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Complete Guide to an Online Homeland Security Degree

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Quick Facts
Accreditation: No program-specific accreditation
Available Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Certificate
Avg Tuition: $20,925
Avg Salary: $78,041
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These online homeland security degrees, available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels, provide students with opportunities to pursue careers working against domestic and international terrorism, man-made and natural disasters, and bio- and cyber-terrorism. Common employers include the Federal Government, public and private security firms, and public health companies.

There is no specific programmatic accreditation for homeland security degrees. However, prospective students should make sure that the institutions they choose to attend have received academic accreditation. In addition to institutional academic accreditation, students should look for interdisciplinary programs that include coursework in risk management, technological issues, public policy, and general planning and management concepts.

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Online Associate Degrees in Homeland Security

An associate's degree in homeland security prepares students for entry-level jobs in security, law enforcement, and criminal justice. Associate degree holders also go on to pursue advanced undergraduate and graduate degrees. The associate's degree takes two years to complete, and includes a total of 60 credits with specialized courses in biosecurity, international terrorism, criminology, and disaster planning. Students are provided an introduction to basic domestic and international security through tactical security strategies for physical buildings as well as virtual intelligence. Students must have a high school diploma or GED and can find associate degrees in homeland security at private or public security schools, colleges, and universities that offer bachelor's degrees. Similar associate's degrees include emergency response, computer science, and law enforcement.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees in Homeland Security

A bachelor's degree in homeland security provides a solid foundation in safety and security issues, focusing on vital components of the homeland security field such as critical infrastructure protection, disaster preparedness and response, and intelligence sharing and analysis, in order to address concerns ranging from terrorism to natural and man-made disasters. Bachelor's degrees are offered by colleges and universities, usually taking four years to complete the required 120 credit hours. With an associate's degree, 60 credits are covered and two additional years are sufficient to complete the bachelor's degree. Applicants need at least a high school degree or GED to apply for a bachelor's degree program and must have achieved minimum GPA standards. A bachelor's degree in homeland security covers general education courses, writing and seminar classes, electives, and a final capstone project, depending on the program. Homeland security coursework includes classes on risk analysis, mitigation & disaster recovery, government security, border & immigration control, transportation security, and more. Job security upon graduation is very high, with graduates landing careers in government positions, in the military and Coast Guard, law enforcement, and public and private security.

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Online Master's Degrees in Homeland Security

Upon completion of a bachelor's degree, graduates may consider continuing their education with a master's degree. A master's degree takes two years to complete, with around 30 credit hours and a master's thesis research project or final examination depending upon the program. In addition to a bachelor's degree and minimum GPA, master's degree programs generally require a GRE test score and work experience for admittance. Professionals in homeland security as well as other fields such as public health, technology, insurance, or law enforcement may be interested in a master's degree in homeland security to boost their professional profile and seek higher positions of administration and government. Specializations offered within master's programs include degrees in information security and forensics, public health preparedness, geospacial intelligence, agricultural biosecurity and food defense. Courses are similar to those offered in the bachelor's degree level but with greater depth and specialization, including geospatial intelligence, public health, agricultural biosecurity, and cyberterrorism. Some programs offer an international track, which allows master's students to focus on homeland security in a global context, and the difference between local, national, and international security. Master's programs in homeland security can be found at graduate schools of public policy or public affairs.

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Online Doctoral Degrees in Homeland Security

Doctoral degrees in homeland security are ideal for professionals looking to go into the homeland security field as professors, high level organization managers and leaders, private and public researchers, and consultants. Doctoral candidates need at least a bachelor's degree, though many have completed their master's or a graduate certificate. In many cases, graduate admissions exam scores are also necessary. A PhD can take anywhere from four to seven years to complete, depending on how long students take to complete and defend their thesis dissertations. Coursework typically consists of 60 credits of graduate level studies in research methodology and statistics, ethics, management systems, transportation security, and dissertation research. 

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Online Certificate Degrees in Homeland Security

Many programs which offer online master's degrees also offer certificates in homeland security, which can be completed in less time and the credits can eventually be used towards a full graduate degree. Graduate certificate programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree. Certificate programs can be completed in around 12 credits with coursework covering the origins and organization of the homeland security enterprise, relevant laws and public policies, roles of key agencies in government and private providers, and planning and strategies related to homeland security and emergency management. Certificates are ideal for mid-career professionals in federal, state, and local emergency management officials, military and law enforcement, as well as private sector employees such as security consultants, insurance agencies, and finance corporations.

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Careers in Homeland Security

Jobs in homeland security provide high job security, performance-based increases, flexible hours, and a wide variety of promotion opportunities. Students and graduates can work for the Department of Homeland Security, the military, law enforcement, government, security consulting companies, and private insurance companies. For government jobs in homeland security, veterans are considered preferential hirees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, military career job growth is expected to remain stable through 2024. Day-to-day responsibilities differ depending on the career, but individuals can expect variance in their schedule and a combination of interpersonal and technical duties.

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