Criminal Justice School Info

Homeland Security Degree

Do you want to earn a degree that will get you in a career where your primary job will be protecting our nation?

A homeland security degree will provide you with an educational framework in which you will analyze the logistical aspects of the field as well as the theoretical foundations and processes involved in keeping our country safe from a variety of threats including terrorism, fraud, and disaster preparedness. Learn about the various degree levels available or jump to our list of schools and request additional information.



Since the events of September 11, 2001, there has been a surge of organizational changes and newly formed job functions including the formation of the Department of Homeland Security. With a degree in homeland security, you may find yourself working in one of the many arms of this new organization. Homeland security careers in the field involve individuals from multiple backgrounds, skill sets, and career aspirations from law enforcement, border patrol, biologists, counterterrorism analysts, cybersecurity specialists, and much more. There are a variety of roles to be played, diverse employers, and work settings. There is; however, one commonality within these roles:  serving and protecting our country from threats.

Homeland Security Education Options

New York Homeland Security

Homeland Security Boat Patrols New York Harbor. Keeping our borders & ports safe is an important part of DHS Agents.

The level of detail and depth of your homeland security courses will be determined by the degree level you are pursuing. One of the most common is to pursue a bachelors degree in homeland security. A bachelors degree is often a prerequisite for many careers in homeland security and will make you a more competitive job applicant. It is also an excellent educational foundation to set for your self to build upon as you grow and seek additional opportunities in your department or career.

If you are savvy on the computer and internet, you may want to purse a cybersecurity degree. Are you known for your instincts for criminal intent, possess an ability to discern inconsistent patterns in behavior? Perhaps, a border patrol agent is a good fit? If; however, you are looking for a comprehensive approach that will open a variety of doors, a homeland security degree or criminal justice degree provides a strong educational foundation.


Associates Degree For Homeland Security Majors

While most positions within homeland security will require a higher degree, there are still many opportunities for people who have an associate's degree. Many schools don't have an official homeland security associates degree, so most students begin by completing a campus or online criminal justice associates degree. It is common to start by getting an associates degree with the intention of declaring a homeland security major as they continue to work towards a bachelor's degree. Some choose to work in an entry-level role or a position that provides relevant experience while simultaneously completing their degree online. An associate's degree will make you eligible for entry-level positions in law enforcement agencies, border patrol, or disaster recovery programs, just to name a few.

Homeland Security is no longer restricted to counter-terrorism related jobs, it now includes areas of emergency management and preparation/response to disasters (both man-made and natural), national cyber-security, border patrol, FBI, Secret Service, and much more. These are the likely areas of employment if you have an associate's degree for homeland security majors.

A homeland security associate's degree program is typically two years and many schools offer the option to take classes online.


Homeland Security Associates Degree Prerequisites:

The prerequisites for starting a homeland security associate's degree program are typically a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent.

Jobs with Homeland Security Associates Degree:

Some of the possible jobs with a homeland security associate's degree include the following:

  • TSA - Transportation Security Officer
  • Customs and Border Patrol/Protection
  • Disaster Relief Worker
  • FEMA Regional Worker
  • Biological Warfare Threat Specialist
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Disease Response Analyst
  • Disaster Relief Worker
  • Loss Prevention Agent
  • Security Officer
  • Safety Security Specialist

Bachelor's in Homeland Security

A bachelor's in homeland security makes you an eligible candidate for a wide variety of homeland security career options and provides a strong educational framework for entry and mid-level roles in most departments. While there are now several schools offering specific homeland security bachelor's degrees, many still officially refer to it as a criminal justice degree with a concentration in homeland security.

Many schools will offer you the ability to specialize your degree in areas like intelligence management, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, or security and protection.

Online Bachelor's in Homeland Security

A bachelor's in homeland security is typically a four-year program and is readily available through accredited schools online. You may be able to transfer previously earned credits to online schools; be sure to ask a school representative about transfer credit. Online homeland security bachelor's programs allow you to make your classes and study time fit into your current schedule. You will also be able to work at a flexible pace and gain relevant work experience.


Homeland Security Bachelor's Prerequisites

The prerequisites for earning a bachelor's in homeland security are similar to most other programs. You will need either a high school diploma or a GED. Occasionally, you will be required to have already obtained an associate's degree.

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Masters Degree in Homeland Security

Obtaining a masters degree in homeland security is strong option for those seeking quicker advancement or professional development within existing roles. Some simply pursue a homeland security masters degree in order to stay ahead of the pack with their formal education. A graduate degree in homeland security will make you eligible for roles with increased leadership, higher rank, and higher GS salary grades. You will also have increasingly higher levels of responsibility, which is what most people strive for as their career advances. Statistics show that those who earn a master's degree in homeland security or criminal justice related study will work in the higher levels of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the FBI and CIA. To learn more about the structure and available positions within the DHS, click here.

Typical topics covered in the coursework include cyber security, criminology, intelligence management, counterterrorism and many different specialties within the forensic field.


Homeland Security Masters Prerequisites

The prerequisites for obtaining a master's degree in homeland security include a bachelor's degree in a related field. The specific type of related degree will depend upon the area you choose to specialize in, but in most cases, the following types of degrees will be acceptable.

A general degree in criminal justice is likely to make you eligible, but a more specific degree in one of the following may be a better option depending upon the type of employment you wish to obtain.

Related Bachelor's Programs



Online Masters in Homeland Security

Obtaining an online masters in homeland security is a great way to advance your career. You get the opportunity to work around your schedule. This is a great option for people who are already working in a similar field and want to advance their career or move it in a slightly different direction. Obtaining an online masters in homeland security is also a great opportunity for those who want to continue their education.

You are usually allowed to proceed through the coursework at your own speed. This allows you to continue to carry out your current responsibilities and study on nights and weekends when time is available.

Some of the topics included in the curriculum include urban terrorism, disaster psychology, technology of law enforcement, protection of critical infrastructure, and public preparedness training. See our list of recommended programs below to request additional information from schools offering online graduate level programs.


Masters in Homeland Security Courses

The specific courses that you will take at the master's level will depend upon your specific area of concentration. Some of the potential homeland security courses at the master's level include the following:

Advanced Counterterrorism Advanced Surveillance
Cults and Charismatic Leaders Terrorism Group Dynamics
Double Agents, Denial & Deception Analyzing the Terrorist Mind
Advanced Protection Operations Advanced Intelligence Collection
Advanced Intelligence Collection Advanced Threat Assessment
Explosives and Arson Security Cyberterrorism & Cyber Warfare
Counterespionage Advanced Domestic Terrorism

Potential Jobs with a Masters Degree in Homeland Security

The jobs with a master's degree in homeland security are the high profile jobs you frequently hear about when you turn on the news. These are the jobs that have the most responsibility associated with them, but it also means they are the highest paying jobs.

Some of the more common jobs with a master's degree in homeland security are shown below:

  • Criminologist
  • CIA Agent (senior level)
  • Cyber Security Specialist
  • Critical Infrastructure Volatility Analyst
  • Biological Warfare Threat Specialist
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • US Air Marshall Team Leader
  • FBI Agent (senior level)
  • Counter Terrorist Specialist
  • ATF Agent
  • Disaster Recovery Officer
  • FEMA Coordinating Officer
  • Emergency Preparedness Officer

* Some of these jobs can be competitive and a masters degree may be required in order to be considered a competitive candidate.


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Homeland Security Certificate's & Diplomas

A homeland security certificate is another option for someone aiming to enter the world of homeland security, or to advance further within it. It is also a smart and efficient option for combining education with relevant work experience.

The homeland security certificate program usually consists of multiple classes that are very specific to homeland security. One of the main differences between a certificate and a degree is that the certificate only includes classes directly related to the topic whereas a degree usually requires additional general education requirements.


Examples of the classes included in the homeland security diploma program

  • Terrorism
  • Homeland Security
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Cyber Security

A homeland security certificate is typically used by two groups of people.

Homeland Security Group 1People who are already working in jobs that are somewhat related to homeland security and they want to continue their education. This also allows them to show professional credentials without having to spend four years obtaining a degree.


Homeland Security 2Students at the graduate level in other areas who have a desire to change their focus within homeland security or prepare for another role.


The certificate is a great way to show current and future employers that you are serious about your career and you are willing to take additional steps to become better educated and credentialed.


Homeland Security Certificate Prerequisites

Typically, the only prerequisites needed for homeland security certificates are a high school diploma or a GED. There are some graduate level certificates that require the completion of a bachelor's degree.

Jobs with Homeland Security Certificate's & Diplomas The available jobs with a homeland security certificate will depend a great deal on other qualifications and work experience you have to complement it. If, for example, you are currently a security guard and want to become a border patrol agent, a certificate program could be a great option in order to make the switch. A bachelor's degree (even if it's not related) will be to your benefit, as will any practical experience you have obtained working in a job that is related to homeland security. This kind of experience will help you even if it only related to homeland security on a marginal level.

If you have an entry-level position, a certificate should allow you the opportunity to advance further and gain additional responsibilities. If you already have a bachelor's degree in addition to your certificate, you should have the opportunity to move into the homeland security world at a mid-level position.


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Homeland Security Degree FAQs:

Can I complete a homeland security degree online?

Yes, many colleges and universities now offer online homeland security degree options. Because this major is relatively new, many colleges still offer it formally as an online criminal justice program and they give you the option of forming a concentration track.

What is a concentration track in homeland security?

A concentration track is a set of additional courses and curriculum geared towards a particular subfield within criminal justice such as: homeland security, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, law enforcement, international intelligence, etc. Many schools with homeland security programs have come to realize that it is important to allow the student to form a particular focus within the broader field of criminal justice and homeland security. Be sure to ask school representatives about their particular programs and concentrations available.

Should I declare a major in homeland security? What about double majoring?

If you are seeking a highly specialized role in homeland security, you may want to double major or minor in homeland security. Discuss the best educational action plan with school representatives. For example, if you want to work in biochemical threats, you may want to double major or minor in criminal justice with a concentration in counterterrorism, then add another major or minor in biology, chemistry, or physics.


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