Homeland Security Rescue helicopter

Graduate Certificate inHomeland Security

Program summary

Gain an understanding of homeland security issues that apply at all levels of government and national security, as well as in the private sector with this online homeland security graduate certificate program.

Application deadline

Apply by August 1 to start August 26

Credits and costs

12 Credits$1,017 per credit

Online Homeland Security Certificate 

Penn State’s online Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security program provides an excellent education for homeland security professionals and can shape future leaders in the field. Enrolling in the certificate program shows that you want to acquire the broad-based knowledge of homeland security issues and strategies at the local, state, and federal level as well as in the private sector.

Graduates of the certificate can gain an understanding of:

  • origins and organization of the homeland security enterprise
  • relevant Congressional acts, presidential policies, and national strategies
  • roles and shared responsibility of key agencies and partners at federal, state, and local levels, and from the private sector
  • planning and organizational imperatives related to homeland security and emergency management

Why Penn State for Your Homeland Security Education?

Penn State Harrisburg's School of Public Affairs offers this unique certificate as part of the online homeland security program. Based on a partnership of six colleges, the Penn State Homeland Security portfolio is one of the nation's most respected and comprehensive HLS programs, designed to educate professionals and prepare leaders to make societies more secure in a global era of evolving threats in an all-hazards spectrum.

Who Should Apply?

The homeland security certificate is open to candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree. The certificate is ideal for federal, state, and local emergency management officials, law enforcement personnel, and members of the military, as well as employees connected with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies looking for a broad-based homeland security education. Individuals in the private sector — including finance corporations, insurance agencies, and security consultants — may find the program provides valuable and relevant skills.

Information for Military and Veterans

Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, or application instructions. 

Online Education at Penn State

Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education and more than a decade of experience in online learning. We create an online learning environment that offers you the same quality education our residential students experience in a face-to-face setting. Learn more about Penn State World Campus


The 12-credit certificate in homeland security helps shape leaders capable of preventing and responding to man-made and natural disasters. 

Required Courses (6 credits)

  • 3

    Fundamentals of Homeland Security provides foundational knowledge about homeland security policy, strategy, organization, and legal issues in the U.S. context.

  • 3

    Analyzes, evaluates, and critiques homeland security plans in practice.

Electives (choose 6 credits)

  • 3

    Provides knowledge about protection of critical infrastructure as an aspect of homeland security

  • 3

    Addresses international cooperation in Homeland Security and compare select national approaches as well as teach related practical methods of analysis.

    • Prerequisite

      HLS 801, HLS 803, HLS 805, and PADM 802 (In certain cases, students may be eligible for a prerequisite waiver based on prior academic or professional experience.)

  • 3

    Explores psychological impact of disasters and terrorist attacks on victims, families, rescuers, and society and methods of reducing negative effects.

  • 3

    The homeland security framework depends on strategic planning and organization. This course examines the key issues associated with these.

  • 3

    Examination of the roles of the public and private sectors and the military in preparing for, mitigating, and responding to disasters.

  • 3

    Provides new insights of the emerging threats, disruptive technologies, and techniques for analyzing them to plan for the future of Homeland Security.

  • 3

    This course will provide an overview of transnational crime and its effects on homeland security.

  • 3

    Provides an overview of the homeland defense mission and defense support of civil authorities during disasters, and the distinctions between the two.

    • Prerequisite

      HLS 801

  • 3

    This course assesses the controlling authorities that pertain to homeland security, from the U.S. Constitution to major federal statutes, court decisions, and executive directives.

    • 3

      Integrating multiple functional business areas to resolve global business problems and improve organizational performance.

    • or:

      Overview of human behavior in organizations, and implications for managing and leading individuals, teams, and organizations.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, should be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.

  • Fall DeadlineApply by August 1 to start August 26
  • Spring DeadlineApply by December 1 to start January 13
  • Summer DeadlineApply by May 1, 2025, to start May 19, 2025

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.

Admission Requirements 

For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

GPA and Test Scores — Postsecondary (undergraduate), junior/senior (last two years) GPA is required. 

GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required for admission. 

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

Start Your Application

You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

Begin the graduate school application

  • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
  • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
  • Choose "Homeland Security" as the certificate

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by August 1 to start August 26. How to Apply 

Start or Advance Your Career

A homeland security professional working at a computer

You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

As a graduate with this certificate, you can find work in such occupations as:

  • emergency management
  • facilities management
  • disaster recovery
  • education
  • administration/management
  • policy planning
  • community practice
  • research

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree

A figure standing halfway up a set of stairs leading towards a graduation cap

Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full master’s degree.

Degree Program Related to This Certificate

The 12 credits earned for this certificate can be applied to the following Penn State World Campus degree program, if you apply and are accepted into the program:

Learn from one of the first and most comprehensive homeland security programs. Students may complete the base program or choose from a diverse range of specialization options — all designed to develop highly trained future leaders in roles that include national security.

Learn more about the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security

Contact Us

To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security, offered in partnership with the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs, please use the contacts below.

For questions regarding how to apply, contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
[email protected]

For questions about the program, contact:

Melissa Forkey
Homeland Security Degree Base Program, Certificate, and Undergraduate Minor
School of Public Affairs
777 West Harrisburg Pike
160W Olmsted Building
Middletown, PA 17057
Phone: 717-948-6322
Fax: 717-948-6320
[email protected]


  • Emma Leonard Boyle, Ph.D.

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Political Science and African Studies, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.A., Political Science, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.Sc., African Studies, Oxford University
    • Degree
      M.A., International Relations, The University of St Andrews

    Emma Leonard Boyle is an associate professor of political science and the chair of the homeland security programs. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science and African Studies from Penn State, and her research interests include terrorism, the geography of political violence, and gender-based violence in civil wars. She has previously worked at the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews and the International Center for the Study of Terrorism (ICST) at Penn State.

  • Nicholas Eftimiades

    • Degree
      M.S., Strategic Intelligence, National Defense Intelligence College
    • Degree
      B.A., East Asian Studies, George Washington University

    Nicholas Eftimiades retired from the U.S. Department of Defense. His 34-year government career includes employment in the CIA as a technical operations officer, a special agent in the U.S. Department of StateBureau of Diplomatic Security, and a senior intelligence officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency. He held positions in analysis, human and technical intelligence collection, and management, with numerous overseas assignments.

In addition to standing program faculty, experts from the homeland security mission space are serving as part-time instructors in the program.

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by August 1 to start August 26. How to Apply