Guide to an Online Security Education

Guide to an Online Security Education

"Private security is becoming much more engaged in the war on terror," said Dr. Gene Scaramella, Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Kaplan University. "Our programs are becoming more sophisticated to address legal issues, transnational crime, first responders, and biochemical issues, all crossed with more traditional security training."

How Online Security Programs Work

Online security degree programs integrate high technology, class involvement, and instructors' experience to give students a valuable education.

"There is virtually no difference between an online security program and a traditional one because technology allows for interactive video, voice, and more. The online experience is just as rich as the conventional method. The overall platform for our online program is a discussion board, where critical questions are asked. Tremendous discussion is conducted virtually, leading to a lot of camaraderie among the students," said Scaramella.

There is a distinct difference between standard college students and successful online students. Online students tend to be working adults with a tremendous drive and specific expectations and goals. Those factors tend to make online classes more beneficial for everyone.

Online programs take a special student and a special professor. With smaller class sizes, instructors form a relationship with their students, which is so important," said Scaramella. "Plus, there is usually more interaction because even shy students feel unencumbered in a virtual setting."

When a full degree program isn't necessary, security certificates are offered through online training as well.

"Students can take our own security awareness training courses or clients can set up a portal for their own training through our site," said Winn Schwartau, founder of The Security Awareness Company and Trusted Learning, companies facilitating online learning. "We can train entire companies very quickly—school can be set up in minutes. The course is delivered, the author has an assessment and sets a passing grade, and a certificate is issued to the student upon successful completion."

Online Security Schools

Security is becoming more specialized. Online homeland security programs have grown in recent years due to increases in global terrorism.

"The Homeland Security program is comprised of emergency management, information security, counterterrorism, and U.S. national security courses," said Joseph McHale, Director of the Criminal Justice Program at Grantham University. "These courses offer a broad overview of the law enforcement's duty in the current terrorism conflict and U.S. security. Grantham's programs offer the working adult, especially military service members and law enforcement professionals, the ability to earn an education when and where it is convenient for them."

Online options for aspiring security students include:

  • University of Phoenix offers a master's degree in administration of justice and security
  • Eastern Kentucky University - features an online master's degree program in safety, security & emergency management
  • ITT Technical Institute - Online - offers a bachelor degree in Criminal Justice - Cyber Security
  • Kaplan University - offers bachelor's and associate's degrees online in private security
  • Rasmussen College - online associate degree in criminal justice features specialty courses on homeland security and terrorism
  • Walden University - online master and Ph.D. in Homeland Security Policy and Coordination
  • Westwood College - online bachelor degree in information systems security
  • Bellevue University - offers an online master's degree in security management
  • Grantham University - offers a bachelor's degree in homeland security
  • Herkimer County Community College (NY-SUNY) - offers students online associate's degrees in criminal justice emphasizing security
  • Herzing College Online - has a bachelor of science and public safety with a concentration on law enforcement
  • Michigan State University - offers an online certificate in homeland security studies
  • Sonoma College offers courses of study online for homeland security
  • The Security Awareness Company - offers certificates for online security training
  • Webster University - offers a master's degree in business and organizational security management

Program Costs

Most online degree programs save students money because they forego costs associated with traditional college attendance, like travel and board. Additionally, many online security programs are cheaper to begin with and allow students to continue a career (earning full-time) while attending school. Student aid opportunities at many institutions are the same for online and traditional students. Plus, tuition assistance, scholarships, and grant offerings are becoming more common as online programs grow in popularity.

"Grantham University offers special scholarship programs for military and active law enforcement personnel to help offset the cost of earning a degree," said McHale.


"Online learning conveys practical knowledge from professionals. Like any profession, security graduates have to prove themselves to employers, but a company will invest in you when you have a degree. Your opportunities and results will be almost limitless," said Scaramella.


"Security and commissioned law enforcement all have the same mission—the preservation of life and property. The future in the security industry will involve a more important support role with sworn law enforcement being dependent on the security professional. An online education in the security field can only produce a more qualified official," said McHale.

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