into advanced leadership positions.
In this article, we discuss what an online master’s degree in homeland security is, including common courses and career options for graduates. Keep reading to learn more about this degree and determine if it’s the next step for your career.
What Is an Online Master’s in Homeland Security?
An online master’s in homeland security can prepare you to take on management and leadership roles in the field. A homeland security degree program covers keeping our people, communities, businesses, information, and nation safe and secure.
An online master’s in homeland security is a perfect option if you work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a large employer in the field. But this degree is also helpful for professionals working in other government agencies or in the private sector.
Requirements for online master’s degrees in homeland security vary but typically include around 33 credits, which take about 12 to 18 months to complete.
Some programs offer specializations in topics such as counterterrorism, information security and forensics, public health preparedness, cyber threat analytics, military leadership, safety and security, and agricultural biosecurity.
Admission Requirements for a Homeland Security Master’s Degree
Admission requirements vary by program but commonly include:
- A bachelor’s degree in a related field from an accredited institution
- Relevant work experience
- Transcripts from previous coursework
- Minimum GPA
- Essay or statement of purpose
- Letters of recommendation
- English proficiency
- Technical requirements, such as a specific operating system, software, hardware and reliable Internet access
Common Courses in a Homeland Security Master’s Degree
Homeland security master’s degree curricula vary by program, but below we list a few examples of courses you may take while completing this graduate degree.
Research Methods in Criminal Justice
This course covers ethical issues, scientific methods, terminology, data interpretation and research methods about crime and the criminal justice system. Students learn about theory, hypotheses, and qualitative and quasi-experimental research. Understanding research methods in criminal justice is helpful in homeland security careers involving crimes and crime analysis.
In this course, students examine how crises affect law enforcement, industries and communities. They learn about decision-making and protocols for handling sensitive situations, such as workplace violence, hostage incidents, product tampering and crises’ aftermath.
Critical Issues in Terrorism
This course focuses on the political, economic, social and religious issues that may contribute to terrorism. Students learn about threat assessment, counterterrorism tactics and strategies, cyberterrorism, emergency plans and policies. They also learn how to deal with domestic and international security threats.
Homeland Security Policies, Principles, Procedures and Plans
Learners in this course explore the organizational, political, structural and administrative issues pertaining to the DHS. They study the organization’s history, policy legislation, national security issues and responses to terrorism.
Legal Aspects and Policy of Homeland Security
In this course, students review the complex legal and global components related to counterterrorism. They address the limitations, authorizations, and regulatory and constitutional issues surrounding the role of law enforcement in counterterrorism.
Risk, Vulnerability and Capability Assessment Methods
This course covers risk management and risk-based planning related to terrorism, natural disasters, technological hazards and other events. Students learn to assess risk and use assessments to make decisions about protecting our nation and communities.
What Can You Do With a Master’s in Homeland Security?
A master’s in homeland security prepares you for homeland security careers in various industries. Below are a few roles that fit well with this degree.
Emergency Management Director
Median Annual Salary: $79,180
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +3%
Job Description: Emergency management directors develop and oversee procedures for emergency response, such as natural disasters. They work closely with government agencies, elected officials, public safety officials and nonprofit organizations to meet the needs of people and communities in crisis.
Information Security Analyst
Median Annual Salary: $112,000
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +35%
Job Description: Information security analysts work directly with an organization’s computer systems and networks to prevent and manage security breaches. These professionals research technology trends, protect data through data encryption and firewalls, create security standards, document attempted attacks or breaches, and recommend information security improvements.
Computer and Information Systems Manager
Median Annual Salary: $164,070
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +16%
Job Description: Computer and information systems managers, also known as information technology (IT) managers, coordinate and manage an organization’s computer technology issues. They act as front-line protection against any security issues related to technology and equipment. These professionals create plans to address organizational goals, recommend solutions and technology upgrades, install computer software and hardware, and manage IT staff.
Median Annual Salary: $98,100
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +7%
Job Description: These executives develop strategies and policies that are essential to an organization’s goals. Operations managers direct daily operations, create staff schedules, delegate and oversee projects, and properly allocate assets including materials and staff. These duties are crucial when dealing with natural disasters, national security crises and other events.
Should You Earn a Master’s in Homeland Security Online?
Online learning has become a popular choice for graduate students, with more than half of them enrolled in online education programs during the 2020-21 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. If you’re thinking of earning your master’s in homeland security degree online, consider the following factors.
Online schools and programs should be held to the same quality standards as on-campus programs. Choosing an accredited college and degree program ensures that you get the high-quality education necessary to advance your career. To check on any institution’s or program’s accreditation status, reference Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s online directory.
Tuition for online programs may be the same as or lower than tuition for traditional programs, but online programs are often more budget-friendly. Because distance learners study from home, they can avoid transportation and room and board costs. In addition, many online programs extend in-state tuition rates to out-of-state distance learners.
Online learning is best for self-motivated students who can independently meet deadlines. Since distance learners can complete their coursework at home, they need excellent organizational and time management skills to stay on track.
As a graduate student, your time may already be divided between work and home responsibilities. Online programs are great options for working professionals who need flexibility in their learning programs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Online Homeland Security Master’s Degrees
Is a master’s in homeland security worth it?
Whether a master’s in homeland security is worth it depends on your career goals. If you work in homeland security or a related field and are interested in advancing to higher-level leadership positions, an online homeland security master’s degree may be worth it for you.
What can I do with a homeland security master’s degree?
A homeland security master’s degree can help qualify you for positions in local, state or federal agencies—such as the DHS—or for roles in corporations or nonprofit organizations. For example, you can work in an emergency management position that deals with natural disasters or terrorism, or you can work in an information security position in a corporation.