Best Online Emergency Management Programs

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBachelor'sin Emergency Management2017
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Emergency management is a field dedicated to protecting resources and ensuring public safety in the event of a catastrophe, such as an earthquake, hurricane, flood, terrorist attack, or any other crisis. Professionals in the field create contingency plans in order to prepare for different emergency situations. They also coordinate relief efforts with elected officials, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations in order to effectively support all individuals impacted by the emergency. Subdivisions of emergency management include law enforcement, homeland security, cybersecurity, and public health.

Over the last two decades, emergency management has become a popular undergraduate major. The curriculum in an emergency management bachelor’s program covers a range of topics: Areas of focus include supplies and logistics, victim services, natural resource management, epidemiology, law, and policy. Many emergency management degree programs include optional or required internships, which allow students to receive supervised hands-on training from experienced professionals at government offices, call centers, and other working facilities.

Today, many students are choosing to earn their bachelor’s in emergency management online. Distance learners follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and they have the flexibility to take courses at their convenience. The asynchronous (self-paced) format used by many online emergency management programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare responsibilities, or any other commitments that may interfere with campus-based learning.

Read on to learn more about emergency management, and to discover what kind of career opportunities you can pursue with a degree in the field.


Online bachelor’s in emergency management programs will prepare students for different emergency situations. Many online emergency management programs allow students to earn specializations in disciplinary subfields, such as cybersecurity, law enforcement, or fire protection. These specializations can help direct your professional opportunities after graduation.


Online emergency management programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar classes. The online format is ideal for students who have to juggle schoolwork with other important commitments, such as childcare or a full time job. Distance learners can access course materials, submit assignments, take exams, and contact professors at their convenience. Current technology also allows students to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other portable device with Wi-Fi compatibility.


Most careers in emergency management are attainable with a bachelor’s degree, although a specialized degree or work experience may be required for some advanced positions in the field. Common career pathways for degree-holders include roles as emergency management directors, project managers, logisticians, cybersecurity specialists, and nonprofit administrators. Some jobs, such as positions in epidemiology, are typically reserved for candidates with a graduate degree in their field.


Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs and professional ambitions. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor’s in emergency management programs in the United States. If you are considering an online bachelor’s in emergency management, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more about their specific degree requirements and offerings.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide 72.34 48% Daytona Beach, FL

Originally founded in 1925 as an aviation school, today Embry-Riddle caters to wide-ranging student interests, including those seeking an online bachelor’s degree in emergency management. Operating as one of the only university degrees with a Certificate of Recognition from Fire Emergency Services Higher Education, the curriculum offered at ERAU is fully approved to address critical tasks of modern fire departments. Once enrolled, students can elect to specialize their knowledge in areas of aviation emergency management or fire & emergency services.

Every class at ERAU is taught by qualified and experienced emergency responders, and students in the program can take advantage of the school’s partnerships with the Dallas/Fort Worth Fire Training Research Center and the Aircraft Fire Fighting Working Group. Once students complete their coursework, they’ll receive a National Fire Academy certificate. For students seeking maximum flexibility, the school offers 12 different start times throughout the year for the nine-week term sessions.

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2 University of Central Missouri 64.22 49% Warrensburg, MO

UCM in Warrensburg started with just a handful of students in 1871 and now provides education to more than 14,000 learners. The university’s online bachelor’s degree in emergency management provides nuanced knowledge of crisis and disaster management through a multidisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery.

The program is made up of 120 total credit hours. After completing 24 credit hours of core requirements, students select an area to deepen their knowledge. Current options include business continuity, emergency management, emergency services management, or environmental hazards. Students can also elect to complete a certificate in one of these four areas as well. Each concentration comprises 12 credit hours; the remaining credit hours are made up of general education requirements and free electives. As part of the school’s commitment to providing top-notch online education, the school hosts a National Distance Learning Week annually. The school boasts an employment rate of 90% within six months of graduation.

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3 Ohio Christian University 63.44 36% Circleville, OH

As the name implies, Ohio Christian University in Circleville is committed to providing quality education underscored by a Church of Christ worldview. The online emergency management degree at OCU is offered as a BA in business with a concentration in disaster management and relief. While this is technically a business degree, graduates will be ready and able to provide services at every stage of an emergency situation, ranging from disaster relief to redevelopment.

As part of the concentration, students take four online classes lasting five weeks. Areas of study include response and recovery; natural and manmade disasters; understanding trauma and providing intervention; and conflict. Graduates of the program will be able to effectively demonstrate improvement of thinking/learning strategies and are prepared to apply disaster management strategies while integrating Christian principles. The university is committed to providing affordable tuition to all students, and members of the military and veterans receive the special rate of $250 per credit.

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4 Philadelphia University 59.84 61% Philadelphia, PA

Students looking to learn about the health care management side of disaster relief may be interested in Philadelphia University’s online BS in health services management. With a commitment to instilling managerial and leadership skills, graduates of this program are well-suited to roles in clinics, hospitals, and government agencies.

The completion of 120 credit hours is required for this degree. Students able to commit to their studies on a full-time basis can graduate in as few as two or three years, with each course lasting eight weeks. Class requirements are divided into sections, consisting of general education, professional education, major concentration, and up to 42 hours of electives. Students of the program go on to land careers as clinical directors, health information managers, healthcare financial managers and more. Approximately 95% of graduates of the school are employed within six months.

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5 Bellevue University 59.38 31% Bellevue, NE

The emergency management bachelor degree offered online at BU is an open-ended program that prepares graduates for various careers in areas of firefighting, law enforcement, or safety and security by developing skillsets around preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery. Coursework examines both man-made and natural disasters -- ranging from earthquakes to terrorism -- and helping students understand how to manage these emergencies.

Students complete 127 total credit hours to earn the degree; this includes 36 general education credits, 42 elective credits, 40 major credits, and nine Kirkpatrick Signature Series credits. Enrolling as an online student, you’ll have the opportunity to pick a learning format best suited to your needs. While a traditional format is available, those who feel they learn best with others can also elect to be part of a cohort and take all their classes with the same group of people throughout their time at BU. Graduates of the program will be prepared to continue on to master’s-level studies. Exclusive pricing for eligible military personnel is available.

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6 Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses 56.88 40% Fort Wayne, IN

Based in Angola, Indiana, Trine University’s online emergency management degree is provided in an asynchronous format for students who are juggling personal and professional responsibilities while furthering their educations. In addition to 42 credit hours of general education requirements and 30 credit hours of emergency management core requirements, students also complete either a business continuity or emergency response module -- consisting of 36 credit hours -- to concentrate their studies further.

In order to graduate from the program, students must present an emergency management capstone project highlighting their academic progress throughout the degree program. Graduates of the program will be prepared for careers in security analysis, hospital emergency management, Homeland Security, and more. Outside of the support and care they’ll receive from professors, online students at Trine also benefit from 24/7 technical assistance, an online writing center, career search services, library resources, and support finding a suitable internship site.

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7 Arkansas State University-Main Campus 56.72 39% Jonesboro, AR

As the second largest institution in the state, ASU caters to nearly 14,000 students both on-campus and via online learning. The school’s online emergency management degree is provided as a BS in disaster preparedness and emergency management via the College of Nursing and Health Professions. Regardless of location, all U.S. residents enjoy a low tuition rate of $202 per credit alongside $38 per credit in administrative tech and library fees.

Aside from required studies in disaster preparedness, mitigation, planning, response, and recovery, every student picks 25 credit hours worth of emphasis coursework within the degree to build specialized knowledge. These courses may involve an incident practicum, extrication tactics, community response, the politics of disaster, radiological emergencies, and more. Individuals with previous experience may qualify for a Prior Learning Assessment to provide experiential credit.

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8 Union Institute & University 54.53 27% Cincinnati, OH

Union Institute & University, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, offers an emergency management bachelor degree online. Recognizing that many adults have previous experience, students can opt to have their prior work assessed for experiential credits (up to 50 credit hours) and can also transfer up to 90 credit hours. Classes begin every eight weeks, allowing new students the opportunity to jump in quickly and move toward graduation.

The degree program requires the completion of 120 credit hours; students can earn their degree in part-time or full-time options. Aside from required coursework, students also select from two concentration options: organizational leadership or criminal justice management. All emergency services management students learn to evaluate principles of supervision for emergency service organizations, create strategic plans for emergencies and disasters, and develop critical thinking skills that aid in responding to crisis situations. Graduates are prepared for careers as paramedics, US border patrol agents, federal air marshals, and more.

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9 Arkansas Tech University 54.06 41% Russellville, AR

Arkansas Tech University’s Department of Emergency Management is in charge of administering the online emergency management degree, which was recently accredited by the Foundation on Higher Education in Disaster/Emergency Management and Homeland Security. This makes it the first program to receive both national and international recognition.

On top of emergency planning and preparedness coursework, curriculum will cover cultural considerations in emergency situations, political and legal applications in the field, management of staff/civilians, and more. Students complete both an internship and capstone project in order to qualify for graduation. While enrolled, online students can become members of the ATU Chapter of the International Association of Emergency Managers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or ATU’s Red Cross Chapter. Graduates go on to find employment in federal-level organizations, law enforcement, and industries including airlines, athletic venues, and more. A range of emergency management scholarships are also available to qualified students.

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10 Bethel University 52.66 29% McKenzie, TN

Celebrating 175 years of existence in 2017, Bethel University knows a thing or two about providing quality educations via a Presbyterian Church worldview. Located in Tennessee, the school is consistently recognized for both its campus-based and online degree programs. The online emergency management degree is a perennial favorite amongst students who want to protect citizens from man-made or natural disasters and serve those who have been affected.

Students are allowed to transfer up to 80 hours of credits (including 30 for Academy training or 30 for military service), making it possible for them to complete the degree in as few as four terms. Regardless of location, students in this program pay a low rate of $345 per credit hour which includes all additional fees. Scholarships for this degree program are also available. Once students are enrolled at BU, they’ll access courses, interact with peers and professors, discuss assignments, and turn in projects via the learning platform V-Camp.

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11 Adelphi University 48.13 66% Garden City, NY

Adelphi University in Long Island, New York offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the area while also maintaining a remarkable 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The school is committed to providing personalized educations to help each student reach his/her full potential, and that commitment extends to online learners. The university’s emergency management degree online focuses on developing leaders within emergency services administration regardless of the area of work a student hopes to pursue.

Graduates have gone on to work in disaster preparedness, fire service, emergency medical services, and law enforcement. Courses are taught by professors with real-world experience as police officers, EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters, providing students with an informed and up-to-date curriculum. The program requires 120 hours, but students are eligible to transfer up to 60 credits at the time of matriculation, while prior learning credits (including policy academy training, military training, EMT/Paramedic coursework can also be counted toward required hours).

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12 Barry University 46.88 41% Miami, FL

Founded in Miami, Florida at the start of World War II, Barry University has a rich cultural history spanning many of the 20th century’s most pivotal moments. The online emergency management degree at BU was designed for students with previous experience in the field and those coming into it with no prior knowledge.

The program comprises 120 credits. Core courses include psychosocial issues of disaster preparedness and recovery, international disaster management, business continuity crisis management, and more. Students also complete a capstone in emergency management wherein they synthesize the material they’ve learned. Enrolled students will learn how to evaluate existing policies, apply skills to emergency management situations, utilize their leadership skills in times of crises, and understand the cause and effect relationship of both natural and manmade disasters. Students will use the learning platform Canvas to complete all their assignments and interact with faculty and other students.

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13 Immaculata University 46.25 53% Immaculata, PA

Sitting 20 miles outside Philadelphia, Immaculata University has been fulfilling its mission to be a supportive and educational environment for students seeking a Catholic tradition for more than 120 years. An emergency management bachelor’s degree is offered fully online for students aspiring to emergency planning and management career paths. Created as a degree completion program, students should already have an associate degree at the time of application.

Students work with organizations and government officials while studying real-world scenarios and case studies. This is offered as a blended program, meaning students are required to visit the Pennsylvania campus to meet some of the course requirements. Students also have the option to study in an accelerated format. The program is recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for providing a quality education that prepares students for the realities of this type of work. With courses taught on seven and eight week rotations, learners can begin their studies at multiple times throughout each academic year.

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14 SUNY College of Technology at Canton 45.78 32% Canton, NY

Operating as part of the expansive State University of New York System, the Canton campus also provides distance education opportunities alongside campus-based degree programs. The online emergency management degree at SUNY-CTC is taught in seven-week blocks, allowing students to complete the degree in an accelerated format. In addition to required courses, internships can also be arranged at local, state, and federal agencies to further augment learning outcomes.

To help prepare them for real-world jobs, students use industry standard software, including Graphical Information System and Virtual Emergency Operations Center. This technology is used by 25 states and nearly all Federal agencies, giving recent graduates the upper-hand when it comes time to competing for their first jobs. The school also maintains ties with many agencies and programs working in emergency management, providing opportunities for students to gain knowledge and experience while completing their degrees.

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15 Everglades University 42.34 58% Boca Raton, FL

In addition to the numerous campuses spread throughout Florida, Everglades University is also a frontrunner in online education throughout the country. The BS in crisis and disaster management at EU prepares students for entry level positions in the field while also instilling the managerial and leadership skills they will need when it comes time to move into more advanced positions. By providing a broad education in the field, students are competitive for a variety of roles and have the knowledge needed to work with other agencies to accomplish overarching goals within emergency management and disaster preparedness.

Because emergency management is often a fast-paced environment where disasters happen without much warning, EU’s program emphasizes the development of communication skills, critical thinking, and fast, thoughtful responses. Alongside coursework provided by qualified and experienced practitioners, online students have many resources at their fingertips. Smarthinking is an online tutoring service made available to every student, and they’ll also be able to access a writing center, online library, technical support, and academic/career advising throughout their time at the university.

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4 to 5 years
Program Costs
$10,000 to $30,000 in annual tuition
Related Areas of Study
Homeland Security, Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement/Fire Protection, Public Health, Public Administration, Nonprofit Management, Cybersecurity, Logistics, Project Management
Council for the Accreditation of Emergency Management Education (CAEME)

Job Placement

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tech-related jobs in emergency management are projected to grow significantly. Positions as computer and information systems managers and information security analysts are projected to grow by 15% or more between 2014 and 2024. Other common jobs in the field are projected to grow at average or slightly below-average rates. A complete breakdown can be found in the table below.

Occupation Projected Industry Growth (2014-24) Change in Number of Jobs (2014-24)
Emergency Management Directors 6% +700 jobs
Logisticians 2% +2,500 jobs
Epidemiologists 6% +400 jobs
Social and Community Managers 10% +13,200 jobs
Computer and Information Systems Managers 15% +53,700 jobs
Information Security Analysts 18% +14,800 jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Earning a Living

The earning potential for college graduates in emergency management will largely depend on their specialization in the field. According to the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, the most lucrative subfields in emergency management include information security, transportation/logistics management, supply chain management, and computer/network administration. The table below highlights salary projections for different emergency management fields during two key career stages.

Bachelor’s Degree Field Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Information Security $58,300 $85,600
Transportation and Logistics Management $47,800 $78,900
Logistics and Supply Chain Management $51,800 $77,400
Information Systems Security $57,100 $74,200
Computer and Network Administration $50,800 $66,900
Organizational Leadership $43,900 $65,300
Criminal Justice Administration $39,000 $63,900

Source: The 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

Of the seven majors listed on the table, transportation and logistics management professionals are projected to have the highest rate of salary growth, with a 65.0% increase between entry-level and mid-career positions. Criminal justice administration ranked second with 63.8% projected growth.

In addition to your major and degree specialization, your salary expectations will also depend on a few other factors, including your specific job title, the size of your company, and your location. With that information in mind, take a look at the following table, which features career salary growth projections for five common emergency management pathways.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Emergency Management Specialist $50,000 $59,000 $65,000 $70,000
Emergency Response Coordinator $42,000 $56,000 $59,000 $62,000
Disaster Recovery Coordinator $57,000 $73,000 $102,000 $105,000
Intelligence Analyst $58,000 $72,000 $82,000 $93,000
Logistics Manager $50,000 $63,000 $69,000 $76,000

Source: PayScale

All of these careers are projected to have at least 40% salary growth after 20 years in the workforce. Disaster recovery coordinators experienced the highest rate of growth, with an 84.2% projected increase in salary between early-career and late-career.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who earn a bachelor’s in emergency management will leave school qualified for dozens of positions in the field; those with specialized degrees and work experience will be particularly well-positioned for this competitive and demanding profession. Below, we’ve covered four of the most common professional pathways for emergency management graduates.

Emergency Management Directors: These professionals oversee teams who operate at different stages of emergency preparedness and response. They create comprehensive contingency plans designed to mitigate threats against human life, property, and natural resources. They also help with relief efforts when emergency situations occur.

Logisticians: These professionals specialize in organizing supply chain needs for companies and organizations. In emergency management, logisticians coordinate transportation, medicine, medical equipment, and other relief services. They also develop strategies for delivering essential goods and provisions in the wake of disasters, attacks, and other emergencies.

Computer and Information Systems Managers: Computer and information systems managers oversee the day-to-day computing and IT operations at companies and organizations. They meet with government officials and other leaders to determine specific tech needs, and then perform upgrades and introduce new systems to help their organization operate efficiently.

Information Security Analysts: These tech professionals run software programs and perform tests to evaluate the security of an organization’s computing systems. They are trained to handle hackers, cyberterrorists, and other online criminals, along with viruses, malfunctioning equipment, and other technical issues that can compromise information security.

Occupation Median Annual Salary
Emergency Management Directors $67,330
Logisticians $72,460
Computer and Information Systems Managers $131,600
Information Security Analysts $90,120

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making connections and learning as much as you can about emergency management is crucial to your professional success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below, you’ll find information about three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for emergency management professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online training, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • National Emergency Management Association: Founded in 1974, NEMA is a nonprofit professional organization that strives to bolster public safety “by improving the nation’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from all emergencies, disasters, and threats to our nation’s security.” NEMA routinely works with federal agencies and members of Congress in order to reach this goal. The organization also sponsors two annual conferences. Member benefits include continuing education workshops and networking opportunities.
  • International Association of Emergency Managers: Representing more than 6,000 members worldwide, the IAEM is dedicated to improving emergency response and disaster relief procedures across the globe. The organization emphasizes the need for multinational cooperation when addressing events that affect multiple countries, such as large-scale natural disasters or global public security threats.
  • The International Association for Preparedness and Response: This organization works to facilitate collaboration and cooperation between emergency management personnel, volunteer organizations, and relief agencies. Individual membership is available for as little as $20 per person, and members are invited to take part in training seminars, workshops, and networking events.
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Emergency Management Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Upper Iowa University Fayette, IA
2 Adelphia University Garden City, NY
3 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR
4 Ohio Christian University Circleville, OH
5 Union Institute & University Cincinnati, OH
6 Immaculate University Immaculate, PA
7 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach, FL
8 Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AR
9 Barry University Miami, FL
10 Everglades University Boca Raton, FL