Online Doctorate Degree in Homeland Security

In an era of increasing international threat and instability, the task of keeping the nation safe and secure is more important than ever. Created in 2001 as a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) combines 22 federal departments and agencies. As a result, the DHS workforce encompasses many different positions in a variety of sectors.

While most DHS job applicants are expected to hold at least a bachelor's degree in their field, many high-level DHS employees and workers in specialized roles hold doctoral degrees.

While most DHS job applicants are expected to hold at least a bachelor's degree in their field, many high-level DHS employees and workers in specialized roles hold doctoral degrees. Earning a doctorate often leads to greater employment opportunities and increased earnings. Advanced degrees also provide job security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 16% overall growth rate for jobs that require a Ph.D.

A career in homeland security provides opportunities for professional growth, but it is also an occasion to serve your country. By earning a homeland security doctorate online, you'll gain the specialized knowledge and applied skills needed to take on a variety of challenging positions.

While homeland security is a relatively new area of study, some colleges and universities have begun to offer advanced degrees in the field. Because on-campus programs remain somewhat rare, some students choose to earn a homeland security doctorate online, instead of relocating to enroll in a costly traditional program. However, individuals who earn a homeland security doctorate online must typically fulfill some type of on-campus residency requirement. In addition, most homeland security doctorate online programs are research-based, and require students to write and defend a dissertation. Other curricula culminate in a capstone project.

Tuition rates for online homeland security programs vary greatly from state to state, and even between schools in the same region. While the cost of attending a public institution is usually lower than that of private universities, many private schools offer generous financial aid packages and institutional scholarships. You may also qualify for a lower tuition rate if you earn an online degree in your state of residence.

Online Doctorate in Homeland Security Concentrations

Homeland security is a broad sector that encompasses multiple occupational fields, and many doctoral programs allow students to tailor their studies according to their professional goals. Students interested in criminal justice positions often enroll in courses on law enforcement, military operations, or national security. Others choose to focus on emergency response solutions or counterterrorism tactics. Because some homeland security professionals are also in charge of securing the nation's infrastructure, some engineers and architects develop a specialty by enrolling in a homeland security doctoral program.

Courses for a Doctorate Degree in Homeland Security

While course offerings vary from program to program, most homeland security online degree curricula include certain classes. These courses provide foundational knowledge and skills related to essential homeland security issues. Throughout your studies, you will likely encounter one or more of the following classes.

Example Courses

Funding and Program Administration Homeland security professionals -- especially those in leadership positions -- must frequently allocate funding for programs and services. This course presents the administrative skills needed to manage and fund the initiatives that keep critical infrastructures secure.
Homeland Security Preparedness, Prevention, and Deterrence Students learn to perform vulnerability assessments and evaluate and address threats accordingly. In addition, prospective counterterrorism experts and emergency management specialists gain the skills needed to allocate resources, share information, and interpret intelligence data.
International Legal and Ethical Issues in Homeland Security This course examines domestic and international laws and treaties as they relate to homeland security strategies, due process, and terrorism investigation. Lectures provide future law enforcement and legal professionals with a framework for existing policies.
Research Methods in Public Service Coursework addresses crucial topics such as study design and selection, ethical issues in research, and critical research evaluation. While nearly all doctoral curricula include a research methodology course, this class is especially relevant to students pursuing careers in academia.
Technology and Information Security Exploring key issues related to computer systems security and digital forensics, this course presents concepts in cryptography, vulnerability scanning, and advanced pattern matching.

How Much Does It Cost to Get an Online Doctorate Degree in Homeland Security?

The overall cost of earning a homeland security degree online ultimately depends on several variables, including school location, area of study, and any transfer credits you may hold. Only a handful of U.S. colleges offer specialized homeland security programs, such as emergency management, and tuition rates for these programs tend to be higher as a result.

Only a handful of U.S. colleges offer specialized homeland security programs, such as emergency management, and tuition rates for these programs tend to be higher as a result.

Online programs are typically more affordable than traditional degrees, and distance learners avoid many of the costs associated with studying on campus, including housing and transportation fees. However, some schools add a technology fee to the price of each online course. Location also matters. Many institutions offer state residents lower tuition rates than out-of-state students, although others charge distance learners a flat rate regardless of their location. Transferring credits from another school may also help reduce costs.

All of these factors make it difficult to estimate the average cost of earning a homeland security doctorate online. However, most students can expect to pay somewhere between $22,000 and $66,000 for a post-master's degree with a homeland security specialization. Later on, we will take a look at a variety of ways you can fund your online homeland security doctorate.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Doctorate in Homeland Security?

Most doctoral programs in homeland security consist of around 60 credit hours, and usually require four to five years of full-time study. A full-time doctoral course load, however, typically consists of only three classes, or nine credits. Highly focused and motivated learners may be able to earn a homeland security degree online within five years while remaining employed, although most programs give students seven years to complete their degree.

If you are enrolled on an individual basis, the length of time it takes to complete your program depends entirely on your course load per semester. However, some programs follow a cohort-based educational model, in which a group of students begin courses at the same time and progress through the program as a class. Cohort-based programs offer more support and structure, but often take longer to complete than their self-paced counterparts.

DHS presents homeland security professionals with a broad spectrum of employment opportunities, including positions in emergency management, cybersecurity, and infrastructure protection. While job duties and hiring criteria vary from role to role, homeland security specialists with doctoral degrees often qualify for high-level and managerial positions. In addition, research-based doctoral programs prepare graduates for the rigors of full-time professorship or related research positions.

Doctoral degrees are also associated with higher salaries. According to the BLS, workers with postbaccalaureate degrees earn more than those with a bachelor's-level education. In addition, doctoral degree-holders enjoy an unemployment rate of 1.5% -- the lowest out of all surveyed groups. While entry-level DHS employees bring in about $49,000 annually, workers with advanced degrees, specialized training, and expertise in specific fields can earn as much as $115,000 a year. Some high-ranking executives enjoy annual salaries as high as $170,000.

Online Doctorate in Homeland Security Careers

Analytical Chemist

Analytical chemists develop new ways to detect harmful substances and identify chemical weapons and explosives. He or she may also devise and implement methods to minimize the effects of chemical weapons. Many hold advanced degrees.

Emergency Management Specialist

Trained to handle critical situations such as natural disasters, chemical spills, and other crises, emergency management specialists are some of the first to respond during national emergencies or terrorist attacks. A challenging role that requires strong leadership skills and specialized training, emergency management specialists are in high demand.

Immigration Lawyers

DHS immigration lawyers work for the Office of the Inspector General. They ensure that DHS policies are lawfully observed and implemented in the most expedient manner possible. They also confirm that DHS regulatory actions do not violate due process during detention and deportation procedures. A doctoral-level education ensures that immigration lawyers thoroughly understand the legal framework in their field of practice.

Information Security Analyst

An information security analyst safeguards governmental digital infrastructures by protecting networks from threats, such as viruses and security breaches. Professionals in this rapidly evolving field often pursue a doctoral degree to master the numerous emerging technologies and strategies in the information security sector.
Occupations and Salary for Online Doctorate Degree in Homeland Security Graduates
Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (>20 years)
Analytical Chemist $55,085 $49,884 $60,000 $74,737
Emergency Management Specialist $57,810 $49,680 $63,074 $77,713
Immigration Lawyer $64,841 $61,035 $82,405 $91,741
Information Security Analyst $70,846 $64,000 $80,629 $94,150
Source: BLS, May 2017

A school's accreditation matters. During the accreditation process, external organizations assess an institution to ensure that the school operates according to the highest academic and ethical standards. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize several regional, faith-based, career-related, and programmatic accrediting bodies.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize several regional, faith-based, career-related, and programmatic accrediting bodies.

Only schools and programs accredited by ED-recognized organizations may participate in federally funded programs, including federal financial aid. National accrediting bodies typically assess trade and vocational schools. While these schools and programs often accept transfer credits from regionally accredited schools, the opposite is rarely true. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited institutions.

At present, there is no specific accrediting organization for homeland security programs. However, DHS recognizes several schools as Centers of Excellence. These colleges and universities offer multidisciplinary programs that use cutting-edge science and technology to drive advancements in homeland security.

Homeland security is a high-demand field, and students pursuing a homeland security degree online enjoy many funding opportunities. The U.S. government provides more than $120 billion in student aid every year, in the form of scholarships, loans, fellowships, grants, and work-study programs. Filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, can help you determine what kind of federal aid you may receive, and how much. Some state governments also offer financial assistance, including scholarships and work-study opportunities.

Colleges and universities frequently offer both need- and merit-based institutional scholarships, and some sponsor awards for students majoring in certain disciplines or conducting research in a particular field. In addition, many private organizations and professional associations sponsor scholarship opportunities for students who pursue certain career paths. Some companies also maintain tuition reimbursement programs, which cover all or part of tuition costs for work-related degrees and certificates.

Homeland Security Scholarships

The DHS unites more than 240,000 professionals under the common goal of keeping America safe, and continues to seek qualified candidates for a variety of positions. Many organizations offer scholarships and other types of financial assistance as incentives to encourage the study of homeland security. Some of these opportunities are detailed below.

Online Doctorate in Homeland Security Scholarships

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Graduate Scholarship Program $18,000

Who Can Apply: Scholarship applicants must be full-time students who demonstrate financial need, and should be enrolled in at least 9 units per semester. Recipients must agree to work full-time with the CIA during the summer, and commit to an additional employment period after graduation. View Scholarship

CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) Full tuition, fees, and stipend

Who Can Apply: Graduate students pursuing careers in fields such as computer systems security, digital technology, or cryptology may apply. After completing their studies, scholarship recipients must work for a federal, state, or tribal government in a cybersecurity position for the length of time stipulated in the scholarship. Recipients receive a $34,000 stipend. View Scholarship

Life's Choices Foundation Graduate Scholarship Awards $3,500

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be graduate students pursuing a degree in national security or intelligence, although special consideration is given to doctoral candidates employed with the U.S. Intelligence Community. Award money is donated by the Morris Family Charitable Corporation and administered by the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. View Scholarship

National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program $12,000 plus stipend

Who Can Apply: Awards are intending for candidates performing research in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. While NSF considers applications from all qualified individuals, women, people with disabilities, and minority students are encouraged to apply. Recipients receive a $34,000 yearly stipend for three years. View Scholarship

Women in Defense HORIZONS Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be women who are employed or seeking employment in defense or the national security field. Female national security professionals and those pursuing higher education in science, technology, education, or mathematics are encouraged to apply. View Scholarship
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