Pursing an Affordable Emergency Management Degree
People interested in saving lives and protecting the safety of millions should consider a degree in emergency management. The field commonly involves four areas of disaster relief work including preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.
Professionals in the field aim to prevent and respond to both natural and man-made disasters. They may work as emergency management directors, firefighters, or community health workers. Prospective students seeking to make a difference may enjoy pursuing a degree in emergency management.
On this page, we cover career and salary information and emergency management program requirements. We also provide our list of the top online emergency management degrees.
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What Can You Do With a Degree in Emergency Management?
An online degree in emergency management prepares learners to work in all aspects of disaster response. They might work in cybersecurity, firefighting, law enforcement, health services, or first response. With a bachelor's degree in emergency management, graduates can also go on to earn a master’s degree in a related area, or in public affairs.
Graduates work for both public and private organizations. This might include nonprofit, federal, or state institutions, such as FEMA, the American Red Cross, the National Guard, or the Department of Homeland Security.
What Kind of Emergency Management Degree Should You Get?
Students should look for a broad emergency management program. In these programs, learners can select a concentration in specialties of interest, such as homeland security or firefighting. These specializations help tailor their studies to their career goals.
Busy students or those who plan to continue working while earning their degree may benefit from an online program. An online emergency management degree gives students flexibility. They can complete their studies around other responsibilities without relocating.
Students looking for other affordable online degrees can browse our list of the most affordable online schools.
How Much Money Do People Make With an Emergency Management Degree?
Salary for graduates with emergency management degrees varies by job, employer, and location. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), emergency management directors earn a median annual salary of $76,250. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 6% from 2020-2030, about as fast as average.
Graduates can also work as firefighters and earn a median salary of $52,500 per year. Emergency management degree-holders can also pursue cybersecurity careers. They may work as information security analysts to protect organizations' computer networks from security breaches. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $103,590.
What Are the Requirements for a Degree in Emergency Management?
Most bachelor's degrees in emergency management require at least 120 credits. However, this varies by institution, as many provide prior learning credit for past work, military, or educational experiences. Through their coursework, students receive training in topics such as leadership, communication, and disaster response.
While enrolled in undergraduate studies, most students must take general education courses. These courses may include expository writing and college algebra. Students also complete coursework in emergency management and classes related to their chosen specialty area.
A broad, interdisciplinary mindset benefits applicants to online emergency management degrees. Students also need strong communication skills and a passion to serve the needs of society.
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What Are the Best Emergency Management Degrees?
The best online programs in emergency management tailor their curricula to busy working students. Many schools offer quality, asynchronous online programs that allow students to complete coursework at their convenience.
Top 10 Most Affordable Online Emergency Management Degrees
See our rankings methodology page.
Bellevue University’s exceptional program in Emergency Management prepares future professionals who are equipped to lead during natural and man-made catastrophes. The degree allows for students to enter in law enforcement, firefighting, or safety and security by utilizing a unique building-block approach. This advanced teaching strategy begins by introducing students to the basics of disaster events before building up skills such as mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Upon completion of this program, students may be equipped to enter directly into the workforce, or to pursue Bellevue’s equally affordable Master of Science in Emergency Management.
Students in this program will take a total of forty credit hours, with classes including subjects pertaining to both natural and manmade disasters. Students will also acquire the necessary knowledge in policies, procedures, planning, legal issues, technology, communications, and much more. Required classes include:
- Foundations for Professional Success
- Emergency Communications
- Legal Issues in Emergency Management
- American Vison and Values
- Exercise Design
Bellevue University, founded in 1966, is a relatively young instruction, but has graduated over 50,000 successful students worldwide. The university has bene recognized as a global leader in preparing students with career-level skills. Its online programs are affordable in that they offer special financing and scholarship options for working adults, military veterans, and active duty military members. In addition, students don’t spend time studying in classes that aren’t related to their majors—they dive right into core curricular knowledge and skills that will benefit them in the workforce.
The Bachelor of Science in emergency Service Administration at Utah Valley is geared towards future homeland security professionals. This program hosts incredibly low tuition rates—starting at just $270 per credit—and allows students to complete every aspect of their baccalaureate degrees online. Summer semesters are available, allowing students to earn their degrees in as little as two or three years. Even better, this program offers course credit for certain professional experiences, making this a go-to option for already-employed emergency management professionals.
This program allows students to emphasize in either Emergency Management or Emergency Care. In general, students will take classes such as:
- Managing Emergency Medical Services
- Health and Safety Program Management
- Public Program Administration
- Analytical Research Approaches to Public Emergency Services
- Psychology of Emergency Services
- Humanitarian Relief
- Legal Considerations for the Emergency Services
- Disaster Response
This program designs it courses to be compliant with national and state professional requirements, such as those established by the United States Department of Homeland Security and the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. As a result, students have access to exemplary resources. For example, the university hosts the Recruit Candidate Academy, which prepares prospective firefighters with on-the ground training. It also offers paramedic and emergency medical technician trainings, wildland firefighting certificates, and critical airway management techniques, among many other possible areas of specialization.
American Military University
Charles Town, WV
The Bachelor of Arts in Emergency and Disaster Management at American Military University is one of the most practical and hands-on programs around. It trains students to work with all scales of emergencies, from the smallest incident to the largest disaster. The program is taught by credentialed and highly experienced instructors, many of whom are board-certified emergency managers. Other faculty members hold influential positions in government or national safety organizations.
The program requires roughly four years of full time study, all in a n online format. One hundred and twenty total credits are required, including, in addition to a range of liberal arts and elective courses:
- Emergency Planning
- Emergency and Disaster Incident Command
- Hazard Mitigation and Preparedness
- Research Design and Methods
- Natural Disaster Management
- Social Media Application to Emergency and Disaster Management
- Managerial Issues in Hazardous Materials
- Consequence Management
American Military University offers students many ways to save money on their degrees, from accerlated options via transfer credits, to scholarships and even educational partnerships with employers. These partnerships help provide students with tuition reimbursements and similar discounts. Another unique feature of this program is its undergraduate book grant option, which allows students to access eBooks at no cost if they are enrolled in credit-bearing undergraduate courses.
West Texas A&M University
The Emergency Management Administration program at West Texas A&M is designed to prepare students for advanced levels of management within emergency services. This program is well-suited for full or part-time students, but is specially designed for students who are currently working in emergency management. Texas firefighters and peace officers may even be eligible for tuition waivers, making this an exceptionally affordable option.
Students will take a range of courses that expose them to the practical and logistical elements of emergency management, along with theory, leadership skills, and communication skills. Required course include:
- Risk Management
- Principles of Emergency Management
- GIS Technology for Public and Emergency Management
- Public Relations and Publicity
- Public Personnel Administration
- Emergency Management Directed Research
- Ethics and the Justice and Emergency Management Administration Systems
This program affords students the unique opportunity of access to a range of educational and professional organizations, such as the Criminal Justice Association and the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. The university also partners with various organizations to provide students internship opportunities, many of which are paid and provide critical real-world experience.
Arkansas State University
Arkansas State’s Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management is a fully online, highly interdisciplinary program that prepares students to become top professionals in emergency management and disaster preparedness. With an average class size of fewer than thirty students and a less than seventeen to one student to faculty ratio, students at Arkansas State receive the devoted attention necessary to become leaders in the field.
In addition to a broad spectrum of courses in mitigation, planning, recovery, and emergency response, students will also select an emphasis area that allows them to tailor their studies to their professional and personal interests and goals. Required classes include:
- Responding to Environmental Health Emergencies
- Principles of Healthcare Emergency Management
- Respiratory Protection
- Global Perspectives in Disaster Preparedness
- Fundamentals of CBRNE Crime Scene Management
- Ethical/Legal Considerations
- Business Continuity in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management
Arkansas State is willing to work with each student to ensure that his or her career goals are met with as little personal expense as possible. In addition rock-bottom tuition rates, the university also offers prior learning assessment, or experiential credit. This allows students to earn credit for previous work experiences, military service, independent study, volunteer work, or employer training programs.
SUNY College of Technology at Canton
This unique program focuses on providing students with hands-on experience in developing exercises through the use of cutting edge incident management technology and emergency operating centers. This state-of-the-art program allows students to use the newest Graphical Information System and virtual Emergency Operations Center systems, which are used by many states and almost all federal agencies. Students also engage in virtual disaster simulations and hazard modeling. This level of experience prepares students for immediate employment in the field.
This convenient program offers classes in succinct seven week sessions, making it a flexible and affordable option for most students. Required classes include:
- Risk and Hazard Impact Studies
- Disaster Management and Preparedness
- Public Budgeting and Fiscal Management
- Communities: Preparedness and Defense
- Management Communications
- Simulated Disaster Training
- Incident Command; System Coordination and Assessment
SUNY Canton offers a one hundred percent job placement rate for students in this program. The convenience and affordability of this program means that students don’t have to travel to take classes and can participate in lectures, discussions, and assignments at any hour of any day. The program also features an internship option that allows students to engage with local county and state emergency management agencies, along with organizations such as the American Red Cross for course credit and hands-on experience.
Jacksonville State University
Jacksonville State University is distinguished from other universities in that students receive access to an accredited program taught by the top-ranked faculty in the nation. Students are taught by faculty who currently work, or have extensive experience in, emergency management. The department is large, giving students the option to complete Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, or even Doctor of Science programs in Emergency Management. All classes take place entirely online, allowing students to complete work at their own pace.
This interdisciplinary program combines professional practice with theoretical training. Students don’t just learn the fundamentals of emergency management—they actually have a chance to practice it in a real-world setting. One hundred and twenty total credit hours are required, including coursework in:
- Populations at Risk
- Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness
- Research in Disaster and Emergency Management
- Disaster Response and Recovery
The university also features a rank of flexible minors that allow students to tailor their degrees towards their future or current careers. Minors include Public Safety Telecommunications, Homeland Security, and other approved programs. Students also complete a range of liberal arts courses that provide them with a useful breadth of knowledge that can be applied to any setting in emergency management.
American Intercontinental University
The specialized Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Homeland Security and Crisis Management at American Intercontinental can provide students with an industry-focused look at the relationship between police agencies and the communities they serve. This program is research-based, and allows students to apply their original research toward problem-solving and technology usage in areas such as terrorism, counter-terrorism, and national disaster concepts.
This program has extensive room for students to pursue general electives, allowing them great flexibility in designing relevant coursework. In addition to options for capstone and internship completion courses, students will also take classes such as:
- Foundations of Crisis Management
- Terrorism and Homeland Security
- Critical Infrastructures
- Stress and Crisis Management
- Homeland Security and Crisis Management Planning
- Psychosocial Dimensions of Terrorism
- Communication and Crisis Planning
This university provides students with a myriad of options in paying for their undergraduate degrees. A number of institutional scholarships and grants help offset overall program costs, and the university also offers a forty-five percent tuition reduction to military undergraduate students. The university’s transfer-friendly credit policy allows students to transfer in up to three quarters of the credits earned towards a degree, as well as prior learning credit for past college courses, military service, volunteer work, or even work experience.
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh offers a Fire and Emergency Response Management program that is so outstanding, it was awarded the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education recognition certificate. It was also ranked one of the most affordable online colleges by SR Education Group. This program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in just two years by transferring in technical college credits. The university also provides credit for military service, National Fire Academy and FEMA credits, and other university coursework.
This program builds upon students’ professional and educational experience, adding in crucial coursework in topics such as budgeting, administrative law, management, and emergency planning. Students may choose from two different emphases when designing their course pathways: Fire Services Leadership or Emergency Management. Classes include:
- Fire and Emergency Services Leadership
- Public Administration—Public Personnel Management
- Conflict Resolution for Emergency Services
- Mentoring for Emergency Management Personnel
- Occupational Safety and Health in Emergency Services
- Fire Prevention Organization and Risk Management
- Technology in Emergency Management
The program hosts a supportive community with small classes and dedicated advisors. All on-campus resources are also available online, such as the writing center, academic advising, and the library. The university’s exclusive flat-rate tuition offer at just $360 per credit makes it easy to pay for and complete a degree. All online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Courses are offered in accelerated seven-week sessions, providing additional flexibility for students who are already working full-time or have other personal commitments.
Idaho State’s program in Emergency Management recognizes the rapidly changing demands in emergency management and related administrative responsibilities. Therefore, this program incorporates a more sophisticated approach to the subject, providing students with training in nationally recognized FEMA Higher Education curriculum.
This regionally-accredited university offers affordable in-state tuition for online classes, regardless of the student’s state of residency. In addition to coursework in emergency management, students also take thirty-six credits of general education courses to provide a more well-rounded degree. Required classes include:
- Principles of Emergency Management
- Hazards Mitigation
- Social Dimensions of Disaster
- Public Administration and Emergency Management
- Exercise Design
- Business and Industry Crisis Management
- Disaster Response and Recovery
- Incident Command System
With a student-teacher ratio of just fourteen to one, student commitment at Idaho State simply cannot be beat. In addition to the other two hundred and fifty academic programs offered at the university, the Emergency Management department offers both Associate and Bachelor degrees completely online. These online courses provide live interaction with instructors who are experts in a wide range of disciplines and leadership levels.
University of Central Missouri
The University of Central Missouri has a wide variety of degree and course offerings for emergency management professionals. While the Bachelor of Science in Crisis and Disaster Management is targeted towards future leaders in emergency preparedness, several certificate programs are also available for military members seeking to further their education. These programs are highly multidisciplinary and focus on preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery.
In addition to a variety of general education and program-specific courses, each student must also complete a practicum experience which provides extensive hands-on training in a real-world setting. Required courses for the Bachelor of Science degree include:
- Community Mitigation and Recovery
- Disaster Management and Technology
- Research Issues in Crisis and Disaster Management
- Integrated Emergency Management
- Technology Application Studies
- Intro to Crisis and Disaster Management
This program has won numerous accolades, attesting to the overall strength and affordability of the Emergency Management Program. Among its numerous recognitions, it was ranked one of the best online Bachelor’s programs in Emergency Management by BestColleges.com. The university serves over twelve-thousand students, providing access to a college with a culture of service and engaged learning. Students have access to extensive emergency management technology and even study abroad programs. This program is highly affordable and offers special tuition packages for military service members.
Western Carolina University
Western Carolina’s Bachelor of Science in Emergency and Disaster Management is ranked second in the country by the Emergency Management Degree Program Guide in its list of top ten best online emergency management degree programs. This theoretical and hand-son program is taught by faculty with a wide range of expertise, many of whom are distinguished among their peers for the quality and extent of their academic research. This up-to-date program provides students with the training necessary to stay current with developments in the field.
Students will complete a range of classes to prepare them for work with the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other organizations. Students will complete a capstone project to provide them with unique work experience at an emergency management organization or community group. Other required classes include:
- Introduction to Emergency and Disaster Management
- Risk Assessment and Vulnerability Analysis
- Political and Policy Basis of Emergency and Disaster Management
In addition to the emergency management department’s numerous recognitions, Western Carolina University as a whole has received numerous recognitions. It is one of the top fifteen public regional situations in the South, giving students access to small class sizes that contain, on average, less than thirty students. Online learning at the university is convenient and affordable, with all undergraduate students enrolling in the fall of 2018 paying less than $2,500 for out-of-state tuition per semester. This number is even lower for in-state students.
Bethel University’s Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management is designed for working professionals with at least thirty hours of previous college credit. This fully online program includes topics in both criminal justice and emergency management. Students can transfer in up to eighty hours of previously earned undergraduate credits, including military service. This allows students to save both time and money on their journeys towards degree completion.
This low-cost program requires only $362 per credit hour, including all course fees, textbooks, and technology fees. For this low rate, students will take classes such as:
- Terrorism in the Modern World
- Survey of Emergency Management
- Management of Human Resources in Public Safety Organizations
- Financial Management of Emergency Response Organizations
- Leadership in Emergency Management Organizations
- Risk Analysis and Threat Assessment
- Natural Disaster Planning and Management
- Homeland Security Law and Public Policy
Though small in size, Bethel presents huge savings to students who choose to enroll in its online degree offerings. Students may be eligible for a range of financial aid options, including federal or state loans or grants, vocational rehabilitation grants, tuition reimbursement plants, and private loan options. The university also features several institution-specific awards, such as the HOPE scholarship, making this school an affordable and convenient option for busy working adults.
The Bachelor of Science with a specialization in Emergency Management at North Arizona University prepares students to work in emergency management positons at government agencies, the Red Cross, large corporations, and other institutions. Students’ may also pursue a Master of Public Administration, a Master of Administration, or a Master of Emergency Management as well.
Students will take classes at all levels of emergency management, dealing with aspects such as leadership ethics, budgeting, problem solving, prevention, protection, and mitigation Students will engage in experiential learning by connecting classroom-based theory to real-world problems and skills application. Required courses include:
- Introduction to Public Administration
- Introduction to Emergency Management
- Incident Management Systems
- Emergency Planning
- Homeland Security
- Disaster Recovery
North Arizona University is a public university that centers all activities, including research, public service, and creative endeavors, on students. With over thirty thousand students, the university manages to keep class sizes small, at just over thirty students each. Degrees are available online, on-campus, or in a blended format. All online classes are offered through the easy-to-use Blackboard Learn platform, which allow students to participate in discussions and view lecture presentations at the times that are most convenient to them.
The Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Services at the University of Florida is designed to prepare students to move up the ranks in emergency management. Students may choose from one of three specializations in this program. Each is taught by industry-recognized faculty. Specializations include Fire, Emergency Medical Services, and Emergency Management.
The university also features a fully online Master of Fire and Emergency Services/Disaster Management. For the undergraduate degree, required courses include:
- Principles of Fire and Emergency Services Management
- FES Communications & IT
- FES Financial Management
- Public Information and Community Relations for Emergency Services
- Disaster Planning and Control
- Strategic planning for FES
Expenses at the University of Florida are shockingly low, with tuition starting at just $300 per credit hour for out of state students. For this price, students receive a high-value degree, with courses emphasizing leadership and exposure to safety awareness. The university is a top research institution, connecting students with opportunities and setting higher standards for online education. Graduates receive the same prestigious degree online as they would on campus, making this an undeniable value for any student seeking to study Fire and Emergency Services.
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