Extensive growth in Homeland Security, counterterrorism, intelligence, and other aspects of the security industry since 9/11 mean that security is one of the fastest-growing and most in-demand occupational paths in the US. Of course, the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t just hang a “Help Wanted” sign in the window; you don’t just walk in and say “I’d like a job.” Hiring in homeland security and terrorism is rigorous, with extensive background checks and demanding training, and that’s where a traditional on-campus master’s program is beneficial.
There are many opportunities for entry-level jobs in the security sector, but professionals interested in managerial or administrative positions in the government and private sector will find a master’s degree is the shortest path. The best Homeland Security Master’s programs will not only provide knowledge, but offer students mentorship, internship opportunities, networking events, and other benefits that will help students get the best job they qualify for.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Homeland Security Master’s Programs
To select the best security master’s programs, Security Degree Hub editors researched accredited, trusted colleges and universities offering master’s degrees in areas like Homeland Security, security management, and counterterrorism. With our list in place, we ranked programs according to three factors related to return on investment:
- Cost (from IPEDS data)
- Salary Potential (from College Scorecard data)
- Student Satisfaction (from Niche student reviews)
With these three points, students can trust the programs in the SDH ranking to care about their success in the classroom and on the job market.
1. Northeastern University
When you are looking for the best homeland security masters programs to advance in your career, the MS in Security and Resilience Studies from Northeastern University offers the education you need to focus on your career. The degree program focuses on data analysis, systemic thinking, and leadership to help you advance in your career and recognize potential security threats before it causes problems within the country.
Northeastern University stands out from other programs by focusing on data analysis and leadership skills. It helps you identify potential threats and risks, while also recognizing your role in communities and organizations. The focus on leadership helps you prepare for the challenges of taking on more advanced roles in the government or in private organizations, in homeland security positions or related fields, through proper leadership training and data analysis skills.
Degree: MS in Security and Resilience Studies
2. Georgetown University
When it comes to the best security masters programs, you want to consider the MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University. The degree program focuses on seven areas of security: intelligence, science and technology, military operations, terrorism and substate violence, U.S. national security policy, international security, and unconventional weapons and non-proliferation. Since the school offers several concentrations, students can focus on an area of security that appeals to their interests.
Georgetown University stands out by offering students several concentrations to help with their long-term goals. It gives students a focused area of study that helps with long-term plans for a career in homeland security or related security services. It also gives students a chance to understand the risks associated with different aspects of security to help prepare for their career.
Degree: MA in Security Studies
3. George Mason University
George Mason University offers a Master of Arts in International Security that prepares students for the challenges of modern security. Due to the increasingly global environment, homeland security measures must address the risks on an international level. By focusing on international relations and the strategies used to maintain relations abroad, students prepare for a career with a focus on preventing external threats to the nation.
The way George Mason University stands apart from other programs is the focus on international security risks and the challenges of international relations. The degree program recognizes the threats associated with modern technology and travel, so it strives to address risks by teaching students proper strategies and diplomatic solutions for risks that may arise.
Degree: MA in International Security
4. San Diego State University
When you want to focus on the best homeland security masters programs for your degree, the MS in Homeland Security from San Diego State University offers a solution. The degree program takes an interdisciplinary approach to homeland security and focuses on addressing modern challenges that may undermine security. It focuses on common threats from cyber crime and external nations, as well as more complex threats associated with human trafficking, drug trafficking, and food and water security.
San Diego State University was the first to offer a graduate level homeland security degree in the United States and it takes an interdisciplinary approach to the degree program. It recognizes that threats are not limited to common external challenges or cybersecurity, so the program teaches students about the potential threats that may arise and then provides an understanding of realistic solutions.
Degree: MS in Homeland Security
5. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
The MS in Security & Intelligence Studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is one of the best security masters programs for students who want to work in the government or in a security or intelligence field. The degree program offers five concentrations to help students focus on specific areas of security. That allows students to specialize in the skills that fit their long-term goals for a career.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University stands apart from other programs by offering five concentrations that help students focus on their career goals. It also ensures that students have a strong foundation in the skills that apply to security and prepares students for the challenges of working with departments of the government or related positions.
Degree: MS in Security & Intelligence Studies
6. Kansas State University
Kansas State University offers an MA in Security Studies that focuses on professionalism and an interdisciplinary approach to security issues. The rigorous studies in the program prepare students for the challenges of working in homeland security roles or related professions. It gives students a broad understanding of national and international security risks that may impact the country.
The way Kansas State University stands apart from other programs is the focus on professionalism and rigor within the curriculum. Students are given a broad view of different aspects of security. They are also focusing on maintaining high standards throughout their studies to ensure that students are prepared for a challenging career path.
Degree: MA in Security Studies
7. University of Baltimore
The University of Baltimore offers an MA in Global Affairs and Human Security that focuses on international issues. The University of Baltimore takes a global approach to the topic of human security and strives to identify and resolve global and international concerns. It does not only evaluate the potential for risks to human security on a national level; instead, the program explores good governance and trans-national problem-solving as it applies to multiple countries and regions. That focus on international security allows students to work in homeland security or private organizations with a goal of resolving issues abroad.
A key way the University of Baltimore stands apart is the focus on international issues. The school takes an interdisciplinary approach to security as it applies on a global scale. The flexibility associated with the degree allows students to take on more roles within their career and advance into more complex positions as they work in their job.
Degree: MA in Global Affairs and Human Security
8. Sam Houston State University
Sam Houston State University offers an MS in Homeland Security Studies that prepares students for the challenges of managing security issues on a national level. The degree program focuses on developing security skills as they apply to the government and private sectors. It also ensures that students have the leadership skills to handle the challenges of working in more advanced roles.
The way Sam Houston State University differs from other programs is the focus on deep analytical and leadership skills. Students are encouraged to think through potential concerns and find solutions to resolve the issues. They are also encouraged to make decisions that allow them to take an active leadership role in their field.
Degree: MS in Homeland Security Studies
9. East Carolina University
The MS in Security Studies from East Carolina University is one of the best homeland security masters programs when you want to work in government roles. The degree program prepares students to take on roles within law enforcement, homeland security, computer technology, and other private sector jobs that relate to security measures. It focuses on teaching students the challenges of identifying risks and resolving problems before the situation causes harm.
East Carolina University stands out by requiring students to take on an internship as part of their degree program. The internship gives students the experience to handle challenges within their field and focus on long-term goals. That allows students to network and build up contacts within their field for more advanced roles in homeland security.
Degree: MS in Security Studies
10. Stockton University
Stockton University offers a Homeland Security certificate along with a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. The certificate in Homeland Security is a concentrated aspect of the degree that allows students to recognize the security challenges that may arise within the criminal justice system and to resolve potential concerns with proper measures. It also provides students with an opportunity to take on a leadership role in their field.
Stockton University stands apart from other programs by offering students a focused understanding of homeland security. It prepares students for their work within the industry. It also ensures that students understand the risks associated with security concerns and have the skills to limit risks when taking on a new role in their job.
Degree: MACJ – Homeland Security
11. George Washington University
The MA in Security Policy Studies from George Washington University focuses on international security issues and the role of security policy in limiting potential risks. The degree program recognizes that organized crime and terrorism, as well as technological advances and new weapons development, may impact security on a national level. It focuses on teaching students to identify risks and look for realistic solutions to potential concerns.
George Washington University stands out from other programs by offering students unique perspectives on the role of security policy in homeland security. It recognizes that many factors contribute to security risks and focuses on security policy that limits the risks. That focus on policy as it relates to international risks and potential problems allows students to take an active role in the development of new policy when concerns arise.
Degree: MA in Security Policy Studies
12. John Jay College (CUNY)
CUNY John Jay College offers an MS in Security Management designed for roles within the private sector. John Jay College differs from other programs by focusing on security in the private sector and the specific risks that apply to businesses or corporations. The degree program focuses on security practices and procedures used in the private sector. It also focuses on the role of the supervisor when it comes to security management in a private company. That focus on the supervisor develops leadership skills that help students advance in their career when they are ready to focus on security management roles.
The way John Jay College stands out from other programs is the focus on supervision within private companies. Students learn about the challenges of security in corporations and businesses. After focusing on the risks of cybercrime or other security concerns, students learn to address the problems and lead other professionals in the proper methods of limiting the risks to the business.
Degree: MS in Security Management
13. Salve Regina University
The MS in Administration of Justice and Homeland Security from Salve Regina University is one of the best degree programs for homeland security. The degree program focuses on addressing problems with security as it applies to a global environment. It also recognizes that technology changes the way global security measures will change over time and it strives to ensure that students are prepared for the challenges that may arise in the future. The degree program uses an analytical approach to the challenges of homeland security to prepare students for the rigors of identifying risk, analyzing potential solutions, and making a decision about the best way to handle the problem.
Salve Regina University stands out from other programs for the focus on analytical skills and the risks to the nation from outside threats. The degree program uses an interdisciplinary approach to ensure that students are ready for the potential challenges that may arise when they start working in a government role. It also recognizes that security issues change over time and prepares students for the potential changes that may impact homeland security as technology improves.
Degree: MS in Administration of Justice and Homeland Security
14. California State University, San Bernardino
When you are looking for the best homeland security masters programs, California State University at San Bernardino offers an MA in National Security Studies to help with your goals. The degree program takes an interdisciplinary approach to defense policies and provides students with a strong foundation in the analytical skills they need to advance in their career. It also provides students with elective courses that allow students to learn about areas of interest.
CSU San Bernardino stands apart from other programs by taking an interdisciplinary approach to the topic of national security. The degree program recognizes the challenges of security in an increasingly global environment and strives to ensure students are prepared for the challenges they will face when moving into more complex roles within a national security position.
Degree: MA in National Security Studies
15. University of Texas at El Paso
The University of Texas at El Paso offers an MS in Intelligence and National Security is that is one of the best security masters programs for students who want to work in homeland security or related fields. The degree program teaches students quantitative skills with a focus on research and applied statistics as well as the intelligence and national security skills they need to handle the rigors of a career in national security and defense.
A key way the University of Texas at El Paso differs from other programs is its standards for the students. The degree program does not only focus on topics related to intelligence and national security. Students are also required to learn skills related to research and analysis that allow them to engage in specific roles within the industry. That gives students an edge when it comes to complex analytical tasks in their career.
Degree: MS in Intelligence and National Security
16. Troy University
Troy University offers an MS in International Relations that helps students with their career goals in homeland security or related fields. The degree program recognizes that growing global trends impact the way countries handle international relations and interactions. By teaching students to handle the challenges of an increasingly connected and technologically advanced world, the program prepares students for the potential changes that may arise in the global environment.
The way Troy University differs from other programs is through its focus on global trends and changes in connectivity. As more countries and individuals engage in online activities, governments must adapt to address the potential challenges of those interactions. A key part of maintaining national security is keeping up with international relations and maintaining a level of communication at the government level.
Degree: MS in International Relations
17. Arkansas Tech University
The MS in Emergency Management & Homeland Security from Arkansas Tech University is one of the best security masters programs for students who want to work in homeland security roles. The degree program recognizes that emergencies may impact security and that technological advances may change the way countries interact. Students learn the skills they need to handle emerging technology, politics, and changes to the global environment to ensure proper security measures are available to address concerns.
The way Arkansas Tech University differs from other programs is its focus on a well-rounded education. Students prepare for a variety of roles within the security sector as well as unconventional and unexpected positions in other corporate settings. Students have a chance to learn about the intersection of politics, technology, and law as it relates to security.
Degree: MS in Emergency Management & Homeland Security
18. Eastern Kentucky University
When you want to work in homeland security, the MS in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management from Eastern Kentucky University gives you a chance to improve your career opportunities. The degree program gives students a strong background in corporate security operations, workplace safety, or emergency management and resilience. Students have the opportunity to select a concentration based on personal goals and interests. That flexibility allows students to prepare for a career that fits their long-term plans.
Eastern Kentucky University takes a multi-disciplinary approach to security. It recognizes that safety and security apply to multiple industries and that emergencies may impact security measures. By preparing students for challenges associated with a career in homeland security or related fields, the program allows students to take on more advanced roles.
Degree: MS in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management
19. Rider University
Rider University offers an MA in Homeland Security with a focus on insight, strategy, and knowledge. The degree program focuses on training students to recognize signs of terrorism, security breaches in computer systems, and cyber attacks. It also ensures that students know the correct way to handle the risks and take measures to protect the nation from threats from outside and domestic sources.
The way Rider University stands out from other programs is the focus on insight and strategy. The degree program gives students a focused approach to identifying and analyzing risk factors before taking action. It also ensures that students understand the role of strategic planning to accomplish goals. Strategy plays a critical role in maintaining security and addressing safety concerns, so the degree helps students develop their strategic skills.
Degree: MA in Homeland Security
20. University of New Haven
The University of New Haven offers an MS in National Security to students who want to work in government or provide security to private businesses. The degree program gives students a well-rounded view of national security as it relates to homeland security risks and international concerns. It allows students to focus on investigative and analytical skills to advance in their career and improve their abilities to identify and mitigate risks.
The University of New Haven differs from other programs by giving students a comprehensive view of the risks associated with homeland security and national security. It recognizes that threats may come from domestic and international sources, so it teaches students to recognize the problems that may arise and provides them with the opportunity to work in a role that prevents threats from harming citizens.
Degree: MS in National Security
21. Nichols College
Extremism is a concern that impacts national security, and the MS in Counterterrorism from Nichols College prepares students to handle the challenges of addressing terrorism and extremism. The degree program recognizes that risks may arise from multiple sources, including domestic sources. It strives to prepare students to identify and mitigate risk to protect citizens from potential harm.
Nichols College stands out from other programs for the specialized area of study. The degree focuses on terrorism and countermeasures to address the risk of terrorist attacks. It also recognizes that domestic extremism may cause risks to citizens and takes measures to analyze and assess the risks of domestic groups causing harm. It then strives to find solutions to limit the harm or avoid incidents by catching it before problems arise.
Degree: MS in Counterterrorism
22. Fairleigh Dickinson University
When you are looking for a degree to prepare for a job in national security, the MS in Cyber and Homeland Security program from Fairleigh Dickinson University may help with your goals. The degree focuses on practical skills students need to enforce policies and ensure homeland security threats are handled in an effective way. The program offers specialized concentrations to help students focus on specific areas of homeland security.
Fairleigh Dickinson University stands out for its focus on specialized skills within homeland security. That allows students to address threats within a specific category and ensures that students have the skills to handle a situation that may arise. The degree program also offers the practical skills students need to assess and identify risks to the general population.
Degree: MS in Cyber and Homeland Security
23. University of Detroit Mercy
The University of Detroit Mercy offers an MS in Security Administration that focuses on building up leadership skills and developing security skills to ensure that students are prepared to advance in a professional position. The degree program prepares students for a role in law enforcement, homeland security, or related fields. It provides a strong foundation in security operations, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The University of Detroit Mercy stands apart from other programs by preparing students for a leadership position within a security firm or a security industry job. The degree program teaches leadership skills as well as security operations to ensure that students understand the policies and activities that will address security risks. It also develops problem-solving skills to prepare students for a risky career path.
Degree: MS in Security Administration
24. Point Park University
The MA in Intelligence and Global Security from Point Park University sets a high standard for students who want to work in homeland security and related fields. The program focuses on the collection of intelligence and the methods used to implement plans based on the intelligence gathered from a multitude of sources. It focuses on protection and defense by using data and intelligence gathering to create policies or strategies to limit the risks to the general population.
Point Park University stands out for its focus on intelligence. It recognizes that data and knowledge are a key part of developing a defensive strategy. By focusing on the process of obtaining, clarifying, assessing, and using intelligence, the degree program prepares students for the complexities of a career in homeland security.
Degree: MA in Intelligence and Global Security
25. University of the District of Columbia
The University of the District of Columbia offers an MS in Homeland Security that studies the way governments defend and protect their territories. The University of the District of Columbia recognizes that homeland security threats may stem from natural disasters as well as international actions from other governments, so it prepares students to handle all of the risks that may arise. It not only evaluates defensive measures from outside sources and governments but also the risks associated with natural disasters and internal strife. Students learn about the risks that may face a nation and the ways to address the risks based on the goals of the country.
The way the University of the District of Columbia differs from other programs is the focus of study in the classroom. The degree program looks into modern methods of maintaining security in the face of technological advancements as well as the way nations handle emergencies and prepare for unexpected complications. Students are also expected to participate in community disaster preparedness through the land-grant mission of the program.
Degree: MS in Homeland Security
What Should I Look for in a Security Master’s Program?
Choosing the university for a security masters program is an important decision. Students want to enroll in a university for their graduate studies based on records of academic excellence and affordability. The top security studies graduate programs will have a reputation in the industry for high post-graduation job placement rates.
The best intelligence masters programs will also have accreditation—a very important distinction especially for students who choose online degree tracks. Accreditation with regional and national associations adds credence to any top security studies graduates programs. Universities require accreditation for acceptance into masters and doctoral degree tracks. Furthermore, accreditation is needed for colleges to accept any transfer credits.
The best intelligence masters programs will have exceptional faculty teaching courses. Review profiles of staff to learn about their history in the industry, awards, and list of publications. An active department will also help prospective students find the top security graduate programs. A solid program will have networking opportunities for students to meet potential colleagues and employers.
Another good feature is an internship requirement within the security studies curriculum. Internships may turn into permanent work opportunities. The Princeton Review recommends touring any graduate schools before enrolling. This allows prospective grad students to speak with current students, professors, and examine facilities to see what types of resources are available.
What Kinds of Security Master’s Degrees are There?
A masters in security studies is typically a general term that universities use to describe programs for those seeking jobs in the security industry. Before earning a degree, the student will likely have to choose a specialization. For instance, at Georgetown University, specializations include masters in intelligence, military, terrorism, international security, and national security policy.
Prospective students choose a masters in security studies degree that is specific to their industries. As an example, masters in intelligence programs are tailored to professionals who desire leadership jobs in law enforcement agencies, government offices, and the military. A masters degree in counter-terrorism will delve into topics related to homeland security. Masters degree in counter-terrorism programs are usually focused more on solutions to terrorist acts while a masters in national security studies can also include courses on intelligence, cybersecurity, and regional security.
A college may even combine multiple disciplines and have a degree called masters in intelligence and national security. Degrees can also have a broader geographic focus and have classes that teach about international security issues and resolutions. An example of this type of program is a masters in global security and intelligence. Career paths for these types of degrees are usually tailored to professionals looking for high-level jobs in foreign affairs agencies.
What Can I Do with a Master’s in Security?
In most cases, master’s in security studies jobs are for management-level positions or higher. Before pursuing a security masters degree, the professional has gained field experience. He or she may have five to ten years of industry expertise and is ready to advance. For instance, homeland security management jobs will usually require a master’s degree.
Homeland security special agent requirements vary from department to department. An entry-level position may only ask for a bachelor’s degree, but promotional consideration is given to masters degree holders. Although the homeland security employee may have field experience, the masters degree will help the person develop leadership skills and executive training. Homeland security masters jobs may have job titles such as policymaker, department director, intelligence analyst, cyber security specialist, and emergency management specialist.
Homeland security management jobs are available from other agencies besides the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Other government agencies that offer masters in security studies jobs are FEMA, U.S. Coast Guard, and TSA. Masters in security studies jobs can be outside the field of homeland security and involve positions for private organizations. Any type of job that requires the management of security policies and services will be the perfect fit for someone who has earned a masters in security.
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