25 Best Online Masters in Emergency Management Programs [2020 Guide]

If you want an exciting career helping people and making a real difference in the world, consider getting an online Masters in Emergency Management.

Emergency Management Directors in a meeting

This exciting career path opens up a galaxy of lucrative and satisfying options for you, and it’s easier than you think to get started.

Best Emergency Management Masters Programs Online

Emergency Management student studying online

There are plenty of online options that allow you to get your master’s degree quickly and start your new career in emergency management right away. There are plenty of career opportunities at your fingertips.

Essentially, emergency management professionals work with people, municipalities, and the government during times of high national stress like disasters and major emergencies. The best candidates have a high threshold for stress, love working with the public, and are team players. They also should be diplomatic and thick-skinned.

You will need to assess risks accurately and identify severe threats to public safety and health. People who operate in the higher levels of this career field might find themselves delegating medical supplies and managing larger teams on the ground.

You can work at a local, regional, state, or federal level. Although many jobs don’t specifically require a Master’s in Emergency Management, this field is extraordinarily competitive, so if you want to have a leg up on the competition, it’s best to have extensive education.

You should also work on your networking skills, especially if you are looking for work in a more competitive market.

Emergency Management Curriculum & Courses

Emergency Management student studying in the library

Although all programs vary, there are a few common types of classes that you will most likely take as part of your Masters in Emergency Management coursework.

  • Applied Research Methods: This course teaches you how to properly analyze and read data, an essential skill when dealing with catastrophes.
  • Community Collaboration: You will learn how communities respond to disaster situations in this course, as well as how all branches of local government, business, and the non-profit sector are involved in recovery.
  • Emergency Management Laws and Regulations: To be effective in this particular career path, you need to understand the various laws and regulations that govern emergency management.
  • Homeland Security: Homeland Security is the United States’ first line of defense against terrorism, created in the aftermath of 9/11. This course gives you a foundational understanding of what the department does.
  • Practical Application: One of the most important courses that you’ll take, Practical Application deals with real-life scenarios and operates as a kind of internship.
  • Disaster Planning: Anyone who is interested in working in emergency management will need to understand how to prepare and deal with the aftermath of a disaster adequately. This course will give you those skills.
  • Business Planning: Often, business or financial emergencies follow quickly after a disaster, and business planning gives you the skills to assess the economic damage and deal with it properly.
  • Threat Management: This course teaches you about common threats and how to assess them accurately.
  • Fire Science: Wildfires are a huge issue in the United States, so it’s important to understand what causes them and how to prevent fire-related problems.
  • Ethics and Decision Making: You will be called on to make plenty of decisions throughout your career. This course will set you up with the basics.

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Students who do best in this particular field of study tend to have strong analytical skills and be able to think quickly on their feet, so you will notice that many of the primary courses highlight those skill sets.

Emergency Management Concentrations and Specialties

Emergency Management student studying at home

Those who pursue a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management have a host of different career paths that they can pursue. The most common disciplines are listed below, but there are plenty more to choose from.

  • Community Resilience: This concentration focuses on how communities come together to deal with severe catastrophes and disasters.
  • Homeland Security: One of the most popular emergency management concentrations, The United States Department of Homeland Security. Candidates who work in this field generally learn about how to prevent acts of terror.
  • Disaster Management: This concentration deals with having systems in place in case of a disaster or emergency. Those who work in this particular career path tend to look at existing trends and make accurate predictions about the future.
  • Biosecurity and Threat Management: Not all disasters are natural. This particular discipline deals with those threats that are human-made, how to spot risks, and how to deal with them before they become too big to handle.
  • Fire Science: Fire Science is one of the most important fields of study these days, especially since massive wildfires threaten so much of our country during the summer months. You will learn how fires are started and how to prevent them effectively.

Any one of these concentrations comes with its own set of rewards and challenges. To succeed in emergency management, you need to be able to deal with stress, put together the big picture, and work well with your colleagues towards a higher goal.

Online Masters in Emergency Management Admissions

Emergency Management student studying at a cafe

Getting into any online master’s program is quite competitive, and emergency management is certainly no exception. There are a few things that will put you ahead of the game, and that you’ll need to get through admissions.

  • An excellent GPA: Many schools will only accept you if your bachelor’s degree GPA is above a certain point. If you’re right on the line, you might be able to squeeze in still.
  • Letters of recommendation: You will need at least two recommendation letters from your undergraduate professors vouching for your work ethic and skills.
  • Real-world experience: Although you will be unlikely to have worked in a professional capacity in emergency management, many schools want to see that you’ve volunteered or interned in the field.
  • Test scores: Some schools might require your standardized test scores to enter their programs. Every school varies, so make sure that you check the requirements before you apply.
  • Statement: Many schools want to know how you will enhance their institutions and why you want to go there. Make sure that your statement is short and sweet, but impactful.

If you want to have a good shot of getting into the school of your choice, make sure you know the admission requirements.

Emergency Management Careers & Salaries

Emergency Management Careers & Salaries

Emergency management is one of the most lucrative and varied careers around. You can do so much with your master’s degree in this particular field, and there is no shortage of well-paying jobs.

Many of the jobs that we have listed here can be had with just a bachelor’s degree, but if you really want to stand out, it’s a good idea to have your Master’s in Emergency Management.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the average incomes that you can expect to make from some of emergency management’s most sought-after careers.

Careers Average Annual Salary
Health and Safety Engineer $89,130
Management Analyst $83,130
Budget Analyst $76,220
General Operations Manager $75,840
Emergency Management Director $74,420
Community Service Manager $59,510
Business Operations Specialist $49,290
Health Educator $46,080
Mental Health Counselor $37,270
Community Health Worker $34,900

Of course, these numbers vary depending on how competitive your state or region is, and what the cost of living is, but this should give you a good idea of what to expect after you get your degree.

Accreditation

Emergency Management Accreditation

Regional accreditation is one of the most important things to look for when choosing an online university or college. Accreditation is basically a way for an educational institution to prove that it is credible and has been vetted by a series of professionals or professional organizations.

The U.S. Department of Education also acknowledges accredited universities, and you can easily find out if the college or university that you’re looking at has this stamp of approval. If it does, your education will be much more valuable, and you will have a lot more opportunities after you graduate.

Many high-profile organizations and companies look at accreditation, and will undoubtedly prioritize candidates that have it over those that do not.

When considering what college to attend, take accreditation seriously, and make sure that it is regionally accredited before committing to taking classes. You will not regret taking this essential step.

Emergency Management Professional Organizations

Emergency Management Professionals meeting at a conference

Proper schooling is fantastic, but you should also make sure that you are networking and joining professional organizations for career opportunities and personal development. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for you in emergency management.

If you are serious about succeeding in this field, you will undoubtedly want to join one or many of these organizations.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Financial aid for emergency management students

There are plenty of financial aid opportunities available for students of all ages and levels. Before embarking on your academic journey, make sure that you properly take advantage of all of the opportunities that are available to you.

You can qualify for federal or state financial aid, and many students prefer to have a mixture of both. Federal and state loans need to be paid back, but grants are yours to keep. Many federal grants are very competitive, so apply early if you want to be considered for one of these.

Depending on your income level, you might qualify for income-based grants as well. You will need to provide documentation detailing your financial circumstances and possibly tax information.

If your skillset and resume are good, and if you have excellent letters of recommendation, you might be eligible for a scholarship to the educational institution of your choice. Like grants, scholarships are very competitive and often require candidates to stand out from the crowd.

There are many financial aid options available, so make sure that you review all of your options and choose the one or ones that work best for you.

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Emergency Management?

Business Operations Specialist presenting his report during a meeting

There are a plethora of different things that you can do with your degree.

You can work directly with people and communities on initiatives and plans to deal with disasters, work for the Department of Homeland Security to assess risks, or look at catastrophe on a global scale.

How Do You become a Certified Emergency Manager?

You need to get your CEM certification, which requires a bachelor’s degree and a certain amount of work experience or internships.

Each program varies, so make sure that you check your particular one to see what you need.

How Much Do Emergency Managers Make?

Your income will vary depending on where you live and what concentration in emergency management you chose to pursue, as well as how much experience you have to begin with.

Many people start their careers, making roughly $35,000 to $40,000 per year, but you can make much more as you work your way up.

How Much Does an Online Master’s Degree in Emergency Management Cost?

Management Analyst working on his laptop

The cost of your online Master’s in Emergency Management will vary depending on what school you go to, how many electives you take, and whether or not you have a financial aid package.

What Kind of College Degree Do You Need to Work for FEMA?

You will need at least a four-year degree to work for FEMA, although many coveted positions require you to have much more schooling to qualify.

Management positions in FEMA almost always require master’s degrees, and you should join some professional networking groups if you want to pursue this job path.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Emergency Management Degree?

emergency management degree student studying at home

Bachelor’s degrees generally take four years, and master’s degrees often take two years to complete, but you can do it in more or less time depending on your schedule and other obligations. Many adult learners find that they need extra time to complete their degrees because of work or familial obligations. Your time frame is really up to you.

Getting your Master’s in Emergency Management is a great way to set yourself up for future success and enhance your education in a meaningful and actionable way.

Universities Offering Online Master’s in Emergency Management Degrees

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer emergency management master’s degree online.

#1  Adelphi University

Adelphi University campus

Founded in 1896, Adelphi University is one of the oldest higher learning institutions in New York. It’s a private university that offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and areas of study include business, science, healthcare, technology, media studies and more.

Students also have the option of enrolling in special programs for dual degrees, joint degrees and accelerated degrees. Further options include studying abroad or participating in pre-college programs as a high schooler.

  • MS in Emergency Management

Adelphi is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#2  American Public University System

American Public University campus

The American Public University System is an educational network that includes both the American Military University (AMU) and the American Public University (APU). Degrees are available on the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level. Most are online.

Despite its name, the APUS is a private university system. It was established in 1991.

  • MA in Emergency and Disaster Management

APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#3  Anna Maria College

Anna Maria College campus

Founded by nuns in 1946, Anna Maria College is a private university located in Paxton, Massachusetts. Despite its status as a Catholic school, it offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees for many different subjects. It also has award-winning Division III sports teams.

Classes are available either online or through campus-based instruction.

  • MPA in Emergency Management

Anna Maria College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#4  Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

With more than 90,000 students, Arizona State University is one of the largest colleges in the United States in terms of enrollment. It was founded in 1885 in Tempe, Arizona, but only a small fraction of students attend classes on campus. Most are online.

Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees are available through ASU. So are doctoral programs and professional certifications. ASU is considered a public research university.

  • MA in Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Committee.

#5  Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University campus

Founded in 1909, Arkansas State University is a public research university that offers a large assortment of undergraduate and graduate degrees. It boasts more than 100 programs through a dozen schools and colleges, and it also has “A-State Online” for distance learners.

Degrees earned online are identical to ones that are attained on campus.

  • MS in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management

Arkansas State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

#6  Arkansas Tech University

Arkansas Tech University campus

With more than 12,000 students enrolled in both campus- and online-based classes, Arkansas Tech University is one of the largest public colleges in the state. It’s been offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees since its foundation in 1909, and it recently expanded to include PhD programs as well.

Arkansas Tech welcomes both domestic and international students.

  • MS in Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Arkansas Tech University is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

#7  Capella University

Capella University campus

Capella University is an online college that was established in 1993. It hosts degree programs for both undergraduate and graduate students, and almost everything is handled virtually. For example, students can choose from “FlexPath” and “GuidedPath” options based on their budgets, schedules, credit requirements and degree tracks.

They can also enroll in non-degree-seeking courses for personal enrichment.

  • MS in Emergency Management

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#8  Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University campus

Eastern Kentucky University is located in Richmond, Kentucky. It’s a public research university that was founded in 1874, and it’s been helping students obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees since its establishment.

It offers classes on four different campuses and through a large assortment of online degree programs.

  • Master’s in Safety, Security and Emergency Management

Eastern Kentucky University is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#9  Georgetown University

Georgetown University campus

Considered an elite school, Georgetown University was ranked #24 by the U.S. News and World Report on their 2020 list of best colleges. It was founded in 1789 as a private research institution and has retained that distinction ever since.

Georgetown offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of academic disciplines. Majors include scientific subjects as well as the arts and humanities.

  • Master of Professional Studies in Emergency & Disaster Management

Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#10  Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

Grand Canyon University offers more than 200 degree and certification programs. Founded in 1949, it’s one of the oldest and largest Christian universities in the United States, but it funds plenty of non-religious degree tracks.

Studies can choose from many undergraduate and graduate programs in law, medicine, science, business and even dance. GCU is considered a private university.

  • MS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#11  Jacksonville State University

Jacksonville State University campus

Jacksonville State University is a public college that offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees as well as certificates and professional training programs.

Founded in 1883, it’s been a staple of Alabama’s higher education system since its inception, and many of its programs meet state-specific requirements for licenses and other important credentials.

  • MPA in Emergency Management

Jacksonville State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#12  Lander University

Lander University campus

Lander University is a small public university in Greenwood, South California. It has just a little more than 3,000 students enrolled in its bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

However, it touts its small class sizes and increased teacher-student engagement as reasons to apply, and it has graduated hundreds of thousands of students since its founding in 1872.

  • MS in Emergency Management

Lander University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#13  Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University is one of the largest evangelical Christian schools in the world. Despite its emphasis on religion, it also offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in secular subjects. Online classes are available for distance learners.

LU is a private university that was founded in 1971. Its enrollment is around 110,000 students per year.

  • MPA in Disaster Management

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#14  Millersville University

Millersville University campus

Known to locals as “the Ville,” Millersville University was founded in 1855 in southern Pennsylvania. It’s a public research university that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in education, business, finance, social work, political affairs and more. It also has pre-law and pre-medicine tracks for future professionals.

Another notable feature of the Ville is that it offers internships and international study programs for students who want to round out their degrees.

  • MS in Emergency Management

Millersville University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#15  National University

National University campus

National University was founded in 1971 as a private institution. Geared primarily towards adult learners, it offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees through a variety of “non-traditional” programs. For example, it offers online and evening classes as well as self-paced schedules and shorter semesters to accommodate busy students.

Areas of study range from technical and scientific subjects to liberal arts and the humanities.

  • MS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management

National University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

#16  Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University campus

Founded in 1964, Nova Southeastern University is a private institution that offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in a variety of subjects. Students can also earn certificates or prepare for licensure through state-approved programs. There are 18 schools and colleges in total, and they offer hundreds of programs between them.

Classes are available both online and through campus-based instruction.

  • MS in Disaster and Emergency Management

NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#17  Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University campus

Oklahoma State University was founded in 1890 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It offers more than 300 majors and minors across several different schools, departments and programs.

Degrees are available on both the undergraduate and graduate level. Classes can be taken online or in-person, and hybrid courses are also offered for students who want the flexibility of distance learning with the structure of campus-based semesters.

  • MS in Fire and Emergency Management Administration

Oklahoma State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#18  Regent University

Regent University campus

Regent University is a private Christian college that was built in 1977. Though it was originally focused on religious studies, its degree programs have expanded to many secular subjects over the years, and today’s students can major in everything from healthcare to technology.

Programs are available on the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level.

  • MPA in Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#19  Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University campus

Founded in 1889, Saint Leo University was the first Roman Catholic school in the entire state of Florida. Despite its religious affiliation, however, it offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in many subjects. Students can study things like art, business, education, technology and healthcare as well as theology and religion.

Saint Leo University is considered a private, liberal arts institution.

  • MS in Emergency and Disaster Management
  • MS in Emergency and Disaster Management – Fire Science Administration

Saint Leo University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#20  Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Ranked #92 by the U.S. News and World Report, Southern New Hampshire University is a private university that offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees as well as professional certificates.

It has a thriving online school with more than 200 programs for distance learners, and it also offers an open enrollment policy where students can gain admission with nothing more than a diploma or GED. SNHU was founded in 1932.

  • MS in Emergency Management

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.

#21  Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University campus

Thomas Jefferson University was originally founded in 1824, but it absorbed the University of Philadelphia in 2017, so it’s a private research institution that is still growing and evolving to this day.

Degrees are available on both the undergraduate and graduate level. “Extras” include online classes, professional certifications and study abroad programs.

  • Master’s in Disaster Medicine and Management

Thomas Jefferson University is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

#22  University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) is one of the largest online schools in the world. It has an acceptance rate of 100 percent, and it serves more than 900,000 students from dozens of countries.

Students can choose from bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. Areas of study range from the technical to the artistic. While the school’s primary focus is on distance learning, it also has a main campus and several satellite campuses in Maryland.

  • Master’s in Management – Emergency Management

UMGC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#23  University of Nebraska

University of Nebraska campus

Founded in 1869, the University of Nebraska is the oldest institution in the state. It’s considered a public research university, and it offers hundreds of undergraduate and graduate degree programs through almost a dozen departments.

Classes are available online for distance learners or in-person for classroom learners. There are also “hybrid” courses available.

  • MPA in Emergency Management

The University of Nebraska is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#24  University of New Haven

University of New Haven campus

The University of New Haven was founded in Connecticut in 1920. Ranked #66 by the U.S. News and World Report, it’s a private research university in good standing, and it offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in many different disciplines.

Additional opportunities include clubs, sports teams, internships, semesters abroad and faculty-mentored research programs.

  • MS in Emergency Management

The University of New Haven is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

#25  University of South Florida

University of South Florida campus

The University of South Florida has been serving the Tampa area since its foundation in 1956. A public research university, it offers many different undergraduate and graduate programs, including ones in business, healthcare, education, health sciences and emergency services.

Classes are available both online and through campus-based instruction.

  • MPH in Global Disaster Management, Humanitarian Relief and Homeland Security

USF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Masters’ in Emergency Management Online

Master's in Emergency management student studying on her laptop at home

If you’ve been thinking about getting your Master’s in Emergency Management but haven’t taken the plunge yet, now is the time to consider it. This career field is growing by leaps and bounds, and many candidates feel like it’s a lucrative and smart way to make them more marketable.

There are plenty of different schools to look at, and you can get financial aid to ease the monetary burden of college. You can also attend classes on your time: a massive benefit to adult learners who need to juggle other obligations.

Why not consider furthering your education today? Applying to schools is easy, and it might just be one of the best decisions that you could make for yourself. Why wait?

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Brooke Heeley
Brooke Heeley
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