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Best Online Homeland Security Degree Programs

Learn about the different types of undergraduate and graduate homeland security degree programs, including common coursework and degree requirements. Also explore ways to afford your homeland security degree and what kind of careers you can pursue.

Best Online Degree Programs in Homeland Security

There is a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs in the field of homeland security, including certificate, bachelor's, and master's programs. The top programs, which you can explore below, are affordable, flexible, and help students prepare for a homeland security-related career.

1. Endicott College

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Beverly, MA $9,689 100%

Endicott College's online Master of Science (MS) in Homeland Security Studies degree program requires 36 credits and can be completed in only 18 months. This program features a cohort model of just 20 students, who all proceed through the program together. Students also benefit from learning under faculty members who have worked for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI. The MS in Homeland Security Studies curriculum covers such subjects as emergency management, terrorism, and US intelligence. Students also take cybersecurity classes that prepare them for the CompTIA Security+ credential exam, and the exam fee is taken care of by the program.

2. University of New Haven

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
West Haven, CT $39,270 100%

The University of New Haven offers an online 121-credit Bachelor of Science (BS) in Homeland Security and Emergency Management degree program that allows students to concentrate in emergency management studies or homeland security studies. This program features short, flexible 6- to 8-week classes that are completed asynchronously with no scheduled class times. The University of New Haven also has an online 36-credit Master of Science (MS) in Emergency Management degree program that's structured with 6-7.5-week-long courses. Students take 1 course at a time but can still complete their degree in only 2 years. The online MS in Emergency Management program requires no GMAT or GRE scores and offers sworn firefighters and police officers a 50% discount on their tuition.

3. DeSales University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Center Valley, PA $37.400 100%

At DeSales University, students can earn the following homeland security-focused degrees:

  • A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Homeland Security
  • A Master of Criminal Justice (MACJ) in Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Investigations
  • A Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Investigations

The BA in Homeland Security is an accelerated degree program designed for adult learners, and students can take advantage of the Center for Homeland Security (CHS), which offers opportunities for internships, networking, and working on research projects. The certificate program requires only 4 courses for 12 credits and covers such topics as terrorism and hostage negotiations. The 30-credit flexible MACJ degree program can be attended full- or part-time and features courses in criminal justice, law, and intelligence analysis. The certificate and MACJ offer a 20% tuition discount to students who are currently employed as criminal justice professionals.

4. Monmouth University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
West Long Branch, NJ $38,138 99%

Monmouth University's online 30-credit Master of Arts in Criminal Justice degree program offers a concentration in homeland security. Students in this program must complete 15 credits on-campus for the criminal justice portion of their degree and then can complete the additional 15 credits for their homeland security concentration in an online format. Classes cover topics related to strategic planning, combating terrorism, and analyzing intelligence. Monmouth University boasts an important partnership with the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS), and as such, their curriculum fully aligns with CHDS standards and students are also able to access the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) to aid them in their studies.

5. George Washington University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Washington, DC $54,104 53%

George Washington University offers 2 online degree programs that have a focus on homeland security, including a Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) in Police and Security Studies degree completion program and a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Homeland Security program. The BPS program is designed especially for law enforcement professionals who are currently working and have previously completed college coursework or an associate degree. The 36-credit MPS also accommodates working first responders or military members and can be completed in only 16 months. Both online programs are National Fraternal Order of Police University (NFOPU) consortium members and participate in the Yellow Ribbon program that offers educational benefits to veterans.

Rank School Name Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus Teaneck, NJ $40,732 99%
7 Mercer University Macon, GA $36,894 100%
8 University of New Hampshire Manchester, NH $15,265 95%
9 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI $14,460 66%
10 Nichols CollegeDudley, MA $35,000 100%
11 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA $14,493 81%
12 Regis UniversityDenver, CO $36,810 99%
13 Citadel Military College of South Carolina Charleston, SC $12,516 88%
14 Utica College Utica, NY $21,382 97%
15 Towson University Towson, MD $9,940 81%
16 Campbell University Buies Creek, NC $32,500 100%
17 Notre Dame College Cleveland, OH $30,160 100%
18 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX $11,870 76%
19 Long Island University Brookville, NY $37,763 96%
20 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL $30,900 100%
21 Aurora University Aurora, IL $24,260 100%
22 Herzing University Madison, WI $14,000 97%
23 Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, NH $31,136 75%
24 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD $53,740 70%
25 Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA $54,820 80%
26 Point Park University Pittsburgh, PA $31,450 100%
27 Eastern Kentucky UniversityRichmond, KY $9,666 99%
28 Becker College Worcester, MA $39,200 100%
29 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA $15,180 91%
30University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI $14,138 95%
31 Anderson University Anderson, SC $28,000 100%
32 Hawaii Pacific University Honolulu, HI $25,980 98%
33 Washington State University Pullman, WA $11,584 90%
34 Marian University Fond Du Lac, WI $27,400 100%
35 Neumann University Aston, PA $31,400 100%
36 The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX $8,198 88%
37 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ $11,564 94%
38 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO $7,376 91%
39 University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Colorado Springs, CO $8,523 84%
40Webster University Saint Louis, MO $27,900 98%
41 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY $19,042 97%
42 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX $8,296 89%
43 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL $23,020 100%
44 Concordia University-Portland Portland, OR $31,158 100%
45 Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN $9,465 88%
46 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA $7,922 97%
47 Southwestern College Winfield, KS $30,150 100%
48 Sul Ross State University Alpine, TX $6,816 93%
49 Medaille College Buffalo, NY $29,500 99%
50 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH $25,000 98%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Programs in Homeland Security

Online degree programs in the field of homeland security are available at the undergraduate and graduate level and most prepare students for a range of law enforcement and security-focused careers. These programs can usually be completed in a 100% online format with no in-person requirements. However, a limited number of programs may require an internship or other in-person elements. Below, you can explore your options for earning a homeland security degree.

Certificate Programs

Online homeland security certificate programs are designed to be completed in a short amount of time and require anywhere from 12 to 21 credits. These programs focus solely on homeland security topics and have no general education requirements. There are two types of certificate programs: graduate programs, which require a bachelor's for admissions, and undergraduate programs, which require a high school diploma.

Associate Programs

Online homeland security programs at the associate level can lead to an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science degree. These programs require around 60 credits that include some general education courses along with core courses in homeland security topics.

Bachelor's Programs

Bachelor's programs in homeland security can lead to a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Professional Studies, or a Bachelor of Arts degree with some programs also focusing on emergency management. There are also online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree programs that offer concentrations in homeland security. Generally, these programs require about 120 credits, and students must complete general education coursework and core and elective homeland security coursework within the major.

Master's Programs

There are several types of online homeland security master's degrees, including the following:

  • Master of Science in Homeland Security
  • Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security
  • Master of Science in Emergency Management
  • Master of Criminal Justice in Homeland Security
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a Homeland Security concentration

Further, some programs allow students to concentrate in one area of the field, such as cybersecurity or organizational leadership. Typically, master's programs of this type require about 30 to 36 total credits. Students take no general education coursework; instead, they focus their studies on a range of homeland security topics. Usually, students must also complete a final capstone course.

Doctoral Programs

Although somewhat rare, there are some online doctoral-level homeland security degree programs. Examples of this type of program include:

  • Doctor of Management in Homeland Security
  • Ph.D. in Criminal Justice with a Homeland Security concentration
  • Doctor of Professional Studies in Homeland Security

These online doctoral programs are for those who already have a master's degree. Students must earn anywhere from 60 to 100 credits, complete comprehensive examinations, and produce a dissertation. Some programs have in-person requirements, such as an internship, week-long campus visits, or a residential symposium.

Length of Online Homeland Security Degree Programs

The length of time it takes to earn an online homeland security degree depends on several factors, including the type of degree, your enrollment status, and if the program features an accelerated format. Generally, certificate programs can be completed in 1 year or less, and associate programs can be completed in 2 years.

If attending full-time, you can complete a homeland security bachelor's degree in 4 years. However, degree completion programs, where students transfer from an associate's program, can be completed in about 2 years. Online master's degrees in homeland security can typically be completed in 2 years as well. Although, some programs have an accelerated format or shorter 8-week long classes, which means students can earn their degree in about 16 months or so. Doctorate degrees can be earned in about 3 years of study.

Common Courses in Online Homeland Security Programs

Online homeland security degree programs center on the study of terrorism, cybercrime, emergency management, intelligence analysis, and criminal law. Most types of programs also have a focus on developing a student's leadership and management skills. While the exact coursework of these programs depends on the type of degree you are earning and its focus, there are some common topics that most programs cover.

  • Homeland Security Intelligence - A course that examines different aspects of the US and global intelligence communities, including their structures, policies, and strategies for gathering information. Some courses also focus on the methods for collecting and analyzing intelligence.
  • Homeland Security and Terrorism - Most homeland security programs include a course or several courses on the study of terrorism. Some classes focus on the history and emergence of terrorism with an emphasis on counterterrorism practices, while other classes focus more on the ideological motivations of terrorism and terrorist tactics.
  • Emergency Management - These classes center on the functions, philosophies, and principles of emergency management. Students study the history of emergency management as well as how emergency management organizations work on a federal, state, and local level.
  • Response Scene Operations - Many programs include a course that teaches students the methods, protocols, and principles for responding to crises. These courses can focus on disaster scene, terrorism, or public emergency response.
  • Civil Rights, Liberties, and Security - Courses like these explore the often-complicated relationship between homeland security practices/activities and civil rights, such as freedom of speech and equal treatment under the law.

How to Choose an Online Homeland Security Degree Program

Choosing the right online homeland security program is a challenging task, but it can be made easier by considering some key points, such as what your career goals are, what a school's transfer and prior work experience policy is, and whether your prospective schools have received accreditation.

Career Goals

The type of career you want to pursue is an important factor to consider, as it can guide what type of homeland security program you want to attend. For example, some law enforcement careers, such as police patrol officer positions, don't require a bachelor's degree. That means attending an associate program may be sufficient for that career goal. However, detective careers and law enforcement careers in federal agencies usually require a bachelor's degree.

Similarly, if you want to pursue a position in management or leadership, a graduate degree or certificate may help you achieve that, which means you must first earn a bachelor's degree.

Transfer Credits/Prior Work Experience

If you have previous college credits, an associate degree, or relevant work experience, then you'll want to choose a program that allows you to apply those things towards your degree. Some universities have no limit as to the number of credits you can transfer at the undergraduate level, while others may limit the maximum to around 75 to 85 credits or up to 75% of your new undergraduate degree.

Some universities will also let you exchange military training, fire or police academy training, professional certifications, or work experience for college credit. By applying your life and work training and experience, you can save both time and money when earning your degree.

Accreditation

You should also make sure that your university is regionally accredited by an agency approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This is important as most universities only accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited schools and federal financial aid can only go to students who are attending an accredited school. You will also know that you are receiving a high-quality education.

Although not strictly an accreditation agency, the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) has the University Partnership Initiative, which makes available curricula and library resources to homeland security degree programs. Programs aligned with CHDS have a specific curriculum that is recommended by CHDS, and that means you are assured that you are learning the right skills and knowledge needed to pursue a homeland security career.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Homeland Security Programs

When looking for sources of financial aid that can help you afford your homeland security degree, you'll want to explore both federal aid and scholarship opportunities.

Federal Aid

To understand the types of federal aid you may qualify for, you need to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from the US Department of Education. The type and amount of aid you may receive depends on your enrollment status, the level of degree you are earning, and other factors. Below are the types of federal aid available:

  • Pell Grants - These are for all students with financial need, which don't need to be paid back.
  • Direct Subsidized Loans - These are for undergraduate students and need to be paid back.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans - These are for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students and need to be paid back.
  • Direct PLUS Loans - These are for graduate students and parents of dependent undergraduate students and need to be paid back.

You might also take advantage of the Federal Work-Study Program, which allows students to work a part-time job and earn a paycheck that can help with school expenses. And if you have previous student loans, Direct Consolidation Loans allow you to combine your loans with a single loan servicer to make them easier to pay and manage.

Scholarships

Scholarships can come from your university or private organizations. Below, you can explore scholarships that are especially geared towards students pursuing homeland security-related degrees.

Cyber Security Scholarship (STEM Major Scholarships)

This is a $5,000 scholarship offered by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) for a student pursuing a degree related to cybersecurity, intelligence, operations, or another STEM field.

Colonel Sully H. De Fontaine Scholarship

This is a $1,200 scholarship from the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) for an undergraduate student who wants a career in US intelligence.

IAEM Scholarship

This scholarship is from the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) for a student pursuing an emergency management-related degree.

Job Options with Homeland Security Degree

Graduates with a homeland security degree can pursue careers in law enforcement and emergency management. Read on to learn about job duties, salary information and job growth for these types of careers.

Law Enforcement

In the law enforcement field, there are several kinds of positions, including police and sheriff's patrol officers and detectives and criminal investigators, all of whom have unique job duties. Police and patrol officers are uniformed officers who conduct patrols, respond to emergency and non-emergency situations, and make arrests. Detectives and criminal investigators are non-uniformed officers who conduct investigations and interviews, examine evidence, and arrest subjects.

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors must plan for and respond to emergencies, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other incidents. They create action response plans for different agencies, conduct training exercises, and manage resources and equipment. During emergencies, they must coordinate communications, get resources to the right places, and make decisions about evacuations or rescues. Emergency management directors might also have administrative duties, such as managing funding.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers $61,380 5%
Detectives and Criminal Investigators $81,920 3%
Emergency Management Directors $74,420 5%

Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Professional Homeland Security Organizations

Current or former homeland security degree students can benefit from joining a professional organization in the field. These organizations provide networking opportunities, educational materials, and career resources.

The International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP)

IACSP is a counterterrorism organization that is dedicated to advocating for ethical conduct in the field and offering educational resources to professionals. As a paid IACSP member, you can get access to exclusive newsletters and website features, discounts on educational seminars and programs, and a subscription to Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International.

International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)

IAEM boasts over 6,000 members and is proud to represent those working in the emergency management field. By becoming a member of IAEM, you can save on the Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and Associate Emergency Manager (AEM) credential fees, access networking and training opportunities, join IAEM committees, and apply for scholarship opportunities.