An online Master's in Homeland Security sets professionals in the field apart from their contemporaries for one special reason: it shows their dedication to completing their education in order to be effective in their position. So many professionals realize that the amount of threats that America faces every day is growing and coming from different avenues, so the need for advanced study in the field is necessary. There is no better way to do that than with a graduate degree.
Online programs are the best fit for homeland security professionals who are already working in the field. Flexible and affordable, the degree can advance a career without getting in the way of current employment. And with so many professionals turning to online programs, it should come as no surprise that this ranking was created.
Research for this ranking was conducted by using the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator database. Looking at only online programs, an initial pool of 40 schools were chosen. From there, the final 10 were decided upon based on in-state graduate tuition rates.
Ranking Low-cost Homeland Security Master's
10. Liberty University
Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice delivered by Liberty University is perfect for pre-service and working professionals alike. It is a 100 percent online program that does not require any campus residencies at any time. Courses are delivered in the asynchronous format and in eight-week terms; there are also eight start dates every year. Students who have previous graduate experience may also transfer in up to 18 credit hours upon approval by the department. This MSCS also provides three cognates: Forensic Psychology, Public Administration, and Homeland Security. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours, a thesis, a capstone project, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Legal Issues in Homeland Security, Foundations of Homeland Security, and Homeland Security Organization and Administration.
9. Aspen University
Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Terrorism and Homeland Security
Professionals who are looking for an online Master's in Homeland Security will want to check out Aspen University. This school confers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice that has an emphasis on terrorism and homeland security. This is a 100 percent online degree that delivers asynchronous courses in the traditional 16-week term. Students will find that the school has consulted with industry experts while creating the program and it is considered to be one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind that is available on the Internet. The degree can be completed in as little as 18 months with full-time study. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Major Incident Response Management, Terrorism and Homeland Security, and Use of Force in Law Enforcement.
8. Towson University
Online Master of Science in Integrated Homeland Security Management
The Master's in Homeland Security online degree from Towson University offers students an experience-based advanced professional program that focuses on the management of homeland security organizations. It is one of the few programs available that requires an applied research program for graduation. Please note that Towson University's online programs are not available in every state; students are advised to check to see if they are eligible to apply. The program is delivered entirely online through asynchronous courses and eight-week terms. There are three tracks that students can choose from, including Information Assurance, Health Preparedness, and Security Policy. Students are expected to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a research project, an extended capstone project, and a comprehensive exam prior to graduation. Sample courses include Terrorism and Political Violence, Homeland Security and Constitutional Rights, and United States Homeland Security Policy.
7. American Public University
Charles Town, West Virginia
Online Master of Arts in Homeland Security
The online Master's of Homeland Security that is available through American Public University is a degree that offers professional eight different concentrations and a 100 percent online curriculum. Students can choose to concentrate in Counter-Terrorism Studies, Emergency Management and Public Health, or Transportation, among others. The program follows an asynchronous format for its courses and can be completed in two years with full-time study. The curriculum was created with the input of industry scholars and practicing professionals and is updated annually to reflect the current climate of the field. A research paper is required for this degree for all students, regardless of concentration. Other requirements include 36 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Homeland Security and Defense, Resilience and Homeland Security, and Privacy and Civil Liberties in Homeland Security.
6. Trident University International
Online Master of Science in Homeland Security (MSHLS)
Trident University International offers a homeland security master's online degree that is aligned with the Department of Homeland Security's mission objectives. This is a 100 percent online degree that delivers both synchronous and asynchronous courses to students in the traditional 16-week format. Students can choose from four concentrations: Cybersecurity, Emergency and Disaster Management, Leadership, and Logistics; it is also possible to earn a graduate certificate in all four concentrations. This is a comprehensive degree that delves deep into the history and evolution of homeland security, providing students with an understanding of how the field works and how they can be a qualified professional in the field. Students can expect to complete 40 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability and Protection, Homeland Crisis Management, and Emergency Planning and Methodology.
5. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Online Master of Science in Homeland Security
Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers students the chance to earn an online Master's in Homeland Security. It is a comprehensive degree program that discusses both home-grown terrorism and international counter-terrorism while discussing new forms of threats against the United States like cybercrime and network security. This is a 100 percent online program that delivers courses in an asynchronous format and in eight-week terms. Students will note that while this degree does not have stated concentrations, it is possible to create a concentration within the curriculum. This degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Domestic Terrorism Prevention and Analysis, Venue and Event Security, and Network Security and Cyberterrorism.
4. Sam Houston State University
Online Master of Science in Homeland Security Studies
The online homeland security master's degree at Sam Houston State University is designed to help elevate working professionals in the field to administrative or leadership positions. Students applying to this 100 percent program will note that an undergraduate degree in homeland security or an allied field is necessary for acceptance into the program. SHSU is one of the few online programs that does require an internship; online students will complete this in their community under the supervision of a preceptor. Students who wish to opt out of an internship will be required to complete a thesis. Courses are delivered both in asynchronous and synchronous formats and in the traditional 16-week format. Students will be expected to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, an internship or a thesis, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Digital Forensics Investigation, Law and Ethics in Homeland Security, and Critical Infrastructure Protection.
3. Arkansas Tech University
Online Master of Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Arkansas Tech University offers an online Master's in Homeland Security and Emergency Management that will be helpful to professionals working the fields. This is a 100 percent online multidisciplinary program that teaches students advanced concepts in both subjects and combines case studies with research projects to ensure students understand the concepts being discussed. This program delivers courses asynchronously in eight-week terms and the degree can be earned in as little as two years. The MSEMHS program requires that students either write a thesis or take on a research practicum in order to graduate. Students will be expected to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a thesis or practicum, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Introduction to International Emergency Management, Introduction to Terrorism, and Advanced Digital Technology Applications in Emergency Management.
2. East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
Online Master of Science in Security Studies
Professionals interested in an online Master's in Homeland Security will find that the MSSS program at East Carolina University is a great choice for their educational needs. This program was built to give students the critical thinking and communication skills they need as well as deliver a professional degree to working professionals already in the field. There are four concentrations: Homeland Security Policy, International Security, Environmental Health and Occupational Safety, and Science and Technology Security; please note that not all concentrations are available online. Students will be required to take on an internship for graduation that can be completed in their community under the supervision of a preceptor. Students will also be required to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a thesis or creative project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Security Studies Foundations, Policy and Practice of Security, and Weapons of Mass Destruction.
1. Angelo State University
San Angelo, Texas
Online Master of Science in Homeland Security
Angelo State University confers a cheap homeland security master's degree that addresses the needs of the field and provides professionals with a degree that can help them advance in their chosen career path. This is a 100 percent online program that is open to all students from all educational backgrounds; preference is given to students who already hold a degree in criminal justice or a related field. Courses are delivered asynchronously and on a 16-week schedule. This degree can be completed in as little as 18 months with full-time study and three years of part-time study. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a capstone course, and a comprehensive exam; internships are optional but highly encouraged, especially for students with no work experience in the field. Sample courses include Advanced Studies in Human Trafficking, Studies in Disaster Preparedness, and Introduction to Geographic Information Systems.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Master's in Homeland Security Degree?
Professionals in homeland security often work for the United States government. They can work at the federal, state, and local levels in a variety of different careers, including:
- Homeland Security Officer
- FBI Agent
- Counter-Terrorism Analyst
- CIA Foreign Intelligence Officer
- NSA Special Agent
- Emergency Management Director
- Transportation Security Officer
- Cybercrime Analyst
- Disaster Relief Officer
- Department of Defense Contractor
The list of possible career options in the government sector are endless and is only helped by earning an online Master's in Homeland Security. Professionals will find a range of specializations and job positions that will fit their goals and needs. Additionally, the government pays well and provides an incredible benefits package.
Recently it has become possible to join the private sector as a homeland security professional. Many banks, security firms, and contract companies are searching for these professionals to help them provide security and analyze threats. Many of these organizations also work with the government, so a professional may find themselves working for the government indirectly.
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
Homeland security is a large and diverse field and the salary range reflects that. Currently, the range is $24,000 to $105,000 a year, with small discrepancies based on a professional's job title and what part of the United States government they work in or if they work for private companies.
It's important to note that most of the career options in this field come from the United States government. This means that the salaries provided for any position is subjected to the government's pay grade. For example, a Customs and Border Patrol agent may be hired at GL-5, which has an annual base pay of $33,829. They may also be hired at GL-9, which has a base rate of $55,413.
These salaries are base pay rates, and while working in the private field can be more lucrative, the government does pay well, careers tend to be steady, there are comprehensive benefits packages, and pay increases are normal after a professional gathers experience. Career advancement is also possible within the government and generally professionals retire with the same agency or department they began with.
Private salaries can be higher from the beginning, ranging from $65,000 to $125,000, but these companies are generally security firms, security contractors, and companies that work with the government on short or long-term contracts. It is also more competitive in the private sector because employers are looking for specialists in homeland security, so the job hunt might be a little more difficult.
What are the Various Disciplines of Homeland Security?
Homeland security is a field that is made up of terrorism, security, government, law, and politics. These main disciplines are in play for every professional in the field, no matter their position or status. In fact, students who take on an undergraduate degree in this field find that they are constantly going back and forth between these disciplines.
There are other disciplines, however. Professionals who work in terrorism and counterterrorism utilize psychology, sociology, and anthropology in their everyday work. If these professionals are analysts or agents, they may even learn a few languages and immerse themselves in another country as part of their job responsibilities.
Homeland security professionals who focus on cybercrime are involved in cybersecurity, computer science, engineering, and programming. They often know several different programming languages and utilize their skills to investigate a cybercrime or create security measures to keep the government's networks safe from attacks.
Every specialty has its own disciplines that are professionals use on an everyday basis, but these are the ones most often discussed. Once a professional enters the field, they will find that these disciplines will become second nature to them.
How Hard is it to Get a Job in Homeland Security?
Depending on what career position a professional is aiming for, getting a job in homeland security can be difficult. It is also time consuming, stressful, and involves a lot of steps with no knowledge of whether or not a job offer will come. In fact, looking for a job in homeland security often is the reason people leave the field.
Homeland security is run nearly entirely by the United States government. To become a government employee, you must pass a background check, credit check, undergo a psychological assessment, and an interview. To become a homeland security agent at the FBI, CIA, NSA, or the Department of Homeland Security, you must do the above plus submit yourself for drug screenings, interview multiple times in front of multiple committees, get a physical examination and in some cases, even partake in gun range assessments. Some agencies even require your family to undergo a background check.
While all of this is exhaustive, there are still other things to consider that may benefit professionals. One could be the type of concentration they hold; cyberterrorism and cybercrime are in high demand right now. If a professional speaks more than one language fluently and it's a language that the agency or department needs, that can be a plus on any resume. Additionally, professionals with previous law enforcement backgrounds are often asked to apply for an interview because homeland security needs that experience.
Why are Internships Required for This Degree?
Not all programs require an internship for graduation. Some schools do because they believe it is the best way forward for their students, enabling them to gain work experience while in school, network within the field, and figure out if the field is really something they want to be a part of for the rest of their career.
Internships are about giving people work experience prior to joining any field. In homeland security, it's critical that a student has work experience because they hit the ground running as soon as they become employed. It's also a way for students to get accustomed to how the field works and what their responsibilities will be when they move into the workforce.
Work experience while in school is great for networking too. Many students enter the field without any educational or work experience, so an internship can be a great way for them to meet people and work in the field. In America, most of the homeland security internships are offered by the government, meaning that students will be networking within the government. They may even be offered a job once they are out of school.
For students with no previous work experience, internships give them a chance to decide if the field, or their specialization, is the right choice for them. It's a way for them to work for a few months in the field with other professionals so they can make a decision before committing to a career.
Homeland security is in need of dedicated and educated professionals. From protecting the homeland on foot to stopping cybercrime, this is a challenging and rewarding career that needs professionals from all backgrounds. With an online Master's in Homeland Security, professionals are working to keep all Americans safe from every type of threat.