Homeland security full program information


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What is homeland security?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established in 2002. Its primary goal is to protect the nation from a variety of threats, both local and international. Homeland security personnel face distinctive situations that often require specialized training.

For this reason, the standard criminal justice and law enforcement degrees aren’t adequate preparation for this type of career. Many schools offer security programs covering specific topics such as border security, counterterrorism, and emergency response.

Anyone interested in providing safety and guidance to citizens during crises or even day-to-day life may enjoy a career in homeland security. As a potential candidate, you should be determined and compassionate, with the ability to maintain your composure and courage during catastrophes.

You must be able to work well within a team and be able to follow directions. During your studies, you’ll be trained in I.T., finance, healthcare, and sometimes military operations. A key trait to have is strong analytical skills as part of the job entails evaluating research data.

The growth rate in opportunities for homeland security jobs is increasing from year to year. For example, the expected job outlook rate for an Information Security Analyst for the period of 2019-2029 is 31%, which is much faster than the average rate of 4% of similar professions. On the other hand, police and detective careers expect a rate of 5% for the same period. More specialized positions require a higher education level and training, but this sector’s growth prospects for students are promising.

On the other hand, police and detective careers expect a rate of 5% for the same period. More specialized positions require a higher education level and training, but this sector’s growth prospects for students are promising

Educational requirements

There are a couple of ways that you can get started in a career in homeland security. Various degrees are available, starting from associate’s degrees and going all the way up to doctoral in homeland security.

  • If you want to sign up for an associate’s degree you’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. You can complete an associate’s degree at a community college, but that doesn’t need to be your starting point. You can apply directly for a bachelor’s degree if you meet the college’s requirements.
  • To get admission into the bachelor’s program, you’ll need to submit an SAT or ACT score with most applications. Schools don’t always ask for specific scores, but they expect at least
  • 15 on the ACT or 1,000 on the SAT. Other requirements include a high school transcript and 2 letters of recommendation from people who know your academic and work history.
  • Many colleges offer the degree online, while others allow you to take a full-time campus program. Hybrid programs may be college-specific, so it’s best to find out from your chosen school if it has this option.
  • The degree you choose depends on what career you want to pursue. If you want to be a firefighter, then an associate’s degree is an excellent start. However, there’s a lot of other training that you need to get through to qualify as a firefighter.

Below are some career options and the required qualification

Police Officer/FirefighterHigh school diploma/associates degree (extra training required)
Corrections OfficerAssociate’s degree (extra training required)
Emergency Management Director, Information Security Analyst, FBI AgentBachelor’s degree
Intelligence Officer, Computer and Information Systems ManagersMaster’s degree
Fire/Police ChiefMaster’s degree


The 2 primary certifications are:

  • A Certified Homeland Protection Professional (CHPP) Certification
  • NSA/GSHNSP Certified Homeland Protection Associate attestation consisting of levels I-IV (CHPA)

These were established by the Global Society of Homeland Security Professionals and the National Sheriff’s Association. The primary aim is to certify that individuals have proven their knowledge, competency, skills, and aptitude in the discipline of homeland protection through a rigorous qualification program.

You’ll need to pass specific requirements to become certified. The CHPP has the following minimum criteria:

  • Must be 21 years or older
  • No felony convictions, disciplinary action records, or dishonorable discharges from the U.S. military
  • 4 years of experience as a responder, security officer, emergency manager, or similar
  • A degree is recommended with a minimum score of 80%

Those who have been awarded a level I through IV CHPA have demonstrated to future employers that they are ready to begin their careers. The certifications provide an objective way of distinguishing highly competent homeland protection professionals from less experienced colleagues.


Some of the modules covered in the associate’s degree include:

● American homeland security

● Terrorism response operations

● Disaster planning and management

● Weapons of mass destruction

At the bachelor’s level, the focus changes slightly, and you can expect to learn more about criminal justice and emergency management. Topics include:

● Emergency planning, covering risk assessment, and operational staffing.

● Domestic terrorism examines how the U.S. government defines domestic terrorism concerning the enforcement of the Patriot Act and criminal laws.

● Infrastructure security investigates the security policies of public transport systems and communication networks.

● Cybercrime explores the behavior of computer hackers and cyberterrorists.

● Research methods provide learners the skills to conduct social science research and to evaluate the results.

If you’re looking to pursue a career in leadership roles, then the next level of education is a master’s degree in homeland security. Some possible specializations include:

● M.S. in Homeland Security

● M.S. in Counterterrorism and Homeland Security

● M.S. in Criminal Justice with a focus on homeland security

Specializations in homeland security

If you decide to study for a homeland security qualification, there are various specializations that you can consider doing. It allows you to tailor a degree towards your primary interest and goals. Some of the subfields that you can focus on include:

  • Emergency management
  • Counterterrorism
  • Cybersecurity
  • Public safety
  • International relations
  • Biosecurity
  • Public health
  • Community resilience


When choosing a college, you should take note of the program accreditations. If you attend a regionally accredited program, it ensures your financial aid eligibility. It also allows you to transfer credits more easily and guarantees quality education.

If you want to check that the program you’re interested in taking is accredited, use the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs website for confirmation.

Cost of degrees

The cost of a degree depends on the college and the type of tuition you choose. Most online programs are less per credit than campus study options.

Students can expect to pay between $7,000 and $27,000 in total tuition for an associate’s degree. A bachelor’s degree ranges between $43,000 and $55,000, while a masters is around $15,000 to $35,000.

Many colleges have funding options available in the form of loans, grants, or scholarships. Each year the DHS hosts a scholarship program that provides up to $5,000 to select undergraduate students.

To be eligible, students need to be U.S. citizens, hold a security clearance, have reached sophomore or junior level standing and agree to a 1-year service commitment at a DHS approved facility once they graduate.

The DHS isn’t the only institution that offers scholarships for homeland security degrees. Some other prestigious ones include:

Career options

The career options that you have with a qualification in homeland security are vast and varied. You can become a firefighter or a police officer, but these require extra on-the-job and academy training. For more I.T. oriented students, there are opportunities to pursue work as a cybersecurity specialist, information security analyst, or network administrator.

If law enforcement is within your scope of interest, you’ll find that there are many jobs available in local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Some popular jobs include:

Police Officers and Detectives

These dedicated professionals are responsible for collecting evidence from crime scenes, responding to emergency and non-emergency calls, and patrolling neighborhoods. They also interview victims, investigate crimes, arrest suspects, and write detailed daily reports.


Firefighters have a primary duty to extinguish fires and save lives by doing first aid where required. They drive fire trucks and other emergency vehicles when needed. Another aspect of the job is conducting fire safety and physical fitness training.

CIA Officers

The job of a CIA officer depends on their location and training. It includes a wide variety of duties both inside the office and out in the field. They often focus on foreign intelligence to help the government make informed decisions about national safety.

Information Security Analysts

These analysts monitor online activity on the lookout for security breaches. They investigate any violations when they occur. Their primary focus is using technology to protect an organization’s computer networks and online information.

Fish and Game Wardens

The state employs the wardens to perform a variety of tasks. The most important being the enforcement of hunting, boating, and fishing laws. They must also impose any federal laws that pertain to these activities.

Other career options include logisticians, emergency management and response, and project coordinators. In the table below, you can get an idea of what the pay scale is for some careers.

Corrections Officer$46,092
Police Officer$57,700
Emergency Management Director$80,092
Intelligence Officer$89,585
Information Security Analyst$72,737
Top Executive$104,690
Computer and Information Systems Managers$146,360

Continuing education

You can start with an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. To further your studies you can pursue a master’s, and finally a doctorate in homeland security. Each qualification opens up different opportunities for career growth.

By studying further, you can improve your chances of getting a promotion, or you could move in a different direction altogether. Once you’ve established which area you want to focus on, you can branch out into one of many homeland security disciplines such as:

  • Law enforcement
  • Intelligence analysis
  • Information security
  • Infrastructure protection
  • Emergency management

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

This department controls and coordinates homeland security-related actions nationwide.

International Association of Crime Analysts

This agency promotes distinction among crime analysts in law enforcement. It offers additional resources on its websites, such as informational articles, job adverts, and educational software.

American Criminal Justice Association

A body that strives for excellence among professionals in law enforcement and criminal justice. It offers scholarships to students who want to study degrees in the above disciplines and homeland security.

International Association of Emergency Managers

This organization advocates for emergency management professionals and offers scholarships for students within the specialization.

Women in Federal Law Enforcement

This is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the equal representation of women in federal law enforcement. It also provides scholarships for women in majors related to law enforcement, including homeland security.