Online Associate Degrees in Homeland Security
Many of the same schools, colleges and universities that offer traditional undergraduate degrees and certificates in law enforcement, criminal justice and homeland security now offer the same academic programs online. An online associate degree program in homeland security usually takes two years to complete and is comprised of 60 undergraduate credit hours. AS degrees can provide graduates with a recruiting advantage in gaining entry level law enforcement jobs or roles in security organizations. Approximately half of the associate degree program is comprised of classes that satisfy the general education core requirements in the liberal arts and sciences. Students planning to go on to a bachelor’s degree program may cut their time to graduation in half by transferring accredited and approved courses from the general education core. The remaining 30 credit hours are devoted to study of criminal justice, emergency management, or homeland security classwork to complete the degree. Degree types include the associates of science (AS)degree in general studies with a concentration on homeland security, an AS in Emergency Management or AS in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security.
Students planning on a sector of the homeland security professions may choose to earn their AS in a related major such as computer science, law enforcement or emergency response. Online homeland security programs leading to undergraduate certificates concentrate on major fields without requiring 30 hours of general education core classes. They may be completed in as little as nine months. Key certificates are in studies of criminal justice, data analysis, terrorism, disaster response, weapons of mass destruction, and national intelligence gathering systems. High school graduates applying to undergraduate online homeland security degree programs and certificates do not need previous post-secondary experience or education to qualify.
Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Homeland Security
Colleges, universities and private security schools offer full online bachelor’s degree programs in homeland security. Some courses may require brief residencies to conduct class seminars, labs or hands-on instruction. The majority of studies are done online, delivered through multimedia presentations, video and voice conferencing, streaming lectures, emails and threaded discussions. Graduates find jobs within the broader fields of homeland security, intelligence, emergency management, and information technology security. Bachelor’s degree programs take four years to complete the 120 credit hours of instruction, and coursework can include studies in emergency management, legal and ethical issues, cyber security, infrastructure analysis disaster preparedness, and domestic security. Other options include online curriculum in law enforcement, public administration, criminology, forensics, criminal investigations. Bachelor’s degrees in homeland security fall into various distinctions and may include the designations of Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS). Students should pay care when evaluating courses and degree requirements to determine the best fit for their educational goals and career objectives.
Online Graduate Degree Programs for Homeland Security
Professionals who have already completed an undergraduate degree may also choose to complete online master’s degrees or certificates demonstrating specializations within the homeland security field. Online master’s programs in homeland security span numerous specializations, building on the student’s undergraduate learning and professional experience. Professionals in fields such as public health, law enforcement, technology, finance and insurance may choose master’s degree programs in homeland security to advance into leadership roles in protecting their organizations as well as the general public. It typically takes two years to complete a master’s degree, although credit hours (approximately 30) and course requirements vary by the online degree program.
Coursework can feature studies in geospacial intelligence, public health preparedness, agricultural biosecurity, cyberterrorism and security and public policy. Students may be required to complete internships in the public and private sectors, and complete a master’s research project. Admissions requirements vary, but typically include submission of undergraduate degree and transcripts, scores from a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) admissions exam and a professional resume.
At the doctoral level, professionals can reach the pinnacle of academic achievement by completing an online PhD program in homeland security. Doctoral degrees are suited for professionals who go into fields of homeland security education, organizational management and leadership, private and public research, and consulting. They take four to seven years to complete, including requirements for comprehensive research and presentation of a formal dissertation on their approved focus in the major. Coursework typically includes completion of 60 credit units. Online coursework includes studies in qualitative and quantitative research design, statistics, ethics, local emergency management systems, law enforcement and intelligence, aviation, maritime and ground transportation security, leadership and dissertation research. Admissions requirements are varied by institution. Students should have completed an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, and submit all transcripts, letters of recommendation, an admissions essay, and scores from graduate admissions examinations.
How to Evaluate Online Homeland Security Programs
Because of the breadth and expertise of today’s online Homeland Security degree programs, most students should not have to compromise their career goals in order to fit into one program or another. A careful search should yield plenty of schools, colleges or universities with online certificate and degree options that accommodate family and work commitments. At this point, students should evaluate the quality of the prospective programs and the specific course offerings for a solid fit. Here are some key factors that should also be part of a serious evaluation of programs.
Accreditation is a voluntary process by which colleges, universities and private schools seek an evaluation of their academic quality and financial well being from an independent organization. In turn, students, colleges, and potential employers can view accreditations that indicate the institution or specific programs meet nationally accepted educational standards. Institutions may hold more than one accreditation from one of six regional organizations endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium Association (HSDECA) is another recognized, specialized accreditation agency. Other accrediting organizations include the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (AHOMELAND SECURITYS) and, for online degree programs, the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
Online Technical Support and Student Assistance
Students can also evaluate prospective schools and online Homeland Security degree programs by the seamless delivery of all research and instructional materials germane to the course. Most institutions allow prospective students to test-drive the course delivery system to look over tools that can include online chat, discussion threads, email, multimedia presentations, video lectures and online conferencing. A wholly online course should be available on a 24/7 basis, and so should the technical support for the online delivery system.
Faculty Expertise, Graduation and Career Information
Students planning to spend the time and money to pursue on online degree in criminal Justice have a right to know the institution statistics on graduation rates, career placements, average time-to-completion for degrees and Homeland Security professional certifications. Explore the faculty at all prospective schools with an eye to the professor/instructor’s practical real-world security expertise and academic credentials. Finally, is there a career planning office and job counseling service available to students as well as graduates?
Interview with a Homeland Security Professional
Steven C. went into the U.S. Army after high school and entered college on the GI Bill when he completed his duty. He describes himself as a “concerned nerd” that wants to take his computer network training into a broader career in cybersecurity with a private or governmental organization. He is enrolled in an online MBA in Cybercecurity.