Homeland security experts devote themselves to assisting citizens when a catastrophic event occurs on home ground. Distance learning degree programs are available at the master's and doctorate levels. Most if not all coursework can be completed online, although doctoral programs typically require some on-campus attendance. Some programs also require students to complete an internship or residency.
Admission requirements vary by school and degree level, but those seeking an online master's degree in homeland security must have a bachelor's degree and possibly relevant work experience. Doctoral programs may have similar admission standards, but some also require that students have a master's degree to be eligible for enrollment.
Master of Science in Homeland Security
A distance-learning master's degree program in homeland security is available in a completely online format. These programs typically range from 30 to 36 units or credits and aim to give students the skills they need to remain calm in times of crisis and respond in any way necessary to ensure the well-being of their fellow citizens.
Online courses cover topics such as the following:
- Public policy
- Emergency preparedness
- Security strategies
- Interpersonal communication
- Public speaking
Students may be required to complete a capstone course or another culminating experience, such as a research project, to fulfill the master's degree requirements.
Ph.D. in Homeland Security
Upon completion of an online master's in homeland security, professionals may want to continue on to pursue a distance-learning doctorate program. An online Ph.D. in Homeland Security is offered by few schools, and it requires a blend of online courses and on-site requirements. This program does not have the normal convenience of most distance-learning programs because the on-site requirements are so rigid; however, schools may be willing to work with students to arrive at workable schedules.
The distance-learning Ph.D. program in homeland security emphasizes leadership and management skills to mold students into homeland security experts that citizens can rely on for help in time of great need. The online coursework goes into more depth regarding the following areas:
- The role of government
- Procedures for catastrophe response
- Healthcare management
- Intelligence gathering
On-site requirements for an online Ph.D. in Homeland Security involve residency requirements, internships and a capstone dissertation defense that is the hallmark of nearly every doctorate program. The dissertation is a well-researched and finely-tuned written document that in some way impacts the homeland security field. Advisors are available to help students with possible topics and research methods. This essay is defended in person before a jury of faculty members, who then judge the work.
Online programs in homeland security often cater to students who work full-time. The curriculum is presented through an online medium, allowing scholars to access their classes at any time from any location. As long as students complete their assignments on time, they are free to work at their own pace according to their own schedules.
Most course readings will be provided within the virtual classroom and may include excerpts from government handbooks, articles in scholarly journals about the role of government, current event articles regarding homeland security or pieces written by the instructor. Lectures may be presented via pre-recorded audio or video files, and class discussion is typically mimicked through a forum where students share ideas and create online study groups.
Master's and Ph.D. programs in homeland security studies are highly interdisciplinary, helping students build the broad array of skills needed to prevent, respond to and recover from natural disasters and human threats. While master's degree programs can often be completed fully online, doctoral programs usually require more on-campus appearances.