Is a Criminal Justice Degree Useful in Homeland Security Jobs?

As a recent college graduate, you can use a criminal justice degree for a Homeland Security job. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is the government agency responsible for ensuring the safety of all residents of and visitors to the country. Positions range from jobs working in cyber crimes and those who actually stop terrorist threats to positions with other internal agencies and jobs in law enforcement.

Requirements for Homeland Security Jobs

The requirements for a job with the Department of Homeland Security vary based on the job title and position. You must be a citizen of the United States or show documented proof that you have become a naturalized citizen. Many jobs also require a clean background check. Any type of felony and some types of misdemeanors will disqualify you for any open job. If you want to work in a law enforcement or apprehension position, you will generally need to pass the program offered by a police academy and pass a physical examination.

The Application Process

The only way you can apply for jobs with the department is online. You need to create an account on and upload your resume. When you find a position that you think you qualify for, you can submit your resume and apply for the job. The department may notify you that you do not qualify or schedule an interview with you. Most applicants go through several interviews before reaching the testing phase, which requires that you go through a series of psychological and emotional tests. If you pass those tests, the department will perform a background check and bring you in for some additional testing.

Types of Jobs

While you can use a criminal justice degree for a Homeland Security job, you need to look at the types of jobs available. The department divides its careers into several categories, including law enforcement, acquisitions and cybersecurity. Those working in cybersecurity investigate crimes that damage the structure and integrity of the country. The number of these positions increased substantially since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Acquisition jobs refer to those responsible for developing, planning, or procuring the items necessary to protect our country.  Those working in law enforcement take on undercover assignments and perform other duties before arresting criminals and terrorists.

Programs for Students

According to the Department of Homeland Security, it offers several programs designed to help students transition from college to the workforce. The Pathways Program lets current college students work on internships with the department and graduates get lower level positions that give them experience working for the department. Many of these programs also give you course credit, and you may earn three to six credit hours of criminal justice electives for your internship. There are also programs designed for honors students and those interested in cybersecurity.

Criminal justice programs look at everything from the judicial system to the basics of various government agencies. Some schools even offer programs designed specifically for students planning to work in those agencies later. When you use a criminal justice degree for a Homeland Security job, you show the department that you have a deep understanding of criminal behavior and how you can apply that knowledge to what the department does every day.