Get Started on Your Future with a Homeland Security Degree
Interested in the field of homeland security?
Whether it's through the military, civilian employment, or an internship, having direct experience may aid you in standing out from the crowd.
We can help you explore different education options and offer guidance on the steps needed to prepare you for professional responsibilities in the important field of homeland security. There are several homeland security degree programs we offer at American Public University, including our bachelor's degree and master's degree programs.
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A Brief History of Homeland Security
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. It was established on November 25, 2002, after the introduction of the Homeland Security Act.
The creation of the Department of Homeland Security was seen as a necessary step in improving our country's ability to respond to the evolving security threats of the 21st century.
The 9/11 attacks demonstrated the need for a unified and coordinated approach to national security, and the creation of a cabinet-level department was established as a result.
The act merged various government agencies into a single department with the primary purpose of enhancing the security of our country and its citizens.
The Department of Homeland Security has a range of responsibilities, including preventing terrorism, enhancing security, managing borders and immigration, protecting our nation's critical infrastructure and cyber networks, and responding to natural disasters and emergencies.
The Department of Homeland Security works with numerous federal, state, local, and private sector partners to achieve these goals.
Homeland Security: Getting Started
One of our homeland security degrees may help expand your knowledge.
Our programs cover various topics such as intelligence, emergency management, emergency preparedness, critical infrastructure protection, crisis management, international relations, and law enforcement. Other topics include risk management, legal issues, ethical issues, criminal justice, and border security breaches.
Homeland Security Communication Skills
People in the field of homeland security must present their analysis clearly and concisely to decision-makers. Therefore, excellent communication skills are vital.
Homeland security professionals may need to inform a variety of audiences, including policy makers, government agencies, and law enforcement officials. Consequently, being able to clearly convey information – in speech or in writing – is an essential skill.
A strong foundation in the principles and practices of homeland security may be gained by exploring some of the degrees and certificates we offer through our School of Security and Global Studies.
A homeland security degree can provide students with the knowledge, skills, and experience often required in this field.
There are a number of benefits to pursuing a bachelor's degree or master's degree. For example, a degree can provide individuals with a deep understanding of the challenges and issues facing our country.
This knowledge can be invaluable for adult learners looking to make a difference in the field.
A degree can also help to provide students with the skills they need to be effective leaders and decision-makers.
Homeland security professionals are often called upon to work in complex and challenging environments, and a strong educational background may help prepare individuals for these situations.
The degree program can help provide students with training in critical thinking, problem-solving, and leadership, which can be valuable assets.
Our Bachelor's Degree in Homeland Security
Our bachelor's in homeland security covers a multitude of disciplines related to the field and provides adult learners with an understanding of the threats and challenges posed by terrorism, natural disasters, cyberattacks, and other public safety issues that could threaten citizens or cause disruption to society.
In addition, with our bachelor's in homeland security, an undergraduate student can gain vital critical thinking skills and learn about the legal and political framework that govern domestic and international security measures.
While earning a bachelor's degree, students can also explore best-practice strategies to identify potential threats, develop countermeasures, and protect individuals, critical infrastructures, and resources.
Some of the courses available in our bachelor's degree in homeland security include:
- Emergency and Disaster Incident Command
- Risk Communications
- Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Hazards
- Law and Ethics in Intelligence
- Terrorism and Counterterrorism
- Private Sector Homeland Security
- Maritime Law
- Psychology of Disaster
- Intelligence Analysis
Our Master's Degree in Homeland Security
Our graduate degree helps to provide students with the knowledge and skills often required to protect a nation's citizens, infrastructure, and resources from potential terrorist threats.
This academic program covers a wide range of topics, including counter-terrorism, intelligence operations, cyber security, risk management, and emergency preparedness.
Courses cover the policies and legal aspects of homeland security, as well as practical skills such as surveillance techniques and terrorist attack responses.
Students will also analyze potential threats to national security from foreign countries and organizations.
This homeland security master's degree program is designed for current homeland security professionals.
The program also provides students with the opportunity to learn from our expert faculty members – many of which have real-world experience in the field.
There are various concentrations available in our master's degree in homeland security:
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice
- Emergency Management and Public Health
- Transportation Security
- Counter-Terrorism Studies
What Can You Do with a Homeland Security Degree?
If you are interested in pursuing a possible career in homeland security, here are some options to consider.
Border Patrol Agent
A Border Patrol Agent is responsible for securing our country's borders, including the coasts, international airports, and land borders to prevent the entry of terrorists, weapons, drugs, and undocumented immigrants. They patrol the border, monitor surveillance systems, and inspect vehicles and cargo to enforce immigration laws.
Cybersecurity specialists are responsible for protecting our country's critical infrastructure and sensitive information from cyber attacks. They identify security vulnerabilities, implement security measures, and respond to cyber incidents.
Emergency Management Director
Emergency management directors are responsible for developing and implementing emergency plans for communities, organizations, and federal agencies. They coordinate the response to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires, and work with local and state agencies to ensure the safety of citizens.
Intelligence analysts collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence information to support the mission of federal agencies. They use advanced technology and analytical tools to identify and assess threats. They also provide intelligence to decision makers to prevent terrorist attacks and other threats.
Transportation Security Administration Officer
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers are responsible for protecting our nation's transportation systems, including airports, trains, and ports. TSA officers screen passengers, baggage, and cargo to detect and prevent threats. They use a variety of technologies, such as X-ray machines and metal detectors, to ensure the safety of passengers and the transportation system.
Police officers are at the forefront of homeland security efforts, as they are often the first responders to incidents involving threats to public safety. They work closely with other law enforcement and federal agencies to ensure that citizens remain safe from potential dangers. Police officers have a significant role to play when it comes to protecting our nation's borders and preventing terrorist attacks or other criminal activity.
What Can a Student Learn with a Homeland Security Degree?
A degree in homeland security may help to provide students with the skills they need to make informed decisions that protect our nation’s safety and security.
Students who pursue a degree in this field can expect to develop excellent research methods, critical thinking skills, and theoretical and practical skills, all of which can be applicable to the field of homeland security. Courses may cover topics such as intelligence gathering, disaster preparedness, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism networks.
In addition to understanding the legal and procedural framework of homeland security, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the science behind these topics.
They may also be trained in emergency response procedures or receive instruction on crisis management and risk assessment.
By learning about these areas, students may develop a knowledgebase often necessary to be effective as security professionals.
Our online programs may help to prepare our students to respond quickly and efficiently to threats as they arise and help protect our nation’s safety and security.
By completing a degree in homeland security, students will be better equipped to face the challenges of our country’s future and make informed decisions that help safeguard the safety and wellbeing of all citizens.
Upon attaining their homeland security degree online, graduates can gain the knowledge, skills, and experience often needed to create secure systems, detect internal or external threats, and protect the nation’s safety.
Homeland Security Career Resources
Defining and Illustrating the Homeland Security Enterprise
DHS Launches New Cybersecurity Talent Management System
Alumni Stories: Pursuing and Focusing on Homeland Security
Frequently Asked Questions about Homeland Security
What Is Homeland Security?
Homeland Security works to improve the security of the United States. The federal division that manages this task is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The work of DHS includes customs, border, and immigration enforcement, emergency response to natural and manufactured disasters, counter terrorism work, and cybersecurity.
The Department of Homeland Security was formed in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as part of a national effort to safeguard the United States against terrorism. DHS became the third-largest federal department, bringing together 22 different federal agencies, each with a role in this effort.
What Are Some of the Major Agencies within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security?
The major agencies and components include U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Federal Protective Service (FPS), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). Other agencies include the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
What Is a Security Clearance?
A security clearance is a determination by the United States government that a person or company is eligible for access to classified information. The term “eligible for access” means the same thing as security clearance; it is used in government record systems and by government personnel security specialists. There are two types of clearances: Personnel Security Clearances (PCLs) and Facility Security Clearances (FCLs).
What Are the Security Clearance Levels?
Security clearances can be issued by many United States government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy (DoE), the Department of Justice (DoJ), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). DoD – which issues more than 80% of all clearances – and most other agencies have three levels of security clearances:
- Top Secret
DoE primarily issues “L,” and “Q” Access Authorizations, which are roughly equivalent to Secret and Top Secret clearances, respectively.
Can I Obtain a Security Clearance on My Own?
No. You must be sponsored by a cleared contractor or government agency.
To be sponsored, you must be employed (or hired as a consultant) in a position that requires a clearance. As an exception, a candidate for employment may be sponsored for a clearance if the employer has made an offer of employment and the candidate has accepted the offer.
Both the offer and acceptance must be in writing. The offer of employment from a cleared contractor must indicate that employment will begin within 30 days of receiving the clearance.
Who Issues Security Clearances?
The Department of Defense Consolidated Adjudications Facility (DoD CAF) at Fort Meade, MD issues Personnel Clearances (PCL) for most DoD civilians, military personnel, and contractor personnel. Other DoD agencies that issue clearances are DIA, NGA, and NSA.
Other Executive Branch departments that issue PCLs include the departments of Energy, State, Homeland Security, Transportation, Agriculture, Labor, Commerce, Treasury, Justice, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs. Many component agencies of these departments, as well as independent agencies (i.e. CIA, OPM, EPA, GAO, FCC, USITC, etc.), issue clearances.
Collateral clearance determinations are based on completed personnel security investigations (PSI) using the “Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information.”
How Long Does It Take to Get a Security Clearance?
The end-to-end processing time for a security clearance is primarily dependent on the type of clearance required, the federal agency involved, and the absence or presence of significant unfavorable information. In general, the process takes anywhere between 30-180 days.
How Long Does a Security Clearance Remain in Effect?
Generally, as long as cleared individuals remain employed by a cleared contractor or government agency and are reasonably expected to require access to classified information, their personnel security clearance will remain in effect. However, they must comply with Periodic Reinvestigation requirements.
Currently reinvestigations are required at five-year intervals for Top Secret clearances, 10-year intervals for Secret clearances, and 15-year intervals for Confidential clearances.
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