Emergency Management Degree

Why an Emergency Management Degree?

Emergency management involves preparing for, responding to, and recovering from unanticipated events that cause injuries, deaths, and property damage. These events may be man-made or natural disasters such as fires, explosions, pandemics, tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. There is an increasing need for properly trained emergency planning and management professionals to address the growing threats of terrorism and climate-related natural disasters in particular. Careers in emergency management can be exciting, rewarding, and well-paid.

Two-Year Programs in Emergency Management

Many two-year colleges across the country offer associate's degrees in emergency management. This credential can help police, fire, and EMT professionals qualify for promotions. Two-year programs also train new recruits for entry-level positions. While associate's degrees in emergency management can stand on their own, they're usually intended for quick career advancement while you prepare for a full bachelor's program.

What are the education costs associated with earning an associate's degree in emergency management?

You'll generally complete a total of about 60 credits to earn a two-year degree in emergency management. Since two-year colleges typically charge in-district students an average of $110 in tuition and fees per credit hour, the average degree will cost about $6,600.

What are the entry requirements for associate's degree programs in emergency management?

Applicants to two-year programs in this field must have a high school diploma or GED. Some schools prefer applicants with real-world experience working in the field.

What coursework is required for an emergency management associate's degree?

Two-year programs focus on the practical aspects of emergency management. Coursework typically emphasizes response planning, decision-making, and communication skills. Students also take general education courses in math, science, English, and other areas.

What are my employment options with an associate's degree in emergency management?

This credential can help police, fire, and emergency medical technician (EMT) professionals qualify for promotions. Two-year programs also train new recruits for entry-level positions.

School Spotlight

Adelphi University - New York

Adelphi University in Garden City, New York offers an Associate of Science in Emergency Services Administration. The 64 credit, liberal arts-based program is geared toward those already working in related careers, such as police, emergency medical technicians, fire fighters, and military personnel. Coursework focuses on management and master planning for emergency services, including their financial and legal aspects. The program also covers organizational behavior, occupational safety and health, global development and conflict, and principles of management. Prior academy training can count towards college credit.

Drury University - Missouri

Drury University in Springfield, Missouri grants an Associate of Science in Emergency Management. In addition to general education requirements, students take 18 hours of coursework in the field, including hazard identification, disaster planning, private sector emergency management, organizational leadership, and conflict resolution. The program prepares students for careers in local government and nonprofit organizations.

Emergency Management Undergraduate Programs

Completion of a four-year undergraduate degree is an excellent career investment for those interested in higher-level job opportunities. While many institutions offer bachelor's programs in emergency management, the coursework involved is fairly standard. A few institutions may emphasize particular areas such as science and technology, criminal justice, or medical preparedness. Some schools offer minors or concentrations in emergency management within geography, public safety, political science, and public administration programs.

What are the education costs associated with earning a bachelor's degree in emergency management?

The expense associated with an undergraduate degree in emergency management is difficult to pin down. Costs can vary significantly by school. For example, in-state students pay an average of $9,139 per year in tuition and fees at public institutions, while out-of-state students pay nearly $23,000. A bachelor's degree in emergency management from a private college averages $31,231 per year. If you already have an associate's degree in emergency management, check with the college of your choice about applying your existing credits towards a bachelor's degree. Additionally, some schools offer credit for prior police academy, fire academy, or military training.

What are the entry requirements for undergraduate programs in emergency management?

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED.

What coursework is required for a bachelor's degree in emergency management?

Standard coursework covers planning emergency response operations, risk assessment, hazard mitigation, and disaster management. Students may also take classes on accounting and management, legal issues, and research methods. A few institutions emphasize particular areas such as science and technology, criminal justice, or medical preparedness. Some schools offer minors or concentrations in emergency management within geography, public safety, political science, and public administration degree programs. All undergraduate programs require students to take general education courses in science, math, history, the social sciences, and the liberal arts.

What are my employment options with an undergraduate degree in emergency management?

An increasing number of positions in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery now require four-year college degrees. Graduates will be qualified to fill these leadership positions at the local, regional, and state levels.

School Spotlight

Immaculata University - Pennsylvania

Immaculata University's flexible Bachelor of Science in Emergency Planning and Management accommodates the unique scheduling needs of working adults. Coursework includes classes on legal aspects of emergency management, research methods, and a capstone project. Students learn to assess potential hazards, conduct cost/benefit analyses, produce emergency response plans, and create training programs. They also gain an understanding of organizational roles in emergency response efforts. The program uses case studies to develop decision-making and communication skills. The accelerated courses can be completed in seven or eight-week terms.

Trine University - Arizona

Trine University in Peoria, Arizona offers a Bachelor of Science with a major in Emergency Management. Its curriculum was developed from the national guidelines set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as the faculty's own research. After taking core courses, students must complete the business continuity and emergency response tracks. Coursework includes weather and climate, hazard mitigation, risk assessment, disaster relief, hazardous materials operations, terrorism, the social dimensions of disaster, and an emergency management capstone. Students who have completed prior academy training may substitute this experience for one of the tracks.

Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management

There are several reasons why you may want to earn a graduate certificate in emergency management. A certificate program can update your skills, provide a career-boosting credential, or count toward a full master's degree. They're also a way for potential career-changers to explore the field of emergency management without committing to a full graduate degree.

What are the education costs associated with earning an emergency management graduate certificate?

The cost of a graduate certificate in emergency management is difficult to estimate. While students typically pay more for graduate-level courses, emergency management departments may charge less than other programs. The cost also depends on program length. A six-course (18 credit) graduate certificate program in emergency management may cost over $16,000 at a public college and up to $37,500 per year at private institutions.

What are the entry requirements for graduate certificate programs in emergency management?

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in any field. They must also meet minimum GPA requirements. Some programs only admit professionals who are currently working in law enforcement, public safety, private security, and related emergency management positions.

What coursework is required for an emergency management graduate certificate?

Coursework includes response planning, emergency management administration, threat assessment, disaster recovery, terrorism, and homeland security. The curriculum is often based on case studies. Participants also develop leadership and communication skills.

What are my employment options with a graduate certificate in emergency management?

Graduates of certificate programs will be prepared to advance into positions in emergency service administration and management.

School Spotlight

Farleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey offers a six-course Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management Administration through its School of Administrative Science. The program covers the use of geographic information systems in emergency administration, threat assessment, global preparedness, organizational planning and communications, disaster recovery, organizational continuity, and global terrorism. Each of these courses is also available online, and can count towards a full master's degree in emergency management.

Master's Degrees in Emergency Management

There are at least 40 master's degree programs that focus on emergency management in the United States. These programs prepare students for leadership positions in the field by developing critical thinking, management, and communication skills.

What are the education costs associated with earning an emergency management master's degree?

The average cost of a master's degree in emergency management can run anywhere from $11,000 per year at a public college ($916 per credit hour) to $25,000 per year ($2,083 per credit hour) at private institutions. A five-year combined bachelor's and master's program is an excellent option for earning a bachelor's degree while paying only one year's worth of additional tuition. If you've already earned a graduate certificate, contact the school you'd like to attend to ask about transfer credit.

What are the entry requirements for graduate programs in emergency management?

Applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree. Most programs only admit applicants who have worked in emergency management, such as fire fighters, police officers, military personnel, EMTs, and disaster planning professionals. Some programs in this field do not require GRE/GMAT scores.

What coursework is required for an emergency management master's degree?

Coursework typically emphasizes emergency management planning and mitigation, disaster response, business continuity, and organizational leadership. Most are professional master's degrees that focus on applied work. Professional master's programs generally require a capstone research project, rather than a thesis.

What are my employment options with a master's degree in emergency management?

Graduate degrees prepare students for leadership roles in disaster response, emergency management, and homeland security. Some graduates apply to Ph.D. programs.

School Spotlight

Arizona State Univesity

Arizona State University's online Master of Arts in Emergency Management and Homeland Security focuses on practical applications of emergency management theory. The 30-credit degree program draws on the university's criminal justice curriculum. Its “all hazards/all-threats” approach educates students from a generalist perspective. The curriculum explores public policy and management, criminal justice, science, and technology in a way that fosters critical thinking skills. Coursework culminates in a mentored applied project. Because it is a non-thesis program, a GRE is not required for admission, and the degree can be completed in as little as one year.

California State University

California State University, Long Beach offers a Master of Science in Emergency Services Administration for practicing professionals seeking promotion to managerial and administrative positions. The faculty are emergency services professionals who teach students to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies that may occur in workplaces and communities. Students conduct independent research, consult with industry experts, and develop fundamental communication, managerial, and analytical skills. The degree program is available online in its entirety.

Doctoral Programs in Emergency Management

Emergency management specialists who would like to shape the future of the discipline through teaching and research may wish to pursue a doctoral degree. Doctoral programs provide a solid background in the professional literature, theory, and evolution of the field. Research and critical thinking skills are also essential to doctoral studies. FEMA currently recognizes only nine such programs.

What are the education costs associated with earning a doctorate in emergency management?

The cost of a doctorate in emergency management will depend on which school you choose. Most Ph.D. programs require 60 credits, which can amount to a total of $55,000 at a public college and $125,000 at a private university.

What are the entry requirements for Ph.D. programs in emergency management?

Applicants to combined master's/Ph.D. programs must have at least a bachelor's degree. Other programs require completion of a master's degree in a related field. Most programs only accept candidates who are currently working in emergency management. GRE scores are generally required.

What coursework is required for a doctorate in emergency management?

Doctoral programs typically involve 42 hours of coursework and 18 hours of dissertation research. Coursework emphasizes emergency management theory, policy, statistics, and research methods. Candidates develop an in-depth specialization in a particular area of emergency management, such as medical response or terrorism. Candidates usually need to pass a qualifying exam and successfully defend a dissertation to obtain the doctorate.

What are my employment options with a doctoral degree in emergency management?

Professionals who have completed a doctoral degree work as researchers at public policy centers, or become faculty members at colleges and universities.

School Spotlight

North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University in Fargo grants a Ph.D. in Emergency Management. The program prepares graduates to teach as faculty members at colleges and universities. Candidates learn to conduct research into the effectiveness of emergency management practices and policies, and to use their research to develop their own policies. The program also explores the professional and ethical standards that guide the discipline. Students will have the opportunity to conduct research and fieldwork. They must master two of the four functional areas of emergency management (preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation) by passing a comprehensive exam.

University of Delaware

The University of Delaware in Newark offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Disaster Science and Management through its School of Public Policy and Administration. The department emphasizes theories, research methodologies, leadership, and project implementation. This interdisciplinary program accepts applicants from related areas, such as civil engineering and political science. Once accepted, candidates specialize in one of six areas. Civil engineers, for example, might choose to follow the built and natural environment track. Other tracks include organizations, management, and leadership; vulnerability and resilience; policy and planning; simulation and modeling; and health systems leadership. Coursework covers risk analysis, statistics, research methods, cost-benefit analysis, decision tools, and more. The program also offers valuable field experience that helps students better understand “boots on the ground” situations. International experiences are also available.

Employment

Emergency management specialists are employed by local, state, and federal government agencies. They also teach and conduct research at universities and run corporate emergency management programs.

While they generally keep standard schedules and work in offices, they may work long hours during emergencies, some of which may be spent outdoors. Handling these emergency situations can be stressful.

Emergency management specialists are employed nationwide. Jobs in this field are projected to grow by about eight percent from 2012 to 2022. More opportunities in the private sector will likely be balanced by fewer openings in government as budgets are cut. The threat of terrorism and climate change-related weather events will likely drive job growth in this area.

Skills You'll Develop While Studying Emergency Management

  • Coordination - Because emergency response often involves multiple organizations, professionals in this field must be able to collaborate with others and adjust their operations accordingly.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Knowing when something is wrong, or when a situation will likely get out of hand, is critical to this line of work.
  • Information Ordering - Emergency management professionals learn to prioritize and arrange actions in a particular order to streamline response operations.
  • Critical thinking - Emergency management specialists must think critically when synthesizing intelligence and assessing potential threats.
  • Management - Constructing emergency management programs and planning emergency response activities requires the ability to manage funds, resources, and people.
  • Problem-solving - Emergency management specialists must develop problem-solving skills so they can address unpredictable events and circumstances.

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