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Master of Science in Homeland Security & Emergency Management

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Home » Programs » Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Step up to a career upholding the freedoms and security we hold dear

What happens after a natural disaster or catastrophic event, such as an earthquake or a mass shooting? How do you implement the search and rescue? How do you facilitate the recovery? How do you communicate updates to the media and the public? How do you build a recovery plan? National University’s Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management (MSHSEM) program gives you the training to answer these questions.

The terrorist events of 9/11 highlighted the national and international need for individuals with expertise in homeland security, and naturally occurring events such as Hurricane Katrina, the Southern California wildfires, Joplin tornados, and Japanese tsunami are further evidence of the ongoing requirement for specialized knowledge in emergency management. NU’s Master’s in Homeland Security represents an interdisciplinary area of research and application that brings together the fields of homeland security, terrorism, and emergency management as they relate to man-made and natural disasters. 

Professionals with the right leadership skills and training are needed in all corners of the nation and all over the globe to protect against terrorism and threats coming from both domestic and international sources. Our online homeland security degree is designed to prepare you for leadership roles protecting against threats facing our country and around the globe. 

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Course Details

Degree Requirements

  • 12 courses; 54 quarter units

Students must complete all courses.

Introduces the student to legal, policy, and ethics issues inherent in the security of the United States. Laws and policies affecting this area have been in place for years; however, the events of 9/11 introduced a flood of Acts, regulations, and directives that play a critical role in supporting evolving policy. Conflicts between Federal and State law make for a volatile and challenging study.

This course introduces the student to Critical Infrastructure and the necessary security for its protection. Critical Infrastructure is systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital that the capacity or destruction of such may have a debilitating impact on the security of the nation and across any level of government or jurisdiction.

This course explores the challenges of leading in complex organizational and system environments that are part of homeland security and emergency management responses. The course demonstrates the complexities of leading by building on collaboration. It emphasizes the role of building support and collaboration to maximize strengths of an organization or system in preparing for and responding to natural and manmade disasters.

Examines the current issues in domestic terrorism. Topics include anti-Americanism, religious fundamentalism, nuclear proliferation, cyber terrorism, global jihad, port security, torture and detainees.

Provides the student an overview of the most important aspects of emergency management and disaster response. The course discusses best practices of the all-hazards approach to responding to manmade and natural disasters.

This course addresses the concepts, operational procedures, and authorities involved in recovering from major disasters. Federal, State, and local government roles and responsibilities in major disaster recover work will be covered, as well as government coordination and the solution of problems frequently arising in recovery operations. Preliminary damage assessment, disaster recovery centers, and special needs of victims and disaster workers are discussed.

Introduces computer security issues in traditional computer systems to distributed networks and the Internet. Covers cryptography; program and operating system security; administration; legal; privacy; and ethical issues.

This course provides an examination of terrorism and homeland security from a communication perspective. It explores how terrorism is essentially a message. Through case studies and speeches, it explores how terrorists and governments communicate messages through actions and discourse. The course also discusses how political media, the mass media and global media outlets support communicating messages.

Examination of overseas homeland security practices in the areas of terrorist threats, emergency response, critical infrastructure, radicalization, border and transportation security.

This course examines the impact of immigration policy on homeland security issues. Topics covered include the history of immigration and customs services; the impact of immigration policy and border security; the developments in immigration policy since 9/11; the impact of immigration policy on homegrown radicalization; and the ethical concerns of homeland security issues with respect to immigration policy.

PrerequisiteCompletion of at least six core courses of the program.

This course focuses on applying the knowledge and processes learned through this program. Working in a team or as an individual under the guidance of the instructor, students select a research topic, and gather data. The duration of the course is one month. Grading is H, S or U only.

PrerequisiteHSE 690A with a minimum grade of S. Students need to complete HSE690A before HSE690B.; Completion of at least six core courses of the program

This course is a continuation of the HSE690A project course and continues the application of knowledge learned to select a research topic, gather data and defend conclusions. Grading is H, S or U only.

Degree and Course Requirements

To be awarded a Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management, students must complete at least 54 quarter units of graduate work. A total of 13.5 quarter units of graduate credit may be granted for equivalent graduate work completed at another institution, as it applies to this degree and provided the units were not used in earning another advanced degree. Students should refer to the section on graduate admission requirements for specific information regarding application and evaluation.

For students in the BS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management/MS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management program, the University will waive up to two homeland security and emergency management courses taken as part of the bachelor’s degree (see the BS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management/BS in Criminal Justice Administration/Bachelor of Public Administration transition program), but these students must still meet the residency requirements for the MS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The number of courses waived is dependent on the courses taken and grades earned in the transition program.

The world has changed since 9/11, when our greatest national threat became terrorism, cyberterrorism, breaching of networks, and all things that are relatable to homeland security. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is divided into 16 different sectors, each of which depends on the advanced, industry-current knowledge and skills of its workers to protect the vital interests and infrastructures of our country:

  • Chemical Sector
  • Commercial Facilities Sector
  • Communications Sector
  • Critical Manufacturing Sector
  • Dams Sector
  • Defense Industrial Base Sector
  • Emergency Services Sector
  • Energy Sector
  • Financial Services Sector
  • Food and Agriculture Sector
  • Government Facilities Sector
  • Healthcare and Public Health Sector
  • Information Technology Sector
  • Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste Sector
  • Water and Wastewater Systems Sector

By earning your Master’s in Homeland Security at National University, you’ll examine how to protect infrastructures — such as bridges, water sources, and other lifelines of a city or town — that could be in jeopardy from an attack or natural disaster. 

Whether you want to target a future in homeland security or emergency management, NU’s unique curriculum allows you to pursue an interdisciplinary degree grounded in both and designed to prepare you for important positions in the public sector at city, state or federal levels, as well as jobs in private industry and nonprofit organizations. 

You’ll learn from faculty members with practical experience in the field, and you’ll receive dedicated support and support when it comes to networking opportunities outside of the classroom setting.

National University’s Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management program is structured to prepare you for leadership positions in public administration, healthcare and social service industries, and private service organizations focused on preparing/planning for and responding to emergencies, incidents, crises in the community or at the organization. Positions* like these include:

  • Emergency Management Specialists
  • Emergency Managers
  • Industry Principals
  • Public Health Specialists
  • Disaster Recovery Specialists
  • Emergency Preparedness Managers

In 2022, most jobs for Emergency Management Directors in the USA are found in local government, followed by federal government, then state government. Top employers of professionals in this field include a mix of private consulting firms, healthcare, as well as governmental agencies at the Federal level:

  • Devereux
  • ICF International
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Parkland Health
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Logistics Management Institute
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • and many others

Regarding compensation, The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median annual wage for emergency management directors was $76,730 in May 2021, and that the highest 10 percent earned more than $133,580.**

SOURCE: Emsi Labor Analyst- Report. Emsi research company homepage at (Report viewed: April 24, 2022. DISCLAIMER: The data provided is for Informational purposes only. Emsi data and analysis utilizes government sources to provide insights on industries, demographics, employers, in-demand skills, and more to align academic programs with labor market opportunities. Cited projections may not reflect local or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Current and prospective students should use this data with other available economic data to inform their educational decisions.


National University students who completed a transition program as part of their undergraduate degree and who satisfy MSHSEM transition program requirements described in the catalog must complete a minimum of 45 quarter units for their MSHSEM degree. 

Up to nine quarter units may be earned in a transition program. The number of units required for the MSHSEM program is dependent on the coursework completed in the Bachelor’s transition program and the grades earned.

Program Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of National University’s Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management program, you’ll develop the following skills:

  • Integrate tools, resources, and organizational systems for the successful implementation of homeland security and emergency management issues
  • Formulate global mindset to terrorism, homeland security, and emergency management issues
  • Assess the impact of security issues for the operation of the public and private sectors with respect to manmade and natural disasters
  • Integrate resources, organizational systems, and decision-making processes for the successful implementation of homeland security and emergency management plans
  • Assess the impact of communications and the media on terrorism, homeland security and emergency management messaging
  • Critique legal and ethical issues in homeland security and emergency management

Hear From Our Faculty

Learn how NU’s Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management takes an ‘”all-hazards approach” regarding natural and man-made emergencies to help keep our communities and country safe.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Today, the Department of Homeland Security is the third largest agency in the federal government. That alone should mean a steady and ongoing need for management professionals with industry-current knowledge and skills in areas like emergency management, criminal justice, and counterterrorism. The expertise you’ll gain in NU’s Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management can prepare you for a leadership role, no matter where your career takes you.  

Program length for a master’s degree in Homeland Security varies from school to school and from student to student. National University’s Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management has 12 required courses, meaning you can complete your studies in as few as 12 months. Plus, you can choose to earn your degree on-site or online.

One unique advantage NU has over other curriculums is that we offer 4-week courses, and our admissions team reviews applications year-round. This innovative course design lets you start sooner, finish faster, and have the flexibility to juggle your work and family commitments along with your studies.

Criminal justice degrees tend to focus on knowledge in the areas of law enforcement, criminology, investigation, and community relations. Homeland security degrees include the basics of criminal justice but are more likely to include coursework in areas like terrorism, counterterrorism, hazard management, intelligence, and other components of national security.

The Department of Homeland Security is a law enforcement agency that performs critical functions to protect the country from threats and hazards. In fact, it’s the largest federal law enforcement force in the country, but the roles and responsibilities for homeland security professionals and criminal justice professionals are quite different.

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Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.