When there’s a disaster—whether it be a hurricane, an earthquake, or a terrorist attack—we are most aware of the first responders: police officers, firefighters, doctors. But the people who work behind the scenes to make that first response possible—emergency management specialists—are often less visible.
Emergency management positions are coming into the spotlight, however, as all levels of government step up their emergency preparedness plans. And while there is no one set path to a job in emergency management—there are an increasing number of graduate programs that prepare individuals with the necessary skills for leadership positions in the field.
What kind of Emergency Management degree should you get?
There are almost as many emphases within emergency management as there are degree programs. Whether you want to work on the business continuity end or focus on another sector—there is a probably a program that caters to your area of interest.
You’ll also need to decide if you want to study in a traditional, campus setting or in an online environment. Both options have advantages, but if flexibility is one of your top priorities—online programs allow students to balance work and personal commitments with their studies. And an online degree from an accredited institution will be as respected as a campus-based program.
For more information, check out the College Choice ranking of the Best Online Master’s in Emergency Management Degrees.
How much money do people make with a Master’s degree in Emergency Management?
Because there are so many areas of emergency management—and so many different places that emergency managers can be employed—generalizing about salary is tricky. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median salary for an Emergency Management Director at a healthy $70,500 per year. But education and experience can push that salary up.
And emergency management is a growing field. Many first responders in areas like law enforcement and the fire service are realizing their need for more training in emergency planning and preparedness. With a graduate degree in Emergency Management, you’ll be filling a need for experts in the field.
What can you do with a Master’s degree in Emergency Management?
Emergency management specialists do the hard analytical and organizational work of developing disaster response plans. They also work to coordinate and train other professionals to respond to disasters. And during an actual disaster, they may be responsible for coordinating evacuations or rescue efforts.
There are many career opportunities for highly trained emergency managers in public service—either in government or in sectors like education, healthcare, and private business. Whatever your professional background is, there is likely an area of emergency management that will fit your specific interests. Some job titles include:
- Continuity of Operations Specialist
- Preparedness Specialist
- Emergency Management Specialist
- Training and Exercise Manager
- Mitigation Planner
What are the requirements for a degree in Emergency Management?
Most graduate programs in Emergency Management have a basic requirement of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Beyond that, the specific focus of the degree may mean additional requirements—like undergraduate prerequisite coursework or GRE scores. There may also be prerequisite certifications—like Core Disaster Life Support, for example.
What are the best Emergency Management degrees?
Below, you’ll find the College Choice ranking of the top 15 Master’s in Emergency Management programs. But what makes the best program? First, we ensure that all of our listed programs are from regionally accredited institutions. And our research methodology takes into account essential criteria like institutional reputation, return on investment, and student satisfaction.
At College Choice, we take data seriously. We collect the numbers—reputation scores, tuition costs, and early career earnings—from a variety of sources (like the National Center for Educational Statistics and U.S. News and World Report). We then weigh the data to come up with a composite score that reflects both academic excellence and the probable return on your tuition investment.
We hope our ranking helps you find the best Emergency Management program for you!
Arkansas State University
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $12,310
Situated in Northeastern Arkansas, Arkansas State University is a public research university and the flagship institution of the Arkansas State University System. The school ranks among the top 25 public regional universities in the South (US News and World Report) and is home to the Regional Center for Disaster Preparedness Education
Arkansas State University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions offers a Master of Science in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (DPEM). This is an interdisciplinary program that provides a theoretical framework for disaster preparedness—including mitigation, planning, response, and recovery. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Emergency Management Education (CAEME). Courses include:
- Theory Development in DPEM
- Crisis Communication in DPEM
- Global Perspectives in DPEM
Arkansas State University’s M.S. in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management is a 36-credit program comprised of six modules with two courses each. As part of the program, students complete an internship, project, or thesis (in Module IV). For added flexibility, students can enter the program in any module. To be admitted to the program, you’ll need to complete Core Disaster Life Support and Basic Disaster Life Support.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
College Choice Score: 94.33
Average Net Price: $14,035
Located on Cape Cod, MA, Massachusetts Maritime Academy is a top-ranked, public regional university (U.S. News and World Report) and an ideal place to study emergency management. Programs combine rigorous academics and a hands-on approach to building leadership and professional skills—landing most students in career-track positions within 90 days of graduation.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy offers a Master of Science in Emergency Management program that prepares students to be successful emergency managers and leaders in both the public and private sectors. Students learn from experienced faculty how to better mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover from incidents, hazards, and emergencies. Courses include:
- Principles of Emergency Management
- Emergency Operations
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s M.S. in Emergency Management is an ideal program if you’re a working student in the Boston area. The program is comprised of 34-credits, or 11 classes, which students take one at a time in six-week periods. Classes are held at the Conference Center at Waltham Woods in Waltham, Massachusetts every other weekend beginning Friday evening and ending Saturday afternoon—students are housed at the Embassy Suites in Waltham.
Jacksonville State University
College Choice Score: 93.34
Average Net Price: $12,474
Located in Jacksonville, Alabama, Jacksonville State University is a public university that ranks among the top public regional universities in the South (U.S. News and World Report). The school’s mission is to provide distinctive educational, cultural, and social experiences for a diverse student population—including quality programs in Emergency Management.
Jacksonville State University’s Department of Emergency Management offers a Master of Science in Emergency Management that will prepare you for any community incident—from minor emergencies to major disasters. The program balances theoretical knowledge with the practical skills you’ll need to lead the way in helping your region prepare and recover from major events. Courses include:
- Foundations of Emergency Management
- Disaster Recovery
- Hazard Mitigation
Jacksonville State University’s M.S. in Emergency Management is a 30-credit program comprised of seven required core courses and three electives. There is no thesis requirement for this program, though students do complete a capstone project. Jacksonville State also offers a 15-hour Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management and a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management.
Metropolitan College of New York
College Choice Score: 92.48
Average Net Price: $20,590
If you’ve ever wanted to live in New York City, this might be your chance. The Metropolitan College of New York is a private, nationally-ranked, regional university located in the Bronx. Offering practical, career-focused education through its three schools, MCNY employs an experiential approach to education which results in competent, job-ready graduates.
Metropolitan College of New York’s School for Public Affairs and Administration offers an accelerated Master of Public Administration in Emergency and Disaster Management. Students explore the world of emergency and disaster management and learn the skills necessary to support and supervise management in the event of a natural, system-wide, or human-induced crisis. Courses include:
- Values and Ethics for Administrative Decision Making
- Research and Analysis Methods in Disaster Management
- Foundations of Business Continuity Management
Metropolitan College of New York’s MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management is an intensive, 12-month program which includes an internship and a 10-day Study Abroad component. This is an action-oriented, immersive experience—included with program tuition—where students work collaboratively in a global environment to develop a strategy for your own business.
University of New Haven
College Choice Score: 92.18
Average Net Price: $31,263
Located in West Haven, Connecticut, the University of New Haven is a private regional university that ranks among the best regional universities in the North (U.S. News and World Report). With an emphasis on collaborative, interdisciplinary, project-based learning, the University provides excellent, career-focused programs across a wide variety of disciplines.
The University of New Haven offers a Master of Science in Emergency Management. Only the second such program in New England, the curriculum prepares students for successful roles in disaster mitigation and prevention. Students learn from program faculty who are leaders and innovators in the field—bringing both professional experience and academic rigor to the classroom. Courses include:
- Principles and Practices of Hazard Mitigation
- Emergency Incident Management
- Catastrophe Readiness and Response
The University of New Haven’s M.S. in Emergency Management is a 36-credit program comprised of eight required courses and four courses of electives (in areas like criminal justice, fire science, public administration, and national security). The program is delivered both on campus and online, and students have access to a range of student supports like the Career Development Center.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 92.12
Average Net Price: $15,406
Located in Newark, New Jersey, the New Jersey Institute of Technology is a nationally-ranked, public research university. Founded by local industrialists and inventors, the school offers diverse programs in architecture, business, engineering, science, and technological fields—preparing students for rewarding careers and full-time advanced study.
New Jersey Tech offers a Master of Science in Emergency Management and Business Continuity that is ideal for corporate and public sector professionals working in emergency management and or business continuity. The curriculum prepares students to meet all requirements of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) as well as National Fire and Protection Association (NFPA). Specialty areas include:
- Information Systems
- Environmental Science
New Jersey Tech’s M.S. in Emergency Management and Business Continuity is a 30-credit program comprised of 12 credits of core courses, six credits of electives, and 12 credits in a specialty area. For added flexibility, the program is offered completely online, partially online, or on NJIT’s main campus in Newark, New Jersey. Online or on campus, NJIT’s faculty are highly qualified and engaged with each student.
Eastern Kentucky University
College Choice Score: 87.72
Average Net Price: $12,255
Located in Richmond, Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University is a public institution that ranks among the top public regional universities in the South (U.S. News and World Report). The school boasts a student to faculty ratio of 16:1, meaning small class sizes and personalized attention for its diverse student body. EKU’s prominent programs include Nursing, Education, Justice & Safety, and Forensic Science.
Eastern Kentucky University offers a Master of Science in Safety, Security & Emergency Management which prepares students for positions of leadership in the field. The program provides a broad background in emergency management as well as the ability to tailor your degree to your professional goals through concentration areas. You’ll learn to think logically as well as creatively and to communicate effectively. Concentrations include:
- Homeland Security
- School Safety
- Occupational Safety
- Fire & Emergency Services
Eastern Kentucky University’s M.S. in Safety, Security & Emergency Management is a 36-credit program offered on campus and online. Students graduating from this program will be ready to apply for the Associate Safety and Health Manager (ASHM) certification—and with two years experience in the safety and health management field you can apply for and take the Certified Safety and Health Manager (CSHM) exam.
Auburn University at Montgomery
College Choice Score: 84.51
Average Net Price: $14,518
Located in Montgomery, AL, Auburn University at Montgomery is a public regional university that ranks among the top public schools in the region (U.S. News and World Report). Located just a few miles from the state capitol, AUM offers more than 90 areas of study at the undergraduate and graduate level—including innovative programs in Homeland Security and Information Security.
The College of Public Policy and Justice at Auburn University at Montgomery offers a Master of Science in Homeland Security & Emergency Management. With a focus on preparing for, anticipating, and handling threats to public security and safety—AUM’s program is ideal for military personnel, law enforcement, IT specialists, and emergency management professionals. Courses include:
- Crime Intelligence & Analysis
- Strategic Planning & Budgeting
- Intro to Homeland Security
AUM’s M.S. in Homeland Security and Emergency Management is a relatively customizable 36-credit program with five required core courses and seven electives. Students interact with professors who bring real-world experience to the classroom, sharing insider knowledge and the critical skills necessary to respond efficiently and with confidence. The program is offered both online and on campus.
Anna Maria College
College Choice Score: 84.36
Average Net Price: $28,050
Located in Paxton, Massachusetts, Ana Maria College is a private, Catholic, liberal arts college that prides itself on providing a values-based, service-focused, liberal arts education. The school also provides a number of high-quality, accessible, and accelerated graduate and certificate programs that provide expanded training for career advancement.
Ana Maria College offers a unique Master of Science in Health Emergency Management. Designed specifically for health professionals, the program equips students with the leadership, organization, and communication skills to take on elevated roles during health emergencies and disaster events. This interdisciplinary program integrates technology, clinical practices, and emergency and disaster medicine with engineering, ethics, and computation. Courses include:
- Ethical Theory
- Clinical Foundations for Health Emergency Management
- Health Emergency Management Operations and Quality
Ana Maria College’s M.S. in Health Emergency Management is a 36-credit hybrid program, comprised of 12 eight-week courses coupled with three on-ground, hands-on simulations per year. For those who wish, there is also a thesis option. The courses are taught live at Anna Maria College, BIDMC Disaster Medicine campus, and Harvard Medical School by a combined Master Program faculty.
College Choice Score: 83.39
Average Net Price: $31,539
Founded in 1839, Boston University is one of the largest private research universities in the country. The school consistently ranks among the very best national universities—and also ranks as a Best Value school (#51 according to U.S. News and World Report). The Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at BU’s School of Medicine is home to cutting-edge research, bio-science innovation, and medical technology.
Boston University’s Division of Graduate Medical Sciences offers a Master of Science in Health Care Emergency Management. Focusing on multiple areas of biomedical sciences and health care, the program prepares individuals to work across the spectrum of emergency and crisis management. Students receive hands-on training in exercise development and incident command among other competencies. Courses include:
- Biology, Chemistry & Physics of Natural and Man-made Hazards
- Medical Consequences of Natural and Man-made Hazards
- The Disaster Life Cycle
Boston University’s M.S. in Health Care Emergency Management is a 36-credit program comprised of required courses, directed study, and a research practicum and thesis. Students can complete the program either in person or online either part-time or full-time (which can be completed in one year of study). Either way, you’ll gain a comprehensive background for facing the challenges of a career in emergency/disaster preparedness.
University of Colorado Denver
College Choice Score: 81.13
Average Net Price: $13,751
Founded in 1912, the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) is a public urban university and the largest research institution in the state. Located in downtown Denver, the university is a diverse teaching and learning community that ranks among top national public universities. And the School of Public Affairs offers stellar graduate programs that rank at #34 nationally (U.S. News and World Report).
The University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs offers both a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Criminal Justice with a concentration in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. The concentration provides advanced education in the management of emergencies, hazards, disasters, and homeland security. Courses in the EMHS concentration include:
- Principles of Emergency Management
- Law of All Hazards Management
- Hazard Mitigation and Vulnerability Assessment
CU Denver’s EMHS program can be taken as a concentration within the M.P.A. or M.C.J. degrees or as a stand-alone graduate certificate. Both programs are available on campus and online. The combination of evening and weekend classes and online courses allow students to study at their own pace. And there is also an accelerated M.P.A. which allows students to complete their degree in 11 months.
North Dakota State University
College Choice Score: 79.75
Average Net Price: $14,581
Located in the city of Fargo, on the eastern edge of the state, North Dakota State University is a nationally-ranked, public research university. The University’s student-centered focus creates a distinctively engaged learning environment. And NDSU keeps tuition competitive to provide access to their excellent programs—many of which are featured in national rankings.
North Dakota State University offers a Master of Science in Emergency Management that explores how human beings create, interact, and cope with hazards, vulnerability, and associated events. Students explore the academic literature related to Emergency Management and have opportunities to apply knowledge through research and/or a practicum. Courses include:
- Preparedness Theory and Practice
- Mitigation Theory and Practice
- Response Theory and Practice
North Dakota State University’s M.S. in Emergency Management is a 39-credit program with two track options for students. The thesis track is a research-oriented degree with both E.M. coursework and research methods. The comprehensive study track is a practice-oriented degree program for those who do not intend to pursue doctoral studies. This option involves coursework in E.M. with a significant practicum to replace the thesis.
University of Nevada-Las Vegas
College Choice Score: 69.94
Average Net Price: $11,432
Located near the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas is a nationally-ranked, public research university. With a highly diverse student body of over 29,000—UNLV features state-of-the-art research facilities and high-quality academic programs. In return, Las Vegas offers students a living laboratory for research, internships—as well as a variety of job opportunities.
The School of Public Policy and Leadership at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas offers an Executive Master of Science in Crisis and Emergency Management. This professional program is designed to maximize the expertise of experienced professionals across a variety of disciplines. Students gain practical skills to help improve their communities through better leadership and management. Courses include:
- Crisis and Emergency Management
- Science of Catastrophes
- Evolution of Terror
UNLV’s Executive M.S. in Crisis and Emergency Management is a 36-credit program comprised of 12 required courses. The program is delivered over a two year period—in a hybrid form, with a combination of online courses and six long weekends on campus. The program is cohort-based, so you’ll get to know your fellow students as you progress through course material at the same pace.
Nova Southeastern University
College Choice Score: 57.43
Average Net Price: $25,344
Located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University is a relatively young, private research institution. The school has a primary focus on the physical and social sciences but offers high-quality programs across a number of disciplines. The school emphasizes accessible education for their diverse student body and makes extensive use of technology and creative classroom formats.
Nova Southeastern University’s Huizenga College of Business offers a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Disaster and Emergency Management. This is a practically-focused, relevant curriculum designed to meet public sector, government, and nonprofit needs for emergency preparedness in the new millennium. Courses include:
- Emergency Management in the Public Sector
- Leadership in the Public Sector
- Preparedness, Planning, Mitigation, and Continuity Management
Nova Southeastern University’s M.P.A. in Disaster and Emergency Management is a 42-credit program comprised of three sections. The first section requires a set of core courses related to public administration. The second comprises chosen coursework within the Emergency Management concentration. Finally, all students choose a capstone project that best suits their professional background and goals.