#1 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale (SIU Carbondale) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Management - Fire Service Management that focuses on the demands of an administrator or fire service organization leader. This 120-credit program generally takes full-time students four years to complete. SIU Carbondale has a 55% graduation rate, which is pretty good considering it also has a 95% acceptance rate.
SIU Carbondale utilizes the Brightspace learning management system for its online curriculum delivery. Online fire management students take courses such as Personal Philosophy of Leadership, Management of Emergency Systems, Personnel Systems Fire/Emergency Services, and Fiscal Aspects of Public Safety. Graduates often pursue careers as fire and emergency service coordinators, disaster/emergency services managers, FEMA team leaders, and border patrol agents.
#2 Colorado State University - Fort Collins
Colorado State University - Fort Collins (CSU Fort Collins) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Services Administration to help prepare students for career advancement by providing technical training and leadership skill development. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, which takes full-time students about two years. CSU Fort Collins accepts 90% of applicants, and 72% of students graduate with degrees, significantly higher than the national average.
CSU Fort Collins uses Canvas to deliver online coursework and instruction. Online fire and emergency services administration students use Canvas to access online classes, such as Policy and Public Administration, Industrial Processes and Fire Protection, Prevention Program Management, and Incident Command Systems. Potential career outcomes include fire chiefs, company officers, public administrators, fire marshals, and educators.
#3 Waldorf University
Waldorf University (WU) is a private, for-profit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Administration with a balanced curriculum of courses identified by the National Fire Academy, the U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Fire Protection Association. This program also includes a concentration in public relations. Full-time students can complete the required 120 credits in about four years. WU also offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management with a concentration in Fire Science. WU has a 72% acceptance and a 54% graduation rate.
WU delivers its online curriculum via Blackboard. Online fire science administration program courses include Fire Related Human Behavior, Diversity in the Fire Service, and Analytical Approaches to Public Fire Protection. The Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education Recognition Program (FESHE) recognizes this degree.
#4 Purdue Global
Indiana-based Purdue Global (PG) is a large public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Fire Science. The U.S. Fire Administration recognizes it as an official FESHE institution. This International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC)-accredited program requires 120 credits to graduate, and it takes four years of full-time study. An online Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Management is also available. PG has an open admission policy that accepts all applicants, and 30% of students graduate with degrees.
PG delivers its online coursework and instruction via Brightspace. Fire science distance learners engage in online classes, such as Fire Prevention Practices, Fire Investigation and Analysis, Fire Behavior and Combustion, and Principles of Emergency Services.
#5 Columbia Southern University
Alabama's Columbia Southern University (CSU) is a private, for-profit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Fire Administration recognized by the FESCHE. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, generally taking full-time students for four years. An online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health - Fire Science and an online Bachelor of Science in Fire Administration - Fire Investigation are also offered. CSU has scholarships, military tuition assistance, and Learning Partnerships to help students pay for college. CSU has a 46% graduation rate and accepts all applicants due to its open admission policy.
CSU delivers its online curriculum via Blackboard. Fire administration distance learners take a wide range of related classes, such as Fire Dynamics, Human Behavior in Fire, Legal Aspects of Emergency Services, and Terrorism Incident Management and Emergency Procedures.
#6 American Public University System
American Public University System (APUS) is a private, for-profit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Management accredited by the IFSAC. Graduating requires completing 120 credit hours which may take four years of full-time attendance. Classes start monthly and last from 8 to 16 weeks, enabling some students to finish quickly. APUS has a 100% acceptance rate due to its open admission policy and an 18% graduation rate.
APUS uses Canvas so distance learners can access online instruction and coursework. Those enrolled in the fire science management program participate in classes such as Fire Protection Hydraulics and Water Supply, Fire Safety and Risk Regulation, Psychology of Disaster, and Managerial Issues in Hazardous Materials.
#7 University of Florida
The University of Florida (UF) in Gainsville is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Services (FES) through UF Online (UFO) with three specializations: (1) Fire, (2) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Management, and (3) Emergency Management. Students complete 120 credits to graduate, averaging four years of full-time attendance. UFO is relatively competitive, with a 66% acceptance rate. However, it has a high 72% graduation rate.
UFO uses the Canvas learning management system for online program delivery. Depending on their specialty, FES distance learners take online classes, such as Community Risk Reduction for Emergency Services, Management of Mass Casualty Incidents, Disaster Planning and Control, and Disaster Recovery and Mitigation. Graduates often pursue careers in fire department management, insurance companies, federal and state government, and emergency medical service management.
Overview of Online Fire Science Degrees
An online associate degree in fire science can help students secure positions as firefighters and fire investigators. Courses in building codes, regulations, and fire protections systems discuss the ways in which the risk of fire in the built environment can be mitigated, while classes in fire behavior and fire science discuss the spread of fire and combustion during various fire situations.
An online bachelor’s degree program in fire science may be used to enter the career track and advance more quickly into fire chief or administrator positions. The bachelor’s degree covers the same foundational topics as the associate program in areas like fire science, fire prevention, and emergency response, but bachelor's students also learn about managing public service organizations, hiring fire response personnel, and the legal issues involved in emergency services.
An online master's degree in fire science covers management issues involved in emergency administration. Graduates may become administrators in fire departments or other emergency response settings, or they may be able to work in research positions. Additional education may also allow professionals to be promoted more quickly within a fire station, from entry-level firefighter to lieutenant or even fire chief.
Students should contact the firefighting agencies in the state where they hope to work in order to learn about the type of academic programs their state prefers. The National Fire Academy offers standardized national training and also offers information about two- and four-year fire science and emergency response programs across the United States.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Fire Science
The bachelor’s degree in fire science provides students with a thorough understanding of fire response tactics and sharpens critical thinking and fire service administration skills. These degrees may be traditional four-year programs requiring 120 credit hours, or they may be bachelor’s completion programs, designed for current associate-level fire personnel. Applicants need a high school diploma or associate degree, depending on the program type. Applicants must also be physically fit in order to complete practical training.
Core courses in the fire science bachelor’s cover the role of fire services and how to respond properly to fires in different types of structures. Students learn how to read a fire and apply an understanding of combustion and how fires spread in order to anticipate how a particular structure will burn. In on-site training sessions, students work with water supplies and different extinguishing strategies. A key function of the bachelor’s program in fire science is also to provide leadership and administration skills. Fire and emergency staffing, budgeting, public policy administration, and organizational behavior are some commonly required courses. Other classes look at special functions of fire services, like their role in mitigating natural disasters.
The fire science bachelor’s degree can open up entry-level and advanced fire safety positions. Current firefighters can complete a bachelor’s in order to qualify for administrative positions such as assistant chief, deputy chief, or chief.
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