Online Colleges for Homeland Security Degrees: How to Choose

Colleges and universities throughout the country offer online undergraduate and graduate programs in homeland security. Find out what you have to consider to make a school choice that works best for you.

There are a large number of schools that offer online degree and certificate programs in homeland security, so students shouldn't have trouble finding a program that meets their goals. Below we will discuss how learning environments may differ between schools and what types of careers each program level can lead to in hopes of making the decision clearer.

How to Select an Online Homeland Security School

Certificate, associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs prepare students to pursue several career options in national security and disaster management. Undergraduate certificate and degree programs typically require only a high school diploma or the equivalent. Graduate studies may expect applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree, graduate school entrance testing and related work experience prior to admission. Students should then weigh the learning environment with the career opportunities.

Learning Environment

Typically, online programs allow enrollment at any time, though some schools may regulate courses to specific semesters. Most schools provide courses and all training materials completely online, though a few may require students to participate in on-campus or on-site internship or research. Online learning usually offers flexibility of scheduling and study options, including the acceptance of part-time students. However, some programs may limit enrollment to only a few applicants with previous work experience in a related field.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of an academic program in homeland security may be qualified to work for both private companies or government agencies. The increased demand in trained security professionals provides those with adequate training opportunities in local, national or international law enforcement, political and diplomatic offices, counter-terrorism intelligence services and cyber-terrorism assessment. Certain employers may provide tuition assistance or coverage for a student enrolled in one of these programs.

List of Online Homeland Security Programs

Online Undergraduate Certificate in Homeland Security

Many certificate programs are available completely online. Program length varies from a few weeks to a year, and students can often transfer some or all credit received to a bachelor's degree program. Programs cover areas like:

  • American legal tradition
  • Public safety
  • Intelligence gathering
  • International criminal justice

Online Associate Degree in Homeland Security

Several colleges offer 2-year associate degree programs in homeland security. Some schools include a homeland security track within a criminal justice degree program, combining global emergency response with legal studies in the American justice system. The degree program addresses issues such as:

  • Tactical communications
  • International and domestic terrorism
  • Current issues in national security
  • Security principles, planning and procedures
  • Cyberterrorism and IT security

Online Bachelor's Degree in Homeland Security

Bachelor's degree programs study the complex nature of homeland security, assessing the line between research and applied practice. Courses introduce students to topics in transportation security, evaluation of risk and defensive countermeasures. Other topics include:

  • Emergency management
  • The American Constitution
  • Privacy laws
  • Disaster psychology

Online Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security

Online graduate studies leading to a certificate of completion typically require a bachelor's degree, though some schools require that students be enrolled in a master's program. Credit for completed courses can typically be transferable to a master's program. Advanced topics include:

  • Threat assessment
  • Terrorism response options
  • Extremist groups
  • Research methods

Online Master's Degree in Homeland Security

Master's programs are designed for those seeking to advance an existing career. Many programs allow students to concentrate studies on a specific field of interest, such as public health safety, cyber-crimes or domestic terrorism. Programs generally taking two years to complete on a full-time schedule; working professionals may take longer to finish. Courses often included in a master's program include:

  • Disaster communication
  • Psychological profiling
  • Conflict resolution
  • Social and ethical issues

Schools with Online Programs in Homeland Security

American Military University offers a number of fully online programs in homeland security, including two different undergraduate certificates, associate's degrees in related fields like counterterrorism and weapons of mass destruction preparedness, a bachelor's degree, a master's program, and a graduate certificate. The graduate-level programs require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree. All of AMU's programs have monthly course starts to give students flexibility in when they start their program. The courses utilize a virtual classroom as well as a mobile application for submitting assignments.

Southern New Hampshire University offers an entirely online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security and Counterterrorism degree as well as a Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Advanced Counterterrorism. These programs may be of special interest to members of the military, who will benefit from discounted tuition rates from SNHU. The master's program can be completed in 15 months and does not require GRE/GMAT scores to apply.

Pennsylvania State University offers an online Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security degree. To apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, submit a statement of purpose and three letters or recommendation, and supply GRE scores. Students in this program with an interest in global affairs may want to choose the international track, which focuses more on issues abroad. Penn State also offers an online B.S. in Criminal Justice with a Homeland Security minor, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security. The programs offered by Penn State are completed asynchronously, meaning students can login to classes on their own time. Some classes may involve self-study while others will have group projects that require students to interact over the program network.

To summarize, there are a wide variety of online programs offered in the field of homeland security. Students may want to consider how long they wish to be in school, what kind of delivery method the school uses, and what types of careers the program they complete will prepare them for before deciding on a school.

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