– Executive Summary –

Over the last 19 years, there has been a concerted, multifaceted effort to develop an academic field of Homeland Security.[1] The field of homeland security was launched as part of the national response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, building on previous concepts of national security and civil defense.[2] This work has resulted in the creation of number of academic degree programs, several journals, a growing body of academic research, and a series of professional societies, all centered around homeland security.[3] However, there is still a limited understanding of how large or well-developed homeland security is today.

The few articles examining homeland security as a discipline largely assume that the institutional presence of the academic programs is a sufficient condition for attributing a disciplinary designation. To date, there are two main studies which concluded that homeland security has become a discipline,  albeit a young one. However, the conclusions are largely based on the existence of academic programs and the methodological problems in these studies compromise the confidence in these conclusions. To better understand the size and scope of the field, this thesis examined two research questions.


This phase of the thesis was a systematic review of the research examining homeland security education between January 1, 2000 and October 2019. These articles were identified through the use of a systematic review methodology, which is typically a preliminary step in conducting a meta-analysis. A systematic review provides stronger empirical approach by clearly identifying the initial the databases and search terms. The search terms then serve as the inclusion and exclusion criteria evaluate the fit of each article.[4] This review identified a total of 71 articles. The articles were examined across three areas of analysis, the first the characteristics of the articles, second examining the contents of the articles, the third analyzing the empirical articles.

The articles were published between 2004 and 2019, with 2011 having the most articles in a year at 14. Most of the articles included one to two authors, most authors only contributed to one of the articles in this review, and most were written by people at Universities. The articles were published in 20 different journals, most in 3 homeland security journals.

Most of the articles content was narrative in nature (52.1%) while only 29.6% were empirical research. Nearly half of the narrative articles were descriptive, many focusing on the development of a program, course, or class activities. The articles emphasized three main academic fields of homeland security, emergency management, and a combined homeland security and emergency management, which impacted the emphasis in the articles. Further, the articles were examined questions about the discipline or curriculum of homeland security. Finally, across the articles there were a median of 22 references used per articles, with a median of six peer reviewed and a median of 7 directly related to homeland security.

All of the 21 empirical articles used primary data collection and new measures. Seventeen of the studies were quantitative and most used simple descriptive analysis. The remaining four articles were qualitative studies. The samples were all convenience, largely class based student groups. Overall the sampling and methodology across these 21 empirical articles was very simple and in some cases lacked the appropriate statistical rigor in the data analysis.


The goal of these analyses was to develop a more accurate estimate of graduate level homeland security academic degree programs and the characteristics of these programs. These analyses were divided into three levels, school, program, and curriculum, to accommodate the hierarchical relationship between the schools, programs, and curriculum.

This phase used the UAPP list of partners[5] and identified 70 schools offering 110 graduate level programs. Fifty-eight were full degree programs in homeland security, five at the doctoral level. The remaining 53 programs were a concentration. Most schools only offered a single degree program or concentration. The programs were spread across 31 different states and 47 of the school only hosted a single academic program. The schools were evenly divided between public and private institutions, and were slightly more concentrated in medium sized schools, 3,000-9,99.

The full degree programs and concentrations were mostly named emergency management or homeland security. 3 of 5 doctoral programs were emergency management, one was homeland security. Over half of the programs were exclusively online, with 23.6% offering both traditional face to face and online versions. Among the masters level programs 56 required a capstone as a culminating experience, while only 9 required a thesis.


From the systematic review there is a focus in the research on the discipline and curriculum and a heavy use of homeland security related journals. There was generally a low level of methodological sophistication across the articles. The field should focus on increasing methodological rigor in both degree programs and the peer-reviewed journals.

Second, the systematic review had a strong focus on the use of exercises, scenarios, and field experiences. For such a high number of exclusively online programs it will be important to study these activities and ensure they are addressing the designated learning objectives.

Third, it seems that the field of homeland security is smaller than presented in the literature. The UAPP list is a useful starting point but is not an accurate estimate of the size of the field. Further, while this study identified 58 full degree programs, only 18 were exclusively focused on homeland security, including one doctoral program. While there were 22 emergency management degree programs, with three at the doctoral level. This does raise a significant question about the relationship between these two fields. The systematic review found a notable difference in the tone of the articles based on which field was identified. These two pieces of data suggest that they are different fields of study. It will be important for the field(s) to more clearly identify the relationship and overlap between these two areas of study.

[1] Robert W. Smith, “What Is Homeland Security? Developing a Definition Grounded in the Curricula,” Journal of Public Affairs Education 11, no. 3 (2005): 233–46, https://doi.org/10.1080/15236803.2005.12001396; Christopher Bellavita, “What Is Preventing Homeland Security?,” Bias Towards Response 1, no. 1 (2005), http://hdl.handle.net/10945/43677; Jerome H Kahan, “What’s in a Name? The Meaning of Homeland Security,” Journal of Homeland Security Education 2 (2013): 1, http://libproxy.nps.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.nps.edu/docview/1465501592?accountid=12702.

[2] (Supinski 2011)

[3] James D. Ramsay and Irmak Renda-Tanali, “Development of Competency-Based Education Standards for Homeland Security Academic Programs,” Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 15, no. 3 (2018): 1, https://doi.org/10.1515/jhsem-2018-0016.

[4] Miranda Cumpston et al., “Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions,” 6th ed. (John WIley & Sons, Inc., 2019), https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.ED000142.

[5] Center for Homeland Defense and Security, “Home Page,” University Agency Partnership Initiative, accessed October 7, 2019, https://www.uapi.us/.

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