The need for well-educated, highly-trained administrators and managers in the security field is serious; Homeland Security and its many related agencies represent the fastest-growing segments of the government, while private security is booming right alongside. Online security master’s degrees are an essential part of closing the gap between people who can take on leadership roles in security. Some of the best-known and most respected security schools and programs have developed fully online programs that have all the excellence of their traditional security master’s degrees.
Since most professionals considering a master’s in security are already working in the field, an online security master’s program is the ideal choice. With the best online homeland security master’s programs, working adults don’t have to leave their current careers or spend valuable time commuting to a campus. They can earn the credentials they need to advance, earn promotion, and increase their income on their own time, working around their current schedules. Security Degree Hub is here to guide prospective students to the programs that will work for them.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Master’s in Security Studies Online
To rank the top online security master’s programs and the best online homeland security masters programs, SDH editors did a thorough search of accredited colleges and universities offering fully online and hybrid security graduate degrees. To put programs in a definitive ranking, we used three criteria that directly relate to career impact and return on investment: Cost, Salary Potential, and Student Satisfaction, using data from IPEDS, College Scorecard, and Niche.
1. Northeastern University
Northeastern University offers one of the best online homeland security masters programs in the nation. The degree covers all of the key topics needed for graduate students to secure a job in an emergency management position. Both full-time and part-time options are available for students with courses completed in two years or less. The college is home to the ALERT Center, one of only 12 sites of emergency response research centers in the country dedicated to explosive-related threats.
Northeastern University, located in Boston, is a private college founded in 1898. The college is spread out across 73 acres in the city and has a dedicated subway stop. Northeastern University receives major funding from both the National Institute of Health and the Department of Homeland Security. The college is known for its very active campus with over 400 clubs and sports teams participating in the Division I Colonial Athletic Conference.
Degree: MA in Homeland Security
2. St. Joseph’s University
The online homeland security degree from St. Joseph’s University was created in the wake of 9/11. As one of the best online homeland security masters programs in the nation, the college prepares graduate students to respond effectively to threats against citizens. The 30-credit degree program includes four specialized courses, four core courses, and two electives. The degree track has a high post-graduation placement rate for homeland security agents.
St. Joseph’s University is a private Catholic college located in Philadelphia. The college has over 8,000 students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, and online courses. Students can take advantage of the innovative Summer Scholars Program with the opportunity to work directly with a faculty advisor conducting research projects and earning a stipend in the process. The college features a number of state-of-the-art teaching facilities to provide hands-on learning. For instance, business students can run simulations in the Wall Street Trading Room. St. Joseph’s University aims to make education affordable for all with over 90 percent of students receiving scholarships and grants.
Degree: MSCJ – Homeland Security
3. University of Houston Downtown
The Master’s in Security Management degree from the University of Houston Downtown was created to reduce threats to both private businesses and government agencies. Besides addressing terrorist threat response, the degree delves into topics such as cybersecurity and business security planning. The program has a number of concentrations including cybersecurity and enterprise security. All classes are done fully online and can be completed in as little as 10 months. The college does offer a number of degree-specific scholarships to security management graduate students.
The urban campus of the University of Houston Downtown was created as a site where economically disadvantaged populations could receive a higher education. The online and part-time degree programs promise flexible scheduling to accommodate working students. The college tuition rates are affordable with in-state discounts offered to undergraduate students. The University of Houston Downtown is well-known for providing career counseling and placement opportunities for graduates.
Degree: Master’s in Security Management
4. American University
The MS in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy from American University is strongly focused on interdisciplinary studies. The college’s homeland security degree program prepares specialists in the field of counter-terrorism. Topics in the curriculum include social sciences, legal issues, criminology, economics, and terrorism responses. American University has a high success rate of homeland security graduate students accepted into the Presidential Management Fellows program. Students chosen are given a two-year position in a leadership program in the U.S. government.
American University is made up of six colleges with academic buildings spread across its urban Washington DC location. The college has a number of unique learning opportunities including experimental courses and theoretical studies. The college employs the leading experts in the field and almost 100 percent of professors hold the highest degree possible for their specialties. The study abroad program is very popular with students and offers over 150 international options to choose from. The college is home to the Don Myers Technology Center—a state-of-the-art computer lab for students.
Degree: MS in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy
5. Arizona State University
Arizona State University has one of the best online homeland security masters programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. Moreover, they offer two different degree track options for students: pursue a master’s degree in global security or emergency management/homeland security. Both programs are done fully online and require 30 credits for completion. Classes are taught at an accelerated rate with semesters only lasting seven and a half weeks. Both degrees guarantee a high ROI with the majority of graduates finding employment in the field within six months of degree completion.
Arizona State University has a reputation for educating the leaders in all areas of industry. The school has over 200 National Academies-honored faculty members and 800 National Student Scholars. Over 20,000 individuals have graduated from Arizona State University with the numbers growing exponentially each year. The college is home to a very successful sports program with over 270 national titles won. Arizona State University is especially well-known for its science programs with major research projects funded by NASA conducted on its grounds.
Degree: MA in Global Security or MA in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
6. Towson University
The MS in Integrated Homeland Security Management is a unique program from Towson University that helps educate security specialists in the field. The fully online degree track is designed to fit around the schedules of those already working in the security field and who wish to secure management positions. The college is home to the Order of the Sword and Shield—an honor society for individuals in the field of homeland security and emergency management. As part of the online degree, students are given access to the Blackboard website to attend virtual classes and view classroom resources. The Towson University online homeland security master’s program is recognized as a best value degree option.
Towson University has a superior reputation for providing excellent educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. The university has a highly rated liberal arts school as well as competitive STEM majors. The college recently started construction on a 320,000 square foot science complex with plans to include research classrooms and laboratories. Towson University is one of the largest colleges on the east coast and the second-largest in the entire state of Maryland. U.S. News and World Report have ranked Towson University as being a Best Value Schools and Best College for Veterans.
Degree: MS in Integrated Homeland Security Management
7. University of Arizona
At the University of Arizona, graduate students can choose to pursue an MA in International Security Studies to further their careers in the security industry. Applicants must have a BA from an accredited university and an essay that states career objectives. All courses are done online with required classes that discuss topics such as national security, counter-terrorism, global political economy, and foreign policy. Students in the MA program at the University of Arizona have reported high satisfaction rates. Over 97 percent of graduates with a MA in International Security Studies state that they found their degrees useful in their careers.
The University of Arizona was founded in 1885 as a public state college. The college’s Wildcats compete in the NCAA Division I conference and has earned numerous national titles over the years. Since the college is a research institution, many students are involved in research projects throughout the course of their studies. The university has an Honors College to give special privileges to academically gifted students.
Degree: MA in International Security Studies
8. National University
With an MS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from National University, security professionals can secure management positions in- state, national, regional, and private organizations. Class schedules are very flexible with courses held every four weeks. The program has an interdisciplinary curriculum that covers both terrorism and manmade disaster responses. Natural disaster responses are also covered in detail. The 100 percent online program can be scheduled at convenient times for working professionals.
The National University has the distinct honor of being the second-largest non-profit college in California. The college obtains five different schools with 100 different undergraduate and graduate degrees offered. The National University Library has one of the largest electronic collections of higher education learning materials in the world. The college is one of the top national providers of online learning opportunities to nontraditional students.
Degree: MS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
9. University of Massachusetts Lowell
Students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell can apply for either an MA or MS in Security Studies. The UMass Lowell online security degree has been ranked as one of the best programs of its kind in the nation. Both programs last for two years and can be done fully online. As part of the degree track, concentrations are offered in Cybersecurity, international security, homeland security, critical infrastructure protection, CBRN and industrial protection.
Since the 19th century, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell has been a top research college in New England. The college has recently experienced exceptional growth with enrollment numbers increasing by 45 percent over the last decade. Located riverside, the community is known for its thriving arts culture. Recent campus upgrades include a high-tech recreation center, upgrade laboratories, and an entertainment arena.
Degree: MA or MS in Security Studies
10. Tulane University
For the MPS in Homeland Security Studies from Tulane University, students have several course delivery options. An on-campus option is available in addition to online and hybrid formats. After core courses are completed on subjects such as border security and international terrorism, students can work with the program director to customize the rest of the curriculum. In 2019, BestColleges recognized Tulane University for having one of the Best Online Homeland Security Masters Programs.
Tulane University has a storied history in the city of New Orleans for close to 200 years. The private college is divided into two central campuses: one located uptown and another in the downtown area. Tulane University has been recognized as a top 50 National University and a Top 20 Veterans College by U.S. News & World Report in 2019. The school is highly selective with less than 26 percent of applicants gaining acceptance.
Degree: MPS in Homeland Security Studies
11. Purdue University Global
The MS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from Purdue University Global comes from one of the nation’s educational leaders, an innovative online university with rolling admissions and shortened semesters. A total of 55 credits are needed to graduate from the program with the university recommending 25 hours per week time commitment. All courses are self-paced with enrolled students being able to access key resources online 24/7. Purdue University Global has distinguished faculty members who teach the homeland security courses with over 97% holding advanced degrees.
Purdue University Global is an accredited college with tailored programs created for working adults. Traditional online courses are available as well as a customizable degree track based on current competencies. The college has been steadily recognized as an innovative institution with superior programs in the fields of criminal justice, cybersecurity, business and IT, nursing and health sciences.
Degree: MS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
12. Salve Regina University
Salve Regina University offers an MS in Administration of Justice and Homeland Security with flexible matriculation options. Students have the choice of three specializations when enrolling: cybersecurity, digital forensics, or justice leadership. Traditional subjects are discussed in classwork like justice theory, but courses stay contemporary and touch on topics such as racial profiling and border security. The homeland security degree track offers plenty of faculty support with career mentorship and internship opportunities.
Salve Regina University is a niche college with a total enrollment of fewer than 3,000 students. The private college is located on oceanfront property with historic buildings renovated into classrooms. The small size of the university means most classes have fewer than 20 students. Salve Regina University has a successful track record with students—boasting a 64 percent four-year graduation rate.
Degree: MS in Administration of Justice and Homeland Security
13. Virginia Commonwealth University
Brand new to Virginia Commonwealth University is the MA in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness program. The degree is delivered 100 percent online with a curriculum designed to teach homeland security practices, emergency preparedness principles, and homeland security/emergency preparedness policies. The college is located just 90 minutes away from Washington DC—providing easy access to homeland security practitioners. The MA program has a high post-graduation job placement rate at positions in and around the nation’s capital.
Virginia Commonwealth University has an urban Richmond campus with academic buildings spread across 173 acres. The medical programs at Virginia Commonwealth University are considered among the best in the world with the college being recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as being within the top 28 for research activity. The graduate programs are highly rated at the college with recognition as a top 50 Graduate Institution from U.S. News & World Report.
Degree: MA in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
14. American Public University
The American Public University offers an MA in Security Management that can be completed entirely online. APU’s MA Security Management degree is considered one of the best online homeland security masters programs in the country. The American Public University’s Security Management graduate program requires the completion of 36 credit units that can be completed two years as a full-time student. However, students are given seven years to complete the program part-time.
The American Public University System (APUS) was established in 1991 and consists of the American Public University and the American Military University. APUS is a for-profit online university that offers degrees at all academic levels. APU’s online platform is home to more than 46,000 online users studying from one of the 200 plus programs offered by APU.
Degree: MA in Security Management
15. Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Master of Public Safety and Homeland Security degree program is available online entirely. SIU’s graduate program is designed for those professionals in public safety who possess an undergraduate degree and work experience. Students must complete 39 credit units and a Practicum Exercise to graduate. Students have the potential to complete the coursework in as little as sixteen months. Coursework includes Leadership, Fire Service Management, Fire Science Ethics, and Critical Thinking in Emergency Management.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale was established in 1869 as a normal (teacher’s) college. The school holds the distinction as being the oldest member school of the Southern Illinois University system. SIC’s 1,100+-acre campus is home to nearly 10,000 students. The National Science Foundation recognizes SIU among the top 75 public schools in terms of expenditures on research & development.
Degree: Master of Public Safety and Homeland Security
16. Endicott College
Endicott College’s Van Loan School offers an MS in Homeland Security Studies that can be earned entirely online or on-campus on Saturdays/Weekends. Endicott College’s Homeland Security graduate degree program requires the completion of 36 credit units to graduate, which can be completed in only 18 months. Coursework includes cybersecurity, terrorism, and emergency management techniques. Endicott’s graduate homeland security degree program offers two specialization tracks: A Cybersecurity Specialization track and an Emergency Management Specialization track. Students graduating on a Cybersecurity track are prepared to sit for the CompTIA Security+ examination.
Endicott College is a private institution of higher learning that was established in 1939 as a junior college dedicated to providing women education as a means to gain independence. The school’s suburban 225+-acre campus is home more than 5,200 undergraduate and graduate students and located on the northern portion of the Massachusetts Bay.
Degree: MS in Homeland Security Studies
17. Mississippi College
Mississippi College offers an online MS in Homeland Security. Coursework to graduate includes Terrorism on a Cyber, Domestic and International Level, Homeland Security’s legal aspects, and Homeland Security Grant Writing. Students graduate from Mississippi College’s graduate degree homeland security program prepared for rewarding careers with FEMA, the Transportation & Security Administration, Customs Enforcement, and Immigration Services, to name a few. Homeland Security degree graduates are trained to offer damage control, protection, and medical assistance during emergency times.
Mississippi College was established in 1826. The school is affiliated with the Baptist Church and holds the distinction of being the second oldest Baptist institution of higher learning in the country. The school’s suburban campus covers more than 300 acres and is home to more than 5,000 students. Mississippi College is Mississippi’s oldest college and the largest student body of any private university.
Degree: MS in Homeland Security
18. Nova Southeastern University
Nova Southeastern University’s Master of Science in National Security Affairs can be completed entirely online, or as a hybrid course. Nova’s graduate degree in National Security Affairs requires the completion of 36 credit units in order to graduate. Additionally, students must decide if they want to pass an exam that is administered by the National Security Affairs & International Relations Program or to complete a 6-credit thesis. Nova offers its master’s degree candidates an optional concentration in Cyber Security. Students may transfer up to six credit into this program.
Nova Southeastern University was established in 1964. The school operates with two primary campuses in Dania Beach and Davie, Florida (main campus). The school’s combined campuses total more than 475 acres and are home to nearly 21,000 students. Nova Southeastern University’s first campus was on what was once a WWII Outlying Naval Landing Field.
Degree: MS in National Security Affairs
19. Liberty University
Liberty University offers an MS in National Security that can be completed online in about 18 months. Coursework for Liberty’s graduate degree in National Security includes Cyberspace Policy, National Security Challenges, Foreign Policy and, National Defense, to name a few. Degree candidates graduate prepared for rewarding careers in Law Enforcement, the Secret Service, Homeland Security, and Immigration. Students must complete 36 credit units to graduate. Liberty University offers a generous transfer policy of up to 50% of the credits required to complete their MS in National Security — one of the best online homeland security masters programs in the country
Liberty University is a private school that was established in 1971. The school holds the distinction as being the world’s largest Christian institution of higher learning, in terms of student enrollment statistics. The school’s suburban campus of 7,000 acres is home to 15,000 on-campus students. The school is home to the tallest building in the city of Lynchburg. Liberty University’s total enrollment totals more than 100,000 — making it the largest private institution of higher learning in the country.
Degree: MS in National Security
20. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Technical University offers an MS in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Homeland Security. US News consistently recognizes CTU’s online Criminal Justice programs among the best online homeland security masters programs available. The program requires the completion of 48 credit units and capstone project; which can be entirely online. CTU offers tuition programs for current military members and the availability of transferable credits. Core coursework includes Topics in Criminal Justice, Ethical Decision Making, Public Policy, Terrorism, and Criminology, to name a few. Homeland Security concentration courses include Policy Challenges, Vulnerability Analysis, and Homeland Security Technological Solutions.
Colorado Technical University is a for-profit institution of higher learning that was established in 1954 as a school that focused on training former military members. The school’s student enrollment nears 26,000; of which 90%+ of the students study through its distance learning platform. Military Times repeatedly recognizes CTU as number 1 in its Best Schools for Vets category.
Degree: MSCJ – Homeland Security
21. Pace University
Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts & Sciences offers an MA in Homeland Security that is available 100% online. US News recognizes Pace’s graduate Homeland Security degree among the best online homeland security masters programs. The Homeland Security master’s degree program participates in the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s (CHDS) University Agency & Partnership Initiative. (UAPI). Coursework includes Policy Analysis, Human Rights, Public Sector Management, and Terrorism & Psychology, among others.
Pace University was established as a business school in 1906. The school was the brainchild of Homer and Charles Pace. The school operates with two campuses — one campus is located next to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, and in the county to the north of the city, Westchester County. The school’s combined campuses are home to more than 13,000 students. Pace University’s Fine Arts department is home to the television series known as Inside the Actor’s Studio.
Degree: MA in Homeland Security
22. Park University
Park University’s MA in National Security Studies can be completed entirely online. Degree candidates in Park University’s graduate National Security Studies program must complete 36 credit hours and a thesis while maintaining a 2.0-grade point average (GPA). Park University allows for up to 9 credit units to be transferred from other accredited institutions of higher learning. Coursework includes Unconventional Warfare, the US National Security Policy, Arms Control, and International Law and Security, among others.
Park University was established in 1875 as a private university with a campus that overlooks the Missouri River. Park University maintains an ongoing relationship with the U.S. Military, offering a Military Degree program. The school is home to more than 11,000 students; of which about 1,600 students study on the Parkville Campus. Highlight — When the school originated, it was designed as a free tuition school, where students would work half a day for the school.
Degree: MA in National Security Studies
23. Angelo State University
Angelo State University’s College of Graduate Studies & Research offers an MS in Homeland Security that is available online. In addition, Angelo State University’s Department of Security Studies & Criminal Justice offers a similar program — a Master of Security Studies (MSS) in Intelligence and Analysis. Each homeland security-related graduate degree program prepares students for careers related to Terrorism & Counterterrorism, Cybersecurity, and Emergency Management, to name a few.
Angelo State University is a public institution of higher learning that was founded in 1928. Angelo State University is the second-largest member school of the Texas Tech University System. The school’s urban location is home to more than 10,000 students. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Angelo State University is recognized among the fastest-growing university offering post-baccalaureate degrees.
Degree: MS in Homeland Security or Master of Security Studies
24. Regent University
Regent University offers an MA degree program in National Security Studies that requires the completion of 36-38 credit units online. Regent University’s online graduate National Security Studies program is offered with four concentrations — Homeland Security, International Security, Cybersecurity Policy, and Mid-East Politics. Career opportunities include positions in the Military, or as a Threat Advisor, a Conflict Management, or a member of the National Security Administration or Homeland Security.
Regent University was established in 1977. Regent University is a private university that is affiliated with the Christian Church. The school’s main campus is located in Virginia Beach and is home to more than 8,500 students. The school operates with eight colleges/schools that offer more than 75-degree programs. US News has recognized Regent University as having the best only Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Degree: MA in National Security Studies
25. Adelphi University
Adelphi University provides an online MS in Emergency Management in Homeland Security. Adelphi’s online Emergency Management program requires the completion of 39 credit units to graduate; however, in addition, students will earn a Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management as well. Students graduate prepared to work in Hospitals, a Federal Agency, Local/State Governments, Utility Companies, or Oil/Gas Extraction businesses.
Adelphi University was established in 1863 in the borough of Brooklyn, NY as the private prep school — Adelphi Academy. The school operates with the main campus in Garden City but has satellite branches in Manhattan and Westchester County. Adelphi University’s student enrollment exceeds 7,800. Highlight -Adelphi University holds the distinction as being the oldest school located on Long Island, just east of New York City.
Degree: MS in Emergency Management – Homeland Security
Will I Make More Money with a Homeland Security Master’s Degree?
A base homeland security jobs salary will certainly increase after receiving a master’s degree. High-paying homeland security management and director jobs typically require a master’s degree for employment consideration; in some cases, a homeland security certification helps. Examples of home security master’s degree jobs include security specialists, security consultants, cybersecurity specialists, TSA managers, homeland security special agents, and homeland security program managers.
Many of the best-paying homeland security degree salary jobs will be found within the federal government. Top paying jobs in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security include special agents and program directors. An average homeland security special agent salary is upwards of $134,000 annually. A homeland security management salary can be even higher with an average base rate of $155,000 per year. Bonuses are not included with these rates and will increase the average homeland security jobs salary exponentially.
With a master’s degree in homeland security, professionals are typically highly trained specialists in the field. Instead of being paid for patrol duties, they usually work in administrative roles and oversee entire departments. As an example, TSA screening agents may make an average of $40,000 annually while a TSA security manager will make upwards of $72,000. Homeland security jobs salary amounts can also increase if professionals choose to work for private organizations instead of holding government jobs. With a master’s in homeland security and a specialization in cybersecurity, a consultant job will bring in an average annual salary of $92,600.
Can I Get a Job with an Online Security Master’s?
Homeland security jobs will always consider candidates with online degrees as long as the degrees come from accredited programs. Accreditation ensures the online college’s homeland security degree program can be trusted. Regional accreditation is considered the gold standard in the industry with these agencies being in charge of colleges located within their geographic areas. Before earning a master’s and pursuing homeland security jobs, check for programs accredited by agencies such as the Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission of Higher Education, and Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Only online colleges with accreditation are eligible to offer student financial aid.
Homeland security jobs are likely to check out the validity of any degree—including online programs. With “junk degrees” a problem in all industries, potential employers will confirm the validity of degrees as part of their screening processes. However, there is no longer a stigma attached to an online degree. Within a homeland security job description, applicants will not see a requirement for either an online or traditional degree. The homeland security job description will simply call for a master’s degree from an accredited program. During interviews, the employer will not focus on if the courses were done online, but rather inquire about the types of subjects completed, length of program, and proof of academic support.
Why Should I Get an Online Master’s in Security Studies?
Security master’s degrees offer a lot of room for advancement in the industry. With online master’s in homeland security and emergency management degrees, professionals are able to access positions with higher base salaries and lucrative benefits. Within private companies and federal agencies, a promotion may only be offered to those who have completed a graduate-level program.
Since many individuals are likely to already be working in the industry, masters in security studies online degrees promise flexibility and convenience. Online security master’s degrees usually allow the student to complete class assignments at times that work with their schedules. Tests and papers are usually done on the weekends and in the evenings. Higher salaries are offered to those who have an online master’s in homeland security and emergency management because they have received specialized instruction on border security, counter-terrorism, natural disaster responses, and emergency policies.
Besides upward mobility, a master’s in homeland security and emergency management gives the opportunity to switch careers. A graduate may choose to become a security consultant or cybersecurity specialist—examples of two careers that offer attractive salaries.
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