2021 Best Online Public Safety Degrees [Bachelors Guide]

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An online public safety degree can help prepare you for career opportunities in this in-demand sector.

Best Online Public Safety Degrees

The field of public safety encompasses a variety of specializations, ranging from disaster management to law enforcement tactics and public safety policy. Positive job growth is also projected for many public safety occupations over the next ten years.

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You can read on to learn about some of the different degree tracks, career paths, and certifications available in the public safety sector.

Online Public Safety Degrees

There are a number of online public safety degrees to choose from. The one that’s right for you will depend on your specific interests and career goals.

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Some public safety majors include criminal justice, emergency management and homeland security, fire science, law enforcement, and public safety administration.

Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Bachelors in criminal justice programs are designed to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the criminal justice system.

Some criminal justice careers include criminal investigator, caseworker, child and youth worker, homeland security agent, police officer, and FBI agent. As part of your studies, you may take various courses topics related to the juvenile justice system, legal issues in corrections, criminology, criminal investigations, crime in media, and policing in America.

Bachelor’s in Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Bachelor's in Emergency Management

Emergency management and homeland security programs are intended to provide you with an understanding of the various security and emergency management practices, theories, and operations that exist in the field.

Common careers in this sector include homeland security agent, security analyst, emergency management director, consultant, border patrol agent, disaster management specialist, and military personnel. As part of your studies, you may take courses on domestic security management, crisis management, legal issues in security, and border security and transportation.

It’s likely that your coursework will include an introduction to public administration and disaster management as well.

Bachelor’s in Fire Science

Bachelor's in Fire Science

Bachelors in fire science degree programs are designed to provide you with an understanding of fire safety and management protocols. This can include how to safely fight fires, the importance of building codes in fire safety, and concepts in fire prevention.

Some professionals with a fire science degree work as fire investigators, fire and industrial safety inspectors, fire prevention specialists, firefighters, or emergency management directors. In your degree program, you may take various courses on fire and emergency services, fire behavior, principles of emergency services, and fire investigation and analysis.

Your coursework can also cover fire prevention management, political and legal issues in emergency services, and community risk reduction.

Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement

Bachelor's in Law Enforcement

Bachelors in law enforcement degree programs are intended to provide an overview of the criminal justice system and police response tactics.

Common law enforcement careers include correctional officer, emergency management director, police officer, detective, security guard, and probation officer. Your program may include courses related to crime analysis, effective policing strategies, criminal justice, and leadership in policing. You can also take courses on patrol practices, community policing, and crisis intervention for first responders.

Bachelor’s in Public Safety Administration

Bachelor's in Public Safety Administration

Public safety administration degree programs are designed to provide a broad understanding of fundamental public safety practices and concepts.

A bachelors in public safety administration can help prepare you to take on a variety of frontline or administrative roles in the field of public safety. Frontline careers in public safety include police officer, fire inspector, and homeland security agent. Administrative roles include emergency management director and operations specialties manager.

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As part of your studies, you may take courses on public safety administration, public safety planning, and legal and public policy issues in public safety. Your courses might also cover public safety research, information systems in organizations, public safety administration ethics, and public safety leadership.

Public Safety Careers & Salaries

Public Safety Careers & Salaries

An online public safety degree program can help prepare you for roles in public safety management or public security.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public safety positions can range across various industries. These industries can include healthcare, social services, education, professional services, government, finance, and insurance.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Medical and Health Services Managers $104,280
Detectives and Criminal Investigators $86,940
Emergency Management Directors $76,250
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers $65,540
Fire Inspectors $62,120
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $55,690
Firefighters $52,500
Public Safety Telecommunicators $43,290
EMTs and Paramedics $36,650

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that a number of positions in the field of public safety will experience positive job growth over the next ten years. This includes positions like emergency management directors (6%), police and detectives (7%), public safety telecommunicators (8%), and fire inspectors (11%).

Public Safety Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses

Public Safety Bachelor’s Curriculum

When enrolling in an online degree in public safety, you’ll take a number of courses specific to this field of study. These courses may include:

  • Introduction to Public Safety Administration: You can develop an understanding of the fundamental functions and concepts in the field of public safety in private and public sectors.
  • Contemporary Public Safety Practices: You’ll learn about the hazard and risk identification best practices, quality control, integrated safety services, and risk analysis.
  • Public Safety Planning: You’ll explore methods used to develop strategic and operational public safety plans, including a look at budget allocation, resource allocation, and plan implementation.
  • Public Safety Issues: You’ll examine the different issues and challenges faced by public safety professionals in their day-to-day work.
  • Legal and Public Policy Issues in Public Safety: This course is a review of legal issues that public safety professionals may come across as well as the impact of the legal system and political environment on public safety issues and policy development.
  • Public Safety Research and Technology: You’ll explore the various technologies and research applications utilized in the field of public safety.
  • Information Systems in Organizations: You’ll examine different information systems used within organizations and used by public safety professionals specifically.
  • Public Safety Administration Ethics: You can develop an awareness and understanding of various ethical issues and behavior in the field of public safety.
  • Public Safety Leadership: You’ll learn about various theories of public safety leadership along with key skills, leadership styles, and performance models.
  • Managerial Finance: This course is a review of essential financial skills for managers in non-financial fields, such as public safety.

In addition to taking various public safety-specific courses, you’ll also be required to complete several general core education courses in order to graduate with your degree.

Admissions Requirements

Public Safety Degrees admissions

When applying for enrollment into a public safety major degree program, you may be required to meet several admissions criteria, such as:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Official transcripts from high school studies
  • Admissions essay
  • SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)

If you’ve previously completed coursework in a postsecondary educational program, you are generally required to submit your course transcripts from those studies as well.


Public Safety Degrees accreditation

Regional accreditation is a status that is granted to schools that meet a predetermined set of quality standards in terms of academic offerings and available student services.

The accreditation status of your school is an important consideration since it can impact your ability to transfer credits into another school or program. It can also impact your ability to receive financial aid or apply to graduate studies down the road.

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The accreditation status of the school you choose to attend can also play a role in potential employers’ hiring decisions.

Public Safety Certifications

Public Safety Certifications

While public safety certifications are not always required for employment, earning them can often be advantageous and beneficial for your career.

Here are just a few certifications in the field of public safety:

  • Certified Emergency Manager
  • Certified Fire Inspector
  • Associate Emergency Manager

Earning public safety certifications can offer you the opportunity to showcase your expertise, knowledge, and skill. Holding a certification can also help make you a competitive candidate in the workforce.

The certifications that work best for you will depend on your areas of interest and your career goals. Your bachelors degree major or concentration can also influence the types of certifications that you may want to pursue.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Public Safety Degrees financial aid

While pursuing an online public safety degree comes with costs, there may be a number of financial aid options available to you that can help ease the financial burden, including:

  • Federal or state aid
  • Scholarships
  • Government-funded work-study programs
  • Employer training programs

Scholarships can be offered by either public or private organizations. In some cases, scholarships may be targeted to students that are pursuing a particular stream of education or area of study.

Financial aid in the form of grants and loans is often offered by both federal and state governments. For more information on financial aid opportunities that may be available to you, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.

Public Safety Professional Organizations

Public Safety Professional Organizations

Participating in a public safety professional organization may offer you a number of benefits throughout your studies and career. For instance, these organizations can offer excellent networking opportunities, allowing you to meet other like-minded public safety professionals.

 Here are some professional organizations in the field of public safety:

Joining a public safety professional organization may allow you to meet potential employers or clients, stay up to date on emerging trends in the industry, or get access to training and conference events.

What Can You Do with a Public Safety Degree?

public safety careers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an online bachelor’s degree in public safety can help you qualify for a range of careers in this sector.

Common public safety careers include police and detectives, firefighter, fire inspector, and public safety telecommunicator. Some professionals with experience in the field work as operations specialties managers, emergency management directors, and administrative services and facilities managers.

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Your chosen major and concentration can impact the types of positions available to you. The role that’s right for you can also depend on your previous experience, your geographical location, and your industry of choice, among other factors.

What Are Some High Paying Careers in Public Safety?

High Paying Careers in Public Safety

While there’s a wide range of career choices in the public safety sector, there are some positions that tend to pay higher than others.

For example, emergency management directors make a median salary of $76,250 per year, and the median salary for detectives and criminal investigators is $86,940. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers make a median of $65,540 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

While these are just some of the higher-paying careers in public safety, most positions in this field earn wages that are above the median for all occupations. Your salary can depend on your amount of experience, your geographic location, and your industry, among other factors.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Public Safety Online Degree?

Public Safety Online Degree

If your public safety degree program is following a traditional, 16 week semester, it will generally take 4 years to complete your degree if you attend on a full-time basis.

If you enroll in an accelerated online program with 8 week terms and continuous enrollment through the summer months, you may be able to complete your degree in less time. Attending on a part-time basis, on the other hand, may extend the amount of time that is required for you to earn your degree in public safety online.

Is a Public Safety Degree Worth It?

Yes, a public safety degree is worth it for many professionals. Positions in the field of public safety are predicted to experience positive job growth over the next several years.

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For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth for emergency management directors (6% job growth), police and detectives (7%), public safety telecommunicators (8%), and fire inspectors (11%). Positions in this field range across a number of different industries, including the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Public Safety Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Charter Oak State College

Charter Oak State College campus

Charter Oak State College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Eastern Florida State College

Eastern Florida State College campus

Eastern Florida State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Florida Atlantic University

Florida Atlantic University campus

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

Franklin University

Franklin University campus

Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Johnston Community College

Johnston Community College campus

Johnston Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Neumann University

Neumann University campus

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

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University campus

SIU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

St. Petersburg College

St Petersburg College campus

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

University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of West Alabama

University of West Alabama campus

The University of West Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Bachelors in Public Safety Degree Online

Public Safety Degree Online

A bachelors degree in public safety can help prepare you to take on frontline public service roles or administrative and leadership roles in the public safety sector.

A career in public safety is likely to offer positive job growth and room for advancement across the various positions in the field. If you’re interested in getting your public safety degree online, you can start exploring accredited universities today to find a credible program that offers your preferred degree path.

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Brenda Pyzik
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda has a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda focuses on employment, business, and training and development.