Guide to Homeland Security Degree Programs

Homeland security is closely tied to criminal justice and internet security. As things move to the cloud (internet), computer security has become one of the fastest growing fields in homeland security. However, demand still remains for traditional positions. We have listed a collection of homeland security and other closely related online programs below for your convenience.

Strayer University – Strayer University offers online homeland security degrees: BS/CJ: Homeland Security, BS/CJ: H.S. Technology, BS/IS: Homeland Security, and Certificated in Homeland Security. Courses include: Introduction to Networking, Homeland Security Organization and Administration, Networking Security Fundamentals, Information Warfare and Homeland Security, and Case Studies in Current Homeland Security Issues.
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Ashford University – With students who must balance schools with busy work schedules and their daily lives, Ashford University has added several online programs to its course catalog. Ashford University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510-748-9001, wascsenior.org. Ashford offers a Bachelors of Criminal Justice in Homeland Security.
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Kaplan University – Kaplan University offers online degrees: BS/CJ: Homeland Security and MS in Homeland Security. This program prepares students for management-level positions with employers such as the Department of Homeland Security and other federal, state, and local agencies. The program emphasizes the application of theory, current knowledge, developing trends and legal doctrines.
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Walden University – Walden University offers online homeland security degrees: BS/CJ: Homeland Security, MPA in Homeland Security, and MPA in Terrorism/Mediation. Courses include: Public Policy Implications of Terrorism Legislation and Policies, Terrorism: A Systemic Approach for Emergency Preparedness, and Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis.
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DeVry University – DeVry University has made a name for itself by being one of the largest colleges focusing fields inside the technology industries as well as subjects that require technical understanding. Homeland security requires knowledge of the homeland defense systems, networks, organizations, and how the different elements interact and communicate with one another. DeVry offers online courses for a BBA in Security Management and a BTM in Criminal Justice.
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Bush School of Government at Texas A&M – The Bush School of Government at Texas A&M offers certificates in homeland security: Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security, Graduate Certificate in Critical Infrastructure Protection, Graduate Certificate in Emergency & Crisis Prevention, Graduate Certificate in Intelligence, and Graduate Certificate in National Security Policy. These certificates can be completed in 10 weeks.
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St. Joseph's University – St. Joseph's University offers online degree programs in homeland security: MS in Homeland Security and Homeland Security Certificate. This program is made up of six courses that cover the fundamentals of homeland security issues and procedures, including the detection and analysis of illegal financial transactions, an overview of terrorism and risk assessment.
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1) What Homeland Security Degrees Exist and What are They Called?

Since its inception in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security has grown in both size and scope. With a growing need for educated individuals, they offer a wide variety of jobs. Below are listed a few of the degrees available to those who wish to go into the field of homeland security.

  1. Associate of Arts in Homeland Security (AA – HS)Start off a career in homeland security with this two year degree.
  2. Bachelor of Arts in Homeland Security (BA – HS)Because many careers in the DHS require at least a bachelor’s degree, there is this four year degree that focuses on homeland security.
  3. Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security (BSCJ in HS)The field of criminal justice, also linked to homeland security, offers many specialties including those especially for the DHS.
  4. Advanced Start Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security Similar to the above, this degree is for those who want to fast-track a bachelor’s degree or already have applicable college transfer credits.
  5. Bachelor of Organizational Management – Homeland Security (BA Org. Man. in HS) Homeland security also has a call for managers and this degree can help you learn these skills with homeland security in mind.
  6. Master of Science in Homeland Security (MS – HS) This graduate degree can prepare students for a leadership or other advanced role within the DHS.
  7. Master of Public Administration – Homeland Security (MPA – HS) The MPA is a common degree among public officials and are even available in areas of homeland security.
  8. Master of Science in Information Technology – Homeland Security (MSIT – HS) Get a graduate education in both information technology and homeland security with this degree.

And the above are just some of the types of degrees available in homeland security. Because the field is so wide, if you know which department of the DHS you would like to go into, research to see which degree is their preference among job candidates.

2) Where Can I Find Homeland Security Degree Rankings?

When choosing a degree from any school, it is important to know whether or not it has been accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. They are tasked with separating the diploma mills from the schools who give students an appropriate education for their money. A quick search of the Department of Education’s database can tell you if a specific school has been accredited and even which schools in your state are accredited by which agencies.

Because the Department of Homeland security offers so many careers in law enforcement, immigration, disaster response, acquisitions, cyber security, and more, ranking schools is inevitably difficult. With different degrees offering different levels of knowledge and having different price tags, it is important to research the educational factors that are important to the student before deciding on one. Items such as location, available financial aid, career placement within the DHS, transfer credits, and more can all have a huge impact on what school is chosen.

One of the best courses of action is to apply to several schools that offer a homeland security degree or a related area and see which you are accepted in. By turning in the FAFSA and other applications in by deadline, students can learn how much tuition will cost out of pocket before deciding on a school.

3) Can I Transfer Homeland Security Degree Credits?

Those who have already completed collegiate level courses or have a college level degree may qualify for transfer credits for a homeland security degree. These can count towards core classes, specialty courses such as in technology or management, or even advanced degree placement. Because transfer credits can reduce both the cost of an education as well as time spent earning a degree, it is vital to know the transfer credit policies of your current, future, or prospective school.

The issue of a nationally accredited homeland security degree versus a regionally accredited one is often an issue of transfer credit problems. These arise when a student attempts to transfer from a school that has been nationally accredited to one that has been regionally accredited or vice versa. Although both schools are technically accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, they can be accredited by different sub-agencies. To see which agencies have accredited a school, visit The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. Under Search by Accrediting Agency you can see a list of both national and regional agencies.

If both your future and current school have been accredited by the same agency, transfer credits are more likely to happen. They commonly happen when switching from a junior college to a local university, for those switching majors, or even for those who already have a college degree. With a qualifying degree, study times for advanced degrees are significantly cut. For example, someone with an associate’s degree can take as little as two years to earn a bachelor’s, and someone with a qualifying bachelor’s degree can take as little as two years to earn a master’s degree in one of the areas of homeland security.

4) What Sorts of Careers are Common With a Homeland Security Degree?

There are many federal, state, and local government agencies that fall under the Department of Homeland Security, some of which are counterterrorism, border security, immigration, cyber security, and more. Below, we have listed just a few of the careers available in homeland security.

  1. Security Screener: Commonly found at airports and government buildings, they screen all who enter for weapons and other contraband.
  2. Security Officer: Keep the peace in many public areas such as transportation, courts, and other government offices.
  3. Contract Specialist: Gather proposals, bids, and solicitations for a variety of government contracts.
  4. Program Specialist: Carrying out the duties of a government program, such as a FEMA-recognized disaster, is part of this job.
  5. Program Managers: Manage the operations of government contractors and ensure that work is being conducted both on time and within budget.
  6. Information Technology Specialist: Provide technical expertise to many areas of homeland security, which requires an extensive knowledge of computer science and other information technology related areas.
  7. Intelligence Analyst: Analyze information for the use of intelligence agencies at one of the many agencies charged with security.
  8. Special Agent: This career often works in or with the FBI, CIA, or other related agency.
  9. Federal Marshal: They assist the government by performing a variety of tasks ranging from security for judges to transporting prisoners.

And the above are just a few of the careers available with a homeland security degree. Because each career can be in a number of fields, each has its own requirements for education, experience, technical knowledge, etc.

5) How do I Get a Career in Homeland Security?

A career in homeland security can start with a high school diploma. Many positions have on the job training options that can be entered into right away. One of the main tenants of a homeland security professional is the passing of a background check. This can be as simple as a criminal history to as complex as a query on known associates.

To have a look at some of the careers available at the Department of Homeland Security, click here. Applicants from all backgrounds, including students, are encouraged to apply. There are also job opportunities for college graduates, veterans, retirees, or the disabled. Job experience levels at the DHS for those pursuing a homeland security or related degree include internships, fellowships, and training programs. If you already have a qualifying degree, they offer entry level positions in acquisitions, intelligence, analysis, policy, and law.

In order to move up the ladder in homeland security, experience is often called for. New candidates are usually hired at the entry level, but exceptions can be made for those with previous law enforcement or military experience. When involved in any type of homeland security career that requires a firearm, safety classes, training, and much more are all involved in the job.

To get a quick list of available jobs in homeland security, click on USA Jobs. You can browse by city, agency, type of position desired, and even salary range. You can also create an account, and even find jobs just for students.

6) What is the Average Salary for Someone With a Homeland Security Degree?

One of the few sites that lists the national average salary for those in Homeland Security is Homeland Security Degree. The current average salary for all those in homeland security as $73,000 per year. This includes many specific jobs, such as marine interdiction agent at $58,000 and railroad safety specialist at $93,000. They also list broader careers and their average salaries, such as homeland security officer training at $66,000 and transportation security officer at $43,000.

Other studies that analyze the annual salary for homeland security jobs indicate slightly higher salaries. Their highest paying job in homeland security was detective or criminal investigator with an average salary of $86,823. Coming in second and third were intelligence analysts at $80,409 and police or sheriff’s patrol officer at $70,000. An entry level position such as security screener for an airline paid $39,598 in average salary.

7) Where Can I Find Homeland Security Degree Scholarships and Grants?

To help pay for a homeland security degree, we have gathered a few scholarships, grants, and other resources below.

  1. FAFSA Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid early cannot only tell you which federal scholarships and grants you qualify for, but how much they are worth.
  2. DHS Scholarship ProgramThe DHS Scholarship and Fellowship Program is intended for students interested in pursuing the basic science and technology innovations that can be applied to the homeland security mission.
  3. DHS Summer Internship ProgramThis summer internship program is for eligible rising junior and seniors majoring in homeland security related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  4. DHS Summer Research Team Program for Minority Serving InstitutionsSummer research opportunities are awarded to qualified faculty members and students to work on collaborative research of mutual interest to the Team, the DHS Center, and DHS.
  5. Federal Cyber ServiceThis program provides scholarships to federal information assurance professionals that fully fund the typical costs of an education at an approved institution of higher learning.
  6. Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars ProgramEligible candidates for this scholarship are student interns who have served at least one internship in a Directorate of Intelligence office or center, have expressed interest in converting to full-time staff, and have management’s concurrence for the conversion.
  7. AFCEAThis organization serves the military, government, industry, academia, and offers scholarships to graduate, undergraduate, military, and other students.
  8. Boren AwardsStudents who wish to study both homeland security and a foreign language can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and even the opportunity to study abroad.

And the above are just some of the scholarships and grants available to pay for a homeland security degree. The main difference between scholarships and grants is that while many apply for scholarships and few receive them, everyone who qualifies for a federal grant and applies for one gets it.

When taking in all the ways to pay for a homeland security degree, the question of a student loan is likely to arise. Unlike scholarships or grants, student loans do have to be paid back and should be considered carefully. When researching between school loans, items asked about should include funds up front, repayments after graduation, and a reasonable interest rate.

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