Commandant (DCMS-DPR-5)
U.S. Coast Guard
2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE
Stop 7907
Washington, D.C. 20593-7907

Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) - Master's Degree Program

About the Course

The CHDS Master's Degree Program focuses on building collaboration among local, tribal, state, and federal leaders who develop strategies, plans, and programs to prepare and respond to national security threats and catastrophic events. This is an 18-month program that requires two weeks of residency per quarter (total of 12 weeks) at either the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA or in the National Capital Region (at the Bolger Center outside of Washington, DC), with the remainder of the work completed online. This degree is fully funded by a FEMA grant. More details can be found here.

CHDS Programs are part of the DHS Academic Programs that provide its employees degrees and/or professional development opportunities for Coast Guard civilians and military at Department of Defense Senior Service Schools and other academic institutions. Application periods vary, and programs are added throughout the year.   

Training Objectives

CHDS is structured around the key policy and organizational design problems that future Homeland Security leaders are likely to confront, and the analytical skills they will need to meet those challenges. Participants develop critical thinking skills and an appreciation of interagency collaboration. They are able to network with colleagues who represent law enforcement, fire, emergency management, transportation, utilities, DHS, and the National Guard as well as other agencies. During this rigorous program, participants will complete a thesis that solves a problem within the agency they represent. 


Tuition, fees, and travel are funded through a grant from FEMA. Participants will be required to sign a Continuing Service Agreement if selected to participate in GAP. The service obligation for CHDS is 24 months.


Applicants must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Consideration is given to those who already have a master’s degree. Any individual who has completed a degree under a Department of Homeland Security graduate academic program within the last three years is not eligible to apply.


Monterey Cohorts: In-residence course sessions are held at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. 

National Capital Region Cohorts: In-residence course sessions are held at 
the Bolger Center outside of Washington, D.C.


18-month course with 2 week in residence sessions each quarter.

Participants spend an average of 15-20 hours per week during the network-based learning periods of study – reading assigned materials, participating in online discussions with faculty and other participants, and preparing papers and projects. Participants and their Units must be cognizant of this commitment and should view it as an investment in enhancing the individual´s and the jurisdiction’s homeland security capabilities. 


M.A. Security Studies (Homeland Security and Defense)

Eligibility Requirements

Federal employees who have been with DHS for at least one year are eligible to apply. Employees must have achieved at least a “Achieved Expectations” or equivalent on their last review, and must be in good standing. Applicants must active duty Officer with a Command endorsement, active duty E5 and above with a Command endorsement, GS 12-15, or a member of the Senior Executive Service or equivalent. Exceptional GS-11s may apply.

An exceptional GS-11 is one who:

  • Has demonstrated the ability to supervise or lead a team (such as assigning and monitoring work; maintaining workflow)
  • Is responsible for strategic and operational planning
  • Has the ability to prepare reports, correspondence, and other communications materials
  • Has demonstrated the ability to work effectively under time constraints and in stressful situations
  • Has the ability to communicate well, both written and orally

Application Procedures

Please pay close attention, as the process is different for civilian and military personnel. 
Civilian: Please note that BOTH a DHS nomination and CHDS application are required. Applicants are encouraged to complete both applications at the same time. 

1.  DHS nomination packages are located on the DHS Academic Programs website and are due to the CG POC (listed below) by 29 MAR 2024.    

 Access the DHS CHDS Master’s Degree Application here.

2. CHDS applications are located on the CHDS website and are submitted via the website NLT 01 MAY 2024.

Military: A single application to the CHDS programs is required. Applications are located on the CHDS website and are submitted via the website by 01 MAY 2024.

Once you submit your application, please send an email to the CG POC (below) for tracking purposes. Include only your name, program name, and dates for which you applied. 

CHDS Master’s Program Website

Selection Process

All nominations will be prescreened based on the eligibility requirements listed in the criteria and forwarded to DHS for concurrence. Nomination by DHS does not guarantee selection for the program. CHDS will review all applications submitted and will make final selections based upon the school's acceptance criteria into the program.

Program Manager

Ms. Alyssa Lombardi, email:  

Additional Information

CHDS Homepage


DHS Academic Programs Website (Accessible only through Coast Guard workstations):