Master’s in Homeland Security Career Guide

What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Homeland Security?

Launched in 2002, the Department of Homeland Security has grown into
one of the largest federal agencies with thousands of employees working
in airport security, border security, cybersecurity, counterterrorism
and emergency response and management. This opens numerous job
opportunities for graduate level students wanting to focus their
master’s degree program in homeland security. Online master’s in
homeland security programs train you on the systems and resources
necessary to respond to terrorist attacks both foreign and domestic, as
well as natural disasters and other large-scale emergency situations.
When choosing an online homeland security graduate program, compare the
curriculum, concentrations and overall program requirements of
accredited colleges and universities to find the ideal program to meet
your career goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Homeland Security

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POTENTIAL CAREERS FOR THIS CONCENTRATION
Cybersecurity Provide in-depth knowledge and advanced skills needed for defending computer systems from cyberattacks and developing secure software systems. Information security analyst, chief information security officer, cybersecurity specialist
Emergency Management Students learn how to develop and execute contingency plans for large scale emergencies, including terrorist attacks and natural disasters, and budget for disaster relief and aid human welfare. Emergency management specialist, Peace Corps member, FEMA employee
Cyber Intelligence Focuses on current U.S. safety and policy based on the history of cyber intelligence and cover computer crimes, privacy issues and ethics in cybersecurity. Information security analyst, CIA agent, cyber threat analyst

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Homeland Security

Master’s in homeland security programs often culminate in a capstone
course and internships may also be required. Online master’s programs in
homeland security follow the same rigorous curriculum as traditional
on-campus programs with the flexibility of completing your courses at
your own pace at home. While this curriculum varies by school, listed
below are some common courses you might confront in your online master’s
degree in homeland security.

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Research and Evaluation in National Security Affairs Explores the principles of research design, critical thinking and analysis, plus key methods of data collection and analysis of the social sciences.
U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security Examine the history of U.S. foreign policy with emphasis on national security emerging as the dominant feature of policymaking.
Emergency Management and Crisis Communication Covers the overall management of emergency operation and the role of communications during a crisis.
Critical Infrastructure Students gain an understanding on creating a plan to detect any vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and develop risk-reduction and protection measures for use during a crisis.
Terrorism Learn to detect and monitor foreign and domestic threats, including identification of major terrorist groups and the role homeland security plays to diminish these threats of terrorism.
Ethical Issues in National Security Introduce moral reasoning and philosophical examination of the ethical issues that arise in national security.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Homeland Security?

Many online master’s in homeland security programs are offered
completely online in an asynchronous format, letting you study at your
pace. Accelerated programs and a desire to finish quickly could cut your
finishing time significantly. However, the time it takes to complete
your degree program also varies based on whether you enroll full-time or
part-time and the number of credits required, which varies by program.
Typical programs include 30 to 40 credit hours, which a full-time
student can usually complete in two years, but some programs can be
completed in as little as 16 months.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Homeland Security Prepares For

Because there are numerous programming languages and software,
database and computer systems vendors, there are literally hundreds of
certifications suitable for software engineers. Your online master’s in
software engineer can prepare you for any of the following, which is
only a small sampling of the certifications available.

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Certified Information Systems Security Professional Earning your online master’s in homeland security helps prepare you to become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional. The International Information System Security Certification Consortium offers this certification, which is ideal for homeland security majors with a concentration in cybersecurity.
Certified Homeland Protection Professional Earning your online master’s in homeland security and experience in public safety or security helps you meet minimum requirements to become a Certified Homeland Protection Professional available through the Global Society of Homeland and National Security Professionals.
Certified Homeland Protection Associate Levels 1–4 The GSHNSP offers four levels of certification as a Certified Homeland Protection Associate with Level 1 exams for college students enrolled in courses specifically relating to homeland security or anti-terrorism. Through professional experience and further examination, you earn higher levels of certification.
Certified Emergency Manager While you only need a bachelor’s degree to fulfill your educational requirement to sit for the exam to become a Certified Emergency Manager, a master’s may better prepare you for the exam. This nationally and internationally recognized certification is offered through the International Association of Emergency Managers.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Homeland Security

Accreditation indicates a college or university meets set standards
and ensures you qualify for financial aid through many private entities
and the federal and state government. Schools typically have either
national or regional accreditation. Institutions offering
distance-learning programs may be accredited nationally, but regional
accreditation is often more respected and comes from an agency
recognized by the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
In addition to institutional accreditation, some programs also receive
accreditation through professional organizations. While there isn’t an
organization that currently accredits online master’s programs in
homeland security, FEMA keeps a list of programs available.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Homeland Security Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

You can pursue many homeland security careers with a bachelor’s
degree, but an online master’s in homeland security helps pave the way
to assume a leadership role. Your master’s may also help you earn a
higher salary from the outset and help you earn prestigious jobs with
highly respected federal agencies like the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Defense,
Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency.

Expected Salary

Due to an increased demand for qualified homeland security professionals, master’s degree recipients have a strong job outlook with healthy employment growth expected. However, employment trends vary based on your specialization, as does job eligibility and your expected salary. Listed below are some popular career choices you may qualify for with your online master’s in homeland security degree.

The sector you work in also has a great bearing on your expected
salary. If your online master’s in homeland security leads you to a
career in emergency management, expect the highest salaries working for
the federal government. In comparison, working for a local or state
government pays less than half as much, but the number of jobs available
is much higher. There are many sectors that offer better-than-average
earnings for graduate-level emergency managers as the following table
demonstrates.

Career Opportunities

A master’s degree in homeland security prepares you for the
challenges of a demanding yet rewarding career path with above-average
employment growth rates and high earning potential. Your advanced degree
prepares you to work in numerous sectors, including government
agencies, medical facilities, large corporations and private
institutions. Some common career choices for master’s in homeland
security graduates are outlined below.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Emergency Management Directors Emergency management directors prepare and execute plans and procedures appropriate for responding to natural disasters and other large-scale emergencies. They coordinate with other officials, nonprofits and government agencies and lead disaster response and relief programs during and after emergencies. $72,760 per year 8%
Information Security Analyst Information security analysts plan and implement security measures to protect computer networks and systems from unauthorized access and cyberattacks. The role and number of information security analysts continues to grow due to the ever-increasing number of cybersecurity issues. They also may also deal with equipment malfunctions and develop new programs to replace inadequate ones. $95,510 per year 28%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations can be crucial to your success, whether
you’re new to the field of homeland security or an old pro. These
organizations offer excellent entry points for students and new
professionals to make valuable connections with experts in the field,
earn highly respected certifications and continue their education as
future demands in homeland security evolve and grow. Below are some
prominent organizations for homeland security professionals with
members-only resources and services for career-ready graduate students
that help better prepare you to enter the job market.

National Homeland Security Association:
The NHSA sponsors the National Homeland Security Conference, the
premier annual meeting of local homeland security and emergency
management professionals. It also offers new practitioners and veterans
in homeland security with numerous networking and education
opportunities, including prep courses and exams for the Associate
Emergency Manager and Certified Emergency Manager Program offered at the
annual conference.

International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals:
Membership in the IACSP offers numerous benefits as part of the
association’s mission to develop and distribute the tools and resources
used to minimize the threat of terrorism and promote legal and ethical
behavior in counterterrorism. Some of these benefits include
professional publications filled with the latest security news,
networking and educational opportunities, an annual symposium, seminars
and full access to members-only sections of its website.

Global Society of Homeland and National Security Professionals:
An international organization comprised of homeland and national
security professionals, GSHNSP provides members with the knowledge,
support and recognition needed for professional success. Membership
earns you discounts on certification programs, plus a full-service
career center and collection of perks that include thousands of
discounts on various products and services.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Homeland Security

Most graduate students in online homeland security degree programs
still need financial assistance to pay for their education despite
online programs often being less costly than traditional programs.
Always start your search for financial aid by completing the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required to
learn whether you’re eligible for federal aid through grants, loans,
scholarships and other financial assistance. Many schools also utilize
this form to determine your eligibility for financial aid offered
through the institution. Private sources of financial aid may also be
found through companies, professional associations, non-profit
organizations and other agencies. Use the resources below to explore
some of the many ways you can finance your online master’s degree in
homeland security.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Horizons Foundation Scholarship – Security Studies

Award: Varies

Deadline: November

Eligibility: Full-time or part-time graduate students enrolled at an accredited college or university with an interest in pursuing a career related to national security.

Ralph W. Shrader Graduate Diversity Scholarship

Award: $3,000

Deadline: April

Eligibility: Female and minority graduate students enrolled at any accredited school in a STEM/hard-sciences-focused program, including cybersecurity and homeland security.

The Life’s Choices Foundation Graduate Scholarship

Award: $3,500

Deadline: June

Eligibility: Graduate students focusing on national security or intelligence studies with the intent of serving in the U.S. government.

Al Ponte Graduate Scholarship

Award: $1,000

Deadline: June

Eligibility: Graduate students enrolled in a program focused on international relations and/or intelligence.