Inside Look at the Online Master’s in Homeland Security

Online master’s degrees in homeland security teach specialized skills and knowledge that prepare graduates to protect the public from natural disasters, terrorist activity, cyberattacks, and other national emergencies. The guide helps you find the best online master’s programs, become familiar with the degree’s curriculum, and get answers to your important questions.

Last Updated: 05/11/2022

2022’s Best Online Homeland Security Master’s Programs

There are many online master’s in homeland security degree options to choose from. Choices are great, but it can make choosing the right school challenging. To help you get started, we’ve created the following list of top-quality programs. Our data team ranked schools based on their affordability, support services and online program availability. Learn more about this year’s standout online master’s programs in homeland security.

About the ranking

Methodology for the STEPS Best Online Programs in 2022

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

Assign Impact of Data Points

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability. Online program availability and overall affordability received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. When unable to verify this number, a star-based system was used to signify the number of programs relative to peers.

Affordability

  • Cost:
    Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid:
    Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

1
Park University

Parkville, Missouri

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 71%
Online Students 109

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 27%
Online Students 668
3
Angelo State University

San Angelo, Texas

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 65%
Online Students 185
4
University of Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 68%
Online Students 3,161
5
New England College

Henniker, New Hampshire

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 95%
Online Students 2,456
6
University of New Mexico-Main Campus

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 63%
Online Students 1,338
7
Wilmington University

New Castle, Delaware

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 12:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 20%
Online Students 671
8
East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 49%
Online Students 829
9

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 60%
Online Students 364

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 67%
Online Students 86
11
Arkansas Tech University

Russellville, Arkansas

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 75%
Online Students 74
12
Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 78%
Online Students 477
13
Towson University

Towson, Maryland

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 49%
Online Students 313
14
Citadel Military College of South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 12:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 49%
Online Students 159
15
Fairmont State University

Fairmont, West Virginia

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 85%
Online Students 14
16
Auburn University at Montgomery

Montgomery, Alabama

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 90%
Online Students 241
17
Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, Texas

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 11%
Online Students 398
18
Salve Regina University

Newport, Rhode Island

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 99%
Online Students 49
19
Endicott College

Beverly, Massachusetts

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 95%
Online Students 109
20
Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 100%
Online Students 1,920
21
California University of Pennsylvania

California, Pennsylvania

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 82%
Online Students 150
22
New Jersey City University

Jersey City, New Jersey

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 14:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 74%
Online Students 67
23
Tiffin University

Tiffin, Ohio

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 99%
Online Students 46
24
Long Island University

Brookville, New York

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 10:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 89%
Online Students 817
25
University of Massachusetts-Lowell

Lowell, Massachusetts

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 77%
Online Students 206
26
DeSales University

Center Valley, Pennsylvania

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 12:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 99%
Online Students 58
27
George Washington University

Washington, District of Columbia

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 71%
Online Students 1,253
28
Pace University

New York, New York

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 14:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 96%
Online Students 1,124
29
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 77%
Online Students 214

Key Learning Objectives and Requirements for the Online Homeland Security Master’s

With today’s reliance on technology, issues that arise from global warming, and the political and cultural instability around the world and at home, the potential for loss of life from terrorist acts and natural disasters has never been greater. To help combat these increased risks, many universities have developed special graduate programs to better train homeland security and emergency management professionals. Online master’s in homeland security programs touch on several important topics and provide graduates with an extensive skillset.

Academic Subjects Covered

With so many schools offering homeland security online master’s degree programs, there is great variation in the curriculum offered. However, there will be a core set of subjects that nearly every program will cover. The subjects include:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Threat Identification
  • Modern Infrastructure
  • International and Domestic Law and Governance
  • Emergency Management
  • Policy Development
  • The Political Process
  • Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness

Practical Skills Learned

Homeland security is an important profession, with the mission of protecting property and most importantly, human lives. To effectively accomplish this goal, graduates can expect to build the following skills in their online master’s in homeland security program:

  • Interagency communication and cooperation
  • Analysis of security protocols
  • Development of defense strategies within a legal framework
  • Understanding economic and financial resource limitations on homeland defense
  • Research planning and analysis
  • Leadership
  • Ethical application of homeland security procedures

Common Graduation Requirements

Once enrolled, students need to attend class and complete assignments. Each program will be different, but here’s an idea of what to expect.

  • Choosing an area of concentration
  • Taking core courses (about 20 credits)
  • Taking elective courses (about 20 credits)
  • Completion of a final capstone project or thesis

Typical Coursework for Online Homeland Security Master’s Programs

Curious about what kind of classes to expect? Here’s a list of some of the more common ones you’re likely to encounter during your online master’s degree program in homeland security. Keep in mind that some schools may have different names or might combine or split some of the listed courses.

Strategic Planning and Funding

Homeland security involves the coordination of many agencies, departments and programs. This course looks into the strategic implications that budget decisions can have on interagency cooperation as well as disaster prevention and response.

Homeland Security and Resilience

This class delves into how to help a community, organization, and nation mitigate and survive an attack or national disaster, and the effect such efforts can have on infrastructure and support systems.

Introduction to Homeland Security in the United States

Students learn about the basic and fundamental components of the programs, organizations, key people, and procedures in place to keep the United States safe. This will include analyzing ways to improve and change current procedures.

Emergency Communication

Both the practical and theoretical implications of how humans communicate in a crisis will be examined in this class. Various examples of emergency communication scenarios will also be reviewed, comparing what occurred with what should have taken place.

Homeland Security and Intelligence

This class looks at how the intelligence communities work to keep the United States safe from various risks, including domestic and international threats. You’ll also learn about the nature of how intelligence is gathered and analyzed.

Protection of Infrastructure

The systems in place to keep a modern society working and alive are so easily taken for granted, yet highly vulnerable to attack and failure. Students will learn how to assess a specific system, including identifying points of vulnerability and how to strengthen these critical weak points.

Final Thesis

This course and final curriculum requirement will allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the material by analyzing a specific topic on homeland security.

Concentrations Available for Students in an Online Homeland Security Master’s Program

Given how diverse a topic homeland security is, most online homeland security programs at the master’s level will offer several concentrations. This opportunity to specialize is a major reason professionals decide to earn a graduate degree in homeland security. Five of the more popular concentrations include:

Emergency and Disaster Management

As its name indicates, this concentration focuses on how to handle serious disasters. Students review strategic policy and detailed tactics for infrastructure protection, community hazard identification, continuity of operations, and the use of geographic information technologies.

Cybersecurity

This concentration has two components. The first deals with overall strategy concerning the legal and administrative framework for cyber integrity. The second reviews cybersecurity defense, offensive operations against adversaries, and obtaining intelligence.

Counterterrorism

Students in this concentration learn about counterterrorism operations in both the current and historical context. Students also learn about the evolution of intelligence gathering and operations and how they relate to current terrorism threats.

Transportation

A unique concentration that focuses on the protection of vital transportation elements in today’s society and economy. Topics covered include security of aviation, maritime ports, and roads.

Logistics

Ideal for those in positions of leadership, this concentration prepares managers and leaders to provide the best response to disasters and emergencies using the logistical resources available.

How to Apply for a Master’s Degree in Homeland Security Online

Each school has a unique application process, with differing levels of complexity and competitiveness. But most schools require similar admissions components. These include:

  • Completed application
  • Application fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Evidence of a bachelor’s degree
  • Letters of recommendation

Some schools will have more specific requirements, including test scores from an entrance exam, or a degree or work experience in a homeland security or disaster management-related program or professional field. Many schools have a rolling admissions schedule, meaning students can apply anytime, with multiple start dates throughout the year.

What Can You Do with an Online Master’s in Homeland Security?

Those who earn a master’s degree in homeland security are well-suited to take on roles in the private and public sectors. Many graduates find employment at state, local, and federal departments and agencies. Others find opportunities to work for private corporations, providing consulting services or implementing protection plans for company assets and personnel. From assessing potential dangers to coordinating a response to an emergency, this degree can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each professional, no matter which sector they decide to work in.

Because most positions in the emergency and first responder field require a bachelor’s degree or less, a master’s degree will usually allow professionals to fulfill middle to upper leadership and management roles. The master’s degree will also allow for specialization in an area that requires a unique set of skills or knowledge. Depending on the particular job in the homeland security field, graduates can expect to see job growth of around 5 to 9 percent over the next 10 or so years. However, the need for homeland security professionals can easily rise to higher-than-expected levels with the increasing prevalence of natural disasters and domestic and international conflicts.

Here are three possible career options for master’s in homeland security graduates:

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors prepare for natural disasters and emergencies and help coordinate the response of first responders to these situations. Emergency management directors also identify potential risks and analyze how existing plans and procedures must be altered to more effectively handle emergencies.

2018 Median Salary: $74,420

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

Criminal investigators and special agents work in the law enforcement field to investigate possible criminal behavior. This includes gathering, identifying, processing, and confirming potential evidence, as well as providing a recommendation as to whether criminal prosecution is possible.

2018 Median Salary: $81,920

First-Line Supervisor of Police and Detectives

These professionals coordinate police activities. This includes the direct supervision of law enforcement officers, coordination of police investigations, training or facilitating the training of law enforcement personnel, allocation of resources, and responding to disruptions to law and order.

2018 Median Salary: $89,030

FAQs About Getting Your Master’s Degree in Homeland Security Online

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in homeland security?

Most master’s degree homeland security online programs consist of about 30 to 40 credit hours. This means students attending class full-time will take about two years to earn their degree. However, self-pacing allows you to take classes in what amounts to part-time schooling. In this case, expect to take three years to finish. Completing the program in about a year is sometimes possible, depending on the amount of transfer and outside academic credit for work experience the school offers.

How much does an online master’s degree in homeland security cost?

Cost is one of the most important factors in deciding whether to get a degree and which specific program to enroll in. To give you a better sense of what you can expect to pay, we have listed the estimated tuition costs for several schools with online master’s programs in homeland security. Keep in mind that these numbers do not include additional fees. To get the most accurate financial picture of a particular school, please go directly to a school’s website.

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost
Northeastern University 26 to 33 N/A $32,670
Purdue University Global 55 (quarter credits) $420 $23,100
Trident University International 40 $540 $21,600
American Military University 36 $350 $12,600
Arizona State University 33 $532 $17,556

Looking for help paying for your online homeland security master’s degree? Learn more in our comprehensive financial aid and scholarship guides.

How do I know if an online homeland security master’s program is accredited?

Unlike other subjects, homeland security degrees are not typically accredited at the program level. However, you can and should check to make sure the school you’re considering is accredited at the institutional level by an organization that’s been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

To find schools that are accredited by such organizations, use the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs search tool.

Do online homeland security programs teach the same skills as on-campus programs?

Generally speaking, there will be little to no difference between online and campus programs. The primary advantage of campus programs will be the wider availability of certain courses that are not always available online. This doesn’t mean earning a homeland security graduate degree solely online results in a lower-quality education, but students who want the greatest opportunity to focus on a chosen concentration may need to consider attending a few classes in-person. These classes will typically be electives.

Can I apply for an online homeland security master’s degree without taking the GRE?

GRE requirements vary from school to school. However, in recognition of the limitations of entrance exams, as well as making the application process easier and attracting as many potential applicants as possible, many online master’s degree programs in homeland security will not require the GRE or any other entrance exam as a part of the application.