It is in the very nature of current and former servicemembers to protect their country and its inhabitants. It makes total sense for such dedicated men and women to pursue other ways of serving and protecting beyond their time in the uniform. James Forest, professor and director of Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, explained that “private-sector corporations and public-sector agencies who deal with national or homeland security are interested in students with a military background because of their experience with threat assessments, physical security, teamwork, writing after-action reports and other kinds of activities, as well as their sense of discipline, patriotism and moral compass.” The experiences gained during one’s military career establish a strong base for varied careers in homeland security.
Not only is a military veteran a prime candidate for careers in homeland security, but the demand for homeland security professionals is also higher than ever. Norman Balchunas, retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force and Cybersecurity Institute Operations Director in The College of Computing & Informatics at Drexel University, noted that the United States is “anticipating a shortfall of more than 200,000 cybersecurity and homeland security trained personnel,” making job prospects for trained, experienced workers strong. Moreover, Balchunas emphasized that the current atmosphere in the United States means homeland security workers are more important than ever before. In addition to more traditional terrorist threats, “daily attacks on our online infrastructure—from government agencies to banks to retailers—are putting consumers on high alert about keeping their information, identity and bank accounts safe,” he stated, “Every organization has to assess vulnerabilities, understand response options and manage through chaos.” Students of homeland security can help eliminate such chaos in a variety of ways.
Drexel University offers two online homeland security degree programs. The first is the accredited Master of Science in National Security Management. Balchunas shared that the program “focuses on four major areas of study, including continuity management, homeland security, intelligence and cybersecurity, law and policy.” For students not wishing to complete a master’s program, the accredited Homeland Security Certificate may be a better choice. The certificate can stand alone or serve as an introduction to the full MS later on. “This program introduces students to the various aspects of Homeland Security by examining its evolution as a concept,” detailed Balchunas. “It also explores a legal framework and the redirection of national policies to align with various threats,” he added. Drexel’s homeland security programs are all designed to prepare students for the real world of threat assessment and management through dynamic educational offerings.
Military veterans are particularly suited to such careers, particularly due to critical thinking and effective decision-making. Drexel is an excellent choice for students with a military background. The Drexel Veterans Association, Veterans Task Force and Office of Veteran Student Services all provide numerous supports for military members and their families from faculty and staff. Students can also utilize the GI Bill “Yellow Ribbon” program for tuition-free education. Even after graduation, the Drexel Veterans Alumni Network is a strong networking and support resource. A degree in homeland security from Drexel opens career doors for graduates. “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 37-percent increase in Information Security Analyst positions in the coming years—much faster than the average for all other occupations,” stated Balchunas. He continued, saying “A certificate or master’s in homeland security opens opportunities to a variety of career options in the public and private sector. Entering the private sector, those with homeland security credentials can pursue career paths in critical infrastructure protection (CIP) and physical, information, personnel, information systems and homeland security.”
Eastern Kentucky University
The undergraduate degree in Homeland Security from Eastern Kentucky University can be completed on campus in Richmond, Ky., but also entirely online. In addition to the Bachelor of Science degree, there are certificates and minors in homeland security, emergency management, intelligence studies and security management. The bachelor’s degree creates graduates who are well-prepared for the careers that are critical to our nation’s security. Ryan Baggett, the program coordinator and associate professor of the Homeland Security program at EKU, noted that these career opportunities are varied, as homeland security “is an ‘umbrella’ term that covers many different career fields and opportunities.” He continued, “At EKU, HLS includes a multi-disciplinary approach that exposes students to a variety of distinct areas of study that will result in a diverse set of career opportunities following graduation.” EKU Homeland Security graduates have found fulfilling and successful careers in local and state law enforcement, federal law enforcement, border protection/immigration and customs, emergency management, security management, infrastructure protection, intelligence and more.
Veterans make up 40 percent of the Homeland Security program students at EKU. Bagget explained that “faculty has found that many of our military men and women have received training in critical thinking and problem solving as part of their military specialties.” He believes that the military experiences veterans bring to the table help them succeed in the program as well as future careers. He shared, “The ability to employ these skill sets, in addition to the high levels of discipline and determination found in most our veterans, makes them very marketable in the field of homeland security.” Military students at EKU can expect many supports, including no admission fee, credit hours for military training, priority registration, the “Books for Boots” exchange library, a veteran-specific orientation, veteran cohort classes, “Vet-2-Vet” peer sponsors and a dedicated veteran advisor. These supports have earned EKU the number two “Best for Vets” military-friendly school ranking by Military Times EDGE magazine, as well as being honored as a military-friendly school by Victory Media for six consecutive years.
Liberty University’s Helms School of Government offers a four-course cognate in Homeland Security as part of its Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree program for both residential and online students. An online-only minor in homeland security is offered, as well as residential and online coursework studying terrorism and counter-terrorism. Ron Miller, associate dean and assistant professor of government, noted that in a post-9/11 world, “the demand for homeland security professionals at the local, state and federal level, as well as the private sector, has been consistently high.” A focus on homeland security studies at Liberty prepares graduates for a wide range of career prospects. Miller explains that law enforcement is one of the most popular post-graduate career paths. “At the local level, it is law enforcement that is most often tasked with homeland security responsibilities within their jurisdiction, and that constitutes thousands of opportunities nationwide,” he continued, “Homeland security law enforcement also encompasses border security in those states with international boundaries, or protection of key national and international leaders and their families through the U.S. Secret Service.” Law enforcement opportunities also include travel security and the flow of commerce, all critical areas of security. Stephen Park, the associate dean and assistant professor of criminal justice, expanded, noting that there are also “career possibilities in emergency management, disaster prevention, protection and mitigation, intelligence analysis—the possibilities for our graduates are not only plentiful, but we have successfully placed student interns and graduates with organizations like the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Community and homeland security committees in the U.S. House and Senate.” Students in Liberty’s homeland security programs are well prepared for any career they choose, as the faculty is made up of professionals who are not just educators, but also practitioners with real experience in the field.
A military background is a benefit for student-seeking careers in homeland security, said Miller. In additions to discipline and professionalism, military veterans are uniquely prepared as “their training is particularly relevant in areas such as transportation, infrastructure and personnel security, incident command and emergency management.” Military students at Liberty University can expect many supports, as the school is consistently rated as one of the top military-friendly colleges by Military Advanced Education & Transition as well as other publications. An Office of Military Affairs, tuition discounts, scholarships and a Career Center are all supports that military students can expect at Liberty to help ensure success.
University of Massachusetts Lowell
At the University of Massachusetts Lowell, students have a variety of choices when considering degrees in homeland security. On the undergraduate level, students can seek the Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in homeland security. Students in this program study criminology, policing, homeland security, terrorism, WMD, criminal justice systems and many other topics. On the graduate level, there are three options available. A four-course graduate certificate in security studies is available, as well as a Master of Arts in Security Studies with a concentration in homeland defense. The MA focuses on intelligence analysis, science and technologies of security, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, research methods and critical infrastructure protection, as well as research opportunities. All of these degree options are available on campus or entirely online. Finally, an on-campus Ph.D. in Terrorism Studies is available for students. This program offers advanced quantitative research methods and theory courses; doctoral degree students will enroll in focused seminars on domestic terrorism, comparative analysis of counterterrorism strategies, transnational terrorist networks, field research in terrorism studies and several other topics. Forest shared that these degree programs prepare graduates for a wide variety of career paths. “Some will go to work in the private sector, where risk assessment and intelligence analysis are vital activities,” he said. “Other graduates will work for local, state or federal agencies” such as law enforcement, emergency management, port security, transportation security, intelligence and more.
The homeland security degrees at University of Massachusetts Lowell are popular with military veterans and ROTC students. An active Office of Veterans Affairs and an Air Force ROTC program create an incredibly military-friendly environment. Most important, though, many faculty members, including Forest himself, come from strong military backgrounds. These experiences allow faculty and military students to connect and form an incredibly supportive educational community.
Thomas Edison State College
Thomas Edison State College offers students interested in the field of homeland security undergraduate and graduate options for pursuing their education. The 120-credit online Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is formatted to give students a broad view of homeland security issues by going beyond a single discipline to consider policy, preparation, response and recovery issues. There is also a 36-credit online Master of Science in Homeland Security (MSHS) that focuses on leadership through studying domestic and global issues in security and developing competencies in theory, analysis, practice and policymaking. Terri Tallon, director of Military Student Services, Office of Military and Veteran Education, shared that “individuals in Homeland Security careers play a vital role in securing the freedoms experienced by all Americans. It is a dynamic career field for those seeking to minimize threats to U.S. citizens and the nation by being on the forefront of preparedness and prevention.” These career possibilities include emergency management, intelligence, public safety, homeland security leaders, cyber-security, terrorism prevention, border and seaport patrol, immigration, and disaster resilience and more. Tallon feels that after their education at Thomas Edison, “graduates will be prepared to guide and supervise daily operations, strategic planning and decision-making and gain an in-depth understanding of the roles of technology, intelligence and law in establishing protection policies, procedures required to respond and mitigate threats and disasters.”
More than 7,000 of Thomas Edison’s students are active of former military members. Tallon stated that “armed services personnel serving in military police positions have an excellent jumping off point into an investigative career in the civilian police corps and various homeland security positions.” She added, “Their expanded roles while on active duty, including combat readiness, hazardous materials, emergency medical training, intelligence skills and tactics, provide enhanced abilities readily adaptable to homeland security and special agent positions.” Thomas Edison values its military community and supports these students in a variety of ways. Military benefits at Thomas Edison include an Office of Military and Veteran Education, an online Military and Veteran Portal, credits for military training and career help, as well as a variety of partnerships with other programs such as GoArmyEd and Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement.
University of Maryland University College
A Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration with a minor in Homeland Security from UMUC provides students with a global outlook, interpersonal skills, leadership abilities, an awareness of current issues, and management competencies, including strategic planning, risk management, public policy, program development and implementation, ethics, and supervision. At the graduate level, UMUC offers two master’s degree programs, the Master of Science in Management and Master of Science in Information Technology. These programs allow students to study the origins of terrorism, the mechanisms (including laws, response frameworks at the federal state, local and tribal level, as well as corporate) to deal with man-made and/or natural hazards including terrorism that threaten the well-being of the nation, and liberty of the citizens. Irmak Renda-Tanali, collegiate professor and program chair of UMUC’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Graduate programs, explained that “homeland security is by no means limited to terrorist threats; natural events can inflict serious damage on population and infrastructure including the housing infrastructure that no terrorist activity could match,” such as Hurricane Katrina. Renda-Tanali added, “Terrorists—not just jihadists but other domestic, foreign, and transnational groups affiliated with political agendas—have faster means to infiltrate our homeland with their ideologies and ideas to inflict damage on our critical assets.” Careers graduates pursue are as varied as the threats the nation faces, including but not limited to business continuity specialists, chief operations officers, contingency planners, corporate physical security officers, critical infrastructure security specialists, disaster management specialists, emergency planners at the federal/state/local level, environmental health, safety, and security analysts, facility or plant managers, facility security managers/ officers, hazard/risk management specialists, homeland security analysts/consultants/specialists, physical security officers, prevention and response specialists, security analysts/consultants/specialists and more.Nearly half of the enrolled students in the Homeland Security programs at UMUC are former or active duty military members. For Renda-Tanali, this makes perfect sense. “There is a degree of patriotism and sense of civic duty involved in the military and homeland security arenas, although the latter is a civilian enterprise and requires soft approaches.” She continued, “Our service men and women already possess the traits that require the discipline and ethics that homeland security work dictates. Therefore, servicemembers are a natural fit for this profession.” UMUC is incredibly military-friendly, including reduced tuition, a physical presence at overseas military installations, mentoring, tutoring and advising services.♦
- Issue: 3
- Volume: 10