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There are many advan­tages to get­ting an accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree. The biggest draw, of course, is the poten­tial to dive into a career more quick­ly than one would be able to do with a reg­u­lar degree. The accel­er­at­ed option helps peo­ple gain the rel­e­vant skills fast, which means that they can go straight into the job search right away. This is espe­cial­ly entic­ing to those who want a home­land secu­ri­ty job because the fed­er­al job appli­ca­tion process can take a long time. Any oppor­tu­ni­ty to save some time is valuable.

For some, an accel­er­at­ed degree works best for their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and lifestyle. They may have a lim­it­ed amount of time between jobs, they may just learn best in a fast-paced envi­ron­ment. An accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree will give you the same edu­ca­tion that you’d get from a degree at a reg­u­lar pace. In oth­er words, you’ll take the same amount of class­es, but you’ll spend more time on those class­es with­in a short­er frame. As a result, accel­er­at­ed degrees are chal­leng­ing, espe­cial­ly when it comes to a career as impor­tant and ana­lyt­i­cal as home­land security.

Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Accelerated Homeland Security Programs

For stu­dents who want to earn their degree fast, Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter edi­tors have ranked the fastest accred­it­ed, rep­utable pro­grams in the US. In addi­tion to focus­ing on pro­grams that offer stu­dents an accel­er­at­ed option, we ranked pro­grams accord­ing to Alum­ni Salary, Cost, and Rep­u­ta­tion, using data from IPEDS, Col­lege Score­card, and Niche.

1. Western Carolina University

West­ern Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty offers an online BS in Emer­gency and Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment that is rec­og­nized as one of the country’s best accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree. Stu­dents enrolled in WCU’s accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram must com­plete 42 hours of lib­er­al arts stud­ies, 48 hours ded­i­cat­ed to one’s major, plus 30 elec­tive hours and an intern­ship that earns up to 12 aca­d­e­m­ic cred­it hours. Stu­dents grad­u­ate and find reward­ing careers in the DHS, FEMA, the HHS, or oth­er gov­ern­men­tal agencies.

West­ern Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished in 1889. West­ern Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty is a mem­ber school of the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na Sys­tem. The school’s rur­al val­ley cam­pus cov­ers more than 575 acres and serves more than 11,500 stu­dents. High­light — West­ern Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty is one of a trio of schools cho­sen to be a mem­ber school of the North Car­oli­na Promise Tuition Plan, a plan to make school more affordable.

Degree: Emer­gency and Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment, BS

2. American Military University

The Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty’s School of Secu­ri­ty and Glob­al Stud­ies offers a Bach­e­lor of Arts (BA) degree pro­gram in Home­land Secu­ri­ty that can be com­plet­ed entire­ly online. The Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary University’s accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram requires degree can­di­dates to com­plete 120 cred­it units to grad­u­ate, which includes the com­ple­tion of the home­land secu­ri­ty senior sem­i­nar. Cur­ricu­lum for AMU’s online home­land secu­ri­ty pro­gram includes stud­ies in risk man­age­ment, ethics, bor­der secu­ri­ty, nation­al secu­ri­ty, and intel­li­gence, among oth­ers. Class­es are offered in two-month for­mats and begin each month on a rolling admis­sion schedule.

The Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty is a for-prof­it, dis­tance learn­ing insti­tu­tion of high­er edu­ca­tion that was estab­lished in 1991. The Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty, along with Amer­i­can Pub­lic Edu­ca­tion, Inc., com­prise the Amer­i­can Pub­lic Uni­ver­si­ty Sys­tem (APUS), a pub­licly-trad­ed com­pa­ny. High­light – AMU is not affil­i­at­ed with the US mil­i­tary but serves more than 46,000 online students.

Degree: Home­land Secu­ri­ty, BA

Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty Home­land Secu­ri­ty, BA

3. Columbia College

Colum­bia Col­lege offers an online BA in Dis­as­ter and Emer­gency Man­age­ment that does not require any trips to cam­pus. Stu­dents enrolled in Colum­bia College’s accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram requires the com­ple­tion of 120 cred­it hours through the school’s dis­tance learn­ing plat­form. The school offers a rolling admis­sion, which allows stu­dents to begin their degree pro­gram about every six weeks because class­es are deliv­ered in a five-week for­mat. Stu­dents apply­ing for the home­land secu­ri­ty pro­gram at Colum­bia Col­lege can trans­fer up to 90 cred­it units, per school policy.

Colum­bia Col­lege is a wom­en’s school that is affil­i­at­ed with the Unit­ed Methodist Church. The school was found­ed in 1854 as the Colum­bia Female Col­lege. The school’s cam­pus in Colum­bia, SC, is home to approx­i­mate­ly 1,100 stu­dents. High­light — Colum­bia Col­lege holds the dis­tinc­tion of being one of the old­est women’s insti­tu­tion of high­er edu­ca­tion in the nation.

Degree: Dis­as­ter and Emer­gency Man­age­ment, BA

Colum­bia Col­lege BA in Dis­as­ter and Emer­gency Management

4. Columbia Southern University

Colum­bia South­ern Uni­ver­si­ty offers an all dis­tance learn­ing BS in Home­land Secu­ri­ty that stu­dents can begin at any time that works for them. CSU’s accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram requires the com­ple­tion of 120 cred­it hours, of which up to 90 cred­it units can be trans­ferred to Colum­bia South­ern Uni­ver­si­ty. Course­work for CSU’s home­land secu­ri­ty degree includes bor­der man­age­ment, cyber­crime, dis­as­ter resilience, and coun­tert­er­ror­ism, plus a senior cul­mi­nat­ing cap­stone project, to name a few. Colum­bia South­ern Uni­ver­si­ty is rec­og­nized among the most afford­able online schools in the nation.

Colum­bia South­ern Uni­ver­si­ty is a pri­vate school that is fam­i­ly-owned. Colum­bia South­ern Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished as an online for-prof­it school in 1993. The school serves more than 21,000 stu­dents, of which near­ly 6,000 are stu­dents study­ing for grad­u­ate degrees. High­light — Colum­bia South­ern Uni­ver­si­ty ini­tial­ly offered one degree in Envi­ron­men­tal Engi­neer­ing and Occu­pa­tion Safe­ty & Health.

Degree: Home­land Secu­ri­ty, BS

Colum­bia South­ern Uni­ver­si­ty BS in Home­land Security

5. Eastern Kentucky University

East­ern Ken­tucky Uni­ver­si­ty offers a BS in Home­land Secu­ri­ty, which can be com­plet­ed entire­ly online, with­out cam­pus vis­its required. Degree can­di­dates grad­u­ate and find reward­ing careers as a bor­der patrol agent, air mar­shal, FBI agent, infra­struc­ture agent, cus­toms agent, or intel­li­gence ana­lyst, among oth­ers. EKU’s accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram requires the com­ple­tion of 120 cred­it units, which can include up to 90 cred­it units trans­ferred from oth­er accred­it­ed insti­tu­tions of high­er edu­ca­tion. Those on active mil­i­tary duty receive a sub­stan­tial tuition dis­count per unit. Stu­dents study the intel­li­gence, secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions, and dis­as­ter man­age­ment, the pil­lars of home­land security.

East­ern Ken­tucky Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished as a pub­lic insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing in 1874. The school oper­ates satel­lite cam­pus­es in Lan­cast­er, Man­ches­ter, Corbin, and Haz­ard, KY. East­ern Ken­tucky Uni­ver­si­ty’s cam­pus serves about 16,000 stu­dents. High­light — East­ern Ken­tucky Uni­ver­si­ty is tied for the 28th spot among the best south­ern region­al uni­ver­si­ties, accord­ing to US News.

Degree: Home­land Secu­ri­ty, BS

East­ern Ken­tucky Uni­ver­si­ty BS in Home­land Security

6. Excelsior College

Excel­sior Col­lege offers an all-online BS in Nation­al Secu­ri­ty that pre­pares stu­dents for reward­ing work in diplo­ma­cy, inter­na­tion­al pol­i­cy, for­eign rela­tions, or home­land secu­ri­ty, among oth­ers. Excel­sior College’s accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram has been spe­cial­ly devel­oped with vet­er­ans and active mil­i­tary mem­bers in mind. The school allows for up to 113 cred­it units and per­mits the grant­i­ng of cred­it for mil­i­tary ser­vice. Excel­sior Col­lege pro­vides stu­dents with two con­cen­tra­tions with­in the home­land secu­ri­ty degree, Top­ics in Nation­al Secu­ri­ty or Intel­li­gence & Secu­ri­ty Analysis.

Excel­sior Col­lege is a school that was estab­lished in 1971 by the NYS Regen­t’s Board that was ini­tial­ly named Regents Col­lege. Excel­sior Col­lege is orga­nized by three schools – the under­grad­u­ate, the grad­u­ate, and the nurs­ing schools. High­light — Excel­sior Col­lege was devel­oped to serve the more non-tra­di­tion­al, work­ing learn­er students.

Degree: Nation­al Secu­ri­ty, BS

Excel­sior Col­lege BS in Nation­al Security

7. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University’s Colan­ge­lo Col­lege of Busi­ness offers a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence (BS) degree pro­gram in Home­land Secu­ri­ty & Emer­gency Man­age­ment that can be fin­ished entire­ly through the school’s dis­tance learn­ing plat­form. Stu­dents enrolled in GCU’s accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram must com­plete 120 cred­it units to grad­u­ate; how­ev­er, up to 84 low­er divi­sion cred­its (and 90 total cred­its) can be trans­ferred towards GCU’s home­land secu­ri­ty degree. Stu­dents grad­u­ate with skills required to man­age and bud­get for resources, apply crit­i­cal think­ing in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions, com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment, ter­ror­ism pre­ven­tion, and emer­gency man­age­ment preparedness.

Grand Canyon Uni­ver­si­ty is a for-prof­it insti­tu­tion of high­er edu­ca­tion that was found­ed in 1949. The school main­tains a Chris­t­ian affil­i­a­tion, although it is non-denom­i­na­tion­al. Grand Canyon University’s total stu­dent enroll­ment exceeds 90,000, of which 70,000 stu­dents are study­ing online. High­light — Grand Canyon Uni­ver­si­ty is the largest Chris­t­ian uni­ver­si­ty across the globe.

Degree: Home­land Secu­ri­ty, BS

Grand Canyon Uni­ver­si­ty Home­land Secu­ri­ty, BS

8. New England College

New Eng­land Col­lege offers an accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram that can be com­plet­ed entire­ly online. The cur­ricu­lum for New Eng­land College’s Bach­e­lor of Arts (BA) in Home­land Secu­ri­ty and Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness degree pro­gram includes Cri­sis Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Emer­gency Plan­ning, Glob­al Secu­ri­ty, Cyber War­fare, plus a senior the­sis project. New Eng­land Col­lege is rec­og­nized by sev­er­al over­sight orga­ni­za­tions as a mil­i­tary-friend­ly insti­tu­tion of high­er edu­ca­tion and a mem­ber school of the Yel­low Rib­bon Pro­gram ded­i­cat­ed to edu­cat­ing those who serve their coun­try. Degree can­di­dates must com­plete 120 cred­it units to grad­u­ate, of which 40 cred­it units must be devot­ed to the home­land secu­ri­ty major degree program.

New Eng­land Col­lege was found­ed in 1946 as a non­prof­it, pri­vate school. The school’s rur­al cam­pus serves more than 2,600 under­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate stu­dents and about 90 miles from down­town Boston. High­light — New Eng­land Col­lege was ini­tial­ly found­ed to help meet the needs of stu­dents on the G.I Bill return­ing from World War II.

Degree: Home­land Secu­ri­ty and Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness, BA

New Eng­land Col­lege Home­land Secu­ri­ty and Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness, BA

9. University of Maryland Global Campus

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land Glob­al Cam­pus offers a BS in Home­land Secu­ri­ty that can be fin­ished online. Degree can­di­dates enrolled in UMGC’s accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram per­mit­ted to trans­fer up to 90 cred­its but must com­plete 120 cred­it units to grad­u­ate. The cur­ricu­lum for UMGC’s online home­land secu­ri­ty degree includes Legal Issues in Home­land Secu­ri­ty, Pub­lic Safe­ty Tech­nol­o­gy and Research, Strate­gic Plan­ning, Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions, and Pub­lic Safe­ty Lead­er­ship, to name a few.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land — Glob­al Cam­pus was estab­lished in 1947. The school offers pro­grams through­out Mary­land and in the Bal­ti­more-DC area. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land — Glob­al Cam­pus serves more than 90,000 stu­dents across the globe. High­light – UMGC is rec­og­nized among the largest online insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing in the world.

Degree: Home­land Secu­ri­ty, BS

Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land Glob­al Cam­pus BS in Home­land Security

10. Waldorf University

Wal­dorf Uni­ver­si­ty offers a Bach­e­lor of Applied Sci­ence (BAS) in Home­land Secu­ri­ty that is rec­og­nized among the coun­try’s finest accel­er­at­ed home­land secu­ri­ty degree pro­gram that can be com­plet­ed entire­ly online. Course­work for Wal­dorf University’s home­land secu­ri­ty degree includes Ter­ror­ism Response, Dis­as­ter Plan­ning, Infra­struc­ture Pro­tec­tion, Weapons of Mass Destruc­tion, plus a senior cap­stone project relat­ed to the field of home­land secu­ri­ty. Wal­dorf University’s home­land secu­ri­ty degree offers stu­dents two con­cen­tra­tions in Emer­gency Man­age­ment or Crim­i­nal Jus­tice. Degree can­di­dates must com­plete 120 cred­it units to grad­u­ate from Wal­dorf University’s BAS degree pro­gram in home­land security.

Wal­dorf Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished in 1903. The school began with an affil­i­a­tion with the Evan­gel­i­cal Luther­an Church but now oper­ates as a for-prof­it insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing. The school serves about 2,400 stu­dents. Wal­dorf Uni­ver­si­ty offers stu­dents the four pil­lars of sec­ondary edu­ca­tion expe­ri­ence – tra­di­tion, pas­sion, suc­cess, and com­mu­ni­ty. High­light — Wal­dorf Uni­ver­si­ty offers asso­ciate, bach­e­lor’s, and mas­ter’s degree programs.

Degree: Home­land Secu­ri­ty, BAS

Wal­dorf Uni­ver­si­ty BAS in Home­land Security

What if I Don’t Need a Full Bachelor’s Degree?

While many home­land secu­ri­ty jobs do require a full bach­e­lor’s degree, not all of them do. You may be seek­ing a career in home­land secu­ri­ty that does­n’t require a degree, or maybe you’d like to start work­ing quick­ly and get a full degree lat­er. In any case, you do have options. Chief among them is the online home­land secu­ri­ty cer­tifi­cate. A cer­tifi­cate will require a lot of the same class­es that one would get with a full bach­e­lor’s degree. How­ev­er, cer­tifi­cates don’t take as much time to earn as a bach­e­lor’s degree. In fact, some cer­tifi­cates can be earned in a mat­ter of months. Cer­tifi­cates require few­er cours­es, and stu­dents don’t have to take gen­er­al edu­ca­tion cours­es with a certificate.

For some get­ting an online home­land secu­ri­ty cer­tifi­cate is prefer­able to earn­ing an accel­er­at­ed degree. One can earn their degree just as quick­ly, but they don’t have to cram as many cours­es into the same amount of time. They’ll save some mon­ey as well, and if they choose to pur­sue a bach­e­lor’s degree lat­er, they’ll be able to apply a lot of their cer­tifi­cate knowl­edge to their degree.

The draw­back, of course, is the fact that a home­land secu­ri­ty cer­tifi­cate salary will be low­er, on aver­age, than a home­land secu­ri­ty bach­e­lor’s degree salary. The high­er-pay­ing home­land secu­ri­ty jobs do require a full degree. How­ev­er, for those who want to get start­ed in their careers quick­ly and maybe earn a bach­e­lor’s degree after sav­ing some mon­ey, a cer­tifi­cate can be a great choice.

There are a lot of sides to home­land secu­ri­ty, and not all of them are part of the U.S. Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty. Home­land secu­ri­ty pro­fes­sion­als work in:

  • intel­li­gence gathering
  • emer­gency response
  • risk mit­i­ga­tion
  • infor­ma­tion systems
  • infor­ma­tion security
  • trans­porta­tion security
  • law enforce­ment
  • cyber­se­cu­ri­ty

Home­land secu­ri­ty and emer­gency man­age­ment has many facets. It’s not just gov­ern­ment agen­cies. Even pri­vate sec­tors take part. Domes­tic ter­ror­ism and ter­ror­ist attacks on crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture, nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, and oth­er pub­lic safe­ty threats come under the umbrel­la. Secu­ri­ty stud­ies, infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy, and more take part in the secu­ri­ty field. Real-world deci­sion-mak­ing skills are critical.

If you’re try­ing to decide between a cer­tifi­cate and a full bachelor’s degree, take some time to weigh your pros and cons. Active duty mil­i­tary per­son­nel, for instance, may choose a cer­tifi­cate and get an online bachelor’s degree in a home­land secu­ri­ty con­cen­tra­tion lat­er. Decide what mat­ters the most to you, and move for­ward from there.

If you are inter­est­ed in get­ting a home­land secu­ri­ty degree online, make sure you know what you’re get­ting. Is finan­cial aid avail­able? Will they allow you to trans­fer cred­its? Can you study full-time or part-time? Do they have accred­i­ta­tion? Your career goals depend on a spe­cif­ic spe­cial­iza­tion, make sure that spe­cial­iza­tion is offered. The fun­da­men­tals, like social sci­ence, are crit­i­cal for a good bachelor’s degree program.

If you’re try­ing to decide between a cer­tifi­cate and a full bach­e­lor’s degree, take some time to weigh your pros and cons. Decide what mat­ters the most to you, and move for­ward from there.

Do I Need a Security Background Check to Get a Homeland Security Degree?

To get a job in home­land secu­ri­ty, you will def­i­nite­ly need a home­land secu­ri­ty back­ground check. This home­land secu­ri­ty back­ground check can take as few as two weeks or as long as sev­er­al years. How­ev­er, on aver­age, the secu­ri­ty check will take a few months. Before this back­ground check is com­plete, you may receive a ten­ta­tive job offer. Assum­ing that the DHS does­n’t find any home­land secu­ri­ty back­ground check dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tions, you can then move for­ward into your career.

How Do I Get a Job in Homeland Security?

The best way to get a job in home­land secu­ri­ty is to start with your edu­ca­tion. Whether that involves a bach­e­lor’s degree or a cer­tifi­cate is up to you, but it’s impor­tant that you always look for accred­it­ed pro­grams. You might look for a spe­cif­ic home­land secu­ri­ty degree, but oth­er applic­a­ble degrees include soci­ol­o­gy and crim­i­nal jus­tice. Home­land secu­ri­ty edu­ca­tion require­ments vary, but get­ting a degree or a cer­tifi­cate is the best way to obtain the train­ing that you need.

From there, it’s time to look for entry-lev­el home­land secu­ri­ty jobs. You can find these entry-lev­el home­land secu­ri­ty jobs by look­ing through US gov­ern­ment job web­sites. Start by look­ing at the dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions with­in the DHS. You can find them all list­ed on the DHS web­site. From there, you can tai­lor your search based on the spe­cif­ic orga­ni­za­tion that you’re inter­est­ed in. Each one has a page for job seekers.

Final­ly, some employ­ers are quite impressed with accel­er­at­ed degree earn­ers. As stat­ed above, get­ting an accel­er­at­ed degree is chal­leng­ing. It requires a lot of focus and ded­i­ca­tion, not to men­tion hard work. When a per­son earns an accel­er­at­ed degree, that per­son proves that they can meet dead­lines, han­dle high-pres­sure sit­u­a­tions, and learn new infor­ma­tion quick­ly. All of these traits are espe­cial­ly impor­tant when it comes to home­land security.

Relat­ed Rankings: 

25 Best Bach­e­lor’s in Home­land Security

15 Best Online Bach­e­lor’s in Home­land Security

10 Most Afford­able Bach­e­lor’s in Home­land Security