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2023 Best Online Bachelor's in Emergency Management Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 1/10/2023
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Emergency Management Badge

We live in a time of uncertainty with a growing number of natural and man-made disasters, which is why we need trained emergency management professionals. Online bachelor's degree programs in emergency management are designed to provide students with the technical expertise, best practices, and problem-solving skills to prevent and respond to all types of crisis situations, no matter how large or small. Graduates of these programs are working for local, state, and government agencies, as well as nongovernmental organizations and private businesses, and some pursue online master's degrees in emergency management.

Some of the more common courses found in emergency management bachelor's programs cover topics such as disaster management and response, terrorism, and homeland security. Coursework often focuses on building key skills, including critical thinking, planning, and communication.

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Online Emergency Management Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Online Bachelor's in Emergency Management Degrees

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Union Institute & University 100 100 $125,347
# 2 #2 Columbia College - SC 71 $56,728
# 3 #3 Waldorf University 67 $54,510
# 4 #4 American Public University System 62 $51,985
# 5 #5 Keiser University 54 $48,230

#1 Union Institute & University

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $125,347
  • Locations: Cincinnati (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Union Institute & University, a private, nonprofit institution, offers both an online Bachelor of Science in Emergency Services Management with three optional concentrations in homeland security, organizational leadership, and criminal justice and an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management with an optional concentration in homeland security. All of these degrees require 120 credit hours. The school's eight-week class format may allow some students to graduate in less than four years.

Union Institute students access coursework through the Brightspace platform. Core courses in either program include Critical Incident Management and Response, Emergency Services Administration, and Fiscal Management for Emergency Services Administrators. Programs focus on developing leadership and analytical skills to prepare graduates for management roles in emergency services and federal agencies.

#2 Columbia College - SC

  • Salary Score: 71
  • Median Starting Salary: $56,728
  • Locations: Columbia (SC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Columbia College is a private, nonprofit institution that is affiliated with the United Methodist church. The school's online Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Disaster and Emergency Management requires the completion of 120 credit hours, which some full-time students accomplish in four to five years. Columbia's acceptance rate is 97%, and its graduation rate is 54%.

At Columbia, students use the Canvas learning system to access their online courses. Psychological and Social Dimensions of Disaster, Planning for Emergency and Disaster Management, and Emergency Exercise Design and Evaluation are among the core courses in the program. In addition to learning how to prepare for and respond to emergencies, students develop skills in planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and communication.

#3 Waldorf University

  • Salary Score: 67
  • Median Starting Salary: $54,510
  • Locations: Forest City (IA)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Waldorf University, which is a private, for-profit university, offers several options for those interested in emergency management. Students can choose an online Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management with concentrations in homeland security or fire science, an online Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management with concentrations in homeland security or fire science, or an online Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Administration. All of these 120-credit hour programs are designed to be completed in four years of full-time study.

Waldorf uses the Blackboard learning platform to deliver its online courses. Enrollees take core courses such as Disaster Response and Recovery, Interagency Disaster Management, and Socio-Psychological Nature of Emergency Management, as well as related electives.

#4 American Public University System

  • Salary Score: 62
  • Median Starting Salary: $51,985
  • Locations: Charles Town (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Through the American Public University System (APU) — a private, for-profit university —students can earn either an online Bachelor of Arts in Emergency and Disaster Management or an online Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a concentration in emergency and disaster management. Both degrees require 120 credit hours, and the school's year-round format structured on eight- to 16-week classes may allow some students to earn their degree in four years or less. APU accepts all applicants and has an 18% graduation rate.

Students enrolled in either program are required to take courses on emergency planning, consequence management, risk communications, and the psychology of disasters. Graduation requirements also include a senior seminar or capstone project.

#5 Keiser University

  • Salary Score: 54
  • Median Starting Salary: $48,230
  • Locations: Daytona Beach (FL) (and 15 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Keiser University, which is a private, nonprofit school, has been recognized as a Hispanic-serving institution. The college offers a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration - Emergency Management, which requires the completion of 120 credit hours. Keiser's acceptance rate is 96%, and its graduation rate is 54%.

Keiser delivers its courses through the Blackboard learning platform. Students enrolled in this program must complete several lower-division prerequisites in English, math, and natural sciences before beginning their major-related coursework. Emergency management majors may then complete public administration courses in public policy, intergovernmental relations, and environmental politics, as well as emergency management courses in catastrophic event response planning, tactical communications, and public relations.

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Overview of Online Emergency Management

Online emergency management degrees are offered at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. There are also undergraduate and graduate certificate programs. Each degree prepares students for different careers. Those who earn an associate degree can find entry-level work. It is also a valuable degree option for those working as EMTs, firefighters, or police officers, as it can give them an advantage in these careers. At the bachelor's level, graduates will have the opportunity to take on more responsibilities and leadership roles. With a bachelor's degree and several years of experience a professional could eventually be promoted to emergency management director. Those who pursue a master's or doctorate may pursue upper-level management jobs with various organizations and government agencies or teaching at the university level.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Emergency Management

As higher levels of education become the preferred standard for emergency management professionals, those who complete an online bachelor's degree will be more competitive in the workplace than those who stop at the associate level. An online bachelor's degree allows an individual to strengthen their management and administration skills so that they can competently lead teams of first responders in situations like terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Those who want to work in higher management positions will be required to hold a bachelor's degree, at the minimum. Completing this degree typically takes four years and 120 semester credit hours. A high school diploma or GED will be required for admission. Coursework for this program includes classes in crisis management during terrorist attacks, legal aspects and ethics in emergency management, recovery practices, policy, leadership development, hazard mitigation, and others. Those interested in pursuing an online bachelor's degree in emergency management can do so at colleges and universities across the country.

The Importance of Accreditation 

When choosing an online program to attend, an important factor to consider is whether or not the school is regionally accredited. If a school is accredited, it means that an outside, independent organization has evaluated the school and its programs and determined that the institution meets a certain level of academic excellence. There are several reasons why this accreditation is important to keep in mind. First of all, students enrolled in an accredited program will know that they are getting an education which will prepare them for their future career and make them competitive in the job market. Additionally, students are only eligible for federal financial if they attend an accredited school. Credits from accredited schools also transfer more easily, and those who are hoping to secure advanced degrees like a master's or doctorate will likely need to have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university in order to be accepted.

Careers in Emergency Management 

There are many career options available in the field of emergency management from EMTs and firefighters to emergency management directors and crisis management consultants. There are emergency management positions available no matter what level of education a person has, from associate to doctoral degrees. For example, those with associate degrees may find entry-level jobs in areas such as law enforcement, firefighting, and other first responder roles. Once an individual has gained several years of work experience and additional education, he or she may be able to find work as an emergency management director. These professionals are the ones who create processes and plans for how to react when different types of emergencies occur, such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. They also work alongside government agencies, officials, relief organizations, and others to bring aid to people during and in the aftermath of an emergency. In addition to a bachelor's degree, an emergency management director will need substantial work experience, and may also need to attain various professional certifications, depending on where he or she chooses to work. It is also important for these professionals to work well under extreme stress.

With advanced degrees such as master's or doctoral degrees come more job opportunities. These individuals may pursue work in upper-level management positions and at colleges and universities in a teaching, research, or administrative capacity, and with public policy organizations and government agencies.


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