Homeland and National Security Degrees

Homeland and National Security Programs in Public Administration

Pursuing higher education within homeland security and national security through public administration will prepare professionals to plan and respond to various terrorist threats and natural disasters at federal, state, and local levels of government or nonprofit organizations.

There are a number of graduate degrees and certifications available that specialize in this category, and a handful of universities provide an online format for flexible learning. Examples of positions within homeland security include agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation gathering intelligence, emergency management at local police and fire departments, and cyber security specialists that help detect and neutralize threats against the national network.

What is Homeland and National Security and Why Consider this Degree?

The effort to minimize terrorist attacks and other hazards in the United States is through homeland security. Gaining an education within this sector will prepare students for a profession that reduces vulnerability and give them the skills and tools necessary to eliminate threats. Both homeland and national security is often referred to when there is a threat of a terrorist attack or natural disaster, such as tornadoes and hurricanes destroying property. Other categories within homeland security include border control, transportation tracking to eliminate smuggling and trafficking, and the ongoing need to develop cyber security. There are numerous federal organizations that fall under homeland security, including the United States Secret Service, US Customs and Border Protection, and the Transportation Security Administration.

Many universities provide the ability to get homeland security or national security education within the Master of Public Administration, or as a separate curriculum for graduate certification. This can also frequently be labeled as emergency planning or management. Master's degrees will typically need multiple years of work experience and an undergraduate degree for students to pursue further education in this sector. Those that are looking to further their career in protecting the nation from terrorism, building thorough cyber security, or participating in disaster response recovery and planning efforts should consider pursuing this program.

Consider a Featured Online MPA Program


NASPAA Accreditation

Some public administration programs with an emphasis in national security are accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). This ensures that the curriculum students will take has been reviewed by an established accrediting agency out of Washington DC and that graduates should be fully prepared for a career in public administration, policy, and affairs. Students will work with faculty that have had roles in government when it comes to disaster recovery efforts and neutralizing terrorist threats. Institutions offering programs that have been designated by NASPAA have seen international recognition and a boost in highly skilled professionals looking to advance their career.

Learning Online: Different Methods and Reasons

Getting an online education in national security or homeland security is available widely across the country. This provides a flexible opportunity for established professionals to gain further skills or to transition into a position that focuses on eliminating enemy threats and protecting the United States through preparation and fast, efficient response times. Master's degrees are typically completed within two to three years depending on how many credits are needed, but there are some programs that require full-time attendance. These are usually completed within a year and courses will often be offered in the afternoon or evening for some flexible scheduling potential.

The quickest option for experienced professionals in public administration is to get a graduate certification within emergency management or national security. These require just a handful of credits to complete and can typically be finished within a year. Graduates that consider pursuing a full Master's degree at a later date can often transfer those credits over to the program. Prospective students should look at all the admission requirements to determine if this is possible at their selected institution. Online programs will require a high-speed broadband internet connection and modern Windows or Mac computer system to utilize learning management software.

Examples of Online Programs

Texas A&M University

The Bush School of Government and Public Service offers an Executive Master of Public Service and Administration with a specialty track in Homeland Security. All courses can be completed online, but there is a total of two weeks of on-campus residency required, one week for each of the two years it takes to finish the degree during the summer. Up to 12 credit hours can be utilized for transfer credit from other accredited universities. There are 39 total credit hours needed to fulfill the curriculum, and it concludes with a capstone project that showcases what the student has learned throughout the program.

Course schedules are divided up in 15 weeks per fall and spring semester, with a more abbreviated 10-week schedule during the summer sessions. The required courses in the Homeland Security track include Budgeting in Public Service, Public Management, and Fundamentals of Homeland Security. Students will select three courses within a collection of electives to customize their experience. Admissions are accepted in each semester, and requirements include an updated resume with professional experience, official transcripts with designation of a four-year undergraduate degree, statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and GRE or GMAT scores.

Anna Maria College

The online Master of Public Administration has a number of specializations to choose from, including Homeland Security. Students will gain the skills needed to help with protecting the national infrastructure from terrorist attacks and help with disaster recovery efforts. As the Master’s program will prepare leaders in this sector, graduates will gain a complete understanding of the ethics involved, communication skills, and being able to detect and neutralize threats in order to protect the public. Graduates have gone on to work at top federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Homeland Security.

Within the curriculum, there are eight required courses and four specialized courses in homeland security. These concentration courses consist of topics on domestic or international threat and policy analysis. For those that have at least four years of managerial professional experience, they have the option of completing the program with the completion of just 10 courses. All courses are available online for maximum flexibility, and the faculty that teaches these courses have many years of experience within public administration and national security.

Clemson University

There are a number of certifications within public administration that can be obtained at Clemson University, including Emergency Management and Homeland Defense and Security. The latter option requires four courses that are completely optional for students. Up to three courses are selected from a collection of electives that are geared toward national security, and the final elective is picked from those offered in the Master of Public Administration Program. Topics geared toward national security include fundamental material, cyber security, and international counter terrorism.

For Emergency Management, course options are similar, but differences include more of a focus on planning and preparation when it comes to potential intrusions and disaster recovery efforts. Again, one course can be selected from the electives available in the MPA program. Both certifications require 12 credit hours to complete, and there are options to take special topics within these sectors that can range between one to three credits per course. Any certification can be transferred over and count for credit toward the full MPA program.

George Mason University

Through the Schar School of Policy and Government, a Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management and Homeland Security is offered through GMU and is available 100 percent online. This program is geared for professionals in any sector to become better prepared for emergency situations and to perform their duties at a higher more efficient level. One benefit of pursuing this program is the various backgrounds that students have and potential networking opportunities in many sectors. There are no requirements to travel to campus to complete the program, and courses can be transfer as credit toward a Master’s degree.

15 total credits are needed to complete the certification and all courses are worth three credits. Required courses that all students will take include Administration in Public and Nonprofit Organizations, Emergency Planning and Preparedness, and Managing Homeland Security. Two other courses are chosen as electives to customize the experience. Students completing the program have gone on to take positions at local fire departments, police departments, and homeland security. Many courses are offered in asynchronous format and instructors will set their own assignment and exam deadlines.

Typical Courses

Foundations of Homeland Security

Consists of the history on national security evolution in the United States and takes a look at how things are organized and what certain missions and goals are across the board. These courses will provide a general overview within homeland security for students to understand the processes and how actions are executed. Topics frequently consist of ethical issues, evaluation methods, and intelligence reporting.

Emergency Management

Provides a look into the steps needed to prepare for emergency situations in a variety of sectors. This can include terrorism and natural disaster within the federal government, but these courses can look into theory and evolution of emergency management in private and public organizations. This not only includes being prepared for situations, but the processes involved in responding to incidents and what the recovery methods are.

Cyber Security Operations

A detailed look at protecting national networks from the newer threat of hacking and cyber terror both internally and around the world. These courses can explore the architecture of these networks, how to work with information technology to determine intrusions, various methods in eliminating ongoing and potential threats, and what can be done to protect networks from being hacked in the future.

Terrorism

One of the common electives offered in many national security concentrations and certifications that put an emphasis on international terrorism and a general overview on its growth, specific groups, and the impacts it has on the government. History of how the government has reacted to threats will be studied, along with ongoing potential threats and what can be done to neutralize various problems around the world.

Disaster Recovery

Explores processes that organizations can take when recovering from a multitude of disastrous issues. This can include internal accidents, natural disasters, significant outside attacks, and economic issues. Typically, these courses will have an overview on what nonprofits and government agencies have done in the past to continue forward and what skills are needed to both project potential threats to minimize the need for disaster relief.

Career Options

Privacy / Compliance Analyst

These positions analyze potential risk when it comes to storing sensitive information within the organization or the clients they work with. They will alert executives and management on potential threats and warning signs when it comes to critical data. Skills needed for this position include risk management, data analysis, and internal auditing, along with proper communication and data visualization skills to work with management and give them accurate and timely information.

Travel Security Officer

Responsible for securing passengers at airports and during air travel. Typical duties include the operation of screening equipment when observing passengers and luggage they bring, performing physical searches when necessary, controlling entry and exit points to not allow any unauthorized people, and communicating with passengers to steady the flow of incoming and outgoing travelers. Higher-level officers will participate in the improvement of regulations and protocols within traveling, identifying any problems in the process.

Cyber Security Specialist

As more information is gathered and stored along the network and cloud, there is a higher need to protect vulnerable data from unauthorized access. Cyber security specialists must have knowledge in the tools needed to work with virtual information, and their functions can include encrypting and decrypting protected information, neutralizing potential threats, creating a plan to detect vulnerabilities within the network and eliminate future problems, and digital forensics to investigate issues that have occurred. As it is fast-growing route of employment with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics noting 32 percent growth between 2018-28, median salary is currently at $98,350 across the nation.