Some people thrive in a crisis and are well-suited to managing resources while saving lives. If this sounds like you, one of the best Ph.D.s in emergency management could be a great fit. These advanced degrees prepare you to tackle any disaster head-on or formulate new policies to prevent trouble from striking again.
Ph.D.s in emergency management require an interdisciplinary education and are rare in the workforce, making them valuable for their career versatility and employment likelihood. Not to mention that individuals with these degrees usually make excellent salaries to compensate them for their expertise and stress. All in all, they’re a perfect degree choice if you’re at your best putting out fires and helping when disaster strikes.
What Is an Emergency Management Degree?
An emergency management degree is best understood as a degree that provides you with the skills and structures necessary to manage emergency responders and personnel in a crisis. Every team of responders—ranging from firefighters to electricians to police officers—needs someone calling the shots and determining where resources should go. It can’t be left up to individual teams on the ground, who’re often too focused on completing their jobs and getting out safely to be big-scale leaders.
Those with emergency management degrees handle that part of a crisis or disaster. They’re a brave mix of public administrators and emergency response specialists. They often go through significant on-the-job training or work experience before securing a position as a supervisor or manager. They also have to utilize several skills at once, including a talent for communication so they can juggle multiple personalities and people at once.
An emergency management degree at a doctoral level enhances these skills even further but also prioritizes policymaking, broader administration, and politics. A Doctor in Emergency Management may find him or herself on a management board, coming up with solutions to prevent the same crisis from happening again or working with researchers to find actionable efforts to better public safety or increase emergency response effectiveness. In short, these heroes become leaders in the emergency response and management sector.
Careers for Emergency Management Majors
Because of the subject matter of their jobs and the interdisciplinary nature of their degrees, emergency management majors have a wide variety of potential careers available to them. The most obvious choice for many is an emergency management director, particularly once you have a degree at the master or doctoral level. These individuals take charge in a crisis and manage multiple people and resources at once to respond to natural disasters or other emergencies.
But you can also become a supervisor of various emergency response groups, like a police supervisor. You may or may not need some experience depending on the state, but this career will have you coordinating police officers with firefighters and EMTs to make the best use out of available personnel.
Or you could become a medical or health service manager depending on your experience or specialization. As hospitals and other medical centers are always affected in a crisis or disaster, they need skilled and knowledgeable leaders to help them maximize their efficiency and make decisions about resource distribution. Those holding emergency management degrees are usually a great fit for these positions.
Each of these jobs and related positions are currently enjoying job growth outlooks of about 5% to 10% depending on the position. This is great news for future graduates, as it means they won’t need to compete with one another for positions and there’ll be plenty of opportunities for career advancement in the future.
Ph.D. in Emergency Management Salary Potential
Because of their importance for crisis response and general organization, emergency managers and similar professionals are well compensated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that emergency management directors have an average salary of around $74,000 per year. But those with master’s or doctoral degrees can often demand a higher salary, especially since they usually come with more experience. Thus, the upper cap for someone with a Ph.D. in this major is actually closer to $141,000 per year.
Police supervisors can expect a similar salary cap at around $106,000 per year, while medical and health services managers have an average salary of about $100,000 a year with an upper cap of around $182,000 per year.
Ultimately, the exact salary you can expect with this degree is difficult to pin down as most of the positions above don’t require a doctoral degree to be obtained. Your actual salary will likely be higher than the median simply because of the advanced nature of the Ph.D. credential, which qualifies you for more responsibilities and extra pay. Still, emergency management directors can rest assured that they’ll be able to pay the bills once they’re employed.
What Are the Best Ph.D. in Emergency Management Degrees?
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North Dakota State University
Fargo, North Dakota
Average Net Price
North Dakota State University is one of the most well-known land-grant universities in the nation. They boast a low student to faculty ratio of 16:1, as well as generally small class sizes of less than 40 students regardless of major. While it’s most famous for its agricultural programs, NDSU is also appreciated by students for its unique university studies major (allowing students to study any area that interests them) and its interdisciplinary program policies. It’s a college well-suited to the emergency management field as a result.
Their Doctor of Philosophy in emergency management program is a degree designed to prepare teachers in the field, either at training centers or universities. It’s also a research-focused program, so much of its curriculum is constructed to teach you how to come up with and carry out your own research projects and papers. Further classes also dive into policy development and analysis in case graduates ever need to advise policymakers on crisis origination and resolution.
The program demands completion of all required coursework along with two functional area specialization courses, plus two comprehensive written exams and oral defense of each. The exams are on emergency management theory and research methods, respectively. A final research project and dissertation (plus defense) round out the program requirements. You’ll be paired with a specific mentor to fine-tune your dissertation before turning it in.
University of North Texas
Average Net Price
The University of North Texas is the flagship college of the entire University of North Texas system, with campuses in Dallas, Fort Worth, and a primary campus in Denton. It supports the low student to faculty ratio of 23:1, plus a beautiful campus that hosts 39 fraternities and sororities. Fans of sports will appreciate that there are 15 athletic teams at the Division I level, ranging from football to basketball to golf.
Their Ph.D. in public administration and management is the immediate successor to their nationally ranked master’s degree in the same major. It’s an incredibly selective program that only takes on 8 to 10 students every fall semester for the full-time curriculum. It’s a fairly research-oriented class schedule, allowing for several specializations including emergency management. All students will benefit from access to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, one of the best laboratories for research pertaining to public administration and large-scale social data.
Aside from the academic value of the program, students will also appreciate the presence of several Ph.D.-specific scholarships, affording them extra financial aid opportunities. The first year of the 60 credit program dives into the theoretical and methodological foundations of your chosen specialization, while the following three years progressively become more research and dissertation focused.
Oklahoma State University
Average Net Price
Oklahoma State University is a small-town school with a big world feel, drawing in students from over 100 countries yet managing to maintain a low student to faculty ratio of 20:1. It originally began as an agricultural and mechanical college but has since expanded to provide programs across a wide variety of disciplines. It also includes a beautiful campus noted as one of the healthiest in the nation, so it might be a great fit for those wanting fresh air or devoted to maintaining physical fitness while at school.
Their 60 credit hour program leads to a Ph.D. in fire and emergency management, marking it as particularly suitable for future firefighter supervisors or emergency responder leaders. The curriculum appropriately emphasizes risk management and disaster relief for fire-based hazards or catastrophes. But it also has several classes that are drawn from modern topics of concern like terrorism and dealing with various at-risk populations.
It’s a hands-on degree more than a research-oriented program, although some research classes are included for well-roundedness. The program is also notable because it doesn’t require a dissertation or defense, making it a great pick for those wanting to dive into a practical profession in this field. As a firefighter-focused program, special admission considerations are provided to those with firefighter experience.
University of Delaware
Average Net Price
The University of Delaware was established in 1743, and made history by offering the first study abroad program in America in 1923. Nowadays, 30% of their students study abroad as a result of this infrastructure. It’s on Kiplinger’s 2015 list of the Best Value Public Colleges and has current partnerships with major companies like J.P. Morgan and Chase. They have 21 Division I athletics teams, too. it’s clear the UD as a whole is as excellent as their emergency management programs.
Their Ph.D. in disaster science and management is one-of-a-kind, combining interdisciplinary classes with an emphasis on theories and research methodology. Throughout the curriculum, students will study several real-world disaster cases and apply various scientific approaches to the problem to prepare them for crises they’ll face in the future. The program is built around 42 credits of graduate-level coursework.
Furthermore, all students will need to focus on a thematic area to help them choose their electives and which tailors the degree to their interests. These thematic areas range from system vulnerability and resistance to policy and planning to health system leadership. It’s arguably the most versatile degree in this field, as you can attain a position in the emergency management sector as a supervisor or become a policymaker yourself thanks to the skills gained in the curriculum.
George Washington University
Average Net Price
George Washington University currently has students from all 50 states and 130 countries. Like its namesake, the school is a trailblazer with an alumni network that reaches across the world. Based in the capital of the United States, it’s also in a prime location for many future leaders—to say that there are opportunities for internships is an understatement.
They provide a Ph.D. in engineering management, which may not sound like the right topic. But it’s actually one of the best interdisciplinary degrees in this field as it takes you down a research-oriented curriculum with classes covering topics like decision-making, financial and cost engineering, and natural disaster logistics. This makes sense for those interested in emergency management, as dealing with a crisis and the recovery period immediately after also requires a deep understanding of engineering, particularly when it comes to infrastructure.
It’s also a program offered online, which may work better for your schedule. If you choose this, you’ll only have to attend campus for select seminars and dissertation defense, enabling you to complete the majority of the coursework asynchronously. Students who already have a degree from one of GWU’s partner universities should also look into their preferred international partnership program.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out 20 Best Ph.D’s. in Healthcare Administration Online 2020 and 20 Best Online Ph.D’s. in Nursing 2020!