Frequently Asked Questions EXPAND ALL CLOSE ALL

What are the general educational background requirements for the program?

Students must demonstrate sufficient preparation for the Program. This generally includes a Bachelor's degree in sciences, business, communication, engineering, criminal justice/criminology, international security, public policy, or a related discipline or work/professional history providing educational preparation for a career in homeland security. The Bachelor's degree must be from an accredited institution or indicate completion of equivalent academic preparation as determined by the Graduate Dean. Evaluation of a student's transcript may be made on an individual basis by the admissions committee to determine whether evidence of sufficient preparation can be demonstrated. A student whose preparation is deemed insufficient by the admissions committee could be admitted conditionally and will be required to complete specified courses in addition to the minimum of 30 units required for the degree.

Is this program online or in-person?

The Graduate Program in Homeland Security is an in-person program (no online courses). We have found students receive the most benefits from this mode of Homeland Security instruction. We have an unrelated online Certificate Program and in International Security and Trade but is not currently available for the Master's degree program.

Is there a difference between SDSU Main Campus and the Imperial Valley Campus?

The Homeland Security program at SDSU Imperial Valley (HSEC-IV) offers the same interdisciplinary graduate study curriculum leading to the Master of Science degree at the Calexico-based campus. Unlike the San Diego-based program, HSEC-IV students will enter a cohort together and follow the same course sequence at the Imperial Valley campus over a 2½-year schedule (2 Fall, 2 Spring, and 2 Summer semesters) with Summer semesters dedicated to the Study Abroad and Practicum (internship) requirements.

HSEC-IV students must all follow the same course sequence (taking all the same classes including electives). The HSEC-IV program only accepts applications for one cohort at a time, or every two years – the first beginning Fall 2021.

How do I apply?

Visit our Admission page for more information on main campus and Imperial Valley 2-year cohort. Both campuses have the same admission requirements.

When should I apply for the program?

Applying early and meeting with faculty, students, or alumni is very wise to see if the Homeland Security Program is appropriate for your interests. Interaction with the Graduate Advisor is encouraged to answer questions about goals, Veteran's Benefits, sequencing of classes, and special needs. You may schedule a General Program Questions appointment with an HSEC Graduate Advisor.

Are you accepting applications only for the Fall semester?

Spring Admissions is a University decision that is made in mid Fall, and many times no students are admitted in Spring. Most students begin in the Fall semester, and you should apply as soon as possible anticipating a Fall admission.

What if the application period is closed or if I'm not admitted?

You may wish to consider taking HSEC courses through SDSU Open University. The program allows high school graduates, working adults, and students from other universities to attend courses if space is still available once SDSU matriculated students have registered. If you are accepted into the HSEC program in the future, you MAY be able to transfer up to 9 open university credits into your program. Taking Open University courses does NOT guarantee admission into the HSEC program or transferability of course credits.

Do I need to assemble all required documents before submitting?

No, we recommend starting the application process right away! You can gradually add the Interfolio (department-level application) and SDSU documents required after initially submitting your Cal State Apply application.

How much does the program cost?

Costs of attending the Homeland Security program depend on whether you are a California resident, Out-of-State student, or International student (see Graduate Estimated Costs). While not required, all students should consider completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine availability of financial aid.

Are exceptions granted for general university graduate school requirements?

All students must satisfy the general requirements for admission to the university with graduate standing as described in Part Two of the SDSU Graduate Bulletin. International students are required to take the TOEFL exam by the University. International students can find additional information via the International Admissions website.

How important is the GRE for the program?

All applicants are NO LONGER required to take the GRE. .

What is the required graduate point average (GPA)?

The university requires a minimum 2.85 GPA for Graduate studies.

Are applicant interviews required?

Yes, each candidate who meets all University and department requirements will be offered an in-person or virtual interview opportunity via email after your application portfolio is complete. If you are missing an application requirement, you will not be offered an interview. Within four weeks of your completed application portfolio, check and Interfolio to make certain your application portfolio is complete.

What if my old professors cannot provide a compelling recommendation?

Many times former instructors have aged and moved on in life, so they might not remember you. You may obtain recommendation letters from current work supervisors or people who are in an appropriate position to recommend you and honestly comment on your capabilities.

How long is the typical student's program of study?

The average program completion time is 24 months, or four semesters. Each student's plan of study may be different. Full-time students may elect to take three or four classes per semester and finish the program early. Professional (working) students may only be able to take two courses per semester. Each person's financial and professional setting is different and we work with each person to customize their program for the best outcome for them.

Is a thesis required to complete the program?

Yes, a thesis or capstone project is required to complete the program. Most students work on the thesis or capstone project throughout the program, linking their papers and projects together into a coherent reflection of their expertise. This culmination allows the graduate to use their work as a stepping stone to a career in the realm of Homeland Security.

Is there a dress code for the program?

There is no formal dress code, but it is recommended that graduate students choose to dress business casual. Many guest speakers and individuals you meet in conferences or community events may become career opportunities one day, and it is not wise for your first impression to be as a dishelved student.

Are there paid opportunities or fellowships available?

While the program does not offer paid opportunities, we regularly send out emails regarding paid internships and employment opportunities. Many students do internships to gain practical experience. We work hard to link students with groups seeking assistance.

Is it possible to defer my admisison from Fall to Spring Semesters?

Not usually. For students who find that they are not able to attend in person, generally a workable solution is to do Independent Study projects during Fall semester.

Can I transfer credits into the program?

Yes, it is possible to transfer in 9 units (almost third of the degree) into the program from appropriate programs at accredited universities. Another source of transfer classes is SDSU Open University, where students can take classes prior to being admitted.

Is there a difference between In-State, Out-of-State, and International applications?

Yes, very much so. There is no limit for Out-of-State or International students. In contrast, we can only admit a strict quota of In-State students (the most competitive category).

Is Study Abroad required even if I have traveled to many foreign countries?

Yes, it is required by the University and can be done hundreds of different ways, such as trips abroad for conferences, disaster response, or enjoyment. Nearly everyone finds a solution that is both educational and enjoyable. Weekend trips to neighboring Mexico for 45 hours of instruction provides one solutions to this requirement. If you cannot travel because of Clearances or visa, a waiver can be obtained.

Where can I take additional cyber courses?
You may consider the Cyber Governance and Risk Management certificate, delivered online through the Cyber Tech Academy.
How do I complete a Student Veteran worksheet?
Complete this online form to obtain a Student Veteran worksheet you can present to the Student Veteran Office (SVO) on campus.
What are a student's responsibilities and policies regarding __________?
Many of your questions about student behavior, responsibilities, and conduct may be found at the department policies page and also the Standards for Student Conduct published by the Student Affairs Office.
What if I still have more questions?
You may schedule a General Program Questions appointment with an HSEC Graduate Advisor.