Online Master’s Degree in Homeland Security

Students earning a master’s degree in homeland security online can help prevent terrorism, counter cyber attacks, address man-made and natural disasters, and take a leadership role in emergency situations. Homeland security professionals play a major role in protecting the nation from international and domestic threats, and the growing field also offers stable and potentially lucrative careers. Graduates of master’s degree in homeland security online programs earn a mean salary of $45,576, and in roles such as emergency management director, the average income rises to $72,760.

Choosing a Master’s Degree in Homeland Security

Make sure to select a homeland security online degree that fits your career and personal interests. Programs offer a variety of concentrations aimed at specific careers; specializations available include biosecurity, emergency management, intelligence analysis, and counterterrorism efforts. Many programs require an internship or capstone project, which may consist of a research project or work experience in a homeland security or related agency.

A master’s degree typically takes two years to earn, although students may elect to apply for accelerated programs. Programs also differ in terms of cost and structure. Out-of-state students often pay significantly higher tuition for on-campus programs. When choosing to complete an out-of-state program, look at online homeland security degree programs, which often charge fixed rates for all students, and the tuition is usually similar to what in-state students pay. It’s also important to choose the educational format that works best for your learning style. Students hoping to meet classmates and work in groups benefit from on-campus options. Individuals needing asynchronous coursework and who may live out-of-state can choose online degrees. And for those that want a combination, some programs offer hybrid learning options.

Curriculum for a Master’s Degree in Homeland Security

Specific curricula and class options vary between schools. However, the best online homeland security degrees provide students with a selection of core and specialized coursework. The following section outlines some typical classes that learners often take in a master’s degree in homeland security online program.

Example Courses

Terrorism: Threats and StrategyThis course gives students a thorough understanding of domestic and international terrorism and its impact on the modern world. Learners examine the history of religious and political inspirations and potential effects of terrorist threats. This course prepares students hoping to enter the Department of Homeland Security for roles as intelligence analysts.
Peace Studies, Conflict Transformation, and Global SecurityStudents investigate worldwide problems in security, terrorism, ethnopolitical conflict, and human rights violations. The class teaches peaceful negotiation tactics and problem solving, and demonstrates how proactive security policies can result in increased stability and decreased conflict across the globe. Conflict specialists at the Department of Homeland Security use these skills in a professional capacity.
Homeland SecurityCovering the various jurisdiction levels and responsibilities of different agencies, this class helps students develop the analytical skills needed to understand and address complex policy issues. The course also examines relevant issues at local, state, and national levels. Emergency management directors need a solid comprehension of this information to manage their responsibilities.
Leadership, Diplomacy, and Ethics in Homeland SecurityThis course provides preparation for students seeking an administrative or managerial role in government organizations. The class takes an intensive look at decision making and the theoretical framework of leadership. Learners study human behavior, morality, ethics, and diplomacy. Students also investigate how these concepts apply to a global system.
Emergency Management LawThis class teaches learners about emergency management plans and their legal implications. Emergency management directors benefit immensely from this course, and can gain a solid understanding of declarations of emergency and their impact on individuals and society.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Master’s in Homeland Security?

Earning a master’s degree in homeland security online typically requires two years of study. However, students may apply for accelerated programs that take between 12 and 18 months to complete. Generally, programs require students to earn 30 to 36 credits. Check if your program accepts transfer credits, as this can reduce the time it takes to earn the degree. Your selected concentration track may also require additional coursework to achieve competency in your specialization.

Programs may provide individually-paced or cohort model options, and this structure affects when you can start and finish your degree. In individually paced programs, students take asynchronous classes at their own pace. This is an excellent option for working students and those with families. The less-flexible cohort model has a group of students begin the program at the same time. Cohorts complete their classes and exams on the same schedule.

What Can You Do With a Degree in Homeland Security?

You can work in various levels of government after earning your degree in homeland security. The FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Transportation Security Administration, and the Coast Guard all hire homeland security students. The Department of Homeland Security also hires graduates for entry-level and advanced positions, and especially seeks out graduates with cybersecurity specializations. Many professionals with a master’s degree obtain leadership or managerial roles, although this may require additional work experience before application. Graduates can also assist with disaster preparedness and emergency management by offering their services to nonprofit and private organizations.

Earning a master’s degree in homeland security online gives job seekers an edge over applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree. A higher education level also corresponds to higher earnings. A professional with a master’s degree in homeland security earns, on average, $11,000 more per year than one with a bachelor’s degree.

Online Master’s in Homeland Security Careers

Graduates of a homeland security master’s degree online program pursue various specialized career paths. Whether they aspire to work on local or global scales, students should select the program that targets their interest areas and career ambitions. A degree prepares graduates for opportunities in cyber security, law enforcement, intelligence, or counterterrorism efforts.

Security Manager

Security managers streamline security processes and oversee safety plans and employee training. Most employers look for a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in their applicants, but students with a master’s degree may be able to use their education in lieu of professional experience when starting out.

Emergency Management Specialist

Emergency management specialists develop preemptive emergency response plans and, in the case of an event, coordinate the course of action and disaster response. They may coordinate evacuations or set up temporary shelters. Employment requires a bachelor’s degree, but roles with more responsibility may necessitate corresponding work experience or a specialized graduate degree.

Compliance Analyst

Compliance analysts work in government positions as well as other fields. They ensure that all employees complete their mandated training and that they comply with regulations. Analysts additionally evaluate compliance-related data to confirm that policies are appropriately implemented. In some fields, a bachelor’s degree may provide sufficient training, but in positions requiring security training or advanced computer skills, a master’s degree and work experience improve employment chances.

CIA Analyst

Analysts collect and analyze information gathered by CIA field operatives. They use collected information to track organized crime, weapon systems, and war risk with the goal of keeping U.S. citizens safe. Analysts must earn at least a bachelor’s degree, although higher-level positions with increased pay and more responsibilities require a master’s or doctorate degree.

Air Marshal

An air marshal ensures passenger safety on commercial flights. They work undercover and intervene in the case of a perilous situation. Becoming an air marshal requires either a bachelor’s degree, three years of related experience, or a combination of education and experience, such as earning a specialized master’s degree.
Occupations and Salary for Online Master’s in Homeland Security Graduates
PositionMedian Annual Salary
Security Manager$64,408/td>
Emergency Management Specialist$57,699
Compliance Analyst $55,806
CIA Analyst$58,443
Air Marshal$68,784
Source: PayScale

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Homeland Security Degrees

When selecting a master’s degree in homeland security online, carefully check program accreditation. Accreditation is a form of quality assurance; to receive accreditation, schools must meet certain standards set by the Department of Education. Accrediting agencies hold brick-and-mortar and online institutions to the same level of proficiency. Students may see regional and national accreditations during their school search. Regional accreditation, the most popular, indicates high academic standards. Schools with regional accreditation tend to offer liberal arts educations.

National accreditation, awarded by agencies who work across the country rather than in specific regions, is generally earned by technical and vocational schools. Nationally accredited schools often cost less, but future credit transfers or professional licensing may prove problematic. No specific accreditation exists for homeland security programs. However, the Department of Homeland Security does partner with certain innovative academic programs. These Centers for Excellence conduct applicable research and work closely with homeland security to tackle real-world challenges.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Homeland Security

While online learning offers less expensive options than on-campus programs, financing a degree can still present an intimidating obstacle to prospective students. Most learners require additional funding or income of some sort to support their educational goals. One of the benefits of earning an online degree rests in a students’ ability to continue working part time or full time while taking classes. For those who require additional supplementary funds, many other resources exist. Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form when beginning your research; this application helps determine your eligibility for financial aid, which includes grants, loans, and work-study options through the federal government.

Students can also apply for private grants and scholarships related to their demographics, qualifications, and field of study. Due to the need for experts in homeland security and emergency management, many organizations offer funding for a homeland security specialization. The Department of Homeland Security offers several programs and funding options for students hoping to begin federal service. They additionally support paid internship experiences and summer research programs with associated scholarship stipends. The CIA also offers a scholarship program for students willing to work at an agency facility in Washington, D.C., for two to three months before graduation.

Homeland Security Scholarships

Scholarships award academic funding in the form of stipends or monetary awards to students who meet certain application criteria. Some websites offer a directory of criminal justice scholarships. The following list highlights several national scholarships available for homeland security students.

Online Master’s in Homeland Security Scholarships

Army Staff Sgt. Richard S. Eaton Jr. Scholarship $1,000

Recipient must be attending an accredited U.S. institution; pursuing an education in homeland security, counterintelligence, or another related field; and submit an essay, resume, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. View Scholarship

CIA Graduate Scholarship Program $18,000

Recipient must demonstrate financial need and be pursuing a graduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Recipients must be available to work at the CIA for at least one summer before graduation, and be willing to work at the CIA full-time after graduation. View Scholarship

CyberCorps Scholarship for Service $25,000

Recipient must be a master’s student pursuing a degree in homeland security with a cyber security or information assurance focus. Recipients must work at a local, state, federal, or tribal government agency in a cyber security field for a period equivalent to the length of the scholarship after graduation. View Scholarship

International Association for Intelligence Education Scholarship $1,500

Recipient must be a scholar in the field of national security or intelligence and must prepare an essay on the intelligence career field for consideration. View Scholarship

Peter Jasin Endowed Scholarship $4,000

Recipient must be enrolled full time in an undergraduate or graduate program focused on homeland security and intelligence and aspire for a career in the U.S. intelligence community. View Scholarship

Top Master’s in Homeland Security Programs