Post 9/11, Homeland Security Degrees Maintain Popularity

By Catherine Groux
Posted September 12, 2012 10:00 AM

Since 9/11, many students have earned degrees in homeland security.
Since 9/11, many students have earned degrees in homeland security.
When New York City's World Trade Center was struck by two hijacked airplanes on the morning of September 11, 2001, the nation was changed forever. Some survivors mourned, others were left in sheer shock - and then there were those who saw the tragic event as a call to action. Since the terrorist acts, many colleges have seen an increase in the number of students pursuing associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees in homeland security, striving to gain the skills they need to prevent another event like 9/11 from occurring.

Responding with Higher Education

No one knows this better than Al Fuentes, a retired New York City Fire Department (FDNY) captain. On September 11, 2001, Fuentes was the acting battalion chief for the FDNY Marine Division, controlling New York Harbor, UCONN Today reports. When the first plane hit the North Tower, he immediately sent three fire boats to surround lower Manhattan, then sent an additional boat directly to the World Trade Center. As the second plane zoomed over his head, he quickly realized the nation was under attack.

Fuentes was worried about the civilians who were trapped near the towers, so he quickly parked his boat and ran to the South Tower. Racing through the remains of the Marriott, Fuentes began to look for survivors. However, when the North Tower came crashing down, he lost consciousness and was buried under the rubble for two hours.

As his injuries forced him to retire from the FDNY in 2003, Fuentes decided to continue his passion by enrolling in the University of Connecticut's Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security online degree program in 2006. Two years later, he graduated.

"To say I have my master’s legitimizes everything," Fuentes told UCONN Today, "especially from an institution like the University of Connecticut."

Filling More Homeland Security Positions

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the nation has made an effort to bolster its homeland security. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of federal security jobs rose by a stunning 377%, KJRH reports. Much of this job growth was fueled by the creation of the Transportation Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Today, colleges across the country have aimed to prepare students for these careers by launching associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in homeland security. Depending on what type of training these students receive, they can pursue a wide range of careers, including border patrol agent, emergency management director, information security specialist and criminal investigator.

However, according to Homeland Security Today, individuals who want to land any type of law enforcement position in the future may be expected to take at least some postsecondary homeland security courses.

"Individuals who take these studies not only increase their own knowledge and professional effectiveness but also add to their personal credentials," the publication's website states. "It is fair to predict that in the years ahead, first responders and officials who advance in rank will have academic grounding in homeland security."

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