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Best Online Master's in Emergency Management Degrees

By Jordan Beliles | Updated 8/1/2022
2020 Best Online Master's in Emergency Management Badge

The following 24 schools offer the best online master's in emergency management programs, based on their low tuition rates and high mid-career salary potentials. The University of Colorado Denver is ranked #1, offering a Master of Criminal Justice - Emergency Management and Homeland Security for $11,358 per year. Graduates of the school reported a median salary of $120,708. Second-ranked Tulane University offers a Master of Public Health - Disaster Management for $31,510 per year. Graduates of the school's emergency management program earn a median salary of $122,863.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 University of Colorado Denver $11,358 $120,708
# 2 #2 Tulane University $31,510 $122,863
# 3 #3 California State University-Long Beach $7,984 $112,009
# 4 #4 Adelphi University $14,400 $111,683
# 5 #5 DePaul University $17,030
# 7 #7 Arizona State University $8,512 $104,687
# 8 #8 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh $9,900 $103,000
# 9 #9 University of Denver $22,816 $103,055
# 10 #10 University of Maryland Global Campus $11,862 $98,635
# 11 #11 Clemson University $14,840 $98,877
# 12 #12 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus $14,898 $96,642
# 13 #13 University of Central Florida $10,422 $94,329
# 14 #14 Norwich University $17,256 $96,863
# 15 #15 University of Alaska Fairbanks $9,240 $92,800
# 16 #16 Virginia Commonwealth University $14,229 $93,985
# 17 #17 University of Nevada at Las Vegas $15,051 $93,780
# 18 #18 Upper Iowa University $9,990 $89,100
# 19 #19 Georgetown University $64,170 $110,622
# 20 #20 University of New Haven $16,920 $90,503
# 21 #21 University of South Florida Online $18,538 $89,765
# 22 #22 Excelsior College $9,675 $85,713
# 23 #23 Eastern Kentucky University $10,998 $85,958
# 24 #24 Thomas Jefferson University $42,840 $97,033
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Emergency Management Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 University of Colorado Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $11,358
  • Median Salary: $120,708
  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Colorado Denver offers several options for students interested in pursuing online emergency management degrees. The online Master of Criminal Justice—available with a concentration in Emergency Management and Homeland Security or Disasters, Hazards, and Emergency Management—presents an interdisciplinary curriculum with a focus on criminology. Students in the program learn about crime data analysis, victim advocacy, and criminal justice policy and reform, among other topics. The online Master of Public Administration is available with several concentrations, including disasters, hazards, and emergency management and emergency management and homeland security. These programs deliver core classes in public administration and policy and prepare graduates for public service. Both 36-credit programs require either a thesis or capstone project.

Emergency management graduate students use the Canvas learning system to engage in online, asynchronous coursework. Online students are eligible for federal financial aid programs and school-sponsored scholarships. The University of Colorado is a military-friendly school, offering aid and support services for active duty military members, veterans, reservists, and their dependents.

If prospective students have any questions before submitting their online applications, they can contact the school's Enrollment Navigators for assistance. There are start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. Enrolled students receive guidance from Student Success Navigators and have access to resources such as the library, writing center, and technology guide.

#2 Tulane University

  • Annual Tuition: $31,510
  • Median Salary: $122,863
  • Locations: New Orleans (LA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The online Master of Public Health in Disaster Management program at Tulane University is focused on developing students' crisis communication skills and teaching them effective responses in the wake of both natural and man-made disasters. This online emergency management degree requires the completion of 42 credits, including an integrated learning experience involving a public health analysis and a supervised practical experience. Applicants come from diverse educational and professional backgrounds, including public and environmental health, behavioral health, and the biological sciences.

Through the Canvas online learning system, Tulane faculty deliver asynchronous course materials and synchronous class discussions, lectures, and projects. Graduate students are eligible for federal financial aid, as well as scholarships and grants provided by the school. Within one year of earning a Tulane public health degree, 95% of graduates find employment or continue their education.

Interested students should submit their application materials through SOPHAS, the universal application service for public health programs. Online students gain access to the library, tech support, student organizations, and career services.

#3 California State University-Long Beach

  • Annual Tuition: $7,984
  • Median Salary: $112,009
  • Locations: Long Beach (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The online Master of Science in Emergency Services Administration at California State University Long Beach teaches students the skills they need for management and leadership positions in the field of emergency services. The 32-unit curriculum is based on theory and research and is focused on complex topics related to disaster risk management. All students will complete either a project or a thesis based on their communities or organizations. This program is well suited for emergency management professionals — including firefighters, police officers, veterans, currently enlisted military personnel, and disaster response professionals — looking to advance their education. Students living in the greater Los Angeles area may be eligible for an internship with the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Program enrollees start with a cohort in the fall semester and complete their sequential courses asynchronously through the Desire2Learn online system. Master's degree students, especially veterans and their dependents, may be eligible for various forms of financial assistance.

The deadline to submit an online application is June 1 for a fall start date. Distance learners have access to academic advising and online library resources.

#4 Adelphi University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,400
  • Median Salary: $111,683
  • Locations: Garden City (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Master of Science in Emergency Management program at Adelphi University takes a multidisciplinary approach to hazard planning. Faculty members have extensive experience managing planned and unforeseen events, such as terrorist attacks, medical epidemics, transportation emergencies, and natural disasters. The program combines hands-on training with theory-based knowledge for an education that can lead to career opportunities in emergency management. To graduate, students must complete 39 credit hours, including a summative capstone project. Most enrollees complete the program in two to three years.

At Adelphi, graduate students use the Moodle online learning management system to access and complete primarily asynchronous assignments and class discussions. MS in Emergency Management students may be able to earn credit from prior work and military experience. The Concurrent Admission Program (ConAP) permits students enlisted in the military to complete coursework in this program while they continue to fulfill their service duties. All online students are eligible for federal financial aid, and active duty, reserve, and veteran students are entitled to tuition discounts.

Distance learners have access to library resources, career services, and online tutoring. Prospective students can apply online through the Adelphi University website.

#5 DePaul University

  • Annual Tuition: $17,030
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

A concentration in emergency management is available through the online Master of Public Service Management degree at DePaul University. The curriculum is suited for individuals who want to build the skills needed to pursue management opportunities in a variety of fields in the public and private sectors, including government, education, and health care. Students must complete an integrative seminar or a thesis to earn the degree. This program can be completed within two years with an additional summer session.

#7 Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,512
  • Median Salary: $104,687
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arizona State University hosts an online Master of Arts in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. The 33-credit program gives students the option to choose one of five concentrations: Biosecurity and Threat Management, Community Resilience, Cybersecurity Policy and Management, Emergency Management, and Homeland Security. The degree can be completed on a part-time or full-time schedule, and the 10 or 11 courses in each concentration can be completed in one year. Coursework explores topics such as international security and disaster mitigation.

Students take one course at a time, each one lasting seven and a half weeks, through Canvas. Distance learners are eligible for federal financial aid and may search for applicable scholarships through the ASU scholarship portal.

All applicants must have earned a bachelor’s or master’s in criminology, criminal justice, public administration, social work, or another closely related field. Applicants must submit official transcripts and other documents along with their online applications.

#8 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

  • Annual Tuition: $9,900
  • Median Salary: $103,000
  • Locations: Oshkosh (WI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh offers an online Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree with a professional emphasis in Fire and Emergency Administration and Management. The degree program requires students to complete 36 credits, composed of 27 foundation courses and nine hours in the professional emphasis concentration. The program can be completed in two to four years on a full-time or part-time basis. Students in the program will complete courses such as Multicultural and Diversity Strategy for the Fire Service, Supervisory Skills for Fire and Emergency Personnel, Crisis Management and Leadership, and Municipal Management.

Classes are delivered asynchronously through the Canvas learning management system. However, elements of some courses may be synchronous. Online discussion boards allow students to connect with their peers and professors. Scholarships, grants, and fellowships are available for graduate students enrolled in the MPA program.

Prospective students can submit their applications online. Classes are offered in the spring, fall, and summer semesters, and students can enroll during the fall and spring terms.

#9 University of Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $22,816
  • Median Salary: $103,055
  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Denver offers an online Master of Science in Security Management with a concentration in Emergency Planning and Response through its University College. The program can be completed part-time or full-time in as little as 18 months. Students are required to complete 12 courses, totaling 48 credits. Each term lasts 10 weeks, with four terms per year. Students will take courses such as Critical Incident Management, Emergency Planning, Hazardous and Radiological Material Preparedness, and Mitigation for Emergency Managers.

Online classes are asynchronous, and class materials are delivered through the Canvas online learning management system. Students communicate with their peers and professors through live chats, email, discussion boards, and web conferencing. Distance learners enrolled in this master's degree program may be eligible for federal loans and scholarships. Veterans may also be eligible for a number of scholarships and other benefits.

To qualify for enrollment, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Interested students should submit their applications through the school's website.

#10 University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $11,862
  • Median Salary: $98,635
  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online Master of Science in Management with a concentration in Emergency Management. The 36-credit degree program is designed to help students master the five focus points of the National Preparedness Goal—prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. The degree is meant for mid-career professionals and can be pursued full-time or part-time, but must be completed within five consecutive years. Topics of study include financial analysis, organization theory, vulnerability assessments, and crisis communication. Students will be required to complete a capstone course in strategic management at the end of the program and must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Online courses are administered through the Learning Experience Online platform. Courses are asynchronous, and students can communicate with their peers and instructors through online discussion boards and email.

Applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose along with official transcripts proving the completion of a bachelor’s degree and relevant coursework. Virtual students have access to online tutoring, the UMGC Writing Center, and the UMGC library.

#11 Clemson University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,840
  • Median Salary: $98,877
  • Locations: Clemson (SC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Clemson University offers an online Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management that can be completed through its College of Behavioral, Social, and Health Sciences. The degree program requires students to complete 39 to 42 credits, depending on whether a student decides to complete a capstone final research project or take a comprehensive exam. Students can enroll part-time or full-time and have up to six years to complete their degrees. Students who do not have professional experience in the field will need to complete an internship before graduating.

Classes are delivered synchronously so students can interact with their professors and peers and participate in interactive group activities. Students access classes and course materials through the Canvas learning platform and use Zoom web conferencing to join live classes. Graduate students are eligible for federal financial aid, as well as some fellowships and awards.

Students can enroll in the fall, spring, and summer terms. Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university and will need to submit online applications.

#12 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $14,898
  • Median Salary: $96,642
  • Locations: Stillwater (OK)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Oklahoma State University offers an online Master of Science in Fire and Emergency Management Administration through the university's College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology. The 33-credit degree program is designed for mid-career professionals who are looking to serve as managers or administrators in the fire service, emergency management, emergency medical services, or other related careers. All students are required to complete three credit hours for a practicum research project or at least six credit hours for a thesis.

Courses are delivered synchronously through the Canvas learning management system, and all graduate students are required to complete nine credits on campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma. These on-campus credits can be completed during one-week courses in the summer semester. Scholarships and other forms of financial aid are available.

To be eligible to enroll, students should have significant experience in a fire or emergency service organization and a bachelor’s degree with a major or minor in a discipline related to fire or emergency services. Applicants must submit online applications with official college transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a current resume, and an essay outlining their career goals.

#13 University of Central Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $10,422
  • Median Salary: $94,329
  • Locations: Orlando (FL) (and 7 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Central Florida (UCF) offers a Master of Emergency and Crisis Management (MECM) degree through its College of Community Innovation and Education. The online emergency management degree requires students to complete 36 credits. Coursework is designed to train enrollees to consider all of the practical, financial, political, and ethical aspects of any emergency situation. The MECM degree is a non-thesis program that prepares individuals to be trained practitioners ready to formulate and implement response and recovery plans quickly.

Online courses are delivered asynchronously through Canvas, but they often require group work and interaction through discussion boards and web conferencing. Online students are eligible for scholarships, and options can be researched through the school's A2O scholarship portal. UCF offers a special scholarship exclusively for online students.

Applications should be submitted online, and students can enroll in the fall, spring, or summer terms. Distance learners will have access to a success coach, academic advisors, and program coordinators.

#14 Norwich University

  • Annual Tuition: $17,256
  • Median Salary: $96,863
  • Locations: Northfield (VT)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Norwich University offers a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Public Administration leadership and Crisis Management. This online emergency management degree takes an average of 18 months to finish and requires students to complete 36 credit hours. Students take one 11-week course at a time, and they progress through the program as part of a cohort of peers. The Public Administration Leadership and Crisis Management courses cover topics such as foundations of leadership, ethical decision-making, public leadership, crisis management, and organizational change. All students are required to report to the Norwich University campus in Vermont for a one-week residency at the end of the program. This capstone course includes networking sessions, interdisciplinary workshops, presentations, and academic recognition.

Online courses at Norwich University are delivered asynchronously through Moodle, and students are expected to participate in online discussions and submit weekly assignments. All distance learners are eligible for financial aid, and the school provides tuition assistance and other benefits for military members and veterans.

Applicants to the program should submit their applications online. Graduate programs have start dates in June, September, and December, and the application deadlines generally fall one month prior to the start dates.

#15 University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Annual Tuition: $9,240
  • Median Salary: $92,800
  • Locations: Fairbanks (AK) (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The School of Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks offers an online Master of Security and Disaster Management. To complete this online emergency management degree, students must take a minimum of 30 credit hours. This degree is available both as a part-time and a full-time program, and most students finish it within three years. Concentrations are available in Arctic Security, Business Continuity, Cybersecurity, Disaster Management, and Strategic Leadership. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for strategic and leadership roles within emergency management and homeland security fields.

Students access course materials through the Blackboard learning management system and the eCampus platform. Most classes are asynchronous, though some may require virtual video conferencing at a scheduled time.

To be considered for admissions, students should have a bachelor’s degree in emergency management or related professional experience. Those who do not meet this requirement will need to take extra coursework. All applicants will need to submit official transcripts, a current resume, a statement of academic goals, and three letters of recommendation.

#16 Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,229
  • Median Salary: $93,985
  • Locations: Richmond (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Virginia Commonwealth University offers an online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness through its Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. This 36-credit online master’s program takes an average of one and a half to two years to complete. The program is designed to prepare students to become leaders equipped with the skills to protect their communities from unpredictable disasters.

Online courses are delivered weekly as 60- to 90-minute live sessions and include learning modules, case studies, presentations, and breakout group sessions. This program emphasizes student collaboration. Students access course materials through the Canvas learning management system and have access to a virtual student union where they can participate in study groups and make social connections with their peers.

Applicants must submit their applications online, along with official undergraduate transcripts, satisfactory standardized test scores, a current resume, and three letters of recommendation from professional references.

#17 University of Nevada at Las Vegas

  • Annual Tuition: $15,051
  • Median Salary: $93,780
  • Locations: Las Vegas (NV)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The University of Nevada at Las Vegas hosts an online Master of Science in Emergency and Crisis Management. The 36-credit degree program involves 12 courses and requires five in-person campus visits throughout the course of study, which take place over long weekends. Students are enrolled as a cohort and progress through the program at the same pace as their peers. Coursework covers the skills students need to become emergency and crisis management leaders so they can effectively address natural, intentional, and technological disasters. All students must maintain a GPA of 3.00 or higher to graduate.

Online courses are delivered through Blackboard and are asynchronous. Financial aid packages, including some scholarships, may be available for graduate students enrolled in the program.

To be considered for admission, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and proof of a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. Prospective students must submit an application, a resume, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. GRE scores may also be required.

#18 Upper Iowa University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,990
  • Median Salary: $89,100
  • Locations: Fayette (IA)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Upper Iowa University offers an online Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management and Homeland Security through its School of Arts and Sciences. The degree requires students to complete 36 credits and is designed for mid-career professionals pursuing work with leadership agencies and organizations with missions to protect communities from hazards and emergency situations. Students can enroll either part-time or full-time, but all students must complete the degree within five years of enrollment. Students are able to complete an internship for course credit.

All courses are delivered asynchronously in eight-week sessions through the school's uiuLearn online learning system. Students are required to participate in weekly discussions and submit assignments to meet deadlines. Graduate students may be eligible for some forms of financial aid, including scholarships.

Prospective applicants should submit online applications. GRE or GMAT scores are accepted but not required. Online graduate students may take advantage of resources such as career development services, the library, and IT support.

#19 Georgetown University

  • Annual Tuition: $64,170
  • Median Salary: $110,622
  • Locations: Washington D.C.
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Georgetown University's online Master of Professional Studies in Emergency and Disaster Management is a 33-credit program that can take two to five years to complete, depending on whether the student is taking classes full-time or part-time. The program is focused on preparing students to mitigate emergencies and natural hazards and understand their effects on society and the environment. Students will analyze real-world crises and organized responses and examine how new technologies can be applied to improve coordinated response efforts. The degree is meant for entry- and mid-level professionals.

Online courses are distributed through the Canvas learning platform, and most classes are asynchronous, though some do require synchronous video sessions throughout the semester.

Students can enroll in the fall, spring, or summer term. Applicants are required to submit an online application, a resume or CV, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts from previously attended institutions. Distance learners have access to library resources and technical support and can participate in on-campus and commencement activities.

#20 University of New Haven

  • Annual Tuition: $16,920
  • Median Salary: $90,503
  • Locations: West Haven (CT)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The University of New Haven offers an online Master of Science in Emergency Management program. This degree requires students to complete 36 credits, which can be done in two years. Participants take courses one at a time, with each course taking between six and seven and a half weeks to complete. The program curriculum explores disaster preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery with research-based principles.

Online courses are delivered asynchronously through the Canvas online learning management system. Students are expected to meet weekly deadlines and participate in virtual discussion boards with their classmates and professors.

Students can apply on a rolling basis, and there are course start dates throughout the year. Prospective students must submit official transcripts from all previous educational institutions, a statement of purpose, an up-to-date resume, and two letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources. GRE or other standardized test scores are accepted but not required.

#21 University of South Florida Online

  • Annual Tuition: $18,538
  • Median Salary: $89,765
  • Locations: Tampa (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of South Florida (USF) offers an online Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Disaster Management, Humanitarian Relief, and Homeland Security through its College of Public Health. The degree program requires students to take 42 credits, and courses can be taken on either a full-time or part-time schedule. The program prepares students to expand their careers as leaders within the disaster management, homeland security, and humanitarian aid fields. Before graduating, all students are required to complete a special project with field experience and to take a comprehensive exam.

Online students at USF access course materials and submit assignments through the Canvas learning management system. Graduate students enrolled in this program are eligible for a number of scholarships, awards, and other funding opportunities.

To apply, students need to submit an online application, official transcripts, a GRE score from the last five years, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and an up-to-date resume. Graduate students have access to the library, tutoring, and other resources.

#22 Excelsior College

  • Annual Tuition: $9,675
  • Median Salary: $85,713
  • Locations: Albany (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Excelsior College offers an online Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which requires the completion of 30 credit hours. Students can enroll full-time or part-time, and they are permitted to take up to six years to complete their degrees. The curriculum in this concentration explores domestic and international issues and trends and their impact on criminal justice. Students are required to take a capstone course at the end of the program, where they identify, research, and present solutions to issues in their workplace, organization, or community.

Online classes are delivered asynchronously. Learning modules vary in length depending on the topic and include recorded lectures and presentations. Graduate students are eligible for financial aid. Members and employees of any of Excelsior's partner organizations may be eligible for tuition discounts and other benefits.

To apply, students must submit official undergraduate transcripts with their online applications. Distance learners have access to remote library resources, career services, and an online writing lab.

#23 Eastern Kentucky University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,998
  • Median Salary: $85,958
  • Locations: Richmond (KY)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Eastern Kentucky University offers an online Master of Science in Safety, Security and Emergency Management. This online degree has three concentration areas: Occupational Safety, Corporate Security Operations, and Emergency Management and Disaster Resilience. The degree program requires students to complete 36 credits, a capstone applied research project, and a comprehensive exam at the end of their studies. Students graduating from the program can apply for the Associate Safety and Health Manager certification. Those with two years of professional experience in the field can apply to take the Certified Safety and Health Manager exam.

Online courses are delivered asynchronously, and students are encouraged to communicate with their peers and instructors through discussion boards and forums via the Blackboard learning platform.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Those who do not meet the GPA requirement will have to submit satisfactory GRE test scores. Applications should be submitted through the school's website.

#24 Thomas Jefferson University

  • Annual Tuition: $42,840
  • Median Salary: $97,033
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Thomas Jefferson University offers an online Master of Science in Disaster Medicine and Management through its College of Health Professions. This 36-credit degree program can be taken part-time or full-time, and there are start dates in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The curriculum explores topics such as logistics management, applied research methods and statistics, and public health implications. Students will be required to complete a one-week summer course on campus with their peers where they will hear from disaster medicine experts, network with faculty and classmates, and participate in full-scale exercises and real-world disaster simulations. They are also required to complete 100 hours of experiential learning.

Asynchronous online courses are delivered through the Blackboard platform. Students are expected to read content materials, complete assignments, post to discussion boards, and respond to their classmates’ postings. More than 63,000 alumni stay connected through the school's alumni network.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and should have relevant work experience. The application process involves submitting an online application, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a personal essay.

Overview of an Online Master's in Emergency Management

Online master's degrees in emergency management may give students the opportunities to excel in advanced management positions upon graduation. Individuals with this degree may find work in the public and private sectors, helping communities deal with emergencies and lowering the risk of disastrous situations occurring. There are also emergency management master's programs that have a homeland security emphasis, so individuals interested in a career in homeland security should look into those. Some job titles open to master's degree holders include Emergency Planner, Director of Emergency Management, and Disaster Recovery Specialist.

A master's degree will typically take one to two years to complete and requires 30-36 semester credit hours. Typical coursework includes hazard risk and vulnerability assessment, information technology in emergency management, criminal justice, and public policy. A culminating project or capstone course will also likely be required. In order to be admitted to one of these programs, a student must have earned a bachelor's degree in a related field and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Letters of recommendation and test scores from exams like the GRE or GMAT may also be required, depending on the school. Online emergency management master's programs are available at multiple colleges and universities around the country.

What Is an Emergency Management Degree?

Online master's degrees in emergency management may give you the opportunity to excel in advanced management positions upon graduation. This degree may allow you to find work in the public and private sectors, helping communities deal with emergencies and lowering the risk of disastrous situations occurring. There are also emergency management master's degrees online that have a homeland security emphasis, if you're interested in a career in federal law enforcement. Some job titles open to master's degree holders include Transportation Inspector, Director of Emergency Management, and Disaster Recovery Specialist.



A master's degree will typically take one to two years to complete and requires 30-36 semester credit hours.

Typical coursework includes hazard risk and vulnerability assessment, information technology in emergency management, criminal justice, and public policy. A culminating project or capstone course will also likely be required. In order to be admitted to one of these programs, a student must have earned a bachelor's degree in a related field and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Letters of recommendation and test scores from exams like the GRE or GMAT may also be required, depending on the school.

You may also want to check out our rankings page to review the best master's programs in homeland security, criminal justice, and public health.

Can You Get an Emergency Management Degree Online?

Yes, emergency management master's degrees are available online from various colleges and universities. You can even earn the same degree online at the bachelor's level.

These remote programs consist of mostly or 100% online coursework, which is taken through learning management systems, such as Blackboard or Canvas. In most cases, your instructors will be professionals with years of experience in the field of disaster or emergency management. Your online degree will likely feature both practical and real-world studies in order to prepare you to join the workforce post-graduation.

Financial Aid for Online Master's Students

As you're applying for your master's program in emergency management, you may be wondering about your options for financial aid, student loans, and scholarships to support the cost of tuition. Financial aid can come in many forms, from federal government support through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to regional aid programs that are specific to your state.


Federal financial aid is also available for graduate-level students, regardless if you complete your degree online or in a campus environment. In some cases, qualifying students may borrow up to $20,500 per year through the Direct Loan Program.


Common Courses for an Emergency Management Master's Program

Emergency management online courses can cover a wide range of subjects related to disaster and law enforcement. Ultimately, the coursework will depend on the subject your program is tailored toward. Below are some examples:

For concentrations that stem from a criminal justice lens, you may learn about security-related tactics alongside natural disasters, hazards, and resilience techniques.

For the programs that are tailored towards emergency management overall, you may see courses focused on public health, such as Epidemiology for Public Health, Health Systems, Policy, and Management, or Design Strategies for Public Health Programs.

For those focused on the administrative side of emergency management, you may encounter coursework including Administrative Leadership, Risk, Crisis, and Interagency Communications, or Governance and Civics.

What Can You Do With an Emergency Management Master's Degree?

As noted above, your career path within the field of emergency management may vary slightly depending on your specific area of study. With many niches to choose from, it's possible to tailor your program to fit your career goals.


EXPERT TIP


Before settling on an online emergency management degree at the master's level, be sure you have a specific job goal in mind. This will help you choose the program best suited for your long-term career aspirations.

Emergency Management Director

Annual Median Salary: $76,730
Job Growth Rate: 6%

The job of an emergency management director is to manage groups of people in crisis situations: natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or infrastructure breakdowns. This role requires a great deal of organizational skills alongside an understanding of various emergencies and how they affect a societal structure.

Police/Detective

Annual Median Salary: $66,020
Job Growth Rate: 7%

If you're interested in the law enforcement aspect of emergency management, you can work towards a career as a police detective. Police detectives, along with other emergency response teams, are among the first ones to arrive on scene when a disaster strikes. Your job will be to secure perimeters, enforce public health procedures, and lead investigations if an emergency involves criminal activity. In non-emergency situations, detectives use forensics and criminal investigation techniques to solve crimes. This is what differentiates them from police officers, allowing your master's degree qualifications to set you apart.

Transportation Inspector

Annual Median Salary: $79,770
Job Growth Rate: 1-5%

You can also enter an industry such as transportation, where you can end up as a transportation inspector. This critical role helps ensure the safety of large transportation hubs, such as airports or train terminals. While this position may have a slightly below average growth rate, it's still a viable career path, especially with the looming threat of natural disasters, such as flooding and rising sea levels, which affect transportation systems around the world. Master's degree holders can move into a role as a transportation safety manager, which oversees teams of inspectors and guides safety policy.

Safety Specialist

Annual Median Salary: $77,560
Job Growth Rate: 5-10%

Not all emergency management careers operate after a disaster occurs; some work proactively to prevent them from occurring in the first place. The role of a safety specialist is to design safety protocols in hazardous workplaces. This includes everywhere from large chemical plants to factory environments, where ergonomics play an important role in preventing worker injuries.

Professional Organizations for Emergency Management Graduates

Upon graduation, you may be interested in joining an organization that revolves around emergency preparedness. This could help open doors to new job opportunities and keep you up-to-date with the latest trends and procedures in disaster mitigation and emergency management.

The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) is one such organization, with decades of experience that allows them to provide expertise to government agencies during moments of disaster. Anyone involved in emergency management at a professional level is eligible to become a member.

Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI) has been around since 1988. They offer dozens of certifications and courses for professionals in the industry, from cybersecurity to risk management.

There's also the International Association for Emergency Managers (IAEM) which offers job resources, industry certifications, and conferences for its members.

Is a Master's Degree in Emergency Management Worth It?

Earning a master's degree in emergency management is generally the final step to complete before becoming a professional in the field. The graduate-level coursework you'll encounter will prepare you for a career in management and administration for local or federal disaster, safety, or security organizations.

Don't worry about whether or not your emergency management master's online degree is respected. HR managers don't consider distance learning to be any different than a traditional college learning environment.

Let's go through the pros and cons of earning your online master's degree in this field:

Potential Benefits

Graduates that hold master's degrees earn an average of $240 more per week compared to those with a bachelor's degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The employment outlook for disaster relief is very positive. The BLS states that there is a growing need for these roles, and job growth will reach 200,000 positions by 2026.

Emergency management can be a fulfilling career path because it allows you the opportunity to mitigate disaster damage against vulnerable communities around the world and develop plans to save lives before disaster strikes.

Potential Drawbacks

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of a master's degree is $66,340 for one to two years of tuition plus fees. While this cost may be slightly lower if you are earning your degree in emergency management online, it still adds a significant cost to your overall education.

While a master's degree in emergency management may set you up for managerial roles down the line, entry-level roles at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only require a bachelor's degree.

In times of disaster, emergency response professionals may experience periods of intense exhaustion and physical challenges. These jobs can be very stressful, particularly when it comes to helping people during dangerous emergencies.

Alternative Master's Degrees to Emergency Management

If your school of choice doesn't have a master's degree in emergency management, or perhaps you prefer a different route to a similar career field, you may be interested in the following degree alternatives:

After a devastating event, people often look to counselors to help them cope with their losses from a mental health perspective. Earning a master's in counseling will prepare you for such a career.

Similarly, master's degrees in nursing, public health, and health care administration all prepare graduates to mitigate the damage done during unexpected emergencies.

You may also be interested in a master's in political science where you can learn to craft laws and policies that relate to emergency management and disaster response agencies.

Bottom Line

Earning a master's degree in any field is an important step in securing a high-paying salary and job security. This is also true for the emergency management and disaster relief industries, which may reward master's degree holders with director- and managerial-level roles.

These degree programs will require you to study a range of topics — from public policy to risk management — all with the purpose of preparing you with the skills and knowledge to develop emergency procedures. With job growth levels expected to rise into the next decade, an emergency management master's degree can be a great tool to secure your future in the industry.

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