Are you searching for a dynamic, challenging career that contributes to public and national safety? Natural disasters, global security threats, and cybersecurity risks are inevitable, and public security depends on leaders who identify risks and create effective plans to maintain public safety. An online degree in homeland security introduces the necessary skills for careers in emergency management, information security, public safety, and criminal justice.
Those with a homeland security degree enter a growing job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment in homeland security careers will continue to rise faster than the average for all occupations. Continue reading for more information about how a homeland security bachelor’s degree program prepares you for this exciting and rewarding field.
WHAT IS HOMELAND SECURITY?
Emergency preparedness, information security, public health, and law enforcement fall into the broad, interdisciplinary field known as homeland security. In the wake of 9/11, the federal government created the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the term “homeland security” has been used since then to include professions involved with national safety and security. The field itself integrates theories of criminal justice, logistics, public health, information technology, and environmental science. Homeland security professionals leverage these disciplines to identify risks and create strategic plans to prevent and recover from national crises. When earning a homeland security degree, students often tailor the program to focus on issues such as national security, border patrol, disaster relief, or environmental sustainability. Careers in homeland security are available across industries, such as government agencies, public health organizations, or security for private companies.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HOMELAND SECURITY PROGRAMS?
Concordia University is a private, Christian school that integrates faith into every aspect of its curriculum. With a faculty made up of police officers, military leaders, and federal agents, the bachelor’s degree in homeland security prepares students to work in a wide range of industries, including the TSA, border patrol, maritime security, and FEMA. This 79-credit online homeland security degree features flexible coursework that is taught asynchronously. Distance learners can complete the program in as few as 16 months. Students are required to take 31 general education credits and 48 program-specific credits, including coursework in the psychology of terrorism, cyber security, religion in the modern world, and community building. Students must also take a practicum course and complete a capstone project that involves either research into domestic/foreign terrorism or the development of a detailed emergency preparation plan.
Located in Central Virginia, Liberty University is a conservative, Christian school that offers more than 550 programs, from certificates to doctorate degrees. The school’s bachelor’s of science in criminal justice with an emphasis on homeland security is offered fully online and focuses on intelligence, transportation disaster response, and anti-terrorism. This 120-credit bachelor’s degree in homeland security consists of general education coursework, including the university’s mandatory Christianity classes, and program-specific courses such as criminal justice research & writing and critical infrastructure protection. Liberty also offers students the opportunity to earn credits for previous life experiences in law enforcement and military positions. To be accepted into this program, students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA. Distance learners can transfer up to 90 credits, but must take their final 30 hours of coursework through Liberty.
In 2017, Philadelphia University combined with Thomas Jefferson University to create a single university known as Jefferson. PhilaU is the online section of this newly combined entity and offers a fully-online bachelor’s of science in law enforcement leadership. The 120-credit degree program consists of eight-week courses and takes two to three years to complete. In addition to general education classes, students take coursework in professional education topics such as technology and economic decision making. Program-specific courses includes contemporary law enforcement strategy and police administration and management. Before graduating, students also complete a capstone course in which they analyze an aspect of the law enforcement industry and design a law enforcement initiative. Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of law enforcement roles, including positions in policing, corrections, and the courts.
Keiser University’s Fort Lauderdale campus educates a wide variety of traditional students and working professionals through its flexible day, evening, and online classes. Distance learners take classes one at a time, and each course lasts only four weeks. KU’s online bachelor’s of arts in homeland security teaches students management skills and security theories and introduces them to strategies that can be used for local, state, and federal organizations. This online homeland security degree consists of 120 credits, including 66 credits of homeland security-related courses and 18 credits of general education courses. General education classes, such as professional writing and workplace diversity, prepare students for the practical operations of the general workplace, enhancing major-specific courses such as tactical communications. To graduate, students must also complete a capstone project related to a current topic in public safety.
Located in Florida and founded in 1889, Saint Leo University is a Catholic school that offers a wide range of fully-online associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. The school’s schedule operates on six eight-week terms per year. The online bachelor’s of arts in criminal justice with a specialization in homeland security is well-suited for working professionals who are seeking to advance their careers or would like to eventually pursue a graduate degree in homeland security or criminal justice. This homeland security degree focuses on the modern Middle East, legal issues in counter-terrorism, local responses to terrorism, and understanding terrorist organizations and their weaknesses. The 120-credit program includes 36 credits of electives, 18 credits of homeland security-related coursework, and 24 credits of criminal justice-related classes. Distance coursework is accessible through the D2L learning management system.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University offers over 200 online degrees and several online learning resources to support its distance learners. The university’s bachelor’s of science in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security and counterterrorism is a specialized degree that focuses on the study of transnational criminal organizations and ethical policing strategies. The program emphasizes emerging technologies and how these tools can impact terrorist activity. Students are prepared to work in a variety of fields, including intelligence analysis, dispute resolution, and terrorism prevention. SNHU’s homeland security degree consists of 120 credits and offers courses in international criminal justice, American politics, legal traditions, and threat assessment fundamentals. Online classes are taught asynchronously. Students can transfer up to 90 credits from other institutions toward their bachelor’s degree.
Located in South Carolina, Anderson University is a Christian, liberal arts college that offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Its bachelor’s of criminal justice with a specialization in homeland security and emergency preparedness is offered fully online, but students still have many opportunities to interact with their professors and peers. The 123-credit program teaches students about the history of correctional systems and practices, the causes and characteristics of crime, and the legal aspects of crime. This bachelor’s degree in homeland security features classes that follow a flexible eight-week format. The curriculum consists of 42 general education credits, 54 major-related credits, and 27 credits of electives. AU also provides distance learners with journey coaches who act as advisers and give students support throughout their academic careers. Applicants must submit satisfactory SAT or ACT scores.
Mercy College is a non-sectarian school located in the New York City area and serves both traditional and nontraditional students. Mercy is strongly committed to serving underrepresented students, students with large amounts of financial need, and first-generation college students. The college offers over 30 undergraduate and graduate degrees online, including its bachelor’s of science in corporate and homeland security. This multidisciplinary degree provides students with a foundation in both business and security concepts. Coursework focuses on a variety of topics, including the National Incident Management System and team building. Students also complete internships with national security agencies. Major-specific classes include investigative tech and reporting and information systems management. The 120-credit program takes four years to complete. Students can transfer up to 75 credits from a two-year institution and up to 90 credits from a four-year institution.
Founded in 1887, Campbell University is located in Buies Creek, North Carolina and offers 20 online bachelor’s and associate programs. Classes are delivered in an accelerated eight-week format. The university’s online bachelor’s of science in homeland security takes four years to complete. Graduates of this program learn skills related to border and transportation security, domestic counterterrorism, defense against catastrophic threats, and emergency preparedness and response. This 124-credit online degree in homeland security also includes classes that cover US history and public speaking. Students complete internship and cognate courses in regional terrorism studies, insurgency, and intelligence analysis and operations. Incoming students can transfer up to 64 credits from a two-year institution and unlimited credits from a four-year or military institution. To graduate, students should maintain an overall GPA of at least 2.0.
Originally known as the Alaska Agricultural College, the University of Alaska Fairbanks was established in 1917. The college currently serves over 11,000 students from all over the world and offers 60 online degrees. UAF’s online bachelor’s of homeland security and emergency management is a 120-credit, four-year program that prepares distance learners to work in law enforcement, public health safety, immigration and border security, and internal affairs. Students can choose to specialize in homeland security, emergency management, fire administration, cyber security, or emergency medical management. This online degree in homeland security offers a wide range of courses, from technical writing to fiscal management. To be accepted, applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or a minimum GPA of 2.5 and satisfactory ACT or SAT scores.
How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Homeland Security Program
Choosing the right online homeland security degree is a personal decision. In addition to reviewing tuition costs, curriculum, and available concentrations, you should review the institution’s accreditation. Also, contact a school’s admissions advisor for more information on financial aid and program specifics. As a prospective student, you should apply to schools that meet your individual and career needs. Below are a few common questions you might consider.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR ME TO COMPLETE MY DEGREE?
Completing your homeland security degree online depends on transfer credits, academic standing, and the curriculum of your chosen university. Bachelor’s programs typically require you to complete 120 credit hours. If you enroll full-time, most programs can be finished in four years. Many schools offer part-time options, which can extend graduation but allow you to work at a slower pace. Accelerated options are also available, in which courses are taken simultaneously for quicker degree completion. You should contact your prospective schools for more information on what kinds of programs are available.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO WORK WHILE I COMPLETE THIS PROGRAM?
Most online homeland security degree programs offer flexible schedules allowing you to work while you learn. Schools understand that your on-the-job experience only enhances classroom time. Therefore, with an online program, you can earn your degree, work, and support a family, all while having the flexibility to complete coursework on your own time. Programs are often structured to allow individual pacing, and internships are tailored to accommodate your current employment needs.
HOW DOES THIS PROGRAM SUPPORT ONLINE STUDENTS?
The best programs know that online education benefits students in multiple ways. Earning a homeland security degree from the schools listed here can be completed 100% online or often, in hybrid formats. Student services and financial aid planning are also accessible online at most schools. The dynamic structure and unique demands of online education prepare you for the diverse challenges you will later meet in a career in homeland security.
WHAT CAREER AND INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES DOES THIS SCHOOL PROVIDE?
Internships and career advancement opportunities are determined by each school. Internships provide students with supervised training from professionals in the field, and many homeland security online degrees encourage students to partner with local law enforcement, security, and relief agencies. Additional professional development is also available at most schools and can typically be accessed online. These institutions are dedicated to your success, and provide diverse opportunities to grow your career.
Careers for Graduates of this Program
With an online homeland security degree, you learn to identify risks, develop response strategies, and tackle recovery operation techniques to meet any situation. These skills are necessary for a variety of careers, in both government and private agencies. Whether its national security, law enforcement, or emergency response, graduates find satisfying and profitable work in many roles. A few of the most common positions are listed here.
Emergency Response Coordinator
Emergency response coordinators
work with companies and government institutions to provide services to communities and institutions in times of crisis. They coordinate with police, fire, and governmental offices. Exceptional communication and collaboration skills are required, since most coordinators manage teams and work with multiple community service providers during emergencies.
Median Salary: $54,928
Emergency Management Specialist
Emergency management specialists
coordinate disaster response and crisis intervention at the state, local, federal, and private levels. Typically, they specialize in certain types of emergency response (natural disaster or global terrorism). In addition to planning and communication skills, emergency management specialists may provide analytical services to predict and prevent emergency situations.
Median Salary: $54,439
find work with government agencies and contractors and specialize in identifying security risks and formulating appropriate responses. Depending on placement, travel and field work may be required. All positions typically include extensive data analysis and the ability to communicate confidential data securely.
Median Salary: $65,206
Special Agent (Federal)
enforce and investigate violations of federal law and statutes. Investigating federal offenses and security threats make this role dynamic and often dangerous. Selection for this position is highly competitive and includes rigorous training — in addition to a bachelor’s degree. Strong analytic skills and attention to detail are required.
Median Salary: $77,958
Disaster Recovery Coordinator
With a focus on the aftermath of disasters and security crises, disaster recovery coordinators
plan recovery strategies for private and governmental agencies. This role requires collaboration and clear communication with outside agencies. Strong leadership and problem solving skills are essential to navigate the complex emergency response and operation needs of this job.
Median Salary: $86,427
Job Outlook and Salary
Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in homeland security enter the workforce with ample opportunity to apply their skills. With a history of significant growth in the last ten years, employment is expected to rise 6% through 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. A homeland security degree prepares job seekers for crisis management, analysis, and resource distribution skills in a variety of potential careers. Though government budgeting affects available openings, geographic needs, and global security concerns continue to increase jobs. Private companies with security needs or who provide relief services continue to increase job prospects for degree holders.
Employment Growth for Emergency Management Directors
||Projected Employment, 2014
SALARY GROWTH BY EXPERIENCE
Similar to most careers, annual salaries for graduates with a homeland security bachelor’s degree rise over time with increased experience in the field. Additional certifications in information systems security, data analysis, and public health can also influence pay throughout your career. Some of the most common positions are listed below, demonstrating the positive trend in salary growth over time.
To determine the best online bachelor’s in homeland security programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online bachelor’s in homeland security programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.