Why This Matters

  • WORK IN ONE OF 14 HOMELAND SECURITY AREAS

    The U.S Department of Homeland Security, which employs about 240,000 people, oversees several agencies and offices, including the Coast Guard, Secret Service, FEMA, Customs and Border Patrol, and more.

  • CYBERSECURITY JOBS TO INCREASE 28% BY 2026

    Tracking threats online and preventing cyberterrorism is a growing area of homeland security, with employment increasing much faster than the average. Individuals focusing cybersecurity will have an edge in this area.

  • EARN AN AVERAGE ANNUAL SALARY OF $65,000

    A master’s degree in homeland security leads to a higher salary, with some management jobs in security, research, and cybersecurity paying over $100,000 per year.

Our Research

We reviewed a variety of homeland security degree programs, including Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Professional Studies (MPS), and Master of Public Administration (MPA). Each type of degree has its own pedagogical approach, but all will prepare you for a career in homeland security.

Our list includes programs delivered in online, on-campus, and hybrid or blended formats. This gives you more options when choosing which program is right for your lifestyle and availability.

To ensure the quality of the education, we only reviewed programs that have regional accreditation. This type of accreditation is important because it means the school is eligible for federal financial aid, and your credits can transfer more easily.

We evaluated the programs on their course strength, cost, reputation, faculty, and flexibility, and calculated the Intelligent Score for each on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best master’s in homeland security are respected, affordable, and customizable.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 65 hours to write this article
  • 133 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 327 education programs we compared

The Top 29 Master’s in Homeland Security Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in 2002, in response to the 9/11 terror attacks. As such, the field of homeland security, which encompasses law enforcement, emergency response, cybersecurity, border patrol, immigration services, and more, is still relatively new, as are the degree-granting programs in the subject. The skills needed to be successful in the field, and the way they are taught, are still evolving. Individuals entering this field should be prepared to adapt to changes in curriculum and strategies as the field continues to develop.

The U.S. government offers its own homeland security master’s degree, through the Naval Postgraduate School. This program is exclusively offered to federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial employees, as well as active U.S. military officers. Depending on the agency a student works for, they may be eligible for free tuition.

Due to the sensitive nature of homeland security jobs, passing a background check is typically a prerequisite for hiring. It’s important to know if there are any incidents or infractions in your background that would prevent you from passing a background check. While this may not affect your admission into a graduate program, it could negatively impact your job prospects after earning your degree.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Homeland Security programs:

  • Does this program offer the concentration I want? If you are interested in preparing for a specific job within homeland security, such as counterterrorism, emergency management, or cybersecurity, you should seek out a program that offers a concentration in that area.
  • Does the program require a thesis? Some master’s programs (usually Master of Science degrees) include a thesis project as a requirement for graduation. Theses are usually research-focused, and are especially valuable for individuals who are planning on getting a doctoral degree.

In addition to researching the program’s curriculum and outcomes, be sure to explore the application process and financial aid options. This information is usually available on the school’s website, or you can contact their admissions and financial aid departments directly if you have any questions. Financial aid options typically include loans, scholarships, assistantships, and tuition assistance from your employer.