Best Online Fire Science Degrees 2021

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Online fire science degrees furnish a broad skill set applicable to leadership roles in fire services, public safety, and emergency management. These programs help students build technical and administrative competencies while deepening field knowledge.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters earn a median salary of $50,850 per year. Graduates with a fire science degree may also work as fire inspectors and investigators and earn a median annual salary of $60,230. Additional careers for graduates in this field include fire protection engineer and fire marshal.

Fire science professionals benefit from strong job growth potential. For example, the BLS projects demand for firefighters to increase by 6% between 2019-2029 and demand for fire inspectors and investigators to increase by 8% in the same period.

Our guide ranks the top online fire science programs in the country. It also covers the benefits of earning an online fire science degree, as well as scholarship opportunities for fire science students.

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Top 10 Best Online Fire Science Degrees

FAQ


  • Is a fire science degree worth it?

    Yes, a degree in fire science can help aspiring firefighters stand out in the job market. It may also qualify current professionals for promotion to senior positions.


  • What degree is best for firefighting?

    Associate and bachelor’s degrees benefit early- and mid-career firefighters. Promotion beyond battalion chief, and positions like fire marshal, typically require a bachelor’s degree or higher.


  • Do firefighters with degrees get paid more?

    Earning a fire science degree can help firefighters advance to higher-paid positions. Some fire departments offer supplemental compensation for employees with an associate or bachelor’s degree.


  • How long do firefighters go to school?

    Online fire science degrees at the associate level typically require two years of full-time study. Bachelor’s degrees typically require four years, or about two years for transfer students with an associate degree.


Best Online Fire Science Degrees 2021



See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Florida is a research university that was founded over 160 years ago. UF is currently ranked as the ninth best public universities by the U.S. News & World Report. UF also offers an extensive online program that was launched in 2014 to provide an affordable, comprehensive education to the greater public. In 2016, UF Online’s bachelor’s programs were ranked eleventh in the nation.

    Program Features

    UF Online’s BS in Fire & Emergency Services instill strong managerial and leadership skills to help students meet their professional goals.

    • Specializations: Fire Specialization, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Management, or Emergency Management Specialization
    • Sample Courses: Community Risk Reduction for Emergency, Quality Management and Research in Emergency Services, Foundations of Emergency, FES Financial Management, etc.
    • Affordability—tuition rate for out of state students is only $300 per credit hour
    Notables

    This major prepares students for a variety of careers that do not require an EMS certification, such as: fire department manager, emergency medical service manager, insurance agent, etc. For further education, the school also offers an online master’s in Fire and Emergency Sciences/Disaster Management.

  2. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was formed when two entrepreneurs got together in 1925 with the goal of teaching others how to fly. The university has since grown to two in-person campuses, one in Florida and Arizona respectively, and an extensive online program that was established in 1971. ERAU’s online bachelor’s degrees have been voted among the top five in the nation according to the U.S. News & World Report for the past five years.

    Program Features

    ERAU’s online BS in Emergency Services program not only develops strong professional skills in its graduates, but also is one of the few programs that carriers the “Certificate of Recognition” from the Fire Emergency Services of Higher Education (FESHE).

    • Specializations: Aviation Emergency Management or Fire & Emergency Services
    • All students receive a National Fire Academy certificate
    • Sample Class Topics: emergency medical investigation, fire, engineering, security, dispatch, etc.
    Notables

    Students have the opportunity to work with the Dallas/Fort Worth Fire Training Research Center (DFW FTRC) and the Aircraft Fire Fighting (ARFF) Working Group for research projects. This is a great chance to get practical insight into the field.

  3. Fayetteville State University
    Location

    Fayetteville, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Fayetteville State University is the second oldest public institution of higher education in the state of North Carolina that was founded in 1867. As a historically black university, FSU strives to provide quality education for a diverse student body. FSU has consistently been ranked among the country’s top producers of African-American bachelor’s graduates.

    Program Features

    FSU’s online BS in Fire and Emergency Services Administration program serves to bring both men and women in underrepresented minorities into the fire service.

    • Partnership with the Fayetteville Fire Department, Fayetteville Technical Community College, and Cumberland County Schools
    • Sample Course Topics: fire prevention, fire investigation, fire service ethics, community risk reduction, etc.
    • Concentrations: Management or Investigations
    Notables

    As the program follows the National Fire Academy’s curriculum, students who wish to seek admission into the NFA’s Executive Fire Officer Program will have an upper hand advantage. Many graduates have also completed their master’s in other related fields such as Public Administration upon completion of this degree.

  4. Colorado State University-Global Campus
    Location

    Aurora, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Colorado State University is a public research institution located in Fort Collins. CSU offers several online options at the bachelor’s, master’s, and professional level. All classes are offered through Canvas, an online learning tool that offers video, audio, and text learning media. In addition, CSU is one of the founding partners of Unizin, a company that delivers digital education to many of the nation’s prominent universities.

    Program Features

    CSU’s online BS in Fire and Emergency Services Administration trains students to enter into upper leadership positions within the field of emergency services.

    • 120 credits; estimated two-year completion time
    • Sample Courses: Trends in Fire Science Technologies, Integrated Management Stimulation, Fire Protection Through Model Building Codes, Industrial Processes and Fire Protection, etc.
    • Program offered by the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship
    Notables

    Because this degree focuses on administration, many careers in management are possible upon graduation. Some job titles include: fire chief, public administrator, fire marshal, etc.

  5. American Public University System
    Location

    Charles Town, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The American Public University System is a private university that was created with the nation’s military and public service communities in mind. It has been recognized as a top leader in online education, having been ranked among the best online bachelor’s programs for the past several years by the U.S. News & World Report. Its online bachelor’s in Fire Science Management is operated under the American Military University, founded in 1991 by a retired Marine Corps officer.

    Program Features

    AMU’s online BS in Fire Science Management is an ideal degree for young professionals who wish to seek management positions in fire safety, public safety, and emergency services.

    • Program meets the requirements of the United States Fire Administration’s Executive Fire Officer Program
    • Sample Topics: fire safety, tactical fire operations, firefighting leadership, etc.
    • Taught by leading professionals in the field
    Notables

    AMU is the number one provider of higher education to the U.S. Armed Forces. Applications only take about 15-20 minutes to complete and have no submission fee. In addition, the university offers many opportunities for financial aid and scholarships.

  6. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    Location

    Charlotte, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is the state’s urban research university dedicated to addressing the community’s economic, educational, environmental, and social issues. UNC Charlotte offers a strong distance learning program, where students can take classes online and earn their degree from their own home. Students can enroll in the Fire Science program within the online engineering department.

    Program Features

    UNC Charlotte’s BS in Engineering Technology: Fire Science emphasizes both technical and non-technical aspects of the field.

    • Sample Courses: Principles of Fire Behavior, Active Fire Protection, Industrial Hazards & Electricity, Applied Fire Engineering Design and Analysis, etc.
    • Designed for students who already hold an associate’s in a related field
    • Affordable: less than $200 per credit hour for in-state residents
    Notables

    This program is very unique in that students will receive a degree in Engineering. Students who wish to continue their education and/or move up in their career may also enroll in the master’s Fire Protection Administration program upon graduation.

  7. University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Cincinnati is a large public research university with more than 44,000 students. UC has regularly been ranked as one of the best national universities according to the U.S. News & World Report. UC also offers Cincinnati Online, its online degree school that is ranked among the best online programs in the nation for the year of 2018.

    Program Features

    Cincinnati Online’s BS in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology is operated under the College of Engineering & Applied Science. Students will learn professional skills on a flexible schedule.

    • Includes courses from the National Fire Academy’s Fire & Emergency Services Higher Education Program (FESHE)
    • Sample Courses: Fire Tactics, EMS Special Operations, Terrorism Awareness & Planning, Political & Legal Foundations, etc.
    Notables

    For the year of 2018, there are several scholarships available for Fire Science. Some scholarships include the Barbara Barkley Memorial Scholarship or the Chief William Flamm Memorial Scholarship. Interested students should fill out the online application.

  8. Purdue University Global
    Location

    Indianapolis, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Purdue University Global offers both undergraduate and graduate education. Its mission is to prepare students for lifelong learning as well as develop the professional skills needed to enter into their desired field. Purdue Global offers both online and on-campus traditional courses.

    Program Features

    Purdue University Global's BS in Fire Science is a U.S. Fire Administration official Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) institution. Students will learn analytical, technical, legal, and technological skills to succeed in the field.

    • Sample Courses: Fire Protection Systems, Principles of Emergency Services, Legal Aspects of Emergency Services, Fire Prevention Organization and Management, etc.
    • Three Start Dates: January, April, July
    • May be eligible to earn certificates such as Fire Fighter II, Fire Officer, etc.
    Notables

    Purdue University Global also has the ability to pursue a master’s while students earn their bachelor’s in their accelerated master’s degree option. Students are eligible to pursue master’s in Public Administration, Human Services, Legal Studies, and Psychology while earning their bachelor’s in Fire Science.

  9. Columbia Southern University
    Location

    Orange Beach, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Columbia Southern University is an online university that is part of the Columbia Southern Education Group. CSU, since its founding in 1993, has always valued providing education to non-traditional students and helping them with their professional potential. CSU’s BS in Fire Administration is offered through the College of Safety & Emergency Services, designed for those who wish to dedicate their lives to a career in the public services.

    Program Features

    CSU’s online BS in Fire Administration follows the FESHE model curriculum, focused on community risk reduction and tactical fireground considerations.

    • Sample Courses: Applications in Fire Research, Building Construction for Fire Protection, Fire Prevention Organization & Management, etc.
    • Estimated completion time of five years
    • Five registration start times
    Notables

    Upon completion of this degree, the typical graduate earns an average salary of $69,266. Some current careers of alumni include: compliance managers, loss prevention managers, forest fire fighting and prevention supervisors, etc.

  10. Eastern Kentucky University
    Location

    Richmond, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Eastern Kentucky University is a four-year, public university located in Richmond, Kentucky. EKU is dedicated to offering high-quality instruction, scholarship, and service. EKU also offers over 20 completely online degree programs, with its bachelor’s programs being ranked among the top in the nation for the year of 2017 by the U.S. News & World Report. Their online bachelor’s programs are also ranked as being the best for veterans.

    Program Features

    EKU’s online Fire Science degrees teach students the basics of fire prevention, as well as the administrative and technical side of the industry.

    • 120-credit hours; 8-week courses
    • Degrees: Fire Protection Administration, Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigation, Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology, and Industrial Fire Protection Certificate
    • Sample Courses: Fire Protection Systems, Building Construction, Instructor Methodology, Emergency Service Resource Management, etc.
    Notables

    EKU’s Fire Science students train in the Fire and Safety Laboratory. This building includes a number of equipment such as an evidence inspection lab, sprinkler flow room, pump lab, and sprinkler control valve room.

What Are the Goals of a Fire Science Degree?

Online fire science degrees often cater to students with professional or volunteer firefighting experience. These programs develop advanced understanding of fire protection, safety, prevention, and suppression. Distance learning programs offer a flexible and convenient path to earning a fire science degree.

Students build administrative competencies through coursework exploring field-specific practices in human resource management, budgeting, and strategic planning. Learners also study topics like fire research application, fire-related human behavior, and political and legal issues affecting the field. Some programs offer concentrations in areas such as fire safety, fire protection, and occupational safety.

Why Get a Fire Science Degree?

A fire science degree allows students to enhance their professional skills, rise within the profession, and make a positive impact on their communities.

Prepare for Certification
A bachelor’s degree in fire science fulfills the educational requirements for the National Fire Academy’s executive fire officer certification program. Managing officer certification candidates need an associate degree.
Increased Salary
Early-career firefighters typically earn under $43,000 annually. Earning a degree can lead to advancement and higher pay. Fire captains, for example, earn about $71,000 per year, on average.
Career Mobility
An online fire science degree can position graduates for promotions. The degree also prepares current firefighters for a career shift to areas such as fire inspection.
Rewarding Work
A recent survey found that firefighting holds the highest job satisfaction rate among U.S. industries. Firefighters cited camaraderie and dedication to their mission as positive aspects of the job.
Community Engagement
Fire departments play an important public safety education role. They often partner with community organizations, schools, and media to raise fire safety and risk reduction awareness.

What Are the Requirements for a Fire Science Degree?

Admission requirements for online fire science programs vary by institution. Associate programs may only require a high school or GED diploma. Many bachelor’s-level programs require applicants to submit standardized test scores, recommendation letters, and transcripts. 

Colleges may also require applicants to hold fire science experience, professional certifications, and/or a minimum GPA. Many master’s programs require a bachelor’s degree in fire science or a related field.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Professional Organizations for Fire Science Students

Professional organizations allow online fire science degree candidates to expand their knowledge and skills, connect with established professionals, and shape their profession through volunteerism and advocacy. Members can often attend national and local events, participate in online communities, and access cutting-edge research and trends in their field.

  • National Fire Protection Association NFPA develops fire and electrical safety codes and standards, spearheads public outreach programs, and administers certifications for fire inspectors and related professions. Members can attend networking events, submit papers to NFPA's publications, and participate in its mentorship program.

  • International Association of Firefighters IAFF represents over 324,000 firefighters and paramedics across the United States and Canada. An active trade union and lobbying organization, the association promotes innovation in fire and emergency services, convenes at an annual conference, and provides continuing education resources. Members must hold full-time employment in fire, emergency medical, or rescue services.

  • Women in Fire Dedicated to supporting and advocating for women firefighters, Women in Fire provides resources, tools, and education focused on achieving gender equality in fire services. Its programs include fire camps for young women and a mentorship program for members.


Scholarships for Fire Science Students

Learners pursuing online fire science degrees can take advantage of scholarships to help offset the cost of their education. Many scholarships award students in particular geographic areas, while others accept applications nationwide. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for fire science students.

Future Firefighters Scholarships


Who Can Apply: Future Fighters awards the scholarship to learners preparing for careers as firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs. Applicants must submit an essay, interview a local firefighter, and submit transcripts.

Amount: Varies

Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation Scholarship


Who Can Apply: Established in memory of police officer Collin Rose, the scholarship provides financial assistance to students planning careers in mediation, dispute resolution, criminal justice, law enforcement, paramedic services, and firefighting. Applicants must live in Michigan and hold a 2.5 GPA or higher.

Amount: $1,000

Hood Family Scholarship for First Responders


Who Can Apply: The Pearl Mae Foundation sponsors scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students pursuing careers in healthcare and first responder fields. Applicants must submit transcripts, an essay, recommendations, and financial information. Applicants from South Florida receive priority consideration.

Amount: Varies

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