Colleges today offer online PhD in Homeland Security degrees for students who want to work for the government department but do not want to commit to studying at a school away from home. These programs are also great for students who live far enough away from a campus that it doesn't make financial sense to travel to that campus every week. Colleges across the country now offer degree programs for those who want to work for the Department of Homeland Security or in cybersecurity roles.
The Department of Homeland Security, also known as DHS, is one of the most important cabinets and departments in the country today. It has an operating budget that lets it spend more than $40 billion a year. DHS is responsible for preparing the government for natural disasters and other emergency situations, but it also handles potential threats and deals with cybersecurity concerns. Many of the professionals working for the federal government have a doctoral degree.
We highly recommend that those looking at earning a Homeland Security doctorate online take the time to see which colleges offer those programs and what programs are the most affordable. When creating our list, we used the National Center for Education Statistics because the NCES offers up to date information on schools, programs and costs. Using the NCES information helped us find all the top schools that offer Homeland Security online PhD programs. We then used its College Navigator to compare tuition costs to determine which schools were the most affordable. In the list that follows, students will find that we ranked those programs with the most affordable schools at the bottom and the more expensive but still affordable schools at the top.
Ranking Low-cost Online Homeland Security PhD Programs
10. University of Illinois-Chicago
Online Ph.D. in Criminal Justice – Concentration in Homeland Security
One of the more affordable Homeland Security online degree programs is the one offered by the University of Illinois-Chicago. UIU works with other departments and schools to offer programs that teach students more about violence studies, pharmacology and other subjects. All the courses in the main program are available as three-credit hour or four-credit hour classes. Independent study courses are available, and students also earn credits for their thesis work. This criminal justice program features classes like youth, crime, law and justice in society, gender, crime and justice, the problem of justice, comparative criminal justice institutions and the dynamics and behavior in criminal justice agencies.
9. Walden University
Online PhD in Criminal Justice with Concentration in Homeland Security
Any student who is an American resident and wants to attend Walden University will receive a $3,000 grant to cover some of their educational expenses, which further brings down the cost of its affordable Homeland Security degree program. This program has four academic residency components that require students come to a Walden campus and take some classes, but all the other work in this program takes place online. Walden offers a program for those who have a Master's in Criminal Justice and a separate program for those who have a graduate degree in another field. The Homeland Security concentration focuses on policy, administration and coordination.
8. New Jersey City University
Jersey City, New Jersey
Online Doctor of Science in Civil Security Leadership, Management and Policy
When looking at students applying to this online program, New Jersey City University looks for those who have at least four years of experience. Once those students complete this program, they can take an exam and become a Certified Protection Professional (CPP). The National Security Agency (NSA) and DHS designated the university as a National Center of Academic Excellence because of this program. It includes a two-week residency component over the weekend and then asks for students to spend four weekends per year on the campus. Students can use those residency times as a way to connect with their instructors and to work directly with others in their classes.
7. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Online Doctor of Management – Homeland Security
One of the only straight Homeland Security online doctoral programs available today is the Doctor of Management program that Colorado Technical University offers. The university offers this program on a campus in the Denver area and as an online program. It includes 76 credits of required classes and 20 credits of Homeland Security classes. Those who want to work for the DHS will take classes like Homeland Security strategy and policy, issues in public health and emergency planning and Homeland Security professional development. In addition to required courses, CTU students must also take multiple dissertation classes to learn how to find sources, conduct research and complete a dissertation.
6. Northcentral University
San Diego, California
Online PhD in Cybersecurity
One of the fastest growing threats facing America today relates to cybersecurity. Even major corporations like Target and Walmart fell victim to hackers in the past. Northcentral University offers a cybersecurity PhD program designed for those who want to fight back and protect others against these hacks that also appeals to those who want to work for the DHS. Students will take 20 courses that are worth 60 credits can graduate in a little over four years. Those credits include courses such as computer networks and mobile computing, introduction to research design and methodology for technology leaders and technology policy and strategy.
5. North Dakota State University
Fargo, North Dakota
Online Ph.D. in Criminal Justice with Concentration in Homeland Security
North Dakota State University accepts just a small number of doctoral candidates each year because it wants to give each student all the resources they need. Though the university now offers a criminal justice PhD program online, it still limits the number of students accepted. Students must take courses in different disciplines that include criminology, corrections and policing. Those areas feature courses like crime prevention, police and race issues and individual theories of crime. Those in the Homeland Security program will need to take a comprehensive exam before they can start the dissertation process. This process takes a year or longer to complete.
4. University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Online PhD in Engineering – Concentration in Security
One of the more unique degree programs for those who want to work for the government is the engineering program that the University of Colorado Colorado Springs offers, which has a concentration in security that focuses on cybersecurity. Designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence, this program has approval from both the DHS and NSA. Many graduates gain certification while in school and go to work right at a government agency after they graduate. This program features a number of courses relating to cyber crimes and other issues, including advanced system security design, advanced topics in web security and privacy, computer architecture and fundamentals of computer and network security.
3. University of Southern Mississippi
Online Ph.D in Criminal Justice – Concentration in Homeland Security
The School of Criminal Justice at the University of Southern Mississippi offers a criminal justice doctoral program with a concentration in Homeland Security. Students will need to complete a minimum of 54 credits of work after the graduate level and will need to take at least 30 credits of work at or above the 600 level. The program features a comprehensive exam as well as a dissertation. Students must defend their dissertations too. This program also features four seminars on civil liberties and criminal law, criminal justice policy, policing and corrections. Other required courses focus on research methods and theories of criminal law.
2. Jacksonville State University
Online Doctoral Degree in Emergency Management
Jacksonville State University offers a Doctoral Degree in Emergency Management through its School of Emergency Management. This program is a solid option for students who want to work for the DHS in emergency management and preparation roles. Those professionals help identify potential problems and find solutions before an emergency occurs. Students take one seminar each year and courses that include systems thinking and applications in emergency management, hazards risk management and community resilience, emergency management program management and disaster management principles and practice. JSU also offers a directed study class that gives students the chance to study a subject like Homeland Security management while under the supervision of a professor working for the department.
1. University of Nebraska – Omaha
Online Criminal Justice Ph.D. Concentration in Homeland Security
Getting a Ph.D in Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska – Omaha requires that students complete three different tasks. They must take all the required courses in the program, pass a qualifying exam and do a dissertation. Students typically begin working on the dissertation in the second year of the program and after passing the qualifying exam. The dissertation requires an advanced level of both research and writing. In addition to concentration classes, the program features courses like survey of criminal justice, criminal court system, applied statistics and data processing in the public sector and women, crime and justice. At right around $7,200 a year, this program ranks as the most affordable online doctorate degree we found.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Some of the DHS Branches?
Many students looking for a cheap online Homeland Security PhD program do not realize that DHS actually consists of multiple branches. One of those branches is the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which also goes by the nickname of ICE. This is one of the branches of the federal government concerned with illegal immigration. Customs and Border Protection is a related agency. These two departments work to stop people from sneaking into the country and to stop the spread of counterfeit materials coming across the borders. Other branches of DHS include:
- Office of Intelligence and Analysis
- Transportation Security Administration
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Do Agents Need a Graduate Degree?
A common misconception that some have is that they think agents working for DHS need some type of advanced degree. Agents are the ones who spend time in the field and investigate crimes away from the dedicated offices across the country. They do not need a doctorate degree or even a master's degree, though most positions do require a bachelor's degree. Agents must also pass a criminal background check and have a clean record that is free of felonies and misdemeanors. They will also need to pass other types of tests and exams like a psychological exam and a fitness test. These tests help the department weed out applicants who are not physically fit or emotionally sound.
What are the Top Homeland Security Disciplines?
Online Homeland Security PhD programs offer courses in several disciplines because DHS does so many different things. Those disciplines include cybersecurity, disaster preparedness and response and security intelligence. Security intelligence is not the same as cybersecurity, though the two fields are similar. Cybersecurity looks specifically at the potential cyber threats found. Those working in this field search the web and listen to network chatter as a way to stay up to date with those threats. Security intelligence professionals look for signs of any other threats. They might listen to radio broadcasts, meet with agents working undercover in the field and analyze documents. Homeland Security is in charge of the Coast Guard and other government agencies and departments that need educated workers too.
What is Disaster Preparedness and Response?
One of the fastest growing disciplines related to Homeland Security is disaster preparedness and response. This refers to the steps taken after a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. Workers dispatched to the South after Hurricane Katrina worked for DHS and other government agencies. They were the ones who helped coordinate efforts to keep people safe and the ones who took steps to secure buildings and reduce the damage done. This field grew significantly after 9/11 as people realized that major cities across the country were at risk of attacks.
While some people assume that those working in this field deal more with terrorist threats, the field focuses more on natural disasters and emergency situations. Many Homeland Security online programs now offer courses on emergency management to help students decide if they want to work in this field. Those working for the Department of Homeland Security launched Ready.gov, a website dedicated to helping regular people learn what to do during and after an emergency. The department also handles the National Incident Management System to alert people in certain regions of potential problems.
How Can Students Pay for an Online PhD in Homeland Security?
Though we ranked the most affordable Homeland Security PhD online options for students today, some students may still have a difficult time coming up with the money needed to attend a full-time program. The federal government offers some student loans for doctoral candidates, though the amount that a student can borrow will depend on how much he or she borrowed for college and graduate school. These loans are only available to full-time students and not part-time students. The loans will begin building up interest while the student is still in school too, and the loans come due six months after the student graduates.
Other financial aid options are available from the Department of Homeland Security itself. Some of these programs award students a scholarship or stipend to attend college, but other programs provide students with the chance to gain some experience working for the department. It also offers paid internships that pay students to work for the DHS.
Many students want to work for the government after retiring from the military. They can use their military benefits to pay for their tuition. The GI Bill also provides students with money they can use to cover other expenses like housing or textbooks. Each individual DHS can offer scholarships and financing options too. The department located in Indiana, for example, offers a $2,000 scholarship for students enrolled in a Homeland Security program in that state. Students should also check with the colleges they want to attend to find out if the schools offer scholarships or other financial aid options.
What is a DHS Internship?
A Department of Homeland Security internship is an internship with the DHS that provides students with more experience. These programs allow students to gain firsthand knowledge as to how the department operates and to try out different jobs to see where they want to work after they graduate. Students can use their internships as a way to make connections with those working for the department too, which helps them find people willing to serve as references for them when they apply for open DHS jobs.
The Secretary's Honors Program is a program designed for qualifying students who want to work for the DHS. It picks more than 70 students across all higher educational levels each year and puts them to work at offices across the nation. DHS offers a Recent Graduates Program that students can sign up for after completing any type of degree. Veterans can apply up to six years after graduating, but all other students will need to apply within two years of graduating.
DHS offers internship programs in specific disciplines too, including public affairs, law enforcement, intelligence and analysis and health and science. Each of these disciplines has internships available for students at different levels. The work that students do will vary based on the amount of experience they have and the highest level degree they completed.
What is a Homeland Security Dissertation?
Though some students may assume that online PhD in Homeland Security programs do not have a dissertation requirement, most of these programs do ask that students do a dissertation. After finishing the first year in the program, the student will work with an adviser and go over his or her interests to find a topic to study. The student will then work on that dissertation and do both original research and writing to put the paper together. Many schools now offer different classes that walk students through the process of completing a dissertation. They'll take a class on picking a topic to learn how to narrow down what they want to study and then a class on research methods to learn how to identify sources and evaluate the sources they want to use.
Dissertation topics can include any topic relating to Homeland Security such as new methods of tracking funding used by cyber hackers or whether DHS could benefit from using intelligence gathering methods in domestic settings. Once the student finishes a dissertation, many schools require both a presentation and a defense that will require the student travel to the campus. The student will first present the dissertation and then answer questions from others about his or her work.
How Much Can Homeland Security PhD Holders Make?
The median salary of those with a Homeland Security PhD varies across industries, but those who earn an online PhD in Homeland Security will find that they can make the same amount once they graduate. Those working in the private sector earn a median salary of more than $100,000 a year. They often work for defense contractors and other companies that provide services to the federal government. This type of degree can qualify an individual to work as a researcher for a political organization or a similar group. Researchers generally make around $100,000 a year after gaining more experience in the field. Homeland Security degree holders can also work as college professors and earn a median salary of more than $70,000 a year.
Thanks for taking a look at our rankings. We hope this information is helpful to those looking for online PhD in Homeland Security degrees to help them with their careers.
Updated: March 4, 2020