Doctorate in Homeland Security Online

Become Team
Become Team
July 8, 2019

Students who earn an online doctorate in homeland security signal to prospective employers that they want to work in the upper echelons of law enforcement. To succeed at this level, individuals must possess a keen eye for details, advanced research skills, the ability to understand how others think, and a thirst for new knowledge.

Roles for workers in this field can vary significantly, but some graduates go on to find employment at institutions of higher education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of university professor positions will grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to complete an online Ph.D. program in homeland security.

Should I Earn an Online Ph.D. in Homeland Security?

Although the reasons for pursuing a doctorate can vary widely, many learners share a few common attributes, including those listed below.

  • Passion for Knowledge: Ph.D. graduates enjoy expanding their knowledge, and doctoral programs teach students how to continue learning throughout their lives.

  • Desire to Work in the Highest Levels of the Field: Individuals aspiring to senior leadership positions and those focused on educating the next generation of homeland security professionals understand that they must possess the most advanced degree to qualify for these roles.

  • Earning Potential: Studies continually show that advanced degrees lead to increased earning potential. By working towards an online doctorate in homeland security, students can set themselves on a path to earn well above the national average salary. Many governmental, research, and academic jobs also provide excellent benefits.

  • Wanting to Make a Difference: Homeland security professionals aim to protect the country from domestic and international attacks. Individuals who work in this field should place a great importance on wanting to keep the U.S. safe. Much of homeland security entails gathering intel and researching emergency preparedness techniques to prevent harm before it happens. Joining this field in a leadership position often requires a doctoral degree.

What Can I Do With an Online Ph.D. in Homeland Security?

Although many graduates of online Ph.D. programs in homeland security go on to work for the U.S. government, these professionals can find employment in several professional settings.

Some individuals do secure government jobs, serving with the FBI, CIA, Department of Justice, or Department of Homeland Security. At the doctoral level, these positions typically concern research or high-level intel and directorship jobs. Other professionals find their place working at colleges and universities, teaching students about the nuances of the field. These roles may appeal to individuals seeking flexible schedules and a desire to instruct others.

An online doctorate in homeland security sets graduates up for many types of jobs. For example, those hoping to contribute new information to the field may pursue positions where their research and writing skills can be used to advance existing theories and frameworks. Alternatively, individuals with a more entrepreneurial spirit may decide to create their own consulting firms, working with clients who require expertise in security. Private security firms may also hire Ph.D. graduates to consult on matters of safety. Finally, those who enjoy legislation and advocacy efforts might find success in a job concerning policy initiatives for governmental agencies, private businesses, or nonprofits.

The positions below represent just a few of the jobs available to individuals who earn an online Ph.D. in homeland security.

Homeland Security Professor

Working in college and university settings, professors teach students foundational and advanced topics in homeland security. They may present lectures, assign projects and papers, grade exams, mentor students, write recommendation letters, and publish academic pieces in journals.

Public Policy Director

Public policy directors set legislative objectives and create strategies for developing, influencing, and advocating for policies that support the overarching goals of an organization. They may also lobby on topics related to regulations.

Senior Consultant

Consultants work with clients to help them achieve missions, reorganize, build capacity, or move through periods of change. Individuals working in homeland security may help others create better security measures and safeguard against attacks.

Homeland Security Researcher

These individuals stay current on security threats, develop measures to combat potential attacks, and liaise with stakeholders to ensure relevant individuals possess the information needed to make important decisions.

Senior Intelligence Analyst

Intelligence analysts work for governmental agencies and contractors to detect, intercept, and provide information about real or perceived security threats. They often maintain informants around the world, participate in field projects, and research information to validate and substantiate intelligence reports.

Homeland Security Ph.D. Program Overview

Before committing yourself to an online doctorate in homeland security, you should consider a program's application requirements, admission criteria, and potential coursework. The following sections explore these topics, provide details on common program outcomes, and describe the importance of accreditation.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

To enter an online Ph.D. in homeland security program, applicants must supply requisite documentation and prove themselves ready for education at this level. In addition to a completed application and application fee, prospective students typically need to submit a statement of purpose; official transcripts from any colleges attended; letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to an applicant's personal, professional, and academic preparedness; and evidence of a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Some programs may also require students to have completed previous studies in homeland security, criminal justice, or a related topic.

Some Ph.D. programs also require students to write a statement about their proposed research and dissertation topic to ascertain which faculty members most closely fit with their objectives. Finally, particularly competitive online programs may require applicants to participate in an in-person or web-based interview.


Online Ph.D. programs in homeland security first require candidates to complete coursework, which may include core courses, specialized courses, electives, and research-based courses. Specializations available at this level include international criminal justice, policy analysis, and terrorism. Though the majority of coursework may be available fully online, some Ph.D. programs require candidates to attend intensive residencies; these usually last a few days to a week. These in-person experiences allow students to build hands-on skills and interact with their peers.

After completing courses, students may need to pass a comprehensive exam and present their dissertation proposal. Once their proposal is approved, Ph.D. candidates research and write a dissertation, defend their project, and make changes suggested by their committee. Some programs may also require learners to visit campus once again for an in-person symposium.

The majority of online Ph.D. programs take full-time learners 3-5 years to complete, while those enrolled on a part-time basis may finish in 4-7 years. The list below describes common courses students can expect to encounter.

  1. Terrorism in the U.S.: This class looks at the landscape of domestic and international terrorism from WWI to modern day.

  2. Protecting Liberty and Security: Students in this class consider questions of privacy, intelligence measures, restrictions on freedom, and national security procedures to understand the tradeoffs between personal liberty and national security.

  3. Homeland Security Preparation: This course looks at how to prevent and deter threats to national security. Emphasis is placed on emergency preparedness, incident management, data collection, and intelligence analysis.

  4. Responding to Threats: This class teaches homeland security professionals how to respond if a foreign or national body threatens the U.S. Topics may include leading a response, coordinating recovery, and collecting evidence.

  5. Dissertation Research: Students in this class develop the advanced research skills needed to formulate a research question, structure an outline, and write a dissertation.

Program Outcomes

At the end of their time in school, graduates of online Ph.D. programs in homeland security should possess the skills and knowledge needed to work at the highest levels of the field. Their understanding of topics like domestic terrorism, policy creation, leadership, cybersecurity, and emergency response and preparedness give them the ability to make informed decisions and lead diverse teams.

At the same time, advanced training in research and data acquisition/analysis provides graduates with tools to create lasting security measures that affect the lives of everyday Americans. Individuals seeking posts in academia should also possess the skills needed to create plans of study and prepare incoming students to join the field as competent and confident practitioners.

Accreditation for Online Homeland Security Ph.D. Programs

Accreditation should be an important variable in the decision making process when selecting an online Ph.D. in homeland security program. While no programmatic accrediting body exists within the discipline, students should only consider regionally accredited institutions to ensure their school will help them meet their academic needs and professional goals.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation act as governing bodies for accrediting agencies. Students can use the databases provided by these organizations to search for properly accredited schools by name, city, or state. Some of the regional accrediting agencies to look for include the Higher Learning Commission, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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Become Team
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