Best Homeland Security Degrees

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Get The Best Bachelors in Homeland Security

People considering a degree in homeland security often envision jobs in law enforcement, but the field encompasses much more than that. Federal, state, and local professionals work each day to keep the country safe from various threats. They work in areas of medicine, computer science, data analysis, and law.

Careers centered on homeland security represent high-growth fields. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for police officers and detectives to grow 5% between 2018 and 2028. BLS also features homeland security careers and related fields.

A bachelor of science in homeland security can help prepare students for their careers. The degree includes courses in the American legal system, criminology, and information security. Schools may offer a stand-alone degree in homeland security or a concentration within a related field, such as criminal justice. Many programs also offer specializations in areas of emergency management, cybersecurity, or leadership. Coursework and hands-on experiences through internships help build skills in analytical thinking, leadership, and communication.

This guide can help you evaluate homeland security degrees to tailor your education to your career goals.

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Top 10 Homeland Security Schools

RankSchool
1Dakota Wesleyan University
2Keiser University-Ft. Lauderdale
3Madonna University
4Tulane University of Louisiana
5Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
6Southern New Hampshire University
7Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Berks
8Florida Atlantic University
9DeSales University
10Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach

What Kind of Bachelor’s Degree in Homeland Security Should You Get?

Homeland security degrees offer enrollees opportunities to tailor coursework to their specific career goals through electives or concentrations. Some schools provide these programs with a criminal justice focus while others provide interdisciplinary curriculum in cooperation with computer science, business, or behavioral science programs. Typical concentrations include counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and emergency management. Most bachelor’s degrees in homeland security require 120 credits and take full-time students four years to complete.

The curriculum varies by school and concentration. Typically, learners take about 45 credits of general education courses like science, English, and history. Courses within the major may include risk communication, regulatory issues, law and ethics, and immigration law. General electives allow students to enhance their education with complementary courses, such as those in a foreign language.

Students can choose from on-campus programs or online offerings. Asynchronous courses allow students to participate in class discussions and to complete projects (with set deadlines) on their own time. Learners balancing work and family commitments may enroll part time. Schools with accelerated class schedules allow students to progress through their program faster. Students taking two classes a semester can often graduate faster than students enrolled in traditional 15-week semesters.

An internship can serve as a capstone experience for homeland security students. These opportunities may exist within state or federal law enforcement programs, private security contractors, or nonprofit agencies. Internships help learners demonstrate the skills they have gained through their studies. They also allow degree-seekers to interact with professionals in their chosen field while networking and bolstering their resume. Internships often count toward prior experience when students seek their first job.

How Much Money Do People Make With a Bachelor’s Degree in Homeland Security?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security employs more than 240,000 people. Additionally, states staff homeland security employees, and many corporations and nonprofit organizations support their functions to protect communities. The federal department encompasses 22 federal departments responsible for immigration, transportation, domestic preparedness, and food inspections.

Your bachelor’s degree in homeland security satisfies educational requirements for entry-level positions, but you may need advanced training and education for career advancement. In addition to appropriate education and training, employment with this federal agency requires U.S. citizenship and the ability to obtain a security clearance. Careers include law enforcement, travel security, emergency preparedness and response, and support roles.

Examples of career opportunities include police and detectives, who earned an annual median salary of $65,170 in 2019, according to the BLS. The BLS projects jobs for detectives and investigators will grow 8% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals earned an annual median salary of $50,510 in 2019. Forensic technologists — who assist with investigations through evidence collection, testing, and storage — earned a median annual salary of $59,150 in 2019. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 14% between 2018 and 2028.

Administrative assistants work in almost every field of homeland security. While the BLS reports these professionals earned a median annual salary of $39,850 in 2019, administrative assistants working in government earned $43,900.

Additionally, individuals with paralegal training may find work in a variety of government and nonprofit agencies. The BLS projects a 12% increase in employment for this field, with median annual earnings of $51,740 in 2019. Information security analysts work across the homeland security industry. The BLS projects jobs for these analysts to grow 32% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $99,730 in 2019.

Finally, homeland security involves preparing for emergencies, such as severe storms, pandemics, or recovery following a terrorist act. Emergency management directors help coordinate relief efforts among various agencies, organizations, and volunteers. BLS projects 5% growth in employment between 2018 and 2028, with directors earning an annual median salary of $74,590 in 2019.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Homeland Security?

Homeland security professionals work in various settings. Some roles align with office work, while other positions require working outdoors in harsh conditions. Many jobs require long hours beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. Full-time employees can expect a benefits package that includes health insurance, retirement benefits, and paid vacations.

Law enforcement careers include work as border patrol agents, air marshals, and investigators. Border patrol requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and one year of relevant experience, including military service. Recruits attend the border patrol training facility for about 20 weeks of paid training before they receive their first assignment. Locations may coincide with entry points to the U.S., and the work environment may include being outdoors for extended periods in all weather conditions.

Private security companies also hire law enforcement personnel for a variety of tasks. These professionals process background checks, support investigative work for law firms, or oversee corporate security. Employment requires relevant experience and additional skills in computer science, accounting, or related fields. They may work as contract employees from a home office, take temporary assignments at remote locations, or serve in an office setting.

As more sensitive information moves toward digital information and storage, the need to ensure the security of that information increases. Individuals with appropriate computer science skills combined with an investigative ability find rewarding careers as information security analysts or cybersecurity specialists. These professionals often work in office settings.

Emergency management directors oversee the response to an emergency and help ensure communities prepare for possible emergencies. They primarily work in office settings, but their job often takes them to the scene of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. They work with law enforcement, emergency medical providers, first responders, and others to coordinate relief efforts to safeguard life and property. Before emergencies, they evaluate possible needs, such as stockpiles of food or specialized equipment.

What Are the Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree in Homeland Security?

Entrance requirements vary by school. Recent high school graduates should take the ACT or SAT test for college admissions. Older enrollees may not need these exams, though schools determine that on a case-by-case basis. Some schools offer college credit for professional or military training, and college courses from an accredited school may satisfy some general education and elective requirements.

Many schools tailor their programs to students with experience in a homeland security field, such as police officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel. These careers often do not require a bachelor’s degree to enter. However, advancement to supervisory positions may lead enrollees to consider earning their college degree. Online bachelor’s degrees in homeland security often provide the flexibility individuals working in such fields require due to hectic work schedules.

Some schools offer discounts for individuals who serve as first responders. In addition to grants and scholarships, individuals planning to pursue a public service career may also consider student loans and available loan forgiveness programs. Also, evaluate military benefits you may qualify for, such as housing stipends or book allowances.

Because careers in homeland security may involve working with sensitive information and hold positions of public trust, individuals should consider their personal history. Many employers require applicants to qualify for a security clearance. This process includes an extensive background check and interviews with people who know you well. If this review reveals security concerns — such as financial difficulties, substance abuse, personal behavior — individuals may not qualify for employment.

Internships take place toward the end of your college experience. These intensive hands-on learning opportunities put students in the field alongside homeland security professionals. Many internship programs include competitive application processes that consider academic achievement, relevant volunteer or work experience, and recommendations from faculty or mentors.

An internship’s length may range from a few weeks during the summer to a year. Some internships offer a stipend to defray living expenses. Not only do internships enhance your resume, but they may also lead to full-time employment with the sponsoring agency.

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  1. Tulane University
    Location

    Mitchell, SD

    Dakota Wesleyan University

    DWU in Mitchell, South Dakota, offers a bachelor of arts in criminal justice that explores issues like homeland security, terrorism, crime scene investigation, and legal studies. Students study the foundational theories of law and strategies for the application of justice. Criminal justice majors gain professional experience through hands-on internships with organizations like the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the South Dakota Department of Corrections, and the Internal Revenue Service.

    The program provides opportunities for research with faculty members and career development assistance through the university's academic and career services center. Students complete required courses like methods of social research, introduction to ethical issues, and constitutional criminal justice.

    Individuals with an associate in human services from Mitchell Technical Institute can earn DWU's BA in criminal justice in two years. Graduates can pursue criminal justice careers as criminologists, conservation officers, and air marshals.

  2. Liberty University
    Location

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Keiser University

    Students can earn one of the best homeland security degrees from Keiser. Founded in 1977 to offer career-focused programs, Keiser serves 20,000 students a year and offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma to qualify for admission.

    The university's management-focused BA in homeland security covers fundamental leadership and administrative skills and provides an understanding of homeland security issues at the local, state, and national levels. The curriculum explores issues like emergency management planning, cross-cultural management, and critical infrastructure protection.

    The 120-credit homeland security degree comprises courses like recognition and investigation of terrorism, homeland security policy and law, and bioterrorism: hazardous material and weapons of mass destruction. Students learn to prepare for, respond to, and investigate terrorist acts and understand how these issues threaten American and global society.

  3. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
    Location

    Livonia, MI

    Madonna University

    A Catholic liberal arts institution established in 1937 in Livonia, Michigan, Madonna University awards more than 100-career focused associate and bachelor's degrees. The school's BS in emergency management prepares students for careers in planning, directing, and responding to natural and human-made disasters and emergencies of all kinds.

    The program includes classes like the psychology of traumatic experiences, proposal writing and grant administration, and homeland security and terrorism. The curriculum also explores issues like emergency communication, disaster mitigation, resource allocation and planning, management principles, hazardous materials, and ethics in criminal justice.

    Required application materials for the emergency management BS program include an official high school transcript; ACT or SAT scores; and AP and IB scores (if applicable). Madonna prefers applicants with a minimum 2.8 GPA, an SAT total score of at least 960, and ACT composite score of 18 or above. All first-year students must live on campus for the first two years of the program.

  4. Colorado Technical University
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tulane University

    One of the top homeland security degrees, the BA in homeland security studies from Tulane University covers issues like critical infrastructure protection, counterterrorism, and emergency management. The practical hands-on degree prepares students to coordinate large-scale security and safety systems and protect communities. Potential careers include emergency management specialist, infrastructure protection analyst, and security analyst.

    Designed for individuals already employed in the homeland security field and those who want to change careers completely, the program offers a flexible part-time schedule with evening and weekend options and some classes available online. The 120-credit degree requires 30 major credits, including courses like transportation and border security, intelligence and covert operations, and approaches to counterterrorism.

    Homeland security studies majors can also add an optional minor to their degree. Professors in the program possess extensive experience working with the FBI, emergency response organizations, the military, and law enforcement. Admission requirements include a high school or GED diploma. The program does not require the ACT or SAT.

  5. Florida Institute of Technology
    Location

    Slippery Rock, PA

    Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

    The multidisciplinary homeland security degree from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania offers a comprehensive overview of the field. Students learn to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, and recover from disasters and emergencies. The four-year curriculum explores issues like infrastructure protection, tools for fighting terrorism, emergency plan creation, and intelligence analysis. Graduates qualify for careers as homeland security specialists and transportation security and intelligence personnel.

    The 120-credit bachelor's degree in homeland security comprises core courses like terrorist organizations and lone wolves, weapons of mass destruction, and risk analysis and strategic planning. The program offers internship, workshop, and experimental course opportunities that provide hands-on professional experience in the real world. In their final semester, students complete a three-credit capstone in homeland security that integrates the knowledge and skills gained during the program.

    SRU offers rolling admission in all terms. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma and must submit SAT or ACT scores.

  6. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
    Location

    Manchester, NH

    Southern New Hampshire University

    A private, nonprofit institution with 3,000 on-campus learners and more than 90,000 online students, SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire, offers one of the best homeland security degrees. The university's BS in justice studies with a terrorism and homeland security concentration provides a broad understanding of the American justice systems. Students receive anti-terrorism training and explore issues like social science and legal research, ethics and social responsibility, the corrections system, and criminal law.

    Required courses for the 120-credit bachelor's degree include international criminal justice, industrial and retail security, and terrorism and homeland security. The curriculum also includes general education classes that help students gain skills in writing, problem-solving, and analysis.

    Prospective students can apply to SNHU anytime. Admission requirements include a high school or GED diploma, one letter of recommendation, and ACT or SAT scores (optional). All admitted students receive a $1,000 grant after visiting campus once.

  7. Keiser University
    Location

    Reading, PA

    Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Berks

    Students can earn a top homeland security degree from Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Berks. Established in 1958, Penn State Berks serves 2,700 learners each year. The university's bachelor of science in security and risk analysis prepares students to take leadership roles in careers that deal with homeland security, law and crime, emergency and disaster management, and enterprise risk management.

    Students choose from two program options: the intelligence analysis and modeling option or the information and cybersecurity option. Minors are available in business, information sciences and technology, or entrepreneurship and innovation.

    Penn State Berks accepts applications year-round but recommends prospective students submit their applications as early as possible each fall. The school makes admission decisions based on high school GPA, ACT or SAT scores, personal statement, honors and AP classes taken, class rank, and extracurricular activities. Applicants' high school GPA accounts for two-thirds of the admission decision.

  8. University of Alaska Fairbanks
    Location

    Boca Raton, FL

    Florida Atlantic University

    Designed for professionals and pre-professionals in disaster response, fire, and police work, Florida Atlantic University's interdisciplinary bachelor of public safety administration provides flexible online and on-campus classes. Graduates work in homeland security, corrections, law enforcement, public safety, intelligence, disaster response, and the courts. The degree also prepares students to continue their education in a professional graduate program.

    Required core courses include organizational behavior and administration communication, public safety systems, and diversity and social vulnerability in public safety administration. The program offers two areas of concentration: disaster management or law enforcement and corrections. Students can also use their free elective credits to complete both concentrations.

    The program strongly encourages students who lack professional experience to complete at least one internship. All public safety administration majors complete a capstone course in their senior year. FAU bases admission decisions on the applicant's ACT or SAT scores, high school GPA, and completed high school courses.

  9. Bellevue University
    Location

    Center Valley, PA

    DeSales University

    A private Catholic school in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, DSU offers one of the best homeland security degrees. The bachelor of arts in homeland security emphasizes ethical action and explores issues like critical infrastructure protection, terrorist financing, disaster preparedness and response, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism. Students develop tactical knowledge and gain critical thinking, decision-making, and leadership skills.

    The curriculum includes courses like digital forensics, introduction to homeland security, and cybercrime and cyberterrorism. The program delivers hands-on training, education, and networking opportunities through the university's Center for Homeland Security. DSU also partners with the Allentown Police Academy to offer basic training for future police officers. Tuition for the police academy is included in the regular DSU spring tuition.

    Students can use DeSales' career development center for help finding a job or internship, writing a resume and cover letter, and preparing for interviews. Graduates qualify for positions in law enforcement, business continuity, counterterrorism and intelligence, and emergency and risk management.

  10. Jefferson
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach started in 1925 as a flying school. The university offers aviation, applied science, business, safety and security, computers and technology, space, and engineering programs. The bachelor of homeland security degree explores topics including risk assessment, security, strategic planning, law and policy, and terrorism.

    Subject matter experts in the department of security studies and international affairs teach the outcome-based program, which incorporates the analysis of marketplace needs. Homeland security students benefit from practical experience creating projects for real clients and access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.

    The curriculum combines broad general education requirements with specialized major classes like fundamentals of emergency management, emergent topics in homeland security, and exercise design and evaluation in homeland security. The program offers concentrations in cybersecurity, emergency management, and terrorism studies. Homeland security majors can also add up to two minors in areas like cybersecurity or international relations.

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