Bachelor’s in homeland security program guide

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Why choose a bachelor’s in homeland security?

If you’re interested in a program that offers wide-ranging career possibilities in a dynamic field, you should consider a Bachelor’s Degree in Homeland Security. This program provides employment opportunities in federal, state, and local governments, and some private and non-profit organizations.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) protects the United States of America and its citizens from internal and external threats. Among other things, the DHS handles border control, immigration, cybersecurity, protection of our national leaders, threat detection, and disaster response.

If your interests lie in criminal justice, technology, protection and security, and social services, this program could be the start of an exciting career. A career in national security can provide job security and the satisfaction of knowing that you’re serving your country.


If a university or college has accreditation, you know that it meets a certain standard of quality determined by its regional accrediting commission. There are 6 of these commissions throughout the country. Each covers a predetermined area or region.

For example, the Higher Learning Commission in Chicago covers the North Central Region, while the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools covers the Southern states. A full list of relevant commissions is available at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website.

Studying your homeland security degree at an accredited school means you’re getting a high standard of education at a good quality institution. You’ll also be more likely to qualify for federal financial aid if necessary. Potential employers also consider a college or university’s accreditation. Most schools will display this information on their website.

Online, on campus, or hybrid learning

Attending daily classes isn’t possible for every individual. Thankfully, in this era of technological advancement, other study options are readily available. The form of study you choose depends mainly on your situation.

Offline learning remains the most popular choice. In 2018, as many as 64% of all students enrolled at postsecondary institutions opted to attend physical classes. If you’re a mature student, you may decide to study for your degree online. Online learning provides flexibility, so you can work around family or employment commitments.

There are dozens of schools offering an online degree in homeland security. There’s no tangible difference between a degree gained through online learning or one from physical class attendance when it comes to curriculum and employment opportunities.

You may find that the school you enroll in offers some hybrid classes or a hybrid program. These are physical classes that online students also participate in, or programs that have some requirements online and some requirements on-campus (such as labs or workshops). Not all programs or schools involve hybrid classes, but it’s something you may see more of in the future.

Requirements for enrollment

The requirements for a bachelor’s degree in homeland security vary from school to school. You should expect to provide the following:

pencil A high school diploma or GED certificate

pencil A GPA of around 2.5

ACT or SAT scores

pencil One or more letters of recommendation

pencil Some schools may request transcripts

Schools accept applicants who have just graduated from high school, and those transferring from a related course of study at a community college. Submit your application, with any supporting documents, to the college or university of your choice.

What the program covers

The bachelor’s degree in homeland security is a 4-year program that covers a broad spectrum of courses. These include but aren’t limited to homeland security policy and law, terrorism and bioterrorism, emergency planning and management, intelligence analysis, digital forensics, cybercrime, criminal justice, and psychology.

Among other necessary skills, students learn how to identify threats and effectively manage emergencies. You learn about the various terrorist organisations, their members, motivations and intentions. You also find out how to keep our borders secure and analyze intelligence data to determine the information’s viability.

Each school has various concentrations for this degree. It’s advisable to select those that interest you or you wish to pursue as a career. Always ensure that you gain the correct number of credits. Some of the concentrations you may have available are public health management, port security, counterterrorism, maritime law, community policing, and security management.

Some schools have capstone courses or internships for students. These options provide opportunities for them to learn an aspect of homeland security in more detail. The Department of Homeland Security also assists with internships for those students who wish to gain firsthand knowledge and experience while learning.

Certificate opportunities

Once you’ve received your degree, you may choose to build on your knowledge and skills with a graduate or postgraduate certificate program. This certificate is a more specialized, shorter program when compared to a full master’s degree program.

The certificate programs focus more on practical experience, better equipping you for employment in that specific sector. Many schools offer these as online courses, with some running a hybrid option as well.

Financial aspects

A bachelor’s degree in homeland security costs around or over $6,500 per year at an in-state public institution.

Studying at an out-of-state school often costs more, as schools tend to charge higher fees for students residing in other states. Online degrees can be more expensive but provide flexibility, and you can learn in your own home. Some online degree programs don’t distinguish between in-state or out-of-state tuition, so can save out-of-state learners money.

For help with funding your studies, you can file an application for federal financial aid. You can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form here to determine if you’re eligible for this assistance. Alternatively, check with the school you’re applying to see if they have an internal scholarship or financial aid program.

The Department of Homeland Security offers several scholarships and internships for students and postgraduates. These range from general scholarships to those specifically for students focusing on key aspects of homeland security, such as nuclear forensics or intelligence.

Career options and certification

A degree in homeland security has diverse employment opportunities for graduates. The nature of a job in homeland security is to keep people and places in the U.S. safe. Careers encompass everything from airport security personnel to intelligence agents.

Depending on your concentrations, skills, and interests, your degree can lead you into any of the following roles:

Immigration agent

Security specialist


Information analyst

CIA operative

Police officer or detective

Salaries vary according to your job role. Higher-paying positions may have additional requirements for employment, like certifications, or years of experience in a specific field.

For example, according to Payscale, in 2020 a police officer averaged $54,000 per year. On the other hand, a security director nets around $80,000 a year on average. However, to become a security director, you need experience as a security officer and additional cybersecurity or IT security qualifications.

Certain roles within homeland security demand extra training in the form of professional certificates. Protection service is one of these fields. You can apply for the Certified Homeland Protection Professional certificate if you’re currently working in homeland protection. Alternatively, a Certified Homeland Protection Associate certificate is also useful if you wish to pursue a career in this field.

What’s next?

Suppose you wish to further your education in homeland security; you can do so by enrolling for a master’s degree or a graduate certificate in an area that’s of interest to you. Extra qualifications benefit you if you want to change job roles or further your career.

There’s plenty of information on the web about careers in homeland security. You may enjoy connecting with various associations or groups operating in your chosen field of interest, or browsing websites related to homeland security issues.

National Emergency Management Association

NEMA is the professional body for directors of emergency management. It works to improve the nation’s ability to plan for, respond to, and recover from, national security threats and disasters.

National Homeland Security Association

The NHSA sponsors the annual National Homeland Security Conference that brings together emergency management professionals from across the United States, focusing on emergency response disciplines.

Department of Homeland Security

This is the official website for the Department of Homeland Security, with the latest news, updates on awareness campaigns, and job information.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

This website contains information about current and recent disasters, disaster assistance, and employment opportunities.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

The CISA works to prevent and defend against threats. It’s the nation’s risk advisor and its website contains valuable information about cybersecurity, infrastructure security, and risk management.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

This resource covers border security, travel information, trade logistics, and has a careers section.