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In February 2013, the Homeland Security Affairs Journal (HSAJ) posted an article titled – Homeland Security Education: A Way Forward. The authors posed the question: Is it time for Homeland Security to be an academic discipline? How does a learning institution introduce a curriculum for a subject with such diversity as homeland security? This diverse nature is evident in the agencies under the direction and leadership of the DHS. The department primarily functions in a management capacity with federal employees in charge of the governmental entities.
The DHS oversees agencies such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), FEMA, U.S. Coast Guard, the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Depending on your career aspirations, you do not need a degree for some of the positions in the various departments and agencies. For example, you can become a TSA or Border Patrol Agent with a high school diploma. Individuals with their sights in a leadership role will need at least an undergraduate degree.
Another point the writers in the above article emphasized is the need to instill in college students the ability to think analytically. These qualities are critical to working in the complex world of homeland security. In an HSAJ article posted in May 2010, the authors opined that there was no consensus or recommendations made by the Homeland Security Defense Education Consortium Association on standard curricula for the field. However, the writers did promote a liberal arts education that provides a range of subjects.
A liberal arts double major or minor does not focus on developing a particular technical or specific professional skill set. Students explore a variety of topics, solve complex problems, and learn to think critically and differently. The skillset gleaned from a liberal arts program benefits security analysts, administrators, and policymakers and analysts. Additionally, graduates have the soft skills that 44% of corporate executives see as lacking in Americans.
Individuals who prefer to seek employment in law enforcement may opt for combining Criminal Justice with Homeland Security concentration. Liberty University has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice-Homeland Security program online. The thirty hours of core courses cover Criminology, Criminal Law, the Judicial Process, Infrastructure Protection, and Terrorism.
Regent University also offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Homeland Security. Students learn about identifying the strategies of terrorist organizations, disaster preparedness, constitutional law, and the criminal defense process.
FEMA is one of the agencies under the leadership of the DHS. Therefore, a combined major in Homeland Security and Emergency Management prepares graduates for positions in both areas. The Bachelor of Science at Thomas Edison in HS and EM explores the five National Preparedness Systems of prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. Course work includes terrorism, counterterrorism, research methods, and a capstone in HS and EM. An assortment of electives provides choices, for example, of Public Policy, Victimology and Criminal Behavior, Counseling, Social Psychology, and Global Public Health.
The Department of Criminal Justice Administration at Middle Tennessee State University has a Bachelor of Science in CJ with a concentration in Law Enforcement or Homeland Security. A notable feature of this program is the internship opportunities at more than 30 criminal justice agencies. These include public defender offices, police and sheriff departments, probation offices, circuit and juvenile courts, as well as state and federal agencies. The pragmatic approach affords real-world experience coupled with classroom theories.
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is known for its selection of online degrees from Associate to Master’s levels. The school has a major in Criminal Justice with a minor or concentration in Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Students examine the various tactics, such as intelligence gathering, combating terrorism, international terrorism groups, and threat assessment — courses in intelligence and counterintelligence probe how the U.S. government uses intelligence to form policies and procedures.
At the graduate level, American Military University offers a dual Master of Arts in Emergency and Disaster Management and Homeland Security. Taking these programs as a dual degree gives students the core courses of both programs along with a choice of electives. Graduates of this online dual degree will be competent in two fields, which open up more employment possibilities. They will understand hazard mitigation and analysis, as well as versed in national security operations, methods, and techniques.
Any degree involving law or legal studies applies to a host of jobs, especially a graduate program. The California University of Pennsylvania has a Master of Science in Legal Studies with a concentration in Homeland Security. Students study the plans and strategies to prevent terrorist attacks in the U.S., and the numerous agencies involved in counterterrorism activities. The combination of these majors suits individuals who currently work or plan to attain positions of leadership in the homeland security arena.
Homeland security blankets an array of job prospects, including accounting, psychology, law enforcement, cyber security, political science, intelligence, policy analysts, customs, health, disasters, and many more. Therefore, the degree choices are as vast as the number of positions related to homeland security.