Why This Matters

  • JOIN DHS AS ONE OF OVER 240,000 EMPLOYEES

    The U.S Department of Homeland Security is a major employer of security professionals. It administers a range of agencies, including the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, FEMA, and more.

  • CYBERSECURITY JOBS TO INCREASE 32% BY 2028

    As our reliance on computers and information networks increases, so does the need for cybersecurity professionals to track and prevent threats. By 2028, the U.S. will have 35,500 new jobs in this sector.

  • EARN AN AVERAGE ANNUAL SALARY OF $65,000

    Individuals with a master’s degree in security earn a higher annual salary than those with a bachelor’s, according to Payscale.com. Some management jobs in security, research, and cybersecurity pay over $100,000 per year.

Our Research

Our research criteria included that programs be master’s-level degrees, be offered completely or primarily online, and be offered at regionally accredited institutions.

Our list contains a variety of different types of master’s degrees, including Master of Science (MS), Master of Art (MA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Master of Professional Studies (MPS). As each degree type has a different orientation, you’ll want to compare them, and take your personal learning preferences into consideration when choosing a program.

While all of the programs on our list are delivered online, some may also offer students the option to complete coursework in a blend of online and on-campus classes.

Once we narrowed the list of programs, we evaluated each of them on the basis of reputation, faculty, flexibility, cost, and outcomes. Then we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online master’s in security programs are highly-regarded, customizable, and cost-effective. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 70 hours to write this article
  • 147 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 295 education programs we compared

The Top 20 Online Master’s in Security Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

The homeland security field is relatively new, and as such, the skills needed and methods of teaching them are still evolving. In 2002, the United States created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a response to the 9/11/ terror attacks. Since then, the DHS has expanded to oversee cybersecurity, law enforcement, emergency response, immigration services, border patrol, and more. Individuals who are considering a degree and career in this field should be flexible and ready to adapt to new developments in curriculum and teaching strategies.

If you are currently an active U.S. military officer, or employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, tribal or territory agency, you may be eligible to earn a master’s in homeland security degree through the Naval Postgraduate School. Depending on the agency you work for, you may be able to attend the program tuition-free.

Most homeland security jobs require that job candidates pass background checks, drug tests, and other screenings. While incidents or infractions on your record may not preclude you from admission to a master’s program, they may impact your ability to find employment. If there are any situations on your record that may present an issue, speak to an advisor about what steps you can take to address them before enrolling in a program.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Master’s in Security programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? As an advanced degree, some programs seek candidates who have an educational background or work experience in homeland security or a related field. It’s important to look at the eligibility requirements when selecting a program, to confirm that you meet the minimum qualifications for admission.
  • Does this program offer the specialization I want? There are a number of specialization options available within the homeland security field, including counterterrorism, cybersecurity, public health preparedness, and more. If you want to prepare for a career in one of these specialized areas, it may be beneficial to seek out a program that will allow to focus on your area of interest.

Other steps you can take at this time include collecting your application materials, confirming application deadlines and procedures, and researching your options for financing your graduate degree. Most schools have admissions representatives and financial aid counselors who can help you with these steps. Funding options include scholarships, assistantships, student loans, and tuition assistance benefits from your employer, if you are currently employed.