A degree in homeland security, available online at both the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, will teach students the techniques and leadership skills they will need to prepare for disasters. Students will also learn about how to respond to and recover from large-scale disasters.
Homeland security degree programs are best suited for individuals who are interested in promoting public safety and security, and undergraduate and graduate programs alike will provide a foundation in areas such as emergency and disaster management; risk prevention and management; counter-terrorism, and more. Homeland security students will learn the importance of understanding security challenges and proposing innovative solutions to these challenges at the local and national levels. The degree is ideal for current and future federal, state, and local officials.
Homeland Security Course Work Basics
Homeland security programs will allow students to analyze a wide range of security issues, policies, and practices. Classes will not only cover terrorism, but also natural and man-made disasters. This may encompass everything from how to identify weapons of mass destruction, to how to secure borders, airports, and seaports. Students will also learn how to prepare for natural and man-made disasters and employ the latest security technology. The discipline is important in both the public and private sector. Students may also have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area, such as agricultural biosecurity or geospatial intelligence. Classes may include:
- Political Violence and Terrorism: Students will learn about the evolution of terrorism and politically motivated violence.
- Security and Civil Liberties: This course will expose students to the issues that arise when states attempt to reconcile the control of crime and the protection of its citizens with the maintenance of civil liberty and human rights.
- Information Systems Protection: This course will cover various types of cyber crime, as well as mitigation strategies to protect information and computer systems.
- Strategic Planning and Budgeting: Students will learn how to implement budgeting, strategic planning, and performance measures.
- Emergency Management and Crisis Communication: This course will cover the basic principles of emergency planning and strategies to ensure that all communication channels are open and secure during a crisis situation.
Students will be expected to take exams, complete presentations, and write research papers. In addition, some programs may require students to complete a final capstone project, a research-based project that allows students to integrate theoretical concepts with their own analytical perspective. For instance, they may research ways to improve the organizational effectiveness of public safety agencies, or they may conduct a case study of FEMA’s effectiveness in a particular disaster. Course work is designed to ensure that students can apply this knowledge and experience to the work place.
Careers for the Homeland Security Graduate
Upon graduating from a homeland security degree program, students will be prepared to enter either the public or private sector in disaster preparedness. They may work in private business, emergency management, private security, border patrol, customs, or law enforcement. A numbered few may also work with prestigious security enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Secret Service.
Among the fields that homeland security graduates may pursue is work as private detectives and investigators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage of private detectives and investigators was $48,610 in 2011. Of course, this represents just one of a number of fields that these graduates may pursue. Note that individual qualifications, such as level of educational attainment and experience, will impact earnings, as will employer and location.