Homeland Security Masters Degree

Masters in Homeland Security programs teach management and leadership skills, intelligence analysis, legal and technical issues, and risk management to prepare students to secure America and its citizens from threats. Many programs also include courses in emergency management and cybersecurity to stay up-to-date on new methods of attack that the country may face. In addition, schools may offer programs in three different learning formats, online, traditional (or on-campus), and hybrid, making a Homeland Security Masters Degree accessible to students with a variety of needs.

 Masters in Homeland Security

Did You Know?

In the fiscal year 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was allotted a budget of $40.6 billion.

Masters in Homeland Security: Important Topics

Homeland security crosses both the private and public sector in order to protect citizens in all facets of life. Therefore, programs emphasize an integrative approach to provide a complete understanding of homeland security in a global context. Usually, that means combining aspects from many of the fields important to homeland security, such as biological warfare, intelligence gathering, emergency management, cyber security, and others. This way students might understand how they fit into the overall strategy of protecting a country's citizens and resources.

Some key topics you may study while earning a Masters in Homeland Security degree include the following.

  • The nature and sources of threats to social, political, and economic systems
  • The creation of disaster (man-made or natural) response plans based on FEMA guidelines
  • The assessment of risk susceptibility, resilience, resistance, and vulnerability among communities and organizations
  • The application of leadership principles in order to improve management policy
  • Research and developing trends in all aspects of homeland security

While these are some of the key topics in the field, there are many other aspects of homeland security and emergency management that you may explore. Read individual program descriptions and contact schools for details.

What's the Difference Between Homeland Security and Emergency Management?

Emergency management and homeland security masters degrees share many similarities and principles. Both focus on coordinating efforts to provide public safety through complex, collaborative tasks. However, there are some very important differences between the two fields.

For instance, Emergency Management Graduate Degrees are typically more focused on the following topics.

  • Disaster Prevention
  • Planning
  • Preparedness
  • Response
  • Mitigation
  • Recovery

Usually, this is on the local level, so that communities, organizations, or businesses can be properly prepared in case of a natural or other type of disaster. However, many emergency management personnel operate at the federal government level.

On the other hand, homeland security masters degrees are more likely to examine the following topics.

  • Domestic and International Security Issues
  • Infrastructure Protection
  • Strategic Planning for Security
  • International Relations
  • Intelligence Operations

Due to their similarities, many programs have Emergency Management and Homeland Security Degree options either as a combination or as a concentration. Other schools have it listed as a single masters degree. In order to find the perfect program for you, be sure to understand the differences between each of these programs and how those differences may impact your course of study.

Common Homeland Security Classes

Homeland security classes focus on the many concepts, theories, and strategies of keeping America safe. For example, students might learn to analyze the aspects of the disaster cycle and understand the nature and sources of threats to social, political, and economic systems. In addition to security specific topics, courses might also cover leadership, management and communication techniques in relations to the public and media. This may help students develop high-level operational expertise in all of the facets of homeland security.

While every school has a unique design and specific courses may not be the same at every institution, you might take the following classes while earning a Masters in Homeland Security degree.

  • Applied Data Analysis in Criminal Justice
  • Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Information Technology in Emergency Management
  • Policies of Homeland Security
  • Infrastructure Protection
  • Global Lessons in Security
  • Advanced Intelligence Applications for Homeland Security
  • Issues in National Security
  • Crisis Communication
  • Intelligence in Homeland Security

Choosing a Homeland Security Masters Degree: Essential Information

In order to teach the concepts, theories, and principles of homeland security, many masters programs teach aspects of criminal justice, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, and emergency management. This allows students an opportunity to examine the facets of homeland security from a domestic and international approach. Programs also explore how these principles are different for federal and local governments, as well as for the private sector.

In fact, some schools offer a joint degree, such as a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice and Homeland Security. Others may have homeland security offered as a degree in the School of Emergency Management, or as a concentration for a Cyber Security Masters Degree. Finally, some schools may offer those subjects, and others, as concentrations for Homeland Security Masters Degrees.

All of these variations offer you plenty of options to find the perfect program for you. However, it also makes it important to understand your own goals upon earning your degree in order to find a program that fits.

Types of Homeland Security Masters Degrees

The majority of Masters in Homeland Security programs offer one of three different types of degree. Each of these have similar goals and objectives, which is to teach a complete understanding of the principles of homeland security. However, the specific courses and structure may vary.

  1. Master of Science (MS) in Homeland Security: A MS degree is focused on teaching students a complete and thorough knowledge of the theories and concepts of homeland security. MS degrees may take a more scientific approach to the subject matter and highlight technical aspects of the field.

  2. Master of Arts (MA) in Homeland Security: Similar to an MS degree, MA degrees are normally focused on developing research and critical analysis skills. However, MA programs are often associated with a liberal arts approach and may focus on theory and interdisciplinary studies.

  3. Master of Professional Studies (MPS) - Homeland Security: As opposed to both MA and MS degrees, which are typically focused on preparing students for doctoral programs or research careers, MPS degrees are similar to Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. These are professional degrees and strive to prepare students for immediate application in their field.

Keep in mind that every program has a unique design. As a result, some MPS degrees may be more focused on research and some MA or MS degrees may place more emphasis on application. Check with a number of schools to find the perfect program for you.

What is Cyber Security in Homeland Defense?

With the ever growing role of technology in government and everyday life, cyber security is an increasingly important facet of homeland defense. Cyber security consists of all of the processes, technologies, and practices that protect computers, networks, programs, and data from attack or unauthorized access. This requires coordinated efforts throughout all parts of an information system.

Many Homeland Security Masters Programs offer courses in cyber security to prepare students to face this growing challenge. Cybersecurity classes may cover risk assessment and various areas of cryptology. Other schools may offer it as a concentration, which typically includes a number of courses in the subject. However, as opposed to a Cyber Security Masters Degrees, these programs may look at the issues solely through the lens of homeland defense.

What Is a Degree in Counterterrorism?

Counterterrorism is a common topic in homeland security and may be available as a concentration area in Masters in Homeland Security programs. Counterterrorism consists of all of the practices, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments, companies, and others use in response to terrorist threats. Therefore, if you decide to pursue a counterterrorism concentration for your Masters in Homeland Security degree, you will typically study cyber security, influence warfare, and counterterrorism strategy. Other topics may include intelligence writing, threat management, counterterrorism briefing and anti-terrorism techniques.

However, all programs are unique. Therefore, while some programs may offer counterterrorism as a concentration in homeland security, other schools may offer it as a separate degree. Keep that in mind while searching for the perfect school for you.

Masters in Homeland Security Program Admissions Requirements

Every school has their own specific set of admissions criteria. However, there are some common requirements for Homeland Security Masters Programs.

  • Bachelors degree from an accredited university
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts

Remember that some schools have stricter requirements than others. Other requirements may include at least two years of prior professional experience in the field, a minimum bachelors GPA, or minimum GRE scores. As a result, it’s important to check the specific requirements of each school before you apply.

Homeland Security Masters Program Graduation Requirements

In order to earn a Masters in Homeland Security degree, many schools require students to complete the following.

  • Complete all required courses (core and electives)
  • Earn minimum number of credits
  • Capstone or thesis project

Keep in mind that some schools do not require a capstone or thesis project. Also, some schools may have minimum GPA requirements while you go through the program and in order to graduate. For instance, this may include maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA overall and a 2.25 GPA on all major courses. Check with schools for details.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Masters in Homeland Security Degree?

Typically, it takes full-time students two years to earn a Masters in Homeland Security. However, some schools offer accelerated options, which may allow students to earn their degree in as little as one year. This is usually viewed as the minimum amount of time.

Many schools also provide students the option to earn their degree at their own pace. This may help many students who can only take a limited amount of courses per semester. However, it usually takes part-time students longer to earn their masters.

Different Options for Earning Homeland Security Masters Degrees

Typically, there are three different formats available to earn your Masters in Homeland Security. This may help accomodate different learning styles and scheduling needs.

  • Online Masters Degree in Homeland Security: Online programs may provide you the flexibility to perform coursework at your convenience, such as early in the morning or late at night. It is also a great way to pursue programs anywhere in the world, so you might truly find one to match your interests. However, it is important to note that some online programs do require students to go to campus for residencies or to complete specific course assignments. Follow up directly to learn if this might apply to you.

  • On-Campus Masters in Homeland Security: Traditional programs offer the structure that some students prefer while attending school. This may include specific class times and professor office hours. It also allows students to take advantage of the campus experience and resources, such as libraries, career support and student events.

  • Hybrid Homeland Security Masters Degrees: Some students view hybrid programs as the best of both worlds, as some course requirements are completed online and others on-campus. Campus sessions may be in the form of full classes, or shorter residencies. Every program is different.

What To Do With a Homeland Security Degree

Earning a Masters in Homeland Security degree may provide you the opportunity to pursue careers focused on protecting America and its citizens. Typically, these careers can be in a number of different settings, such as in an office or out in the field. Graduates might consider working for the federal government in various departments, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA). Alternatively, you may also pursue a career in local law enforcement or even for private companies.i

Some potential careers in homeland security, and their 2016 median annual salary are listed below.

  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators: $78,120ii

  • First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives: $84,840iii

  • Information Security Analysts: $92,600iv

While the specific responsibilities vary for each of these positions, normally each is focused on conducting tests to show weaknesses and vulnerabilities and recommend security enhancements to management.v Each of these positions also have different requirements. However a bachelors degree if often required for entry level positions, while masters degrees may be prefered for more advanced postions or leadership roles.

Take the Next Step

Do you want to earn a degree in a field where you can help keep your friends and family safe? Then take the next step to earn your Masters in Homeland Security by clicking on any of the listings on this page. This will show you program descriptions, common courses, and specific admissions requirements. You can even reach out to your favorites directly to request more information and apply today.

Or, you can use the menu to narrow your search to specific learning formats (online, on-campus, or hybrid) or even a specific state. All this could help you find the perfect program for you.

[i] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2006/summer/art01.pdf [ii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm [iii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes331012.htm [iv] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-5 [v] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-2

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