Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Jaclyn Flaherty had her heart set on a career working for the government. After an initial job search, she sought ways to give her resume a competitive edge. Her mentors recommended the master’s degree program in homeland security studies at the Van Loan School at Endicott College. A hands-on field of study with a high success rate in job placement, the program gave Flaherty the network of support she needed to follow her dreams.
After graduation, Flaherty landed a job as a cybersecurity analyst at Raytheon—a technology company specializing in defense, civil government, and cybersecurity solutions based in Waltham, Mass.
“My professors gave me the motivation and the ability to really pursue a job. The other colleges I looked into, it was mostly bookwork. With Endicott, my day to day experience helped.”
Jaclyn Flaherty M'18
“Pursuing a cyber job was not easy. Most companies are looking for people with some extra certification or experience to back up their knowledge,” says Flaherty. She found that extra edge at Endicott College. “When I entered the program, I fell in love instantly with the cohort, school, and professors around me.”
Like many graduate programs, a master's in
homeland security boasts affordable tuition and
the ability to complete the degree in 18 months.The M.S. in Homeland Security Studies covers areas of terrorism, emergency management, and cybersecurity; a cybersecurity certificate is also available. The cybersecurity courses train students for leadership roles in cyber analysis and cyberattack prevention/management, and prepare them to sit for the CompTIA Security+ exam. Perhaps surprising to some, a tech background is not required, as was the case for Flaherty. From communication to business, hospitality to criminal justice, those from various backgrounds succeed in the program.
“My professors gave me the motivation and the ability to really pursue a job," says Flaherty. “The other colleges I looked into, it was mostly bookwork.”
“As a female leader in homeland security, I am dedicated to providing future women leaders new ideas and opportunities this field can offer," says Assistant Director of Homeland Security Studies, Engrid Backstrom. "We are extremely proud of Jaclyn for her hard work and her future in cybersecurity. She took advantage of every opportunity and broke through the barriers of a male dominated field.”
The homeland security studies program now offers an online-only option for the cybersecurity certificate, opening the program up to a national and global audience of interested students.
“There is a real need out there,” says Homeland Security Studies Director, Paul Joyce, Ph.D. “In the cyber field, we are looking at upwards of 3.5 million unfilled positions in the next several years, so it’s an area of real growth.”
He adds, “We think that the private sector is an area that’s going to be of interest for homeland security grads, and several alumni are already employed there, which is very encouraging.”
“All of our faculty are practitioners in the field—from the FBI to DHS to the emergency management field—and they play an important role in understanding the dynamics of what is going on in the field and bringing that into the classroom and the curriculum.”
Paul Joyce, Ph.D., director of the homeland security program
Recent graduates have secured positions in both the public and private sector working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Biogen, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Guard, and Endicott alumni-owned cybersecurity company Steel Root. Faculty networking and peer-to-peer connections play a strong role in the job search.
The hope is for more students to realize the depth of opportunities available in emergency management and cybersecurity—including humanitarian relief, cyberattack prevention, and terrorist threat containment.
“One of the exciting and challenging parts about a career in homeland security is that it’s evolving almost as we speak,” explains Dr. Joyce, adding that one of the main focuses among the faculty is to keep the program curriculum contemporary. “All of our faculty are practitioners in the field—from the FBI to DHS to the emergency management field—and they play an important role in understanding the dynamics of what is going on in the field and bringing that into the classroom and the curriculum.”
Because of the nature of Flaherty’s security work for Raytheon, she can’t say much about what her day-to-day duties are. But she can say this: “Working for Raytheon has allowed me to give back to those around me. My next goals are to hopefully land a job as an intelligence analyst with the FBI or the Office of Intelligence and Analysis in the Boston area.” She has a number of prospects and thanks the homeland security program for that.