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.
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.
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
How to Evaluate Online Homeland Security
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
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
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.