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International Security Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

An international security degree program teaches students to utilize practical methods of conflict resolution and recognize signs of terrorism and global unrest. There are various education paths students can choose to pursue.

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Essential Information

Students in bachelor's or master's degree or graduate certificate programs in international security look at global security issues, utilize collected data along with knowledge of other cultures, and develop plans to prevent or contain problems. Students study, and often visit, other countries and take courses in terrorism, security management, and international politics. Graduate certificates also offer specialized education in particular areas of international and homeland security, such as political psychology, economic security, and military strategy to name a few.

Many programs can be found fully or partially online. In addition, study abroad and internship opportunities are both common and encouraged.


Bachelor's Degree in International Security

Undergraduate international security programs introduce fundamental concepts of international security and prepare scholars to analyze data, think proactively, and develop cultural awareness. International security courses teach students how to create and implement plans to increase security on a global level. Students gain knowledge of basic concepts before advancing to courses that are specific to their field of study. Topics covered could include:

  • World geography
  • International politics
  • Human psychology
  • Terrorism history
  • Global economics
  • Homeland security

Graduate Certificate in International Security

Required coursework in a graduate certificate in international security can usually be completed in less than a year, and students might be able to apply credit toward a master's or doctoral degree. Graduate studies in international security can focus on global economics, military histories, and foreign policies. A few examples of course topics include:

  • Local, national and international terrorism assessment
  • Emergency response procedures
  • Emerging security technologies
  • Modern global security solutions

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Master's Degree in International Security

A graduate program places emphases on key areas, such as defense forces, global economies, and at-risk environments. Course topics discuss global security implications and teach students practical measures designed to safeguard volatile geographic areas and react to situations that threaten public safety. An emphasis is placed on applying the skills and concepts learned in the classroom through hands on experiences. Course subjects often include:

  • Conflict preparedness
  • Counter-terrorism principles
  • History of war
  • Foreign policy
  • Defense strategies
  • International intelligence policy

Popular Career Options

Graduates have the ability to enter the field in a number of entry-level career options. Some typical roles in international security include:

  • Private investigator
  • Immigration officer
  • Counter-terrorism analyst

Graduates of a master's degree program often qualify for many mid- and advanced-level careers in several roles. Career possibilities include:

  • Homeland security analyst
  • Military operations specialist
  • Foreign policy consultant
  • Economist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The field of international security applies to many professions and industries, including politics, economics, science, technology, and branches of the military. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities in these fields varied based on the employment specialty (www.bls.gov). Correctional officer and economist professions were expected to see growth of 4% and 6%, respectively, between 2014 and 2024. Sociologists and forensic science technicians showed projected growth of -1% and 27%, respectively, over the same decade.

Entry-level diplomatic security agents working for the National Security Agency (www.careers.state.gov) in 2015 could expect to earn between $42,798 and $57,517, depending on specialties, location, and position. Foreign assignments could offer additional benefits and salary potential. Although considered less prominent than those investigating international security issues, economists use the state of global security to assess financial stability on the world market. According to the BLS, economists working for the federal government (excluding the postal service) earned a median salary of $110,470 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education

Depending on a chosen career path, graduates could be required to participate in additional training through their employer. Typically government agencies, correctional departments, and private security firms require employees to participate in intensive training programs specific to their job duties.

Whether in a bachelor's, master's, or graduate certificate program, students can learn fundamental skills needed for working in international security. Graduates from these programs have many different options for career fields, ranging from scientist to diplomat.

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