College Degrees in Homeland Security

It's a growing field:

More than 200 colleges have created homeland-security degree and certificate programs since 9/11, and another 144 have added emergency management with a terrorism bent.

Posted on April 9, 2008 at 6:40 AM • 27 Comments


bobApril 9, 2008 7:24 AM

I hope they teach "can I upsize you to a large?"

I hope they need it before too long.

I suspect it will not be so.

John HApril 9, 2008 7:42 AM

Very odd that while the article mentions terrorism repeatedly, the specific emergencies they choose to reference (other than 9/11) are Chernobyl and Katrina.

D0RApril 9, 2008 8:08 AM

The article makes a parallel with 1950's boost in science and technology programs due to the "space race" against URSS.
It's too bad now to see such a waste of resources which could be aimed again towards something more useful than a witch hunt.

Trichinosis USAApril 9, 2008 8:21 AM

@ Unix Ronin:

Of course they are - like most good HUMINT training programs.

Ward CleaverApril 9, 2008 9:18 AM

> ... corporations are hungry to hire professionals schooled in disaster ....

I have kids, so do I qualify? :-)

derfApril 9, 2008 9:19 AM

I'm sure they'll take a field trip to Boston to research the incredible job the Boston PD has done with inciting weapons of mass hysteria.

Nick LancasterApril 9, 2008 9:52 AM

There was a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge Transit District on the morning news, talking about Monday's protest where climbers scaled the vertical cables to unfurl a banner.

She said 'deadly force was an option' because of the possibility of terrorism.

Right. The terrorists are gonna scale the bridge cables ...

paulApril 9, 2008 10:35 AM

We could probably use a lot more people trained in emergency response (especially considering that natural disasters are likely trending upwards) but I do have to wonder whether these folks fit that description.

And, of course, there have to be money and resources backing them up, but we all know where those are being siphoned off.

TimApril 9, 2008 11:04 AM

This is just insane. I wonder if there's anywhere left in the world that you can go to that isn't run by greed and fear. This country doesn't need to be spending any money on anti-terrorism. What this country needs to do is stop inciting terrorism by imposing our will and our "values" on other nations. I say bring all the troops home (and I do mean all of them, not just the ones in Iraq), and line them up shoulder to shoulder across our borders to actually protect citizens at home, instead of inventing threats elsewhere and sending troops into harm's way so that big industry can turn a profit.

raiApril 9, 2008 11:17 AM

actually there was terrorism involved in the Katrina response, police accross the river on dry land were terrorizing people who were trying to get out of the flood by shooting at them on the bridge and telling them that they would kill them for crossing the bridge, also, blackwater gunmen were brought in to intimidate people as were israeli mercenaries.

KarenApril 9, 2008 11:28 AM

Come now...surely having college-educated TSA peons is a better situation than having naught but high-school-educated TSA peons. The program might even teach them how to profile correctly...

csApril 9, 2008 11:39 AM

Is "You're doing a hell of a job, Brownie" on the faculty for any of these programs?

David RobartsApril 9, 2008 12:01 PM

How exactly does a 'disaster manager' thwart a Chernobyl disaster. The Chernobyl disaster occurred because the people running the plant chose to run a dangerous experiment. US nuclear power plants have many design features that make them safer than Chernobyl. Chernobyl was a result of unsafe design coupled with unsafe management.

The primary threat posed by US nuclear plants is the radioactive waste that they produce not the potential for the reactor to blow.

NetLockSmithApril 9, 2008 12:41 PM

Emergency Managers are very important for planning and handling the response to disasters of any kind (large fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.). Katrina was an example of bad emergency management. We need people who can do better than "a heckuva job."

Of course, as is the fad today, these programs are often framed as being about anti-terrorism and "homeland security," rather than about handling the many more likely natural disasters and accidental events.

[Full disclosure: I'm currently getting an additional degree in E.M. I realized I've got almost enough credits from FEMA to complete it already, so I figured, "What the heck."]

AnonymousApril 9, 2008 1:50 PM

Chernobyl wasn't because of an unsafe test, persay, it was because a potentially unsafe test was run by people who were not properly trained and did not understand the design of the reactor or the warnings leading to the meltdown. Proper management could have helped the event from happening.

That said, these degrees are bunk. I suppose we can assume the schools are using terrorism awareness to get federal pork?

RobertApril 9, 2008 2:19 PM

As a math/CS prof in a small liberal arts college, these kinds of niche degrees drive me crazy -- much like degrees in food service management or motor sports management (yes, there's a college nearby with a degree in the latter).

The kind of person who is best equipped to actually deal with homeland security or emergency management is a person with a BROAD educational background who can think quickly and creatively -- not just one who has surivived a disparate collection of courses cobbled together leading towards a degree that stands virtually no chance of surviving the lifespan of the average student's working years. (How many times does a person change careers in his/her life? Something like 5-6 times on the average these days?)

These kinds of degrees are usually nothing more than attempts by colleges and universities to cash in on whatever the general culture is obsessed with at the moment.

FNORDApril 9, 2008 3:25 PM

@David Roberts:
Telling them not to run it. Telling them not to run it with the night staff.

Also, there are numerous ways they could have mitigated the damage after the fact.

Of course, the real problem was more a "life is cheap, PR is expensive" attitude on the part of authorities, which experts can't change all on their own.

JHPApril 9, 2008 10:57 PM

I'm hoping college performing arts departments will start offering a B.S. in Security Theater.

Jeremy DuffyApril 10, 2008 5:54 AM

There's a lot of negativity towards these programs, but I'm not so sure they're a bad idea. As students do projects and research into security and protection, we may learn new things or better prove things we already all knew.

AnonymousApril 10, 2008 6:53 AM

@Jeremy Duffy

"As students do projects and research into security and protection, we may learn new things or better prove things we already all knew."

Why do we need to "better prove things we already [know]"?

As for "learning new things" ... maybe you could be more specific? I ask because almost any other use these people could be put to would add more value to society than being simply over-educated security guards.

Ryan MasonApril 10, 2008 9:52 AM

I am a graduate of The Ohio State University's Security and Intelligence program. While I cannot profess that the program is terrible useful over the long term due to the constent shift of operational issues where terrorism is concerned but it has provided me with a basic understanding of transnational criminality, terrorism, etc . The program has graduates in every federal agency you could think of and some you couldn't. I personaly work for a national retail chain that has a larger intelligence capibility than most of the world's country's. The most disturbing trend I can see is the infaltration of the intel community into the university. This invasion is starting to elliminate contray points of view which makes the country less safe, not more so.

AnonymousApril 10, 2008 2:23 PM

Do any schools offer a Ph.D. program in Homeland Security? Maybe Bruce can go back to school and get a Ph.D. degree.

Bruce Schneier does not have a Ph.D. degree.

RayApril 11, 2008 3:13 PM

@Ryan Mason: They let people with writing/spelling skills like yours graduate from college? Yikes!

Jon SowdenApril 13, 2008 11:42 PM

"Bruce Schneier does not have a Ph.D. degree."

*sheesh* Of course not. A PhD degree has Bruce Schneier, that's why, doofus.

ShultzSeptember 27, 2008 10:38 PM

As a retired law enforcement professional, I hereby offer my rubber-stamp-of-approval on the Homeland Security College's programs and especially it's faculty expert staff ! These ARE currently active or retired Homeland Security officials and their background speaks for itself. Anyone questioning this curriculum or the educators behind it is an enemy of the state !

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Co3 Systems, Inc..