Homeland security has remained a major concern in the United States since the events of September 11, 2001. Many colleges and universities now offer advanced degrees in the homeland security field. As with many degree programs, these have their research components. Students can examine the major areas of needed research in homeland security and use them as the starting points for their own research papers.
Terrorism remains one of the major concerns in the wake of the 9-11 events. Research into terrorism as it pertains to homeland security is conducted by corporations like the RAND Corporation, which is federally and privately funded. Terrorism as a research topic presents students with many different areas of fruitful inquiry. Possible topics in the area of terrorism include advanced community planning in response to the potential threat of terrorism, how to improve recruitment and retention within the homeland security counter-terrorism force, economic concerns in the aftermath of disaster, and the cost of increased security.
Cybersecurity is another major research concern of homeland security. Given the potential for cyber-terrorism and the increased dependence on computers and the Internet for modern business, an act of sabotage against the nation's network infrastructure could prove devastating. Areas of concern noted by the Department of Homeland Security include combating malware and botnets, combating threats within the United States, usable security, attack attribution and situational understanding, systems evaluation and the survivability of time-sensitive threats.
Privacy is another major concern in homeland security, so much so that the Department of Homeland Security issued a research report in November 2010, dealing with the use of volunteers in homeland security research and their right to privacy in that setting. In the aftermath of the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies have had to deal with the privacy issue. The Patriot Act gave government agencies like the FBI the right to use surveillance tools that had already been used against crimes like drug trafficking. Fruitful areas of research in this area include studies into the psychological impact of the Patriot Act on the American public, the extent to which citizens should have privacy or give up privacy in exchange for protection, and the way in which privacy rights impede the ability of investigators and counterterrorism units to do their job.
A fourth major concern within Homeland Security and of the Environmental Protection Agency is the potential environmental impact of biological and nuclear attacks on the United States. Areas of research that have been noted by the EPA include outdoor and indoor contaminant research, technological testing and evaluation programs, the vulnerability and responses of the nation's water systems, infrastructure protection, contaminant mitigation, decontamination and treatment and risk assessment.