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.
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.