District of Columbia National Defense and Homeland Security Graduate Programs

Homeland Security and National Defense Graduate Programs may help professionals gain advanced knowledge and skills in preventing and responding to natural and man-made emergencies and disasters. As a field, national defense and homeland security spans public and private sectors across industries and impacts local, national, and global entities. Sound interesting to you? Through homeland and national security graduate programs, students may explore the field’s many facets and learn how to apply core theories, principles, and concepts to practice.

Homeland security Career growth

What Types of Homeland Security and National Defense Graduate Programs Exist?

Homeland Security and National Defense Graduate Programs typically can be found at three different levels: graduate certificate programs, master’s degree programs, and doctorate degree programs. While all three might offer similar curricula, each offers a distinct depth and breadth of exploration.

National Defense and Homeland Security Certificate Programs

At the graduate level, national defense and homeland security certificate programs may help professionals gain broad-based knowledge of national defense and homeland securities issues, strategies, and applications at multiple levels of government and, depending on the program, across industries. Homeland Security and National Defense Graduate Programs curricula might be multidisciplinary and cover subjects such as those listed below.

  • Foundations of national defense and homeland security
  • Practical applications of national defense and homeland security
  • Approaches to national defense and homeland security
  • Comparative methods of national defense and homeland security
  • Strategic planning and tactics of national defense and homeland security
  • Law, politics, and sociology of national defense and homeland security
  • Contemporary issues in national defense and homeland security

Some graduate certificate programs in national defense and homeland security might be more specialized and cover subjects such as terrorism, emergency management, or military defense.

Most curricula in graduate certificate programs comprise core and elective coursework that give students foundational knowledge of national defense and homeland security and areas specific to their personal and professional interests. In many cases, students can earn a graduate certificate in national defense and homeland security through three months to one year of fulltime on-campus or online study. Many programs consist of just four to ten courses. This may make it a great option for professionals interested in further developing their knowledge or those interested in the field but not yet ready for a longer degree program. In some cases, students can transfer their certificate credits to a master’s degree program down the road. To determine transferability, students should consult a director in the program.

Masters in Homeland Security and Masters in National Security Programs

National defense and homeland security master’s programs come in three primary forms: the Master of Science (M.S.), the Master of Arts (M.A.), and the Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.). Students might pursue any one of these degrees in subjects such as national defense, homeland security, emergency management, terrorism studies, or another area of national security, including national security itself. Students commonly take core and elective coursework, the latter of which might culminate in a concentration or specialization. Some core subjects students might study in a master’s in homeland security or master's in national defense program include the following.

  • Foundations of homeland security and national defense
  • Applications and approaches to homeland security and national defense
  • Administration of homeland security and national defense
  • Social and ethical issues in homeland security and national defense
  • Terrorism and counterterrorism in homeland security and national defense
  • Threats and violence in homeland security and national defense
  • Strategic planning in homeland security and national defense
  • Historical and contemporary issues in homeland security and national defense
  • Comparative methodologies in homeland security and national defense

Elective courses may help students narrow their focus to specific areas of national defense and homeland security. Some areas in which students might focus their masters in national security studies include emergency management, terrorism and counterterrorism, military defense, crisis and disaster management, leadership, management, administration, international relations, psychology of defense, and numerous others. Students in more specialized programs, such as terrorism or emergency management programs, for example, might study more specific subjects like these as part of their core curricula. They might also study a particular region of the world, such as Mexico, Europe, or the Middle East, as it relates to national defense and homeland security.

Students who pursue a master's in homeland security or national defense typically do so over the course of one to two years of intensive or fulltime study. They commonly take ten to twenty courses across disciplines. Depending on their program, students might conclude their studies by writing a thesis or taking a comprehensive exam. Some masters in security studies programs however, do not require students to do either. Instead they may require the completion of a special project or presentation in a capstone course. Additionally, some students might engage in internships in public or private entities or participate in a study abroad program. Contact individual masters in homeland security programs for details.

National Defense and Homeland Security Doctorate Programs

Those who wish to pursue a doctorate in homeland security or national defense will likely do so through one of four forms: the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), the Doctor of Science (Sc.D.), the Doctor of Business Administration, and the Doctor of Management. Any of these four degrees might emphasize homeland security, national defense, or another area of security through core and elective coursework.

Through their core coursework, doctorate students commonly study subjects similar to those in a master’s degree program but perhaps in greater depth and breadth. They might also study subjects such as management, leadership, and administration, especially in D.M. and D.B.A. programs. Students in doctorate programs commonly study qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and statistics extensively. Many doctorate programs are research-intensive and require students to gain knowledge of historical and contemporary research in homeland security and national defense.

Through their elective curricula, students might pursue a concentration or specialization in areas such as comparative politics, political economy, political theory, science, technology, public policy, homeland security enterprise, innovation in homeland security and national defense, public health, emergency planning, management, and others.

Students typically earn a D.B.A., D.M., Sc.D., or Ph.D. in homeland security and national defense through four to six years of fulltime study. To conclude their programs, students might write a dissertation (an intensive research project) and defend it to a committee of advisors, take a comprehensive exam, do an internship, or do student teaching. In D.B.A. and D.M. programs—the more business oriented of the four—students might engage with a mentor in business or management.

What Careers Might I Pursue with a Graduate Certificate or Degree in Homeland Security and National Defense?

Professionals in a variety of occupations might pursue a graduate certificate or degree in homeland security and national defense. EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, police officers, security guards, protective services professionals, members of the military, and professionals in local, state, and federal governments are just some examples. With an advanced certificate or degree, they might seek management or administrative positions, or positions that require specialized or advanced knowledge. Here are some examples of occupations that professionals with homeland security and national defense graduate certificates and masters degrees might pursue.

  • Emergency Management Directors: professionals in this occupation earned a median annual salary of $67,330 as of 2015. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that this occupation will grow by six percent between 2014 and 2024 (which is about as fast as average for all occupations)[i]
  • Training and Development Managers: professionals in this occupation across industries earned a median annual salary of $102,640 as of 2015. The BLS predicts that this occupation will grow by seven percent between 2014 and 2024 (which is about as fast as average for all occupations)[ii]
  • Administrative Services Managers: professionals in this occupation earned a median annual salary of $86,110 as of 2015. The BLS predicts that this occupation will grow by eight percent between 2014 and 2024 (which is as fast as average for all occupations)[iii]
  • Military careers: professionals in this occupation earned anywhere from $1,566 per month to $16,072.20 per month[iv]

These are just some of the many occupations professionals with graduate certificates or masters in homeland security and national defense degrees might fill. (Note: The typical entry level education for many of these positions may be a bachelor’s degree).

What’s My Next Step for Pursuing a Certificate, Master’s Degree, or Doctorate Degree in Homeland Security and National Defense?

Sound like a graduate program in homeland security and national defense would be a great fit? Your next step is to find a perfect Homeland Security and National Defense Graduate Programs for you! You can begin by exploring your options here. Below you’ll find a list of graduate certificates, master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees in homeland security and national defense. You’ll see that many programs come in on-campus, online, or hybrid formats. If you want to refine your search to browse by program level (certificate, masters, or doctorate), format (online, campus, or hybrid), or location (city, state, or country), you can use our search tool. Once you’ve found Homeland Security and National Defense Graduate Programs you love, don’t hesitate to contact it or request additional information through GradSchools.com. Good luck!


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/management/mobile/emergency-management-directors.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/training-and-development-managers.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/military/military-careers.htm#tab-5

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