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NerdScholar Favorites: Homeland Security Programs

July 9, 2014
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“There’s not an industry out there that’s not impacted by homeland security,” says Rich Cooper, a former business liaison director at the Department of Homeland Security, in a 2006 Bureau of Labor and Statistics report.

Since the creation of the department in 2001, countless jobs in both the public and private sectors have arisen in the field—the Department of Homeland Security alone employed more than 180,000 workers in just its first three years. Careers in the field range from government work in policy analysis, immigration services and airport screening, to nonprofit management in wilderness protection and emergency disaster relief.

To address the need for more skilled labor in homeland security positions, more than 400 colleges now offer specialized degrees to give students a competitive edge. We’ve highlighted a few schools that are making a lasting impression on their students’ lives and impacting the future of homeland security.


Concordia University, PortlandBest Practical Training

Hailing from the West Coast, Concordia University’s Portland, Ore., campus offers an impressive hands-on program for students seeking a bachelor’s degree in homeland security, including a flexible online format to support both full- and part-time students. Worthy of praise is Concordia’s Advanced Disaster Management Simulator (ADMS) that “enables students to create realistic disaster and security scenarios—everything from hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and fires to airplane crashes and global terrorist attacks,” says Scott Winegar, director of the university’s homeland security program. The resources offered in the major help students develop the skills to be a leader in the field, and many will go on to intern and work for government organizations, nonprofits, and private security sector companies. Winegar adds, “By offering hands-on learning with our new ADMS simulator and with the knowledge from our industry-experienced faculty in the classroom, we bridge the gap between classroom theory and real-world experience.”


San Diego State UniversityMost Innovative Approach

With over 150 currently active students, SDSU’s graduate program in homeland security is staying ahead of the curve with resources that exceed the demands of the field. A standout feature of the program is its focus on coupling big data with social media to improve strategies in national security. According to Eric Frost, the program’s director, “One of the program’s focuses is to build ‘social media command centers’ without the [traditional] command center as a way of using massive, near real-time data to help in natural disasters or large events occurring in entertainment, sports or humanitarianism.” These efforts are aided by SDSU’s VizCenter, a lab that, according to SDSU, “specializes in organizing and delivering geospatial data over small networks for emergency response and disasters.” Using these innovations, students enrolled in the program assist “in responses for natural events such as tsunamis and typhoons, humanitarian de-mining for Colombia and Cambodia, countering human trafficking globally, and global cyber security,” Frost says.


Tiffin UniversityBest Professional Development

With the slogan “Protecting our country: This is as real as it gets,” Tiffin’s Bachelor of Criminal Justice in Homeland Security and Terrorism degree focuses on educating students on issues in terrorism in the United States. The program offers homeland security training from both a criminal justice and political standpoint. “While terrorism is certainly a key emphasis,” Kevin Cashen, the criminal justice program chair, says, “the major also gives [students] the opportunity to plan for and assess real-world situations from a first responder’s viewpoint.”

Students at the university regularly secure internships with highly prestigious organizations—including Interpol, the Secret Service, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and U.S. Customs—demonstrating the lasting influence Tiffin’s program continues to have on its students.


Eastern Kentucky UniversityMost Degree Flexibility

Aside from offering a traditional bachelor’s degree in homeland security, Eastern Kentucky boasts an impressive variety of programs in the field. According to EKU, the undergraduate program in homeland security focuses on several vital components, namely “critical infrastructure protection, disaster preparedness and response, and intelligence sharing and analysis.” Students not able or not interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree can opt to complete an online associate’s degree, a certificate in homeland security, or a minor in homeland security, emergency management or security management instead. Including the online graduate program, EKU offers students exceptional flexibility in customizing their course load and degree requirements to best fit their individual needs.


Note: Superlatives, noted in green, are inclusive of the group of schools listed in this article only.

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