What You Should Know About This Degree
Homeland security as we know it is a relatively new field. Although some agencies within the Department of Homeland Security, like the Coast Guard and the Secret Service, have existed for years, the DHS itself was not created until 2002, after the 9/11 terror attacks. Therefore, many homeland security degree programs are new as well.
As the field continues to develop, so do the skills and training needed to work in homeland security. Degree programs continually update their curriculums to reflect these changes, and individuals going into this field should be adaptable as well.
Homeland security encompasses law enforcement, border patrol, cybersecurity, military operations, emergency response, immigration services, and more. As there is no clearly defined path to a career in homeland security, you should give some consideration to your career goals and the specific role you see yourself playing within homeland security. This can help guide you towards a program that teaches a broad range of skills, or offers a chance to specialize.
If you are a federal, state, local, tribal or territorial employee, or an active U.S. military officer, you can attend the Naval Postgraduate School’s homeland security master’s program. The U.S. government offers free tuition to individuals who work in certain government agencies.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Homeland Security programs:
- How are online courses delivered? Online courses are usually delivered synchronously or asynchronously. In asynchronous courses, students can access course materials and lectures and complete assignments at any time. Synchronous courses are less flexible, as they require students to attend classes remotely on a fixed schedule. Find out how the courses in your program are delivered, and find the best fit for your schedule.
- Can I pass a background check? Due to the sensitive nature of homeland security jobs, passing a background check is typically a prerequisite for hiring. While having incidents or infractions on your record won’t preclude you from earning a degree in homeland security, it can affect your job prospects post-graduation. Talk to an advisor prior to enrolling in a program if you are concerned about your background check.
In addition to researching the program’s curriculum, be sure to explore the application process and financial aid options. This information is available on the school’s website. You can also contact their admissions and financial aid department directly if you have any questions. Financial aid options include loans, scholarships, assistantships, and tuition assistance from your employer.