Online Associate Degree in Homeland Security: Program Information

Learn about online associate's degree programs in homeland security. Get an overview of the program requirements, course descriptions, and career options available for this field.

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Essential Information

There are several online homeland security associate's degree programs provided by a variety of institutions. Programs may be offered entirely online or as a combination of online and traditional classroom instruction. The minimum admissions requirement is a high school diploma or GED. Students must also have access to computers with word processing software.

Courses cover topics like counterterrorism strategies, border security, emergency planning, criminal justice and bioterrorism. An associate's degree program may lead to positions as a firefighter, police officer, security guard or homeland security officer. However, these jobs often require an additional training period beyond the degree.

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Associate's Degree in Homeland Security

An online associate's degree program in homeland security aims to provide broad coverage of a terrorism prevention, border security, cyber security, disaster preparedness and emergency response. Students learn to analyze evidence and intelligence data, identify security risks and devise response plans. In the process, they improve their observational and critical thinking skills. Enrollment in an associate's degree program minimally requires a high school diploma or GED.

Program Information and Requirements

All course materials in an online associate's degree program in homeland security are accessible via a school's website at the 24-hour convenience of students. However, lessons must be completed by specified deadlines. Student-instructor interactions take place through online conferencing, online forums, e-mail, phone and fax. An associate's degree is typically earned in two years.

Online homeland security degree programs are generally managed through Blackboard or WebCT online course management systems, and do not require students to have subject-specific software or computer hardware. Access to the online course materials requires a computer with Internet access, and assignment may require common software like word processing programs, e-mail programs or PDF readers.

Course Topics

Associate's degree programs generally include a liberal arts component in the humanities, science and social science. Homeland security degree programs are likely to include criminal justice courses as a core requirement.

Homeland Security

Students learn current theory and practice in this still evolving division of law enforcement. Topics considered include the relationship of homeland security to private security and public safety.

Emergency Management

This course covers designing response plans to hazards, natural disasters and catastrophic accidents. Coursework emphasizes response plan coordination between local, state and federal authorities.

Computer and Network Security

Students receive an overview of the U.S. computer network infrastructure, particularly the portion concerned with protecting national security. The impact of cyber security on civil liberties and the implications of cyber terrorism for global finance are also considered.

Homeland Security Law and Ethics

This course surveys the intersection of constitutional law, international law and national security policy. Topics considered also include conventions on human rights, codes of conduct and ethical leadership.

Career Information

Graduates with an online associate's degree in homeland security may work as fire fighters, hazardous materials workers, police officers and security guards. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that employment opportunities would grow 4% for police and sheriff's patrol officers and 5% for security guards over the 2014-2024 decade. Hazardous materials removal workers could expect a 7% job growth, while a 5% growth was projected for fire fighters.

The Bureau indicated that fire fighters had a median annual salary of $46,870 in 2015, while police and sheriff's patrol officers made a median annual income of $58,320. Hazardous materials removal workers earned a median annual salary of $39,690.

Continuing Education Information

Associate's degree holders can go on to earn a bachelor's degree or master's degree in homeland security to work for state or federal law enforcement agencies. Programs at both degree levels are available online. Credit transfer options with many bachelor's degree programs allow credits from an associate's degree to fulfill some of the bachelor's degree requirements.

Over the course of an online associate's degree program in homeland security, students are introduced to prevention and response techniques for a wide range of national threats, from natural disasters to cyber terrorism. They also get a general education, which can provide a foundation for more advanced studies in the field as well as entry-level jobs in law enforcement or emergency response.

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