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What to Know When Choosing a Graduate Degree in Security Studies or Security Administration

May 12, 2020 8:19am

Security is a booming career industry both here at home and abroad. Technology and tactics are always evolving, making it a relevant and growing career field for those pursuing it. There are different types of graduate-level degrees in security to choose from. So how would one know which program to enroll in? This article will highlight some key features of a master’s degree in security administration (or management) and a master’s degree in security studies program, potential careers of each, and who the programs might be right for.

Program Focus

Those enrolling in a master’s degree program in security management or security studies can expect to complete at least 30 credit hours for the program. Time to completion will depend on whether the program is studied on ground or online. Online courses give learners the opportunity to work toward completion at their own pace, so programs can often be finished sooner depending on the workload they wish to take on.

Many graduate programs in security management or administration will include courses that focus on subject matter including security planning, security vulnerability, security law, homeland security administration, and even emergency and disaster management. Students enrolled in these programs can expect to evaluate security as it relates to both public and private sectors. They may also assess business continuity issues, and emerging natural and man-made threats to the enterprise. They can expect to evaluate the homeland security and emergency management systems of local, state, private, and federal organizations. In many programs, learners will evaluate security systems and their technologies and best practices.

Master-level degree programs in security studies tend to have a heavy emphasis on national and international security policy. Learners can find programs that either explore a broad view of security aspects or ones that offer areas of emphasis such as foreign policy, international security, homeland security, or even technology security to name a few. Some programs include courses on history in various regions of the world, security policy, counter-terrorism, conflict resolution, cyber security and even political science.

Since the overall program focus may vary by institution, it’s important to consider the capstone or thesis requirements as they can provide enhanced opportunities for applied learning and give you a better idea of what knowledge and skills you will gain throughout the program.

Potential careers and salaries

One of the most attractive things about entering the security industry is that it is fast growing and wide ranging. Graduates can work in public service or for private companies. They can choose to be on the frontline, or behind the scenes. Here are just a few of the career opportunities as well as average salaries for each, according to PayScale, in security studies and security administration.

Security Administration

• Information security analyst, $71K
• Security manager, $67.5K
• Risk management specialist, $70K
• Cyber security analyst, $76K

Security Studies

FBI agent, $65K
• Immigration officer, $60K
• Network security engineer, $85K
• Intelligence analyst, $69.5K

Backgrounds of students

Just as degree program admissions requirements will vary by college, so will the student body. Those enrolled in these programs can range from recent graduates with their bachelor’s degrees, to non-traditional adult learners who have been in the field for years and are looking for career advancement, and even military officers. The wide variety of students coming from all walks of life and experiences just adds to the dynamic nature of graduate security programs, only better preparing graduates for a multitude of career paths after graduation.

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