Best Bachelor's in Homeland Security Degree Programs

Oct 20, 2021

Homeland Security Degrees

Homeland security degrees teach students about the best ways to preserve and protect the US from domestic and foreign terrorists, cyberthreats, and chemical warfare. This field encompasses security management of land, air, and sea borders as well as cybersecurity, immigration, and national emergencies. Students pursuing this field may go on to enter careers as border patrol officers, cyber analysts, intelligence officers, or airport security personnel.

The Top Bachelor's Degree Programs in Homeland Security

Study.com has analyzed institutions across the country to find the best bachelor's degree programs in the homeland security field. Key factors used in the ranking of these programs are accessibility and affordability. Among the other factors considered are a program's delivery method, its curriculum, specialization opportunities, experiential learning, internships, as well as data from the U.S. Department of Education. These ranking factors led us to find these 11 programs as the best of the best bachelor's degrees in homeland security.

1. SUNY College of Technology at Canton

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,650 85% 47% 95% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The Bachelor of Technology in Homeland Security program from SUNY College of Technology at Canton, in Canton, NY, is perfect for criminal justice students seeking their bachelor's degree or for those who have already obtained their associate degree. In this program, students can choose from online courses or in-person classes. Students are trained in the areas of investigation and intelligence and they receive Incident Command System/National Incident Management System certification. A student can tailor the final semester's focus on criminal justice via associated additional courses or an internship with an agency.

2. SUNY at Albany

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10,176 54% 63% 85% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

SUNY at Albany, located in Albany, NY, offers a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in Homeland Security from their College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. This on-campus program includes training and applied learning as well as skill development through simulation. The college's partnerships with public and private agencies give students the opportunity to gain internship experience.

3. Eastern Kentucky University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9,876 94% 45% 98% Yes Yes AP Credits

Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY, has a long-standing reputation for being among the first to offer an undergraduate homeland security program. The school's Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security program includes the option to specialize in disaster management, security, or intelligence. The program which focuses on current technology and practices can be completed online or on-campus.

4. Lake Superior State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12,255 57% 51% 96% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

At Lake Superior State University in Sault Sainte Marie, MI, their Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program, known for its quality graduates, offers a concentration in Homeland Security. This on-campus program with its strong attention to writing, research and critical thinking, includes numerous classes taught by former and active professionals from the fields of law, corrections, and policing. Students in the College of Criminal Justice can also expect hands-on training and agency internship experience.

5. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10,507 71% 68% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, located in its namesake Slippery Rock, PA, offers an on-campus Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security degree that is designed to prepare students for this fast-growing field. Courses are developed with input from partnering employers so students can be sure they are learning practical skills. This program encourages students to take advantage of internship opportunities, job shadowing, or joining one of Slippery Rock's related clubs.

6. Northeastern State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6,915 100% 33% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

Offered at Northeastern State University's campuses in Tahlequah and Broken Arrow, OK, the Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security was the first of its kind in the state. This interdisciplinary program is offered on-campus or online and includes general education courses (or an associate degree's equivalent), the Homeland Security major, and also a minor. Northeastern State University provides a high-value education at a lower price tag.

7. Angelo State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7,637 77% 40% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

Located in San Angelo, TX, Angelo State University's nationally recognized Bachelor of Security Studies in Border and Homeland Security is offered in both online and on-campus formats. If cybersecurity holds particular interest for a student, a minor in that discipline is offered as well. Through small classes, students can expect to build a community and have increased engagement with their professors, who are well recognized in their respective fields.

8. Oakland University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14,520 83% 57% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

Oakland University in Rochester, MI, with its well-regarded reputation in criminal justice education has agencies actively recruiting students for internships. A Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with the option to concentrate in homeland security is offered on campus, with a few of its courses also available online. The program provides an interdisciplinary education with a focus on developing practical skills. A mandatory professional internship is required to provide students with hundreds of hours of experience in the criminal justice field.

9. Keiser University - Ft Lauderdale

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$21,008 No Available Data (2019-2020) 69% 89% Yes Yes AP Credits

In Florida, Keiser University's Bachelor of Arts degree in Homeland Security is offered at its main campus in Fort Lauderdale, and at numerous other campuses throughout the state, as well as in an online format. To help prepare students for a career in the homeland security field, this program emphasizes the development of management skills. Keiser readies its students toward their homeland security career in an energetic, hands-on environment.

10. Anderson University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$29,230 69% 67% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Anderson University in Anderson, SC, offers an online and on-campus Bachelor of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Services as well as an on-campus Bachelor of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Services - Emergency Services Management. Students learn in small sized classes from educators that have both academic and in-practice perspectives. Students will be equipped to continue on with graduate programs or careers in homeland security.

11. University of New Hampshire

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$18,879 84% 76% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

The Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security at the University of New Hampshire is offered at both the Durham (main) and Manchester campuses. This program, with its award-winning faculty, provides flexibility in its interdisciplinary construction. It offers practical learning from service and consulting opportunities, as well as from internships. The program, which is designated by the U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, can lead to an accelerated Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy and Risk Management.

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

What Kinds of Homeland Security Degrees Are There?

Community colleges and universities offer several different degree and certificate options for those interested in studying homeland security. Two-year institutions offer study programs in the form of certificates and associate's degrees while four-year universities provide the opportunity to earn a bachelor's, master's, doctorate, or graduate certificate. Community college certificate programs can be completed in six months or less while doctoral degrees can take 4-6 years.

Associate Degrees in Homeland Security

An associate degree in homeland security takes around two years to complete and may be a good option for those wishing to explore the field before committing to further study. This degree consists of general education requirements, electives, and core courses for your major. It will give an overview of the field and lay the foundation of knowledge needed to enter the workforce. Students can expect to take introductory level classes in homeland security, cybersecurity, terrorism, emergency management, and disaster preparedness. Programs are generally at least 60 credits and, depending on the college, may include hands-on experience. Those wishing to pursue a bachelor's may be eligible to transfer credits earned at the associate level depending on university policy.

Bachelor's Degrees in Homeland Security

A homeland security bachelor's degree program can generally be completed in four years with 120 credit hours. Bachelor's degrees in this field are made up of general core classes for a liberal arts education, and this usually includes the social and physical sciences, humanities, foreign language, and math. Beyond these requirements, students will complete major courses focusing on homeland security. Classes will give students a well-rounded look at the core components such as emergency management, intelligence, disaster preparedness, and communications. Universities may require students in this major to undertake practical hours or a capstone project at the end of the degree. Select universities may include the possibility of earning an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification with extra credit hours.

Master's Degrees in Homeland Security

For those looking to pursue specialized knowledge in homeland security as well as career advancement, a master's degree is a good option. Master's degrees in this field can be completed in around 1-2 years and allow students to concentrate on an area of interest. Core requirements will usually have a particular focus on analysis, research, and leadership. Concentrations could be in specialized areas such as emergency management, geospatial services, terrorism, military leadership, cybercrime, or safety and security.

Doctoral Degrees in Homeland Security

A doctorate in homeland security can prepare graduates for research roles, academia, and senior leadership positions. This degree focuses on the research and analysis of major homeland security topics including terrorism, critical infrastructure, intelligence, cybersecurity, and more. Courses that may be included in doctoral study include research methods and advanced statistical analysis, ethical leadership, critical infrastructure, border security, and qualitative methods. Most require completion of a dissertation and may also include a comprehensive exam and/or internship.

Certificates in Homeland Security

Certificates in homeland security can be earned at the undergraduate or graduate level. Certificates can enhance skills and knowledge in the field of homeland security which is both helpful on the job and attractive to employers. Undergraduate certificates give students a basic introduction to the field and can include principles of information security, introduction to homeland security, and terrorism and counterterrorism. They tend to require between 22-26 credit hours to complete. Graduate certificates may only require 12 credit hours and can include such classes as risk analysis, emergency management, and protection of critical infrastructure.

Prerequisites for a Homeland Security Bachelor's Degree

In order to gain acceptance to a bachelor's program in homeland security, students must have a high school diploma or GED and submit transcripts as proof of completion and to demonstrate completed classwork. While some universities have a minimum high school GPA, others take into account the full picture of extracurricular activities, test scores, and coursework. Some other components that may or may not be required include:

  • Standardized test scores such as the SAT or ACT
  • Personal statement or statement of purpose
  • Application fee
  • Letter(s) of recommendation

Transfer students who have completed credits at another university or community college generally must submit transcripts which will then undergo an equivalency evaluation.

Homeland Security Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

Homeland security encompasses a wide range of topics. Some bachelor's in homeland security allow you to focus on one of these concentrations:

  • Counterterrorism
  • Intelligence
  • Emergency management
  • Cybersecurity

For programs that do not offer specific concentration tracks, students may have the opportunity to pick electives that follow their area of interest.

Curriculum for a Bachelor's Degree in Homeland Security

Homeland security bachelor's degrees include coursework that is meant to give students a solid footing in the field. Classes cover a variety of topics in order to produce knowledgeable and well-rounded graduates. Unless students opt to pursue a concentration, the coursework for this degree does not provide in-depth information on a single topic but rather introduces students to all areas of competence within the field. Some courses students may take include:

  • Introduction to homeland security
  • Cybercrime
  • Infrastructure protection
  • Gangs
  • Organizational security
  • Crime prevention
  • Communications management during emergencies
  • Global threats to security

How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's in Homeland Security?

Like most bachelor's degrees, homeland security programs take four years of full-time study to complete. Students will need to earn around 120 credit hours, depending on university requirements, concentrations, and electives. Some degree programs include an internship in addition to core general education credits and major classes. Students attending on a part-time basis may take 5 or more years to finish their degree.

Accreditation for Bachelor's in Homeland Security Degrees

While there is no special accreditation for homeland security programs, attending a regionally accredited university is an important consideration for students hoping to pursue a bachelor's in this field. Regional accreditation means schools pass an intensive review of academic offerings ensuring a level of excellence in content and teaching that is up to current standards. The benefits of accredited programs are access to federal financial aid to fund your studies, the ability to transfer credits to other universities, and acceptance to some government internship programs. Some of the major accrediting bodies include the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Homeland Security Licensure & Certification

No licensing is necessary for homeland security professionals, but there are accepted certifications for this field. A number of jobs that require homeland security certification include digital forensic analysts and emergency management directors. The National Sheriffs' Association, in a partnership with the National Domestic Preparedness Coalition (NDPCI), has developed two certifications:

  • Certified Homeland Protection Professional (CHPP)
  • Certified Homeland Protection Associate (CHPA)

Certifications are for those working in or studying public safety. Applicants for the professional certificate must have a bachelor's in an appropriate discipline, like homeland security, with classes covering risk assessment, weapons of mass destruction, and incident management along with four years of supervisory experience. For the associate level, no experience is necessary but interested candidates must take an exam covering topics like homeland security, emergency management, terrorism, and the National Incidence Management System (NIMS).

Should I Get a Bachelor's Degree in Homeland Security?

A bachelor's degree in homeland security would be a good choice for those with an interest in national security as well as individuals with work experience in a related field. Students hoping to pursue a career in working in the field, with computers, or in a first responder capacity might enjoy the coursework and career options for this field.

Former military, EMTs, paramedics, police, or firefighters without formal higher education or those with an associate's degree would be well-suited for this bachelor's program. Individuals with practical experience in security, public safety, and emergency response are especially valuable. With a bachelor's and prior experience, new graduates are attractive to employers and could move directly into more senior roles like homeland security specialist or emergency management director, among others.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Homeland Security?

There are numerous homeland security career options as these professionals work for all levels of government as well as private organizations. Those with a bachelor's in homeland security can go on to work for the military, the Department of Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, or secret service. Homeland security professionals are also found in fire departments, police departments, state health departments, and local government agencies. Some possible job titles for this field include:

  • Homeland security officer
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer
  • FBI special agent
  • FBI intelligence analyst
  • CIA agent
  • Maritime law enforcement officer
  • Criminal investigator

There are also many jobs for former military veterans such as emergency management director, logistician, and IT manager.

How to Become a Homeland Security Officer

Homeland security officers work for one of the agencies under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This is a broad term for careers such as secret service agent, customs and border patrol officer, and TSA officer, among others. These professionals work in security management in a variety of settings in order to protect the US land, air, and sea borders. They also provide cybersecurity support and keep the government and civilians safe from foreign and domestic threats.

To become a homeland security officer, you'll need a high school diploma or GED, but most employers prefer at least a bachelor's in a related field. Most require skills testing, a drug test, and background investigation. For some positions, a secret or top-secret security clearance is essential.

According to job listings posted by the US government in December 2020, salaries for individual career paths vary but are competitive. For example, secret service agents can expect to make an annual salary of around $49,000. Homeland security investigations special agents earned a higher salary of around $78,000. For all positions, candidates may see a higher salary for additional education and experience.

How to Become an FBI Intelligence Analyst

FBI intelligence analysts are responsible for identifying security threats to homeland security by gathering raw data and synthesizing it. They also make recommendations to combat those threats and interface with other security personnel including special agents and other members of the intelligence community. They work at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, or in one of the FBI's 56 field offices across the country.

To qualify as an FBI agent, you must first have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field such as homeland security. After passing an initial review, candidates must take two separate tests measuring logic, critical thinking, and analytical skills. Then, candidates undergo an interview and a detailed background check. Successful applicants will then go on to a 13-week basic field training course.

According to Payscale.com in April of 2020, FBI intelligence analysts make an average annual salary of around $70,000. This salary could increase due to factors such as years of experience and further educational attainment like a master's or doctorate.

Financial Aid & Scholarship Information for Bachelor's in Homeland Security Degrees

Financial aid is available for students who need help covering the cost of tuition and other education-related expenses. Aid can come from private loan providers or the federal government. Those seeking a loan from the government must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with their or their parent/guardian's previous year's tax information to determine eligibility. This money must be repaid after graduation, but a variety of payment plans exist.

Scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid and can come from several different sources including local, state, and federal government as well as private organizations, businesses, or foundations. Scholarships generally are awarded after a competition while grants tend to be awarded based solely on financial need. A notable homeland security scholarship opportunity is the (ISC)² Information Security Undergraduate Scholarship for bachelor's level students pursuing a degree with a focus on cybersecurity. Twenty scholarships are available and awards range from $1,000-$5,000.

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