Updated: August 1, 2017
Are you working in crisis mitigation, system security, or infrastructure design and curious about bigger challenges and responsibilities? Are you interested in fulfilling the respected position of upper management within a government, corporate, or nonprofit office, striving to best protect your people and systems? Then you may want to consider doctoral work in homeland security.
Getting a PhD in Homeland Security is akin to the traditional, on-campus doctoral programs in that you will take three years of classes, then exams, and then you’ll write, present, and defend a dissertation. Though you’ll do it all from a distance, you’ll partner closely with peers and faculty in your research and specialization work. You’ll also develop the kind of critical thinking, persuasive communication, and crucial problem-solving skills necessary for a leader in homeland security.
The job outlook for those holding a PhD in homeland security is excellent. With a projected 13 percent rise in the next few years if you’re interested in teaching, and 6 percent if you’re interested in management, the payoffs for the degree are huge. Likewise, top executives in security make on average 102k a year, while professors and teachers of security make 70k annually, and researchers make at least 104k annually.
The problem with so many traditional doctoral programs is that they require you to quit your job to become a full-time student. This creates financial and vocational stress, as one has to weigh career ambitions against educational advancement. However, it doesn’t have to be so dichotomized. With the advent of online education, you can maintain your current occupational responsibilities while enhancing your career through flexible, convenient, and affordable online education.
What are the 5 Best Online PhDs in Homeland Security?
The five doctoral programs below each offer online opportunities to earn a PhD in Homeland Security, though some emphasize the business end of securing networks and crisis management and others emphasize the investigative and research end. Despite these differences, these programs are the best at distance, doctoral education. We aggregated this list through exhaustive and extensive means: first we examined academic reputation, then student retention (a signifier of student satisfaction), and then affordability and the early salaries of graduates. What we found were those programs that are not only the best in the nation at training and educating advanced homeland security officials, but those that are also affordable and offer a great return on investment. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
Jacksonville State University
College Choice Score: 100
Total Cost: $27,660
Originally founded as a teacher’s school, Jacksonville State University (JSU) is now a large, public university based in Jacksonville, Alabama. Organized into five schools and colleges, JSU offers degrees across all levels in an array of academic areas, from business and education to applied engineering, computer science, and more. Around 9k undergraduate and graduate students, including those studying at a distance, are enrolled at JSU.
Offered through the Department of Emergency Management and the School of Human Services and Social Services, Jacksonville State University’s Doctor of Science degree requires sixty credit hours, most of which are courses in research methods, statistics, administration and policy, and homeland security. On top of this, students will be required to complete eighteen credits of dissertation and applied research work. A sampling of the curriculum includes courses such as:
- Disaster Management Principles and Practice
- Interdisciplinary Disaster Theory and Research
- Systems Thinking and Applications in Emergency Management
- Hazards Risk Management
- Voluntary and Nonprofit Disaster Management
- Crisis Leadership and Management
- And more
Jacksonville State University’s online programs, especially its graduate degrees, are known both for their excellent curriculum and their value. The most affordable doctoral program on our list, JSU offers a strong return on investment.
College Choice Score: 87.25
Total Cost: $53,680
Walden University is a private institution based in Minneapolis that specializes in business, public health, education, management, and technology degrees. It is a member of a large, global network of universities and schools and has nearly 50k undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in one of its five colleges.
Walden University’s online PhD in Public Policy and Administration with an emphasis on Homeland Security Policy and Coordination is for those who want to investigate the preventative methods and policies put forth to protect individual, organizational, and agency’s rights and freedoms. Doctoral students are free to study either man-made or natural disasters and how those crises brought homeland security issues to the forefront of public policy in recent years. Furthermore, you’ll also focus on the array of approaches to the National Incident Management System, through coursework, research, and dissertating. Some of the classes you’ll take as a doctoral student at Walden include:
- Ethics and Social Justice
- Strategic Planning, Collaboration, and Coordination
- Research Theory, Design, and Methods
- Finance and Budgeting for the Public Sector
- Governance and Public Policy
- Public Policy Implications of Terrorism Legislation and Policies
- Among others
The flagship online university in the Laureate International Universities system, Walden benefits from an educational community that is distinctively multinational.
College Choice Score: 86.75
Total Cost: $62,730
Also based in Minneapolis, Capella University is owned and managed by the Capella Education Company. Most of Capella’s programs are delivered online, of which there are nearly 150 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Over 30k students attend Capella, from all over the country and even around the world.
Through Capella’s School of Public Service Leadership you can earn a Doctor of Emergency Management fully online. This program balances research with practical methodology to give students the deepest insights into an evolving field. Whether you’re interested in community, state, or federal homeland security work, Capella ensures you have both the foundation in security theory and concepts as well as the skillsets necessary for succeeding vocationally, including research technique, policy development, leadership, and polished professional communications. Some of the classes you’ll take while earning your PhD through Capella include:
- Collaboration in a Diverse and Dynamic World
- Contemporary Issues in Emergency Management
- Risk Management
- Twenty-first Century Communication and Leadership
- Administration of Emergencies and Disasters
- And much more
Capella University is a leader in distance graduate education. While it has a strong undergraduate population, most of its enrollment consists of graduate students in business, technology, and psychology masters and doctoral programs. Capella also prides itself on its student-centric approach to education, giving students the opportunity to earn college credit through past experiences.
College Choice Score: 86.75
Total Cost: $56,232
Northcentral University is a doctoral research university based in San Diego, California. Though Northcentral offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a range of fields, Northcentral specializes in business, technology, psychology, management, education, and marriage and family therapy degrees.
For those looking for a PhD program steeped in business analytics, management, and administration, this program from Northcentral may be a perfect fit. Offered through the Business and Technology Management department, this online PhD in Homeland Security with specialization in Leadership and Policy program teaches students how to conduct and implement exhaustive, rigorous research while cultivating skills in leadership, communications, and ethics. Northcentral’s program is more focused on man-made crises, such as terrorism, than others, and thus seeks to ready students for careers in:
- Law enforcement
- Public safety
- Public administration
- Government investigative agencies
- Disaster preparedness agencies
- And medical crisis nonprofits
One of only a few institutions of higher learning with programs certified by the Committee on National Security Systems, Northcentral meets the high standards put forth by industry leaders such as the National Security Agency. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report has praised Northcentral’s online programs, including them among its prestigious rankings.
Colorado Technical University
College Choice Score: 86
Total Cost: $57,408
With nearly 90 percent of its students earning degrees from a distance, Colorado Technical University is a leader in online education, especially in the areas of business, health sciences, management, and technology. CTU is located in Colorado Springs and has approximately 25k undergraduate and graduate students.
Colorado Technical University offers a Doctor of Management degree with a concentration in Homeland Security that can be earned fully online. This program serves those who seek upper-management positions within agencies protecting national security. Students graduate ready to take on senior level management positions, high-profile consulting gigs, and teaching positions at elite universities. Therefore, the curriculum at CTU is notably broad, or “all threat.” Meaning, the course load was designed for students of all backgrounds and vocational interests, be it law enforcement, government, healthcare, nonprofit, security, or military. CTU’s “all threat” curriculum is comprised of administration courses, research methodology courses, and those covering:
- Homeland Security Enterprise
- Risk, Resilience, and Innovation in Security Policy
- Homeland Security Strategy and Policy
- Issues in Public Health and Emergency Planning
- Homeland Security Professional Development
U.S. News & World Report has consistently heaped praises on CTU, including it among many of its rankings: best graduate technology program, best graduate criminal justice program, best online bachelor degree, best MBAs, and more.