Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Homeland Security

Most often associated with high profile jobs such as the United States Secret Service or border protection agents, today homeland security is a vital field of work. Along with more well-known law enforcement jobs within the homeland security field, employees also work in other areas like citizenship, civil rights and liberties, health affairs, legislative issues, national intelligence, and cybersecurity. A variety of career opportunities offered by the Department of Homeland Security yield employment for thousands of people each year from many different occupational backgrounds.

Prospective master’s in homeland security online program students may be current professionals seeking career advancement in the homeland security field, or professionals in other industries who are seeking employment in the field as a career change. Regardless of their motivation to pursue an advanced degree, students will find that the skills required for attaining senior positions and higher, six-figure salaries within the DHS — including risk assessment, planning and preparedness, finance statistics, and organizational theory — may be learned while completing an online master’s in homeland security.

Because online courses can be taken while students continue their current professional work, the overall cost of earning the degree is often cheaper than the option of a traditional, on-campus program. Below, we have ranked some of the best online homeland security programs to help prospective students locate and pursue their best options. Our methodology includes consideration of tuition affordability to help you find a program within your budget.

Online Homeland Security Master’s Degrees at a Glance

Fast Facts

Time to Complete 18 to 24 months
Credit Hours 33 to 36 total (averaging 15 to 18 annually)
Concentrations
  • Agricultural biodiversity
  • Counterterrorism
  • Cyber threat prevention
  • Emergency management
  • Information security
  • International security
  • Leadership
  • Logistics
  • Port security
  • Public health preparedness
Accreditation None specific to homeland security (FEMA has a working group currently studying how to create or utilize an accrediting agency for this purpose). However, the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security does recognize institutions with related degree programs as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense.
Additional Considerations While not required in every state or by every employer, emergency management directors may elect to become certified. Continuing education courses are necessary for recertification.

11 Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Homeland Security
Rank School Score Toggle Content
1

Angelo State University

Value Score 8.18
Average Tuition $3,726
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 79%
Number of Online Programs 13
Part-time cost per credit hour $207

The MS in homeland security from Angelo State's Department of Criminal Justice, History, and Social Sciences addresses the growing demand for capable security personnel. The 36-credit program is ideal for those working in the fields of criminal justice, law enforcement, and emergency management, offering a holistic approach to real-world issues. Courses are offered entirely online in an accelerated, eight-week format. Students must also complete a culminating capstone project during their final semester in this MS in homeland security. The curriculum for this online master’s in homeland security is split evenly between required courses and electives, including topics such as infrastructure protection, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, and transnational crime. Those with a military background will find the courses particularly tailored to their experience and training. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 to be considered. The GPA requirement can be waived on a case-by-case basis.


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2

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Value Score 7.78
Average Tuition $5,738
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 94%
Number of Online Programs 16
Part-time cost per credit hour $412

Northwestern State has served the students of Louisiana since 1884. NSU is home to eNSU, the state's first electronic, global campus. The school offers 39 degree programs online, including an MS in homeland security. This master's program is designed to teach students how to handle domestic and international security issues and conflicts properly, from transnational security to diplomacy and ethics. The online master’s in homeland security is available in two tracks: non-thesis and thesis. Non-thesis students must complete 42 credits and take a comprehensive final exam to conclude the program. Meanwhile, students in the thesis track must only complete 36 total credit. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, public administration, or a related field. Students without a degree may still apply provided they take an introductory course on homeland security in their first semester.


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3

National University

Value Score 7.57
Average Tuition $10,962
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 66%
Number of Online Programs 39
Part-time cost per credit hour $406

Established in 2001, the National University System endeavors to provide a wide range of career-oriented degree programs for adult learners. The MS in homeland security and emergency management is one of 90 online degree programs offered by National University. In this program, students are taught how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural and manmade disasters. The 54-credit interdisciplinary program is comprised of 10 core courses and two capstones. The curriculum includes courses in infrastructure protection, domestic terrorism, fundamentals of recovery, and policies of homeland security. The homeland security master’s degree online program from NUS offers an accelerated learning format, offering one course per month. This format allows students to complete 12 courses every year, instead of nine courses in traditional semesters. National University offers affordable and competitive graduate tuition to make their programs more accessible.


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4

Wilmington University

Value Score 7.01
Average Tuition $7,992
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 75%
Number of Online Programs 16
Part-time cost per credit hour $444

The MS in homeland security from Wilmington University is a dynamic program focused on protecting communities and their citizens from threat, disaster, and emergency. This 33-credit hour program offers three concentrations: safety and security, organizational leadership, and information assurance. Students will take a total of six core courses and four in their concentration, plus a practicum capstone. The core curriculum includes courses in the sociology of terrorism, legal aspects and policy of homeland security, and crisis leadership. This online master’s degree in homeland security is also offered in traditional and hybrid formats, providing students with even more flexibility. Students will learn how to identify trends and threats at the local, state or federal level, as well as how to utilize technology to promote safe environments. Applicants must have earned a bachelor's degree to be considered. Part of the admissions process is registering for the program's first course: research methods in criminal justice.


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5

Excelsior College

Value Score 6.84
Average Tuition $11,160
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 100%
Number of Online Programs 14
Part-time cost per credit hour $620

Excelsior College has been committed to providing accessible degree programs to adult learners since 1971. The school offers an MS in criminal justice with a track in homeland security and emergency management that is designed to help adults already working in the field further advance their careers. This degree builds upon the prior training that many criminal justice professionals and military service members have received. Excelsior's 30-credit online master’s in homeland security includes 10 courses: six in the core curriculum, three in the concentration of homeland security and emergency management, and one capstone course. The curriculum covers topics including criminology, constitutional law, terrorism and counterterrorism, and law enforcement. This affordable program can be completed entirely online and has a generous transfer credit policy which accepts up to 15 credits. Excelsior also offers credit for previous college work, military training, and other relevant experiences.


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6

Thomas Edison State University

Value Score 5.80
Average Tuition $11,610
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 100%
Number of Online Programs 9
Part-time cost per credit hour $645

TESU offers a 36-credit MS in homeland security through the Watson School of Public Service and Continuing Studies. The fields of homeland security and emergency preparedness are ever-changing and this degree aims to help students understand how technology, intelligence, and law intersect while shaping protection policies and procedure. The curriculum covers topics like international legal and ethical issues, technology and information security, and natural disasters. Students commonly complete their online master’s in homeland security in 18 months, or six 12-week terms. Graduates may pursue careers with several national organizations, including the TSA, CDC, FEMA, and FBI. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 to be considered. This program does not require a GMAT or GRE score for admission. TESU accepts transfer credits and awards students with experiential learning credit if they've had relevant experiences outside the classroom.


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7

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Value Score 5.51
Average Tuition $19,328
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 100%
Number of Online Programs 34
Part-time cost per credit hour $805

Penn State offers a variety of online degree programs through the school's World Campus, including the master of professional studies in homeland security. Students can choose from one of five specializations: public health preparedness, geospatial intelligence, information security and forensics, agricultural biosecurity and food defense, and a general homeland security track which focuses on policy and organization. The 33-credit program emphasizes an all-hazards approach that crosses both the public and private sector. The curriculum provides students with a fundamental understanding of homeland security through courses in social and ethical issues, homeland security and defense in practice, and disaster communication. This online master’s in homeland security can serve either as a source of professional development for current professionals or as an entry point into the field for students. Applicants must hold a bachelor's or comparable degree to be considered. Penn State offer cheap, flat-rate graduate tuition rates that make earning a master's degree affordable for working professionals.


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8

Nova Southeastern University

Value Score 5.03
Average Tuition $16,760
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 54%
Number of Online Programs 52
Part-time cost per credit hour $931

The MS in national security affairs prepares students to assess and analysis threats to the United States. Students will examine the historical and contemporary issues related to intelligence collection in today's digital world. The program offers four tracks of specialization: cyber terrorism and security, criminal justice, international relations and global affairs, or homeland security. The 33 credit program can be completed entirely online and enrollment is open to students all around the world. In this online master’s degree in homeland security, students will take four track-specific courses covering such topics as counterintelligence, ethnopolitical conflict, and public policy. After completing all coursework, every student must pass a comprehensive final exam. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, or be in the process of completing one, with a minimum 3.0 GPA to be considered. NSU offers the same tuition to all students regardless of residency.


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9

Monmouth University

Value Score 3.05
Average Tuition $23,034
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 28%
Number of Online Programs 2
Part-time cost per credit hour $1,047

Monmouth University offers an MA in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security for those interested in becoming valued homeland security professionals. In this 30-credit program, students will learn how to identify terrorism, reduce vulnerabilities in communities, mitigate threat of damage, and recover from attacks and disasters. The homeland security concentration is an ideal academic path for aspiring first responders. This online master’s in homeland security covers topics like the increasingly important role of information technology, the ethical and moral issues of response, and social responsibility overall. The rigorous curriculum is compliant with the program established at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Students may choose from a thesis or non-thesis option. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be considered.


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10

LIU Riverhead

Value Score 2.07
Average Tuition $27,720
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 58%
Number of Online Programs 1
Part-time cost per credit hour $1,055

LIU Riverhead offers a 36-credit master's in homeland security management program. Taught by the Homeland Security and Terrorism Institute at LIU, the program delves into topics like emergency management and the sociological aspects of a disaster or terror threat. The MS in homeland security management splits its curriculum among required courses, electives, research study, and a practicum. Students will enroll in courses on constitutional issues in homeland security management, domestic and international terrorism, cyber security, and more. This master’s in homeland security online is ideal for law enforcement professionals, first responders, public safety officials, and military personnel looking to advance their careers. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree and a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered. However, the admissions team will consider a candidate's whole portfolio, taking into account community service and a student's overall interest in pursuing a degree at Long Island University.


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11

Pace University-New York

Value Score 1.61
Average Tuition $28,080
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 4%
Number of Online Programs 6
Part-time cost per credit hour $1,170

Pace University is a private college located in New York City that was founded in 1906. Pace offers an MA in public safety and homeland security that prepares students to respond to the latest security threats and dangers facing the nation. The 33-credit program includes 18 credits of required core courses and a five course elective requirement. The curriculum covers topics like public sector management, U.S. Constitution and ethical issues, comparative governments, and international human rights. Students completing this master’s in homeland security online program will study as part of a cohort. Pace offers courses on a trimester basis and with small average class sizes. Courses are delivered entirely online and coursework can be completed asynchronously. There is a one-day residency requirement, but students can fulfill it via web conferencing. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree to be considered.


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What Will I Learn in My Online Master’s in Homeland Security Program?

Sample Courses

An online master’s in homeland security will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the complex factors that influence international crisis response. Students will learn strategies to assist them in responding to a terrorist attack, emergency, or natural disaster. This degree program typically requires a capstone project for graduation. In some cases, students may opt to write a thesis.

  • Fundamentals of homeland security This course covers U.S. policies and procedures related to preventing and responding to emergencies.
  • Technology for homeland security This course introduces students to the latest technology used in homeland security, including surveillance equipment, communications technology, drones, and cyber-security software.
  • Infrastructure protection Students will learn how to analyze vulnerabilities and threats to infrastructures. Students will strategically create terrorist attack prevention methods and policies.
  • Intelligence analysis This course teaches students strategies for intelligence-gathering to determine attack threat levels and ultimately prevent them.
  • Types of weapons of mass destruction Students will learn about chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

Concentrations

While some colleges and universities offer only a general degree program, students pursuing a master’s in homeland security online are usually able to pursue a concentration or specialization. Some concentrations include:

  1. Cyber threat prevention: Students are taught the technical, analytical, and communications skills necessary to prevent cyber crimes. Coursework provides a thorough understanding of terrorism tactics, intelligence policy, and emerging technology.
  2. Emergency management: This concentration teaches students how to respond to various threats to American security, including terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and manmade catastrophes. Courses focus on planning emergency response, communicating after a disaster, and handling mass casualty situations.
  3. Leadership: Students will learn about organizational leadership in governmental institutions, especially DHS. Key skills include decision-making, communication, and collaboration strategies.
  4. Logistics: Logistics is one of the most difficult and crucial parts of crisis response. Students will learn how to coordinate first responders, deliver key supplies, and maintain facilities. Students participate in activities that simulate crisis situations.
  5. Public health preparedness: Focused on the medical aspects of disaster response, this degree program readies students for leadership positions in organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Homeland Security Graduates

Master’s in Homeland Security Careers

Graduates from an online master’s degree in homeland security are able to work in government agencies, healthcare organizations, the military, federal law enforcement, and private companies. Many degree holders become emergency management directors, a position that requires excellent communication, critical-thinking, and decision-making skills. People who are flexible, calm during emergencies, and natural leaders are successful in these roles. This degree can also help programmers and computer engineers find work in cybersecurity. These analytical and detail-oriented professionals work diligently to prevent cyberattacks and mitigate them if they occur. Below, we’ve listed a few career that graduates with an online master’s in homeland security can pursue.

Emergency Management Directors

$70,500 Avg Annual Salary
Master’s preferred Degree Required

These professionals work for hospitals, government agencies, colleges, or private organizations. Emergency management directors develop detailed plans with public safety and government officials for responding to a natural or man-made disaster. They train staff members and ensure their organization is prepared for a crisis. Emergency management directors lead the response during an emergency and coordinate recovery efforts afterward. An online master’s in homeland security improves your career prospects in this field.

Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Military Emergency Management Officers or Protective Service

Depends on rank and years of service Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor’s Degree Required

All branches of the U.S. military have officers serving in emergency management and protective service capacities. Overseeing other enlisted military personnel, they provide leadership before, during, and after disasters. Emergency planning, evacuation procedures, and response activity are central to these positions. While not required, a master’s degree helps professionals obtain higher-grade jobs with more responsibility and higher pay.

Projected Growth Rate: (BLS data for job outlook applies to civilian workforce only)

Information Security Analysts

$92,600 Avg Annual Salary
Master’s Degree Required

Information security analysts oversee computer networks and monitor software to prevent security breaches. They are responsible for analyzing systems for vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit. After a cyber crime, information security analysts work to secure the system and determine what data was compromised. The majority of employers prefer these professionals to hold master’s degrees.

Projected Growth Rate: 18%

Police and Detectives

$61,600 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor’s Degree Required

Information security analysts oversee computer networks and monitor software to prevent security breaches. They are responsible for analyzing systems for vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit. After a cyber crime, information security analysts work to secure the system and determine what data was compromised. The majority of employers prefer these professionals to hold master’s degrees.

Projected Growth Rate: 4%

Private Detectives and Investigators

$48,190 Avg Annual Salary
High school Degree Required

Retired police officers and military personnel often pursue second careers as private detectives and investigators. These positions are heavily focused on research and surveillance, requiring personal interviews, online searches, obtaining of court records, and covertly watching individuals to obtain information. Private detectives may secure employment with government agencies or private companies. Investigators with online master’s degrees in homeland security learn valuable skills for gathering intelligence.

Projected Growth Rate: 5%

Licensure and Certification

Careers in homeland security do not require specific licenses and certification. Earning a master’s degree in the field is typically sufficient to demonstrate required knowledge. However, optional certifications are available, and some emergency management positions require additional credentials. If you plan to pursue a career in emergency management, you should check for any state certification requirements where you reside or work.

  • Certified Emergency Manager: This certification is provided jointly by FEMA and the International Association of Emergency Managers. The certification requires three years of emergency management experience, a bachelor’s degree, 100 hours of emergency management, 100 hours of comprehensive management training, six field contributions (e.g. speaking engagements, article publishing), an essay, and an exam. It is the highest level of certification for an emergency management professional. Recipients must regularly take courses in order to maintain their certification.
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional: Designed for cybersecurity professionals, this certification attests to a holder’s ability to design and maintain a complex information security program. It requires five years of work experience in at least two of the sectors of the (ISC)2 CISSP Common Body of Knowledge. A bachelor’s degree can replace one year of necessary experience. Continuing education is required to retain certification.
  • Professional Certified Investigator: This international designation for private investigators is sponsored by ASIS International and certifies that the holder is experienced in evidence collection, reporting, and case management. Applicants must have a high school degree and five years of experience in investigations, including two years of case management work.

Job Placement

A report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) found that 94% of students who majored in human services and community organization were employed, while 37% enjoyed a salary increase after earning a master’s degree. Georgetown found that 100% of military technologies majors were gainfully employed, and 44% of computer administration management and security majors experienced an earnings increase after earning a graduate degree. Students pursuing their online master’s in homeland security will find an advanced degree leads to broader career opportunities, higher salaries, and better job security.

Master’s in Homeland Security Salary

The following data from PayScale details common careers for those holding an online master’s in homeland security. Professionals can expect significant salary increases as their careers progress.

Homeland Security Median Annual Salaries
Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Emergency Manager $68,689 $53,898 $64,611 $87,491
Emergency Management Specialist $54,847 $51,234 $58,154 $73,146
Information Security Analyst $70,254 $63,884 $80,164 $91,214
Intelligence Analyst $65,518 $65,418 $68,921 $86,488
Detective or Criminal Investigator $57,398 $49,947 $54,975 $66,504

Do I Need to Take the GRE to Enroll in an Online Master’s in Homeland Security Program?

Most graduate programs require applicants to take the GRE exam. The GRE tests verbal and quantitative reasoning skills as well as analytical writing capabilities. The test is helpful for determining how well students might handle the rigorous workload typically required in graduate school. There are more than 1,000 test centers in 160 countries.

Students can retake the exam as many times as they want and submit only the best scores to schools for review. GRE subject tests are also available, including exams in biology, psychology, and biochemistry. The GRE is difficult, and experts recommend that students study for several months before taking the test. Students can find free preparatory materials online, including on the GRE website.

Schools do not rely solely on GRE scores for admission decisions. Undergraduate degree records, work experience, and letters of recommendation are also considered. Graduate programs that don’t require GRE test scores may substitute them with prerequisites, such as professional certifications and/or work experience.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Homeland Security Degrees

Accreditation is a guarantee that a school meets certain academic standards. To ensure that your master’s in homeland security online degree is recognized by employers, it’s important to research accreditation for the schools you’re considering. You’ll want to only apply to colleges, universities, and technical schools that are accredited by one of the six regional agencies. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation. However, certain schools specializing in career training and some Bible colleges can only be accredited by national agencies.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes 60 accreditation agencies. You should search for your list of schools on the CHEA website to verify accreditation. Additionally, you’ll want to research accreditation histories. Gaps in accreditation and accreditation by various agencies over short periods of time can serve as red flags for “degree mills.”

Financing Your Online Master’s in Homeland Security Program

Students of homeland security master’s degrees online have a variety of funding opportunities available. By completing and filing the FAFSA, you’ll be provided with details on the specific federal scholarships, loans, and grants for which you’re qualified. Private loans and scholarships are additional options. Financial aid and scholarships make it even more affordable to pursue a homeland security master’s degree online.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a variety of internship programs available for students planning careers in the field. Graduate students should consider the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Internship program, which places interns in positions in Washington, DC and El Paso, Texas.

DEGREE Scholarships

Ralph W. Shrader Diversity Scholarship (Women and Minority students) Graduate-level candidates $3,000

This scholarship will be awarded to women and minority students in a homeland security, cybersecurity, information technology, or intelligence master’s program.

Scholarship Deadline: April 20

Eligibility Requirements: Student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 and must include a resume with their application.

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HORIZONS Scholarship (Women in Defense) Varies

This scholarship is for women pursuing a career in national defense (not law enforcement or criminal justice). Cyber security and intelligence are acceptable degree programs.

Scholarship Deadline: June 12

Eligibility Requirements: A cumulative GPA of 3.25 is required, along with proof of U.S. citizenship.

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The Peter Jasin AFIO Endowment $4,000

Graduate students seeking a career in the U.S. intelligence community are eligible for this scholarship. Coursework must include intelligence, national security, or foreign affairs. Colleges must be regionally accredited.

Scholarship Deadline: July 1

Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must submit a resume, one recommendation, and their academic transcript.

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The Life’s Choices Foundation Graduate Scholarship Awards $3,500

This scholarship is for graduate students pursuing a career with the federal government. Students serving in government agencies (related to intelligence), their children, and grandchildren are given priority consideration.

Scholarship Deadline: July 1

Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must submit a resume, one recommendation, and their academic transcript.

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The Al Ponte Graduate Scholarship Award $1,000

Graduate students in degree programs related to intelligence or international relations are eligible.

Scholarship Deadline: July 1

Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must submit a resume, one recommendation, and their academic transcript.

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