Ever since 9/11, "homeland security" has taken on a new meaning. And the results led to the development of new degree programs — programs specifically designed to meet the education needs of those who wish to pursue a career in this field.
Homeland security experts not only deal with international threats, but also with matters closer to home. Earning a degree in homeland security can be a good match for those wanting to enter the criminal justice field, for those in the military, or for anyone seeking new career opportunities in disaster-relief agencies, international corporations, or federal, state and local governments. Whatever homeland security occupation you pursue, you'll likely find an accredited education to be a valuable asset.
As part of an emerging field, online homeland security degrees are not available at every college and university. What's more, not every program is going to be right for every student. To help busy adults find the program that can benefit them the most, we have created this ranking of the 10 best online colleges for homeland security. Our ranking uses data points from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) such as in-state tuition costs, acceptance rate and number of related online degree programs. For more details on our methodology, see the bottom of this page.
To see OnlineCollege.com's ranking of the 20 best online colleges for veterans and their families, see here.
Homeland Security is a diverse field that requires knowledge about human motivation as well as counter-terrorism, emergency management and disaster relief. Courses and degrees are typically offered through a school's criminal justice department, but the subject is sometimes offered as a specialization or concentration within a broader degree program. This section describes the coursework found within some of the different levels of online degrees for Homeland Security, as well as the skills that coursework might reinforce.
Students considering online education for Homeland Security have numerous programs available to them at various schools, from the undergraduate to graduate level. Specific course expectations vary by degree level, with some details on these courses provided directly below.
Homeland security is no minor matter; there are many skills that are important to the field, and online education for homeland security can help students to build them. Here are a few of the skills students may want to pay attention to learning as they complete their degree program.
This job title may seem hard to understand at first, but it refers to the higher-up positions available in the policing field, including chief of police, lieutenant, captain, sergeant, shift supervisor and many others. An associate degree may be required for some first-line supervisor of police and detectives careers, but more often completion of a police academy program is necessary as well as on-the-job experience.
People interested in these positions usually are promoted from within, with importance also placed on skills such as critical thinking, understanding of human psychology, and knowledge of laws. These supervisors may be tasked with tough decisions that could tie into investigations, personnel and even budgets.
It's rarely a pretty picture, but emergency management directors are the people leading the charge when a natural disaster, like an earthquake or hurricane occurs, or when other types of unexpected disasters happen. These directors are responsible for anticipating large-scale problems by having an emergency plan and chain of command in place and then making sure the plan is executed. When an emergency strikes, they work with numerous types of people and organizations, such as government agencies, elected officials, nonprofits such as the American Red Cross, and even public safety officials.
Individuals interested in emergency management director careers usually have a bachelor's degree in a field like accounting, business or public administration, emergency management, finance or public health.
It's a world of statutes and judicial enforcement when it comes to criminal justice and law enforcement teacher careers. A job in the field could mean teaching criminal justice courses on a community college or university campus. After all, programs exist at both the undergraduate and graduate level. These instructors also could provide training on self-defense or gun safety at a police academy.
Knowledge of laws and legal codes will be a must for this career because instructors need to be able to explain various legal procedures and the laws that are on the books. On a campus, teachers could spend their day instructing, leading discussions and grading papers, while a job at a police academy could be short term but more hands-on.
People interested in internal security manager careers may find themselves overseeing a team of store detectives or involved in developing security operation procedures and plans. These managers are the people to interview and hire security employees, create shift schedules and even take a lead on investigations.
Internal security managers need to be skilled at problem solving and resolving conflicts — all with a cool head. They can be the key personnel to respond to difficult situations like bomb threats, intrusion alarms and medical emergencies. People employed in this capacity typically have a bachelor's degree and on-the-job experience that benefits them when it comes to unique and challenging situations.