10 Best Grad Schools with Online Master’s in Security

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Updated: October 4, 2023, Reading time: 20 minutes

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An online master’s in security is one of the best choices for students who wish to pursue advanced security programs, enhancing their professional credentials and boosting their earning potential.

The online master’s degree in security is often designed to help students understand the threats and risks entailed in global security issues, including terrorism, strategic competition, hostile states, armed conflicts, climate change, and cybersecurity.

Labor Statistics data show people who work in security and protective services may earn a median annual salary of $52,000. Graduates of this advanced degree can work in various industries and organizations, such as government agencies, and the public and private sectors. Careers in this field include consultants, intelligence analysts, military officers, intelligence specialists, geopolitical analysts, and policy analysts.

Additional Information:


Numerous universities and colleges in the country offer online master’s in security programs, which makes it accessible to security professionals who need to juggle their professional careers and their personal responsibilities. If you are passionate about improving public safety, this online master’s in security program is an ideal choice!


The most impactful and effective security professionals stay one step ahead of the various threats they anticipate, assess, and address. This requires rigorous advanced preparation through skills that expand their skill sets and elevate their practice within the security industry. Students are well-served to choose the best education they can get, in this case, in the graduate degrees they choose to enroll in.

We’ve got you covered! We put together a list of 10 graduate schools that offer the best online Master’s in Security programs, selected according to the following characteristics:

·       Offers their degree program and coursework primarily or entirely online, ideal for the busy schedules of working professionals,

·       Feature curricula that prepare students for leadership roles in the security field, cover topics in major areas, and develop skills in threat assessment, developing solutions, and more,

·       Developed and taught by faculty who have extensive expertise in their respective fields, who are established professionals working in both the public and private sectors of the security industry,

·       Readies students for a doctoral program in Security and related disciplines, while qualifying them for top-level positions,

·       Feature competitive tuition rates and financial aid options,

·       Hold the relevant accreditation credentials.

Read our Methodology to get more information on our graduate program ranking process.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Best Online Master’s in Security Degree Programs

The City University of New York

The City University of New York - John Jay College

New York, NY

Master of Science in Security Management

The City University of New York is home to John Jay College, a leader in justice education. The college makes innovative research, experienced faculty, and extensive online academic resources more accessible to students. The college has an accreditation from the Higher States Commission on Higher Education. It is also an NASPAA-National Association of Schools of Public Affairs & Administration institutional member.

Offered under John Jay College, a Master of Science in Security Management is available online, allowing working professionals to pursue their advanced education while juggling their careers.

Standout Features of John Jay College’s Online Master of Science in Security Management Program:

As part of this online program’s requirement, a comprehensive examination must be taken and passed. This exam aims to measure students’ knowledge essential to security management. Offered every six months, this exam can only be taken if students are able to complete 24 credits in the program.

Usually, the program director will issue a list of readings and texts a month before the exam administration. Should they fail, students are given two additional opportunities to take it again.

Did You Know?

The John Jay College features a distinguished faculty numbering 1,100. The faculty includes among its members Pulitzer Prize winners, widely honored scholars, and experts in various academic disciplines.

They are responsible for advancing knowledge to build and sustain just societies through quality education. Students can choose among 30 undergraduate majors, 13 master’s programs, and 20 certificate programs.

University of Houston Downtown

University of Houston Downtown

Houston, TX

Master of Security Management

The University of Houston Downtown houses several colleges, including Business, Humanities and Social Sciences, Public Service, and Sciences and Technology. Currently, the university serves more than 14,000 students.

Standout Features of the University of Houston Downtown’s Online Master of Security Management Program:  

The program offers two options for specialization. Students may choose between Enterprise Security and Cybersecurity. The core courses for both concentrations are the same though, with topics including Risk Assessment and Abatement, Cyber Crime and Computer Forensics, Enterprise Security Management, and Human Resources Management for Security Executives, among others.

Did You Know?  

The University of Houston Downtown keeps the student-to-faculty ratio small at 18 to 1. The small class size means students are provided with a unique hands-on learning environment. Online classes make the programs more accessible to working students, although there are also on-campus and hybrid options. The university also offers one of the lowest tuition rates among the country’s state colleges and universities.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University - Online

Tempe, AZ

Master of Arts in Global Security

A member of the Association of American Universities, Arizona State University caters to over 100,000 undergraduate students and more than 30,000 graduate and professional students. The university boasts the most innovative and brilliant professors and researchers.

To date, there are more than 400 academic undergraduate programs and majors at ASU. It also offers more than 500 graduate degree programs and certificates.

Standout Features of Arizona State University’s Online Master of Arts in Global Security Program:

The program is a collaboration between the Center on the Future of War and the School of Politics and Global Studies. This means a group of committed professionals from diverse backgrounds and experiences will take the helm in preparing students for career advancement in the field of global security and beyond. The faculty includes journalists, academics, high-ranking government officials, and former military members.

Did You Know?

The world’s first comprehensive institution of its kind is found at Arizona State University. Established in 2019, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory operates akin to a medical center for the planet and its inhabitants. It is dedicated to making sure that humanity exists in equilibrium within the world’s systems.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS


Master’s Degree in Security Studies

A land-grant university, Kansas State University offers more than 250 undergraduate programs and more than 165 graduate programs. Students can learn from over 1200 full-time faculty, many of whom are leading scholars who made outstanding contributions in their respective fields. The university remained committed to providing accessible education and countless opportunities for all.

Standout Features of Kansas State University’s Online Master’s Degree in Security Studies Program:

In this program, students have a choice between non-thesis and thesis options. The thesis option requires 24 credits, 18 of which are allocated for required courses and six for electives. They will also need to complete six credits allotted for either political science or history.

Did You Know?

The financial aid process is made easy at Kansas State University in an effort to help students focus on their education. Some of the available financial aid options for students include scholarships, grants, fellowships, and student loans.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona - Online

Tucson, AZ

Master of Arts in International Security Studies

Founded in 1885, the University of Arizona is a land-grant higher learning institution that aims to transform student lives for the better by providing quality education. It is currently serving more than 46,000 students across more than 150 majors. The university is ranked among the top 20 Public Research Institutions, boasting total research expenditures of $761 million.

Standout Features of the University of Arizona’s Online Master of Arts in International Security Studies Program:  

The online master’s in security program helps students build core skills, including foreign policy, research, international system knowledge, and strategy tactics in times of war and peace.

Did You Know?  

The University of Arizona has contributed largely to the study of astronomy. In fact, in 1969, its lunar map was used by NASA to land on the moon. It also sampled an asteroid in 2021, the first in the country.  

University of Massachusetts Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell - Online

Lowell, Massachusetts

Master of Science (MS) in Security Studies – Cybersecurity Concentration

The University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) is a public research university with its main campus in the city of Lowell and a satellite campus in the city of Haverhill, Massachusetts. The university first came about in 1975 after a merger of its two parent institutions, Lowell State College (established in 1894), and Lowell Technological Institute (established 1895), formed the University of Lowell.

The University of Lowell then joined the University of Massachusetts in 1991, taking on its current name. At present, the UML is made up of 6 schools & colleges and has a population of around 18,300 students. It is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity”.  

Standout Features of the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Online Master of Science in Security Studies Program:

This is a uniquely designed program that sits at the intersection of information technology, cybersecurity, and criminal justice. Being a public research university, students also get the benefit of tuition rates, whether they enroll as in-state or out-of-state.  

Did You Know?

Speaking of quality and leadership in the field of security studies, the University of Massachusetts Lowell is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research designated by the NSA and Department of Homeland Security.

University of Denver

University of Denver - University College

Denver, Colorado

Master’s Degree in Security Management

The University of Denver is a private research university, with roots in the Methodist Church, but currently operates as a nonsectarian institution. Located in Denver, Colorado, it was established in 1864 as the Colorado Seminary, and in the 1870s established its current campus to the south of downtown Denver.

It was then renamed the University of Denver in 1880, and experienced growth over the succeeding decades, especially after the surge of students after World War II. The University of Denver is currently composed of 11 schools and colleges, along with over a dozen research institutes. It has a population of over 13,700 students. 

Standout Features of the University of Denver’s Master’s in Security Management Program:

The University of Denver’s Master’s in Security Management features concentration areas from a wide range of areas, that cater to a diverse range of fields of expertise. Each of these concentration areas features curriculums that are based on recommendations from ASIS International, the country’s largest professional organization for the field of security. 

Did You Know?

Relative to other universities, the University of Denver has a high ratio of graduate students, with over half of the university’s 13,700 students being enrolled in graduate programs. 

Northeastern University

Northeastern University

Boston, Massachusetts

Master of Arts in Security & Intelligence Studies

Northeastern University is a private research university in Boston, Massachusetts. It has its roots in the Boston chapter of the YMCA, which established it as an all-male institute in 1898. It was subsequently incorporated in 1916 as Northeastern College and became Northeastern University in 1922. At present, Northeastern University is composed of 9 schools and features several research institutes.

It also operates several satellite campuses in other states, including North Carolina, Washington, California, Maine, and two campuses in Canada. Northeastern University is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”, and has a population of over 36,800 students.

Standout Features of Northeastern University’s Master of Arts in Security and Intelligence Studies Program:

The program features a unique interdisciplinary design that synthesizes concepts from the areas of security, law, politics, diplomacy, and constitutional rights. The program’s faculty members include experts with a wide range of expertise, who include constitutional lawyers, White House advisors, from the field of military intelligence, and more. 

Did You Know?

A defining feature of the education at Northwestern University has always been its use of Cooperative and Experiential Learning. This strategy sees students combining their didactic coursework with significant amounts of valuable real-world experience in a structured manner.

American Military University

American Military University

Charles Town, West Virginia

Master of Arts in Security Management

American Military University (AMU) is a private, for-profit online university headquartered in the city of Charles Town, West Virginia. It is owned by American Public Education, Inc., and together with the American Public University (APU), forms the American Public University System (APUS).

AMU is the older of the two institutions, having been established in 1991, with APU being established as an expansion in 2002. AMU has a population of over 88,500 students, with a significant portion of these reportedly being on active duty or having served in the military.  

Standout Features of American Military University’s online Master of Arts in Security Management Program:

AMU’s Master of Arts in Security Management program includes coverage of cost-effective architectural security design of various facilities, airports, and other critical infrastructure. It is also offered with a sub-$500 per credit hour nominal cost, and this can be reduced further through veteran or military grants.

Did You Know?

Students can take their Master of Arts in Security Management further with American Military University’s Doctor of Global Security (DGS) or Doctor of Strategic Intelligence (DSI) programs.

National American University


Rapid City, South Dakota

Master of Science (MS) in Strategic Security & Protection Management

National American University (NAU) is a private, for-profit online university headquartered in Rapid City, South Dakota. It is currently owned by National American University Holdings, Inc., and was first established back in 1941 as the National School of Business. NAU first began to develop and offer online courses for students across the country and overseas. NAU is currently composed of 4 academic divisions, which together host a population of a little over 1,000 students.

Standout Features of National American University’s MS in Strategic Security & Protection Management Program:

This program is designed specifically with Strategic Security and Protection Management Professionals in mind, as well as Military Service Members. The program serves as serves as good preparation for career advancement, or for the latter, entering related careers in security and law enforcement.

Did You Know?

Going beyond, National American University also offers a Doctor of Strategic Security program, which expands on the training offered in the MS in Strategic Security & Protection Management program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common admission requirements to an online Master’s in Security program?

To get admitted into the program, students must have a bachelor’s degree in security or related programs. Sometimes, universities will require them to have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA on their post-baccalaureate transcript.

Other requirements may include official transcripts, updated resume or CV, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and more. in the case of international students whose native language is not English, proof of English proficiency must be provided.

How long does it take to complete an online Master of Security?

An online master’s in security degree can be completed within two years. This, however, will largely depend on the program requirements. For one, a program that requires the completion of thesis work or a capstone project may take longer to accomplish. Other security programs may offer accelerated options and multiple start dates, allowing students the option to complete the coursework at their own pace.

What are some differences between Master’s in Security and Integrated Homeland Security Management programs?

Both master’s degrees cover roughly the same ground and are orientated toward the same goal of homeland defense, and ensuring public safety against various threats, such as terrorism and natural disasters. Some Master’s in Security programs, meanwhile, are designed with a narrower scope, focusing on a specific area of security concerns, such as emergency response and management, or cybersecurity.

Online Master's in Security - fact

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