Does a Ph.D. in Homeland Security Prepare You for a Variety of Jobs?

by Laura Reynolds

Managers typically study for their Ph.D. to establish themselves as authorities in their fields, but the field of homeland security studies is so diverse and new that doctorates in the field are rare and anything but uniform. Depending on your specialization at the bachelor's or master’s level and your experience and interests, a Ph.D. in homeland security might qualify you for advanced positions in many areas of intelligence and technical fields, management or education.

What’s Out There

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, established in 2002, integrated 22 federal departments, offices and agencies that administered emergency, terrorism and disaster preparedness programs into one organization. The Center for Homeland Defense and Security, a joint project of the Naval Postgraduate School and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, lists a few schools that offer doctoral programs in homeland security. But many schools that offer certifications in the wide variety of fields -- emergency medical and crisis response, threat assessment and even chaplaincy -- are branches of homeland security.

The Right Fit

With so many highly technical specialties, homeland security experts with a Ph.D. fill leadership positions in both government and private business. Artificial intelligence, nuclear and biomedical research, cyber security and energy infrastructure all require highly educated department heads and advanced researchers. You might also fill positions as officers in the U.S. Coast Guard, Secret Service and Immigration and Customs. Corporations that produce security software and technology might employ a Ph.D. in research and development departments. Utilities and power transmission suppliers might also use planners and designers with homeland security credentials.

Homeland Security Management

Schools that offer Masters of Public Administration typically offer specializations in emergency management and policy under the heading of Homeland Security. Managers with a Ph.D. might operate not only in the Department of Homeland Security, but also in analysis sections of the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense. Large city and state emergency management departments might employ Ph.D. directors. They might also manage private industry security or protective services in communications, energy, transportation or companies whose employees travel widely abroad.

Going Solo

With a homeland security Ph.D., you have a line for your resume that few else can claim, mainly because the discipline is newer than many traditional forms of management. Private consultants might work as experts with a variety of clients, from city government to companies with overseas holdings. Defense contractors and others that perform outsourced intelligence and systems analysis also need consultants for specific projects.

Teaching Security

By the time you’ve earned a Ph.D., you’ve spent considerable time in the postsecondary world, perhaps as a teacher assistant, researcher or author in your field. Professors not only get to work with students who are adults actively engaged in law enforcement, emergency management, military and civilian intelligence, but also they enjoy the opportunity of being able to shape a new academic discipline, from certifications through postsecondary degrees. Educators might also work as consultants, designing educational programs for police departments and other groups that need to be prepared in case of trouble but don’t have a need for full-time personnel.

About the Author

An avid perennial gardener and old house owner, Laura Reynolds has had careers in teaching and juvenile justice. A retired municipal judgem Reynolds holds a degree in communications from Northern Illinois University. Her six children and stepchildren served as subjects of editorials during her tenure as a local newspaper editor.

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