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The Five Most Important Questions About: An Associate Degree In Homeland Security

February 12, 2012,
1) Who should get an associate degree in homeland security?
People who want to go into security or law enforcement, with a focus on preventing terrorist acts. Homeland security was born as a specialty in the criminal justice system after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. Today homeland security experts are involved in guarding transportation venues, borders and other sites that are considered a good target for terrorists. The specialty has quickly grown so big that there is a dizzying array of choices available. With an associates level homeland security degree, you will probably be able to enter this career area a solid step above the typical entry level. Although there are many certificate programs in homeland security, most of them are for law enforcement or security professionals who already have in-depth experience and want to add specialized knowledge or even get a masters degree. If you are truly starting out in this career path, the associate degree in homeland security is your most likely starting-level study program. It should put you in line for a job with more advanced responsibilities and higher pay than an airport security screener, a job that in most cases requires only a high school diploma.

2) What jobs will an online degree in homeland security prepare you for?
Entry-level positions in law enforcement (including becoming a police officer), security, protective services in both the private sector and jobs with local, state, or federal government agencies. The Department of Homeland Security includes a wide range of agencies that used to be independent, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration and Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service, the Secret Service. In the private sector, your degree may get you employed in an airport, stadium, amusement park or dozens of other settings. Earnings for new hires in these agencies positions can range widely from about $28,000 for a security guard to $40,000 for a security analyst (there are numerous back-office analytic jobs in this field) and considerably more for a border security guard. In the law enforcement arena, a new town or county police officer can earn $40,000 or more with an associates degree. According to some studies, degree holders in this career path make about $15,000. more per year on average than non-degree holders.

3) What courses do you take for this degree?
The associates degree in homeland security can be either an Associate of Arts (AA) or an Associate of Science (AS). Is in other specialties, the AA degree will tend to have a bit broader focus with more humanities courses, while an Associate of Science program will lean a bit more toward technical learning.

Three of the key areas you’ll learn about in this specialty are computer security, biosecurity and a wide variety of counter-terrorism techniques. Because this is a relatively new type of a degree, the curriculum will vary a good deal from one school to another. Courses you are likely to take for a homeland security degree run across a wide spectrum:

  • Writing & Math
  • Business Communications
  • Fundamentals of Criminal Justice
  • Emergency Readiness
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Management of Disaster Recovery
  • Cyber Crime
  • The History of Terrorism
  • Ethics and Techniques in Gathering Intelligence
  • Constitutional Law
  • Politics and Terrorism
  • gricultural and Biological Terrorism
  • Extremism and Violence
  • Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Security and First Responders
4) Can you get an online degree homeland security?
Definitely. There are numerous 100% online associates programs in homeland security.

5) How long does it take to get an Associate Degree In Homeland Security and how much does it cost?
AA or AS degree programs in homeland security or criminal justice are generally either 60 or 90 credit programs, though almost all are designed to be completed with two years of full-time study.

The cost of taking classes online or in a classroom is the same in most schools, though you can obviously save the cost of living on campus (which is far more than tuition at some schools) or even traveling there if you study online. Tuition fees run a wide gamut. Tiffin University charges about $300 per hour or $9,000 per year for an associates online degree homeland security. Kaplan’s tuition is about $320, per credit, but it is a 90 credit program. Community colleges may have less prestige, but they do offer great bargains. Many charge only about $6,000 for an in-state resident or $10,000 for an out-of-state-student on an associates degree program in homeland security.

Bonus question: Why not just get a criminal justice degree?
It’s a good question. A criminal justice degree may provide a bit more career flexibility. On the other hand, having the homeland security degree sends a message to an employer that you have a strong interest in this particular specialty. At many schools you can have it both ways, but taking a criminal justice associates degree with a specialization in homeland security.


Top Schools Specializing In Online Criminal Justice Degrees:

Kaplan University
Kaplan is a large, private school founded in 1937. It's a big player in online education, and offer many criminal justice degrees online at the Associate, Bachelor's and Master's levels, including:
- AAS in Criminal Justice
- BS Criminal Justice
- BSCJ in Juvenile Justice
- BSCJ Homeland Security
- BSCJ Crime Scene Investigation
- BSCJ Forensic Psychology
- Masters Degree online in Corrections
- MSCJ in Leadership & Executive Management in Criminal Justice
- Post-Baccalauriate Certificate in Paralegal

Liberty University
The world's largest evangelical university has programs with a reasonable cost $325. per credit if you go to school "full time" by taking at least 11 credits per term. Law enforcement personnel can get credit for their time on the job, and military experience can also count toward credit.
- Associates Criminal Justice
- Bachelors in Strategic Intelligence: Forensics
- Bachelors in Criminal Justice
- Bachelors in Homeland Security
Additional specialties offered.

American Intercontinental University
Illinois based institution that also has brick and mortar campuses abroad, and a very wide range of online degree programs in many specialties. Key law enforcement degrees include:
- Associates Criminal justice Administration
- Bachelors in Forensic Science
- Bachelors in Criminal Justice
- Bachelors in Law Enforcement
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