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What You Need to Apply to a Homeland Security Master’s Program

March 1, 2024

According to the United States federal government, homeland security is “a national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism, and minimize the damage from attacks that do occur” through “systematic preparation for the threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation, including acts of terrorism, cyber-attacks, pandemics and catastrophic natural disasters.” 

Protecting the homeland and preparing and responding to intentional and natural calamities requires more than the efforts of the 260,000 Department of Homeland Security employees. The field offers numerous career opportunities in other government agencies (at the federal, state, and local level), business, law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, health care systems, the military and more. If your goal is to lead and exert influence on the nation’s safety and security, you should consider earning the online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (HSEP) degree from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). 

A master’s degree in homeland security prepares students with the background in policy and practice alongside hands-on experience to drive informed, effective leadership and address modern threats to your community’s infrastructure, public safety, cybersecurity and public health.

Gain Cross-Disciplinary Skills in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

VCU’s HSEP Master’s Is Designed for Working Professionals
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Applying to the VCU Master’s in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Program

VCU’s online homeland security and emergency preparedness master’s program seeks both recent graduates and mid-career professionals who want to excel in intelligence, cybersecurity, national security, and emergency management careers and can contribute insight and experience to classes and classmates. HSEP applicants must meet the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, which include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate work. GRE scores are not required.

To apply to the VCU HSEP master’s program, you must:

  • Complete your online application.
  • Submit a letter of intent.
  • Provide a copy of your resume.
  • Arrange for your transcripts to be sent to VCU.
  • Obtain and submit three letters of recommendation.

Write a Compelling Letter of Intent

Focus your letter on your career goals and how a master’s in HSEP from VCU can help you achieve them. Include professional and volunteer experiences that demonstrate your capabilities or potential in one or more of the specialist areas described in the curriculum. Highlight your critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, project management, coordination/collaboration, communication and interpersonal skills, all necessary to succeed in homeland security and emergency preparedness. Ask a friend or colleague to copy-edit and proofread your letter for spelling, grammar and clarity before submission.

Organize Your Resume 

Summarize your career succinctly, highlighting your work and relevant volunteer experience, academic background and professional achievements. Be sure to emphasize your commitment to service, which ranks among the program’s top core values. As with your letter of intent, solicit help with copy-editing and proofreading your resume.

Arrange for Official Transcripts To Be Sent to VCU

Official transcripts demonstrating completion of a bachelor’s degree must be transmitted from the school you attended and are required for admission. Details are listed in the application portal

Obtain Effective Letters of Recommendation 

Choose recommenders who can attest to your abilities, work ethic and character. Professors and academic mentors can speak to your capacity to handle a challenging curriculum. Professional and volunteer managers can speak to the experience you’ll contribute to the program. Ask your recommenders to convey specific examples illustrating your work and character. All recommenders should attest to your capacity to succeed in this graduate-level program.

Pay Attention to Deadlines 

The online HSEP offers three application deadlines for the fall and summer cohorts. Keep track of submission deadlines to secure consideration for your preferred entry term. 

Schedule an Application Walkthrough 

A VCU enrollment advisor (EA) can help you through the application and enrollment process. In addition to ensuring you are submitting all the required application materials, your EA can share what the VCU admissions team is looking for in candidates. They also can answer questions about how to best present your strengths and address any potential weaknesses.

Why Earn Your HSEP Master’s Online at Virginia Commonwealth University?

The VCU online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness’ 36-credit curriculum, presented in a flexible online format designed for working professionals by our expert faculty with diverse field experience, encompasses all aspects of homeland security and emergency preparedness, including emergency management, private sector preparedness, cybersecurity, terrorism, risk assessment, public health, law enforcement, and intelligence. This program can develop you into a well-rounded expert ready to prepare for, protect against, and respond to natural disasters, cyber attacks, and terrorist threats through policy and action.

Contact an enrollment advisor to learn more about the VCU HSEP program, or start your application today.

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