Homeland security involves the protection of people and property from any man-made or natural disaster. Trained security management personnel work to anticipate, prevent, and respond to these events, from hurricanes and pandemics to acts of terrorism. Homeland security certificate programs are offered at both an undergraduate and graduate level. At the undergraduate level, students can gain an introduction to homeland security topics, while graduate-level programs aim to improve professionals’ management skills for career advancement.

Types of Homeland Security Certificates

Undergraduate Certificate

Students interested in a career in homeland security can test the waters early on in their education. Through an online certificate in homeland security at the undergraduate level, students can study the methods for deterring, preventing, and defeating terrorist attacks; learn about different biological and chemical threats and disasters; and analyze policies and practices of first responders. At this level, an undergraduate certificate may be offered concurrently while a student earns a bachelor’s degree to supplement the degree. It can also be earned on its own, providing an introduction to the field. The application process will vary from school to school, though most programs require:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent

Undergraduate certificates in homeland security may take as little as nine months or upwards of a year to complete, depending on the student and program. Courses students might take during that time include topics in contemporary communications, contemporary criminal justice systems, data analysis, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction and disaster response. These certificates can often be completed completely online, with students accessing assignments, lectures, and tests virtually.

Graduate Certificate

Homeland security is a field that requires much expertise. An online graduate certificate in homeland security can provide professionals with that expertise. They can develop or fine skills in risk and security analysis and gain a better understanding of current issues in homeland security and public policy, which could help them advance their careers or start a new one. Topics covered might include policy, preparation, management and continuity throughout a crisis. Requirements vary by program, though here are some credentials that may be asked of you when you apply:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Official transcripts from all college, university, or post-secondary schools attended
  • Personal statement
  • Minimum GPA
  • GRE Scores
  • Resume
  • Letters of reference
  • Relevant work experience and career objectives
  • Three to five years of professional, managerial, or related experience

Graduate certificates typically take a year to complete. The exact focus will vary from program to program, though generally, students take courses in areas such as operations research; risk analysis; economics for policy, planning, and development; value and decision theory; critical infrastructures; energy infrastructure security; and disaster recovery, planning, and response for businesses. Graduate certificates in homeland security are widely available online and typically require significant research.

What’s Next for Certificate Holders?

There are limited options with an undergraduate certificate in homeland security. More often than not, students can put their certificate towards an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in homeland security or a related field like criminal justice or security management. A more advanced degree would open more doors into security management positions and opportunities in the government.

A graduate certificate in homeland security can help a professional advance his or her career in security or transition into the field. Relevant careers can be found in public safety, working as an emergency, law enforcement, transportation, or medical policy maker, practitioner, or administrator, as well as in public service, working as an emergency planner or policy maker for the federal, state, or local government. Homeland security can be found in nearly every field, so the opportunities are nearly as wide as your interests.