FAQ: Everything You Need To Know About a Homeland Security Degree

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Students who hope to pursue a career in national security might choose to study homeland security. While earning a degree in homeland security, students can expect to learn about a large range of topics, from counterterrorism to cybersecurity. Learning more about this degree and possible career options can help you determine if this is an area you want to study. In this article, we discuss what a homeland security degree is and answer some frequently asked questions, like what courses you can expect to take and what careers you might pursue.

What is a homeland security degree?

A homeland security degree is a bachelor's degree that you might earn to pursue an education in to learn more about how you can protect the United States working as a government agent for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or related agencies. These degrees often accompany other areas of security like risk or emergency management. Besides preventing terrorism, people who pursue this degree might have an interest in providing national assistance for events like national disasters or criminal justice.

Related: How To Become a Homeland Security Agent

How long does it take to get a homeland security degree?

Many people can earn a homeland security degree in four years. Like many other programs, this can require 120 credits. Depending on if you take accelerated courses or if you choose to take a semester off, this can vary. Earning advanced degrees like master's degrees or a doctorate can take an additional two to four years.

Related: Key Differences Between Undergraduate and Graduate Study

What courses do you take for a homeland security degree?

There are several important classes that you can expect to take when studying homeland security:

  • Terrorism: During terrorism coursework, you can expect history and theory about terrorism and counterterrorism. These classes may also include learning about potential threats, preventative measures, responsive actions and recovery efforts.

  • Emergency planning: Emergency planning courses might involve risk and project management to teach you how to handle emergencies, such as natural disasters. You can expect to learn how to mitigate and respond to emergencies and the steps you can take to prepare.

  • Research: In many homeland security departments, you may need to perform extensive research using different tools and programs. You might learn how to research historic events, response effectiveness and preparation methods to determine what's best for national security.

  • Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity class can prepare you with knowledge of digital threats, protections and common vulnerabilities. This can also involve learning how to minimize the impact of cybersecurity attacks and how to communicate and collaborate to resolve issues.

  • Infrastructure security: Infrastructure security courses can reveal how we protect the nation's buildings, roads, transportation and other areas of infrastructure. This can also include digital infrastructure and how to protect networks from hacking or other digital threats.

  • Ethics: With homeland security ethics, you might learn about the ethical standards shared by the government and common issues, like individual data protection. Learning about ethics can prepare you with knowledge about laws and best practices when making decisions.

  • Public safety: In public safety courses, you can expect to learn about how different government and private agencies work together to ensure the safety of citizens. This can involve learning about emergency communications, technology advancements and individual responsibility.

Related: FAQ: How Much Do Border Patrol Agents Make?

What can you do with a homeland security degree?

With a degree in homeland security, you can pursue several career paths:

  • Emergency management: Careers in emergency management involve working with government officials and other organizations when responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. They help coordinate resources and equipment for communities to handle emergencies.

  • Information security: Information security professionals help to oversee networks and technology to protect data and minimize risks. They might also develop plans to respond to any cybersecurity threats and suggest software that helps secure government and private networks.

  • Law enforcement: Careers in law enforcement help enforce national and local laws across the country while ensuring public safety. This can involve patrolling duty, investigations into crimes, suspect interviews and protecting people or property.

  • Firefighting: Firefighters respond to emergencies involving fires, medical emergencies and hazardous materials. They might also communicate educational materials to communications or inspect buildings to minimize risk and ensure more people practice fire safety and prevention.

  • Customs: Careers in customs or border safety are specialized law enforcement positions that help ensure that travel across country lines is safe. This can involve inspecting goods, searching cargo and verifying travel documentation.

  • Security: There are several security areas you can work with a homeland security degree, including cybersecurity, transportation security or public security. They ensure citizens' safety and data protection while performing daily tasks like traveling or using the internet.

  • Military leadership: Roles in military leadership can help ensure members of the different military branches have the tools and information they need to protect and serve the nation. Using theories in crisis management and weapon or equipment handling, they make critical decisions to both prevent and respond to national crises.

Related: 30 Jobs for Homeland Security Majors

How much can I earn with a degree in homeland security?

Salaries can vary depending on the area you might explore and your experience level. For example, according to Indeed salaries, a transportation officer for the TSA (Transportation Security Agency) earns an average of $35,654 per year. Firefighters earn an average of $48,732 per year. IT analysts could earn an average of $70,726 per year.

What are some of the benefits of earning a degree in homeland security?

There are several key benefits to earning a homeland security degree:

  • Sense of pride: As many of the careers you might explore after earning this degree, you might feel pride for the services you provide in national security.

  • Diverse opportunities: There are many concentrations and career choices you can explore by earning this degree, from technology jobs in office settings to fieldwork.

  • Transferrable skill set: While earning your degree, you'll learn about and practice the skills needed for a homeland security career like communication, teamwork, ethics and interpersonal skills.

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