15 Best Online Masters in Emergency Management [2021 Guide]
If you want to advance in the field of public service and develop your leadership and business administration skills, you might consider earning an online masters in emergency management.
Jobs in the field can range from regional and urban planning work to career public service in federal agencies, such as FEMA, the CDC, or the Department of Homeland Security.
Emergency management leadership skills can also be applied in international humanitarian relief organizations, local government agencies, and nonprofits.
Online Masters in Emergency Management
Wherever your career aspirations may lead, earning a Master of Science in Emergency Management can help you develop versatile management, business, and leadership skills.
If you have your eye on emergency management or leadership roles at the national level, such as positions with FEMA or the Department of Homeland Security, then getting a masters in emergency management might be a strategic move toward that career path.
Graduate programs are now accessible online, so you’ll likely find many to choose from with flexible study options. You can even search for a masters program with course concentrations that match your interests and build on what you know.
This can be especially beneficial if you already have experience in an emergency management specialization, such as epidemiology, humanitarian relief, or natural disaster management.
Emergency Management Careers
A masters in emergency management online program can help qualify you to pursue various roles in this field.
Graduates tend to pursue careers in agencies that focus on disaster prevention and planning, emergency response coordination, or disaster relief and recovery efforts.
Senior roles might include top executive, emergency management director, and social and community services manager. Some graduates pursue project management jobs and positions with public agencies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many careers rely on candidates with expertise in project management, logistics management, administrative services, and executive leadership. These kind of skills are often the focus of many emergency management graduate programs.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Public Relations and Fundraising Managers||$116,180|
|Administrative Services and Facilities Managers||$96,940|
|Operations Research Analysts||$84,810|
|Emergency Management Directors, All||$74,590|
|Social and Community Services Managers||$67,150|
|Emergency Management Directors, Local Government||$67,060|
Working in emergency management and disaster response coordination efforts can require effective logistical, managerial, and public communications expertise. Emergency management programs can help prepare you to work in disaster management or to apply your new skills in similar careers.
Some careers in this field may require additional training or a degree concentration. Emergency logisticians, for example, are strategic in the emergency management field, but they typically require more specialized knowledge in regards to supply chain management.
Emergency and Disaster Management Curriculum
A master’s in emergency and disaster management program covers key concepts about leadership competencies and planning skills related to various cycles of disaster management. These include planning and prevention, response coordination, relief, and recovery.
- Fundamentals of Emergency Management: You’ll learn about fundamental concepts and tactics related to the disaster cycle: prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. This course also covers key themes relating to emergency response leadership, ethics, and communications.
- Crisis and Emergency Communications: This course helps future disaster management leaders understand the crucial role and dynamics of managing communications operations, including how communications planning relates to prevention efforts vs. response and recovery stages of disaster management.
- Hazard and Disaster Mitigation Planning: Whether the threat is terrorism, a public health emergency, or more common hazards like floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes, this course covers planning and policy principles related to prevention and mitigation efforts.
- Incident Management: You’ll learn about fundamental aspects of emergency response coordination efforts, including effective systems design, operations management, and ethical and reliable leadership and decision-making.
- Project Management: This course covers effective project management tools and methods with an emphasis on managing teams, budgets, facilities, logistics, and operational deployments in a challenging emergency management context.
- Risk Assessment and Awareness: You’ll study topics and methods related to effective risk assessment and the dynamics of empirical risk assessment vs. public risk awareness.
- Leadership Ethics: This course explores essential topics in both law and ethics related to emergency management and making decisions in stressful circumstances.
- Leadership Design: You’ll learn about leadership frameworks, methods, and competencies while getting a taste of what it’s like to take the helm during an emergency response scenario.
- Community Awareness and Public Relations: You’ll learn how to develop community profiles and create public relations campaigns related to diverse objectives, such as prevention, awareness, mitigation, and recovery.
- Disaster Response Design: This course explores methods for mapping, modeling, and simulating disaster response efforts, giving students hands-on practice dealing with realistic emergency and disaster response scenarios.
Curricula will vary by school. In many programs, courses may differ significantly with regard to disaster management and disaster response concentrations. So, you may want to keep an eye out for programs that offer concentrations that line up with your own professional goals, interests, and preferences.
Admissions requirements for a master’s in emergency and disaster management program can vary by university. Some schools may be interested in not only your undergraduate degrees and coursework but also what professional experience you bring to the table.
In addition to application materials and letters of reference, core admissions requirements are likely to include:
- Bachelor’s degree
- Satisfactory college GPA
- GRE or GMAT scores, if required
- Specified prerequisite coursework or professional experience, if required
If you’re having trouble meeting specific academic requirements for admission, certain schools offer curricular programs that can help you address these gaps.
If you decide to apply for an emergency management masters degree online, it can be beneficial for you to only consider fully accredited schools and programs.
Regional accreditation signifies that the curriculum and instruction in a particular program meet high standards for professional preparation. This means that your accredited degree should be honored by other schools and by prospective employers. Accreditation can also be helpful if you end up applying for financial aid.
Organizations such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) have more information about accreditation and can help you identify accredited schools.
Financial Aid for Emergency and Disaster Management Programs
Many graduate students take advantage of financial aid options. If you need help paying tuition, you may find need-based scholarships or grants that can offset tuition costs. You can also see if you qualify for student loans. It can be beneficial to review any financial aid packets carefully before making commitments.
If you’re already working in the field you’re studying, you might be eligible for tuition assistance through your employer. If you’re anticipating applying for aid, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be a good place to start.
What Can You Do with a Masters in Emergency Management?
A masters program in emergency management can help you acquire intensive knowledge and training within a short period of time. With this degree, you may pursue various careers in a number of industries.
Graduates tend to pursue careers as emergency management directors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for this position will grow 4% through 2029. Some masters programs in this field focus more on specialized topics, such as terrorism, international humanitarian relief, or epidemiology.
Other programs require you to spend more time in courses that cover widely applicable administrative skills and business management skills. So, as you consider different online master’s in emergency management programs, you might take note of course offerings and how those can influence your job prospects down the road.
Some graduates pursue careers as social and community services managers, management analysts, and operations research analysts, among other positions.
Is Emergency Management a Good Career?
Yes, emergency management is a good career field for many professionals. Communities and even countries depend on qualified emergency management and disaster response experts and leaders.
Some professionals in the emergency management field work in analyst roles with steady hours behind a desk. Some leadership and operational roles that are directly related to incident response and coordination work could involve abrupt travel itineraries and fluctuating work schedules.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, emergency management directors have average annual salaries of $74,590. The average salaries for administrative services and facilities managers, operations research analysts, and management analysts are upwards of $80,000.
What Degree Do I Need to Work for FEMA?
There’s no single degree that you need in order to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nor is there any single degree that can guarantee you a career there.
You’ll generally need at least a bachelors degree or higher to compete for most if not all career positions at FEMA. A graduate degree in emergency management may help you stand out as an applicant.
Other degrees that might interest recruiters at FEMA include business administration, organizational leadership, administrative services, human resources, or logistics.
Since FEMA is a public employer, they may require candidates to meet rigid criteria for eligibility in terms of academic degrees, work history, or professional certification or licensure.
Is a Masters Degree in Emergency Management Worth It?
Yes, a masters in emergency management is worth it for many professionals. Investing in an online graduate program can help you accelerate your own professional development, build new professional networks, and learn about the most effective practices from experienced practitioners and researchers in the field.
A masters degree can also help you acquire skills, knowledge, and confidence that may advance your career interests more quickly down the road. Common careers in this field include emergency management directors, budget analysts, and management analysts.
Universities Offering Online Masters in Emergency Management Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer emergency management degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Adelphi University offers online and blended degree programs to earn an MS in Emergency Management. The program covers how to use drones and other technology in disaster response. You do not need to submit GRE scores to apply. Students usually need to devote 8 to 10 hours per week to coursework.
Adelphi is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Arizona State University offers an online Master of Arts in Emergency Management and Homeland Security program. It requires a total of 33 credit hours, or 11 classes. Each class lasts 7.5 weeks. The curriculum covers a variety of topics, from cybersecurity to natural disasters. Five areas of concentration are available.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
At Arkansas State University, students can earn a Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management MS either online or on campus. To graduate, students must complete an internship, research project, or thesis. The internship option requires 240 hours of work at an approved site. The degree requires a total of 36 credit hours of coursework.
Arkansas State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
California State University—Long Beach offers an online Master of Science in Emergency Services Administration. The program is designed to meet the needs of working professionals, with courses being offered year round.
The curriculum covers topics such as administrative leadership, emergency planning and management theory and practice, and hazards and risk management.
CSULB is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Georgetown University has a fully accredited Master’s in Emergency and Disaster Management program that is available online and on campus. It is 33 credit hours and usually takes 2 to 5 years to complete, depending on whether you enroll full-time or part-time.
Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Jacksonville State University’s Master’s in Emergency Management can be earned entirely online. The program requires 30 semester hours of coursework, including 21 semester hours of required courses and 9 semester hours of electives.
Available electives include Disasters and the Media, Legal Aspects of Emergency Management, and Advanced Radiological Incidents Operations.
At John Jay College of Criminal Justice, students can earn an online Master of Science in Emergency Management in usually about 2 years. The program is 36 credit hours long, and courses are available in accelerated 8 week sessions. Students take 12 credit hours in core courses, 12 in management analytics, and 12 in electives.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Liberty University’s MPA in Disaster Management is offered 100% online. It is a 36 credit hour program, with courses delivered in 8 week sessions. Students usually take an average of a year and a half to finish.
The program is SACSCOC accredited and includes coursework on such topics as terrorism and homeland security, hazard mitigation, and public sector budgeting.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
National University’s Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management is available both 100% online or on campus. Classes on campus can be taken on weekends or in the evening. Classes last for just 4 weeks, and there are monthly start dates. The program emphasizes leadership and ethics.
National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Nova Southeastern University offers an M.S. in Disaster and Emergency Management that uses a flexible online format designed for working professionals. In this program, students can choose a specialty track in Maritime Safety and Security, Cyber Security, Criminal Justice, Public Health, or Fire Administration.
NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
At Saint Leo University, students can earn a Master’s in Emergency and Disaster Management entirely online. The traditional program usually takes 2 years to complete, but there is an accelerated program for students who receive special permission.
Coursework covers legal and regulatory aspects of critical incident management, risk identification and assessment, and hazard mitigation.
Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southern New Hampshire University offers a Master’s in Emergency Management. The program can often be completed in as little as 15 months and is designed to be completed at a student’s own pace.
The program is accredited by ACBSP and up to 12 credit hours of qualifying graduate-level coursework can be transferred in. Courses are accessible 24/7.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers a Master’s in Management with a specialization in Emergency Management. The degree can be earned entirely online, but select courses may be available in a hybrid format. The program requires 36 credits to graduate and accepts up to 6 qualifying transfer credits.
University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
At the University of Nevada—Las Vegas, a Master of Science in Emergency and Crisis Management program is available online. The program is designed for students who work full-time. Students are required to make five visits to campus on weekends. To graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours of coursework.
UNLV is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Virginia Commonwealth University offers an online Master’s in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. This is a 36 credit hour program with a flexible format. Students typically need 1.5 to 2 years to complete their degrees. The curriculum includes many case studies and simulations to provide students with real-world understanding.
VCU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Earning Your Emergency Management Masters Degree Online
An accredited online master’s in emergency management degree can open doors to many career or advancement opportunities in various industries.
Many professionals in this field pursue careers in regional or local agencies that are responsible for planning, analysis, communications, or operational work related to emergency management and response efforts. They may also work for federal agencies, such as FEMA or the Department of Homeland Security.
If you’re looking for public service work with more intrinsic rewards and more leadership challenges, then you might consider pursuing an online emergency management masters from an accredited university.