Best Homeland Security Degrees 2021

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Best Homeland Security Badge

Homeland security professionals protect and serve the public in various roles within governmental agencies and the private sector. They work in fields as diverse as law enforcement, first responding, and information assurance.

Job opportunities for individuals with a homeland security degree continue to grow, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects a 5% job growth for police and detectives between 2019-2029. Police officers earn a median annual salary of $65,170, significantly higher than the $39,810 median annual salary for all workers. Many homeland security specialists, such as information assurance analysts, earn much higher salaries and enjoy an optimistic job growth projection of 31%.

A bachelor’s degree in homeland security provides education and training for entry-level careers. The curriculum covers subjects such as criminal justice, cybersecurity, emergency management, and critical infrastructure protection. This guide provides information about homeland security careers and programs.

Top 10 Homeland Security Schools

Rank School Location
1 Dakota Wesleyan University Mitchell, SD
2 Keiser University Fort Lauderdale, FL
3 Madonna University Livonia, MI
4 Tulane University New Orleans, LA
5 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA
6 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
7 Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Berks Reading, PA
8 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
9 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
10 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach Daytona Beach, FL
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  • What kind of jobs can you get with a homeland security degree?

    Homeland security professionals work in various settings. A bachelor’s degree prepares students for entry-level careers including emergency management specialist, cybersecurity specialist, and special agent. Some careers require additional training.

  • Is there an age limit for homeland security jobs?

    State and federal agencies establish age guidelines for some homeland security positions. Border patrol agents range from 18-40, and those aged 23-37 qualify for special agent positions with the FBI. The age limit for police officers varies by state.

  • What degree is needed for homeland security?

    A bachelor’s degree in homeland security prepares students for entry-level and early management positions. The degree also provides students with the foundation necessary for graduate education.

  • How much do homeland agents make?

    Pay varies for homeland agents. According to January 2021 PayScale data, federal special agents make an average $115,300, while intelligence analysts make an average $75,810.

What Are the Goals of a Homeland Security Degree?

Homeland security degree curriculum typically includes general education courses, core classes, and a concentration for specialized training. Some schools focus on a criminal justice curriculum that explores subjects such as criminology, criminal procedure, and incident investigation and analysis. Others offer an interdisciplinary curriculum blending public safety, homeland security, criminal justice, and behavioral science coursework. Many programs offer concentrations or electives in areas such as emergency management, cybersecurity, and law enforcement.

Students apply lessons and demonstrate their proficiency when they complete capstone projects. Internships give students supervised experience with local law enforcement, the FBI, the CIA, and other organizations. Students typically complete 120-126 credits in homeland security programs. Some schools offer generous credit transfer policies, allowing learners to complete the degree faster and more affordably.

Why Get a Homeland Security Degree?

A homeland security degree opens doors to many well-paying and fulfilling careers. The degree also provides those already working in the field with the education and training necessary for career advancement. Below we list some benefits of pursuing a homeland security degree.

Career Preparation
Students pursuing a homeland security degree acquire the skills and training necessary for entry-level positions or graduate studies.
Career Advancement
Some schools design homeland security programs especially for those already working in law enforcement or homeland security. The degree provides these professionals with the education necessary to advance their career and update their skills. Some schools award credits for their experience, police or military training, and associate degrees.
Hands-on Experience
Employers value graduates with real experience. Some homeland security programs partner with local agencies for internship opportunities that build students’ experience. Capstone projects allow students to apply lessons to solve real challenges and demonstrate their knowledge.
Specialized Training
Homeland security programs offer various concentrations. Students acquire training in areas including cybersecurity, disaster management, or public safety. This experience helps students focus their career or graduate studies on a specialization in a field with many career possibilities.
Employability Skills
Students develop strong critical thinking, analytical, communication, and technical skills necessary for successful homeland security careers. These skills transfer to other occupations in many fields.

What Are the Requirements for a Homeland Security Degree?

Entrance requirements for homeland security degrees vary by school. Recent high school graduates need test scores and transcripts for admission. Programs designed for nontraditional learners typically require college transcripts and a minimum 2.0-2.5 GPA. Some schools award credit for police and military training.

Many colleges develop a curriculum with law enforcement careers in mind. Others focus on the specialties discussed above. Careful planning ensures that students choose a homeland security degree suiting their career objectives. Students complete internships in their junior or senior year. The school may offer experiential opportunities at partnering organizations, or allow students to identify their own internship in the local community.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Professional Organizations for Homeland Security Students

Professional organizations serve as a voice for the industry and its workers. They provide advocacy, professional development, and networking opportunities to members. They keep workers up to date about best practices, legislative developments, and other issues of interest to stakeholders. See below for three professional organizations for students in homeland security programs.

  • National Emergency Management Association NEMA serves professionals in emergency management. The organization offers a discounted student membership fee that gives them access to publications, national conferences, and peer networking opportunities. Members receive discounts on products and services and use the career center for career preparation.
  • AFCEA Homeland Security AFCEA's members work in defense, security, and related technology disciplines. The organization tailors membership to meet individual needs, including programming for women, early career professionals, and students. AFCEA offers a reduced membership fee for students. Academic membership benefits include access to Signal magazine, local chapters, continuing education, and certification discounts.
  • National Criminal Justice Association NCJA comprises workers in all areas of criminal justice, including law enforcement. The organization offers student membership at a reduced cost. Membership gives students pursuing degrees in homeland security access to Justice Bulletin, a weekly online publication. They also enjoy grant funding opportunities, an online member community, and opportunities to interact with justice leaders.

Scholarships for Homeland Security Students

Scholarships provide students with funding they do not need to repay. The funders establish guidelines for each scholarship and award them based on academic performance, financial need, or minority identity. Below, find three scholarship opportunities for homeland security degree students.

CIA Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Central Intelligence Agency awards needs-based scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students at accredited institutions. Students receive tuition assistance in exchange for 1.5 years of work with the agency for each year of paid scholarship received. Students need a minimum 3.0 GPA and competitive test scores. Minors do not qualify.

Amount: Up to $25,000 per year in tuition assistance and annual salary thereafter

International Association of Emergency Managers Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The organization awards this scholarship to students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in emergency management, disaster management, or a related field. Applicants must submit an application and two essays on a designated topic.

Amount: Varies

Women in Federal Law Enforcement Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: WIFLE’s scholarship program awards funding to students based on academic achievement and commitment to serve in law enforcement. Applicants must major in criminal justice or a related discipline, possess full-time enrollment status at an accredited college, and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students complete a 500-word essay and provide a reference from a community or police official.

Amount: Varies

Best Homeland Security Degrees 2021

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Dakota Wesleyan University

    Mitchell, SD

    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. Keiser University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    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. Madonna University

    Livonia, MI

    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. Tulane University

    New Orleans, LA

    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. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

    Slippery Rock, PA

    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. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH

    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. Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Berks

    Reading, PA

    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. Florida Atlantic University

    Boca Raton, FL

    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. DeSales University

    Center Valley, PA

    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. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

    Daytona Beach, FL

    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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