The best master’s degrees in emergency management prepare you to deal with disasters both natural and manmade, while giving you job security for life.
Climate change and terrorism; two topics that have dominated headlines throughout the beginning of the 21st century. And, two areas in which an emergency management degree can drive you towards a varied and interesting career. A localized disaster can have repercussions that ripple across the globe, meaning a career in emergency management can set you up for international opportunities.
From the Californian wildfires to the hurricanes that devastated the Carribean, emergency management is needed everywhere. A career in this field will give you variety and excitement, while preparing you to be at the forefront of national or international crises.
What Is a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management?
Emergency management refers to the cooperation that happens between multiple organizations that respond to man-made or natural catastrophes. It deals not only with response to and recovery from such disasters, but also to the readiness for and mitigation of them. Emergency management programs typically aim to equip students with knowledge of each of these areas, plus the ability to specialize.
You'll study the kinds of small and large-scale disasters that can occur and focus on the implementation of preventative measures. You’ll look at how to reduce the impact of natural or man-made crisis scenarios. You'll study disaster response, recovery, and how to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen communities.
Schools differ in their requirements, though most bachelor programs ask for a minimum GPA of 2.0. Within emergency management programs, students can specialize in a variety of concentrations that prepare them for careers in different but relevant fields. These may include specializations such as disaster preparedness, disaster relief, business continuity, homeland security, and fire science.
Careers After Getting a Master’s in Emergency Management
Some emergency management graduates opt for a career in emergency medical aid, working as an EMT or a paramedic. But with broad specializations available, you’re not limited to a specific career and can instead pursue managerial positions. If your preference is for the logistical side of emergency management, you may follow the emergency management director's career path.
Behind the scenes, information security analysts work with technology to support their colleagues in the field. You might be installing and monitoring software to bolster international cyber security or carrying out penetration tests to detect weaknesses in infrastructure. Following a disaster, you could be working to restore critical systems and mitigate weaknesses.
Beyond this program of study, graduates gain accreditation towards certain licenses and other certifications. Depending on your specialization, you could obtain certification as an Associate business continuity professional or associate emergency manager. There’s also the certified emergency manager and certified functional continuity professional, though this list is not exhaustive.
Master’s in Emergency Management Salary Potential
Like any profession, the salaries available in the field of emergency management can vary based on experience in the role. The average salary for an emergency management degree can vary from around $45,000 to $110,000, with a median of around $70,000. However, certain career paths can exceed this number, for example, working within the federal executive branch.
State government or local government roles pay from $60-70,000 on average, while hospital roles average at $85,000. Working with a college or university averages at around $93,000, while working in electric power distribution and generation averages around $100,000. Salaries over $100,000 are routinely found within gederal roles or those in scientific research and large enterprises or corporations.
In some areas of the country, particularly where demand for workers is greater, the earning potential can be higher. Additionally, by studying for an advanced degree, you'll typically earn more than if you only have a bachelor's degree. With one of the above specializations, or another approved accreditation, you'll increase your subject matter expertise and your earning potential.
What are the Best Master’s in Emergency Management Programs?
We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of CollegeRank utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:
40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni
30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year
30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school
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The New Jersey Institute of Technology was founded in 1885 as the Newark Technical school. This first incarnation of the school was attended by only 88 students, but NJIT has grown; today, it hosts more than 11,000 students on its Newark, NJ campus. Students at NJIT can also cross-register with Rutgers University - Newark, as the schools’ campuses border each other.
NJIT offers a Master of Science program in Emergency Management and Business Continuity. Students complete 30 credit hours of coursework, which is divided among fundamental, elective, and specialty area courses, which account for 12, 6, and 12 hours of the requirements, respectively.
Some of the early fundamental courses in the program include Command and Control Systems and Emergency Management Informatics. Students then choose two electives from options such as Geographic Information System and Social Dimensions of Risk. Finally, students select a focus area from the following: Critical Infrastructure, Computer Engineering, Environmental Science, Information Systems, and Management.
Located in the heart of the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., Georgetown is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher learning in the country. Despite this connection to the church, most students who attend the university are not Catholic, and the school is fully independently governed. Georgetown is home to the nation’s largest student-run business and the oldest continuously running student theater troupe.
Georgetown’s Master’s in Emergency Management program can be completed both on campus and online. Students complete 33 credit hours of coursework, and the program can last anywhere between two and five years (depending on a student’s enrollment status). Students can enter the program in the spring, fall, or summer terms.
Coursework in the program is designed for entry- to mid-level professionals and is taught by faculty who are both experienced professionals and academics. Faculty members bring experience from organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
Students take two core courses, four foundation courses, and five electives in the program. Core courses include Ethics and Critical Decision-Making and the student’s final capstone course. Foundation courses cover Theory and Legal Framework, Risk Perception Awareness, and GIS for Emergency & Disaster Management. Electives may cover topics such as Weapons of Mass Destruction & Terrorism.
Arkansas State University’s main campus is located in Jonesboro, AR. In addition to the main campus, Arkansas State has a campus in Queretaro, Mexico, which opened in September 2017. ASU is the second-largest university in the state of Arkansas, and its athletic teams compete in the Sun Belt Conference.
Arkansas State’s Master of Science in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management requires students to hold a bachelor’s degree in any discipline and to have completed prerequisite coursework in skills such as using the Incident Control System (a standardized approach to the coordination of emergency response).
The curriculum consists of 36 credit hours of coursework, which is split among six core courses, three emphasis courses, a practicum experience, and a final project. For the practicum experience, students can choose between either a 60-hour practicum at an approved off-campus site or a Seminar Topics course administered by Arkansas State.
All applicants to the program are required to complete a personal interview with a program adviser. Students may complete the interview through face-to-face, telephone, or electronic means. In addition to prerequisite coursework, students are expected to be Core Disaster Life Support and Basic Disaster Life Support certified.
Jacksonville State University, in Jacksonville, AL, was founded in 1930 as a state normal school, helping to educate teachers. It adopted its current name in 1966, and in 2011, its Doctor of Science in Emergency Management became the school’s first doctoral degree offering. Forty of the school’s academic programs enable students to earn specialized accreditations.
Jacksonville State’s master’s in emergency management program is a 30-credit hour program that includes 21 hours of fundamental emergency management courses and nine hours of approved emergency management electives. All requirements for the degree must be met through the university’s distance learning service.
In addition to the master’s program, Jacksonville State offers a 15-credit hour Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management, as well as a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management. Elective course options in the program include Disasters and the Media, Advanced Radiological Incidents Operations, and Terrorism and Homeland Security.
North Dakota State University is the fifth-largest employer in the state of North Dakota. The school offers more than 100 undergraduate majors, along with 81 master’s and 47 doctoral degree programs. Around 14,300 students attend the Fargo, ND campus, which is also home to 880 academic staff members. The school’s athletic teams are known as the Bison, or the Thundering Herd.
North Dakota State is home to a master’s program in emergency management. This face-to-face program allows students to complete either an original thesis or a comprehensive study course for their capstone requirement. Both programs require a total of 39 credit hours of coursework, but these credits are divided differently based on the program.
Students completing the thesis version of the program take nine hours of core courses, 12 hours of functional area core, nine hours of electives, a three-credit practicum, and six thesis hours. Students in the comprehensive study option complete 15 hours of core courses, 18 hours of electives, and a six-credit practicum.
Eastern Kentucky University, in Richmond, KY, offers students 40 on campus and online degree programs. The school has been undergoing a campus revitalization since 2012 that has used public-private business partnerships to fund new residence and dining halls, as well as new baseball and softball fields.
Eastern Kentucky University offers a Master of Safety, Security, and Emergency Management degree that provides students a customizable curriculum that allows them to focus on an area of concentration. Students can also pursue a multidisciplinary track, which allows them to draw from each of the concentration areas.
The concentration areas offered are Emergency Management and Disaster Resilience, Corporate Security Operations, and Occupational Safety. Students complete 12 credit hours of coursework in the concentration area. At the end of the program, students either take a comprehensive examination or complete a capstone applied research project.
Graduates of the program are immediately qualified to apply for Associate Safety and Health Manager certification. Once graduates have two years of work experience in the safety and health management field, they can apply to take the Certified Safety and Health Manager CSHM exam; this is a three-year reduction in the normal wait time.
Nova Southeastern University is a private university located in Davie, FL. Nova merged with the Southeastern University of Health Science in 1994, which is also when it adopted its current name. Its athletic teams, known as the Sharks, have won multiple women’s national golf championships, and its Division II baseball team won its division-level national championship in 2016.
Nova Southeastern’s Master of Public Administration program offers a concentration in Disaster and Emergency Management. Students in the program focus on enhancing local and state governments, as well as non-profit organizations, through research, education, and service.
The 39-credit hour curriculum is divided among three sections: core, concentration, and capstone. The core covers courses such as Entrepreneurial Governance and Public Sector Statistical Analysis. The Disaster and Emergency Management Concentration includes courses such as Risk Assessment, Mitigation and Community Disaster Preparedness, and Emergency Management in the Public Sector.
For their capstone experience, students can choose to complete an MPA integrative seminar, a public administration internship, or a public administration practicum. The program can be completed in as little as 21 months, and students may begin in either August or January. Applicants to the program should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The University of New Haven’s main campus in West Haven, CT, but its graduate school is located in Orange, CT. These campuses are located roughly 90 from New York City and 2.5 hours by train from Boston. New Haven also operates satellite campuses in New London, CT; Albuquerque, NM; and Prato, Italy.
New Haven is home to a Master of Science in Emergency Management program that requires 36 hours of coursework. There are 24 hours of required courses, such as Catastrophe Readiness and Response and Social Dimensions of Disaster. Students then complete 12 hours of electives.
In addition to the master’s program, New Haven offers a graduate certificate program in Emergency Management. Students in this program complete four required courses, including Holistic Disaster Recovery: Creating a More Sustainable Future. Students at New Haven receive professional support from the school’s Career Development Center, which The Princeton Review has previously recognized as being one of the best in the nation.
Buzzard Bay, MA, which is home to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, was also once home to U.S. President Grover Cleveland. It is the second-oldest maritime academy in the United States and was originally intended to train deck and engineering officers for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Today, students are not required to serve in the Armed Forces.
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy offers a Master of Science in Emergency Management. This 34-credit hour, 11-course program is delivered one course at a time, with each course running for six weeks. Courses are taken in a defined order, with each student progressing through the program alongside his or her cohort members. Courses in the program include Principles in Emergency Management, Hazards Risk Management, National Security in Emergency Management, and Transportation Security Management. Classes are held every other weekend, from Friday evening through Saturday afternoon, at the Waltham Woods Conference Center in Waltham, MA. Students are provided with overnight lodging during these weekend courses.
The program ends with a four-credit capstone course, in which students draw from the knowledge learned in their previous courses to develop a capstone presentation related to a specific emergency management scenario. The program is generally structured to last 17 months, and applicants are expected to hold at least a bachelor’s degree (in any subject).
Arkansas Tech University, located in Russellville, AR, was originally known as the Second District Agricultural School. The school became a full university in 1976, and since 1996, it has seen a 183% increase in its student enrollment. In July 2014, its Board of Trustees chose Dr. Robin E. Bowen to serve as President of the university, making her the first woman ever to lead a public, four-year Arkansas university.
Arkansas Tech offers a Master of Science degree in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Students complete 36 credit hours of coursework, which is divided among 18 hours of required core, nine hours of electives, and nine hours of capstone coursework. Students may transfer in up to nine credit hours of graduate coursework.
For the capstone, students may complete a thesis research option, which includes two courses of independent research, and an applied data analysis course. Students also have the option to complete a practicum research project, which includes a research course, a professional practicum, and a capstone research course. Elective courses in the program include options such as Contemporary Issues in Emergency Management and Grants.
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