Best Online Master’s in Emergency Management Programs

Emergency managers save lives by directing personnel and resources after anthropogenic and natural disasters. On this page, you can learn about some of the best online master's in emergency management...

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on May 23, 2022

Edited by Kristina Beek
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A master's in emergency management equips students to build and implement emergency response policies and plans for the public and private sectors. Students explore the impacts that disasters have on the environment, communities, and finances, plus how to mitigate damage and recover from these events.

The growing need for well-prepared organizations that offer essential services will likely keep demand up for professionals in this field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6% growth for emergency management directors between 2020 and 2030, which is close to the average projected growth rate for all occupations. The median annual salary for these professionals was $76,730 in May 2021.

The positive outlook in this sector may attract prospective students deciding on graduate school. To ensure prospective emergency management students have all the information they need, we put together this guide on the program, process, and outcomes. We also include a ranking of the best online master's in emergency management at the top online schools.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Emergency Management Program?

The standard master's program features 30-45 credits, which takes students 1-2 years to complete. These interdisciplinary programs appeal to students from many undergraduate disciplines, including environmental science, criminal justice, and business. The field also accommodates many career interests, such as those in government, human services, and community services.

A master's in emergency management can look quite different depending on the school and the student's choices. Most programs blend coursework, independent studies, and practical training. Students may choose to complete optional thesis tracks, research-based projects, internships, and other field experiences.

When preparing for graduate school, prospective students should look at the degree types available, the departments running them, and the focus of the program. For example, MA programs may focus more on management, and MS programs may concentrate on scientific and technical aspects of emergency management. Furthermore, programs offered through the criminal justice department have a different emphasis than those offered via social services departments.

Another program consideration is what, if any, specialization to choose, as these can help students point their training in a certain direction. Emergency management is often a specialization within a general management major. Some schools, however, offer more in-depth specializations, such as homeland security and fire science.

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Popular Online Master's in Emergency Management Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Emergency Management Program?

Disaster Risk Management

In this course, students learn to use the primary tools and methods for assessing and analyzing risk for organizations. They learn to identify hazards and vulnerabilities for organizations and communities using data and modeling.

Emergency Management Technology

Students in this course examine the different technologies used in the planning, control, and management of emergency responses. Topics may include designing disaster response and recovery strategies and remote sensors used for hazard identification.

Crisis Communication

This course explores how communication impacts community and organizational responses to emergencies. Students look at how public relations messaging can prepare people for potential emergencies and prevent chaos after they occur.

Emertency Mental Health and Trauma

Students in this course gain insight into how emergencies and trauma impact the mental health or people within communities and organizations. They explore intervention and mitigation strategies to support people, including leading with compassion and understanding.

Social Dimensions of Emergencies

In this course, learners study how emergencies shape social and behavioral dimensions in people and communities. They look at the psychological and social effects, the impacts of preparedness, and the social responses during emergencies.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Financial Aid Guide for Graduate Students The Student's Guide to College Loans The Student's Guide to Financial Aid and the FAFSA

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Emergency Management Program?

An interdisciplinary field like emergency management can be a fit for students from many undergraduate backgrounds. Applicants typically need a bachelor's degree at minimum for entry. They must also meet any specific GPA requirements, which vary by school and program. This discipline does not usually require specific prerequisite courses or degrees.

Here, we explore the standard graduate admission requirements for an online master's in emergency management.

Application

The application requirements differ for every program, but the following components are some of the most common. Unlike undergraduates, who often use college application systems to streamline the application process, graduate applicants usually apply directly to each prospective school. Most graduate schools use an online system to simplify and expedite the process.

Test Scores

Schools may request standardized test scores to help them better distinguish between applicants. Graduate programs use the GMAT and GRE, for which students can prepare by taking GMAT and GRE prep courses. While schools may offer waivers for these tests, candidates can usually still submit their scores for consideration.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation provide schools with insight on applicants from professionals who know them and have seen them work. These letters usually point out an applicant's strengths and potential. Prospective students typically ask former teachers or employers from relevant fields to recommend them.

Resume and Work Experience

While programs rarely require professional experience for entry into the emergency management discipline, it can improve an applicant's chances. In most cases, the college application resume serves to provide more information on the candidate and highlight their professional skills.

Essays

The grad school essay serves many functions, including providing information about an applicant and highlighting their writing abilities. Schools and programs may pose specific questions that students need to answer in their writing. They may also allow candidates to discuss their academic and professional interests and goals.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts are included in every graduate school application. They showcase the applicant's previous training, including undergraduate courses and grades. Not only do these records help schools admit qualified students, but they also help them identify prerequisites and transfer credits for transfer students.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Emergency Management Degree?

Career Outlook

Emergency management graduates have diverse skillsets that allow them to impact organizations, government policies, law enforcement processes, and community programs. They can pursue careers in each of these sectors, plus public health and education.

The BLS projects the addition of about 700 new emergency management director jobs between 2020 and 2030. Graduates can also apply for management analyst and community service management positions, sectors the BLS projects will add nearly 125,000 and over 26,000 jobs, respectively, before the end of the decade.

Salaries depend on a professional's chosen field, years of experience, and location. Yet, many of the professions accessible to graduates in this discipline paid above-average salaries in May 2021. Emergency management directors, for example, made over $30,000 higher than the median annual wage for all occupations, according to the BLS.

Career Paths

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors oversee the large-scale planning and preparation for emergencies and disasters. They coordinate with public officials, protective services, and communities to ensure everyone understands the processes and operations that will take place. They also take charge of the budgeting and supplies needed to respond to these events.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $76,730

Management Analyst

Management analysts provide advice and assistance to organizations and managers in specific areas. Those involved with emergency management develop strategies and protocols for organizations to follow in the event of an emergency. They may assess and evaluate current practices and provide reports and recommendations based on their findings.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $93,000

Community and Social Services Manager

These professionals develop and manage community and social service programs and organizations. They oversee the financing and budgeting for these organizations, hire and train staff members, and create plans and proposals for government approvals. In the emergency management sphere, these managers may run programs that offer resources and support to places and communities in need.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $74,000

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists study the environment by observing it, collecting samples, and tracking any changes over time. Those focused on emergency management may present their findings to governments and organizations in order to prepare them for any upcoming disasters or emergencies. Environmental scientists usually have an undergraduate science background.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $76,530

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Specialist

These professionals help organizations prepare for potential disasters to ensure their data and operations are protected. They conduct the necessary testing and implement safeguards and backups to prevent wholesale loss. In the case of an emergency, these specialists help during the recovery process and get organizations back up and running.

Average Annual Salary (January 2022): $76,740

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Continuing Education

An interdisciplinary program, like a master's in emergency management, can take students in many different directions, both professionally and educationally. The most direct route is a doctorate in emergency management, though a doctorate in criminal justice and a doctorate in public administration are also options.

Graduates might also pursue more specialized degrees, such as a doctorate in organizational leadership or a doctorate in public health. For those who want to work with a specific law enforcement agency, an academy training program is usually required.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Emergency Management Program?

Cost

The cost of an education typically ranks high on a prospective student's list of considerations. Candidates may want to look at the differences between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates and public and private school costs. When comparing online and on-campus programs, prospective students should look at the true program cost, which considers lost income due to studies.

Program Format

Prospective learners should give plenty of consideration to program format to ensure they find the most suitable delivery methods and schedules possible. They may, for example, want to look at the pros and cons of synchronous and asynchronous programs and full-time and part-time programs.

Location

No matter what they decide on between online or on-campus studies, prospective students should think about location. For on-campus students, the right school location is somewhere learners can travel to several times each week throughout the year. For online learners, location might come into play when it comes to tuition rates, residency requirements, or facility access.

Accreditation

All prospective learners need to ensure their school has the necessary online college accreditation. Institutional accreditation ensures a college or university meets certain educational standards. It can impact financial aid, employment, future training, and transfer credits. Programmatic accreditation is optional in the emergency management discipline but may provide students with additional assurances.

Student Support

Schools provide various student services for on-campus learners and online student services to help degree-seekers navigate through their studies. Offerings like tutoring, career support, mentorship programs, and wellness services assist learners outside of the classroom. In-program college internships can also offer support for learners.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Emergency Management Programs

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Best Online Master's in Emergency Management Programs

  1. Georgetown University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $28509

    Although Georgetown's online master's in emergency management program does not offer concentration options, students can customize the degree by selecting four electives. Foundational courses include theory and legal framework, risk perception awareness, and project management. Additionally, the program concludes with a capstone course.

    Through the Cawley Career Education Center, degree-seekers can access Handshake job-search software, read industry-specific newsletters, and access resume guides. These and other resources help over 90% of students find a job or enter another graduate program within one year of earning a degree.

    Application requirements include undergraduate transcripts, a resume, and two recommendation letters. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency. Finally, Georgetown proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides financial aid to active-duty military personnel and veterans.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Masters in Emergency & Disaster Management
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $1,441/credit
    Credit Requirements: 33 credits
    Program Length: 2-5 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Contact

    Phone: (202) 687-7762
    Email: js4840@georgetown.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  2. California State University - Long Beach
    Location

    Long Beach, CA

    Tuition

    $9477

    Students enrolled in CSULB's online master's in emergency management program create a custom specialization. Core coursework includes information literacy, emergency management leadership, and strategic planning. Additionally, degree-seekers choose between a capstone project and a master's thesis.

    The CSULB Career Development Center provides graduate students with the latest internship opportunities and guides that cover career exploration and interviewing best practices. Other resources include on-campus career workshops and virtual career counseling sessions.

    CSULB uses an undergraduate GPA cutoff and accepts up to six transfer credits. Other application materials include three recommendation letters. Finally, the CSULB scholarship website features outside financial aid opportunities for which emergency management degree-seekers may qualify.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Science in Emergency Services Administration
    School Status: Public
    Available Concentrations: Custom
    Tuition: $499/credit in-state and out-of-state
    Credit Requirements: 32 credits
    Program Length: 2 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.5 minimum; 3.0 prefered

    Contact

    Phone: (800) 963-2250
    Email: Peter.Kreysa@csulb.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  3. Arizona State University - Skysong
    Location

    Scottsdale, AZ

    Tuition

    $14166

    ASU's online master's in emergency management program allows full-time students to earn a degree in just 12 months. Core courses include hazards governance, homeland security, and integrated emergency management. Additionally, degree-seekers customize the educational experience by selecting one of five electives.

    Nearly 90% of students receive a job offer within three months of earning a degree. ASU achieves this impressive statistic by offering degree-seekers numerous career planning resources, including Handshake software, career interest communities, and the ASU Mentor Network.

    Prospective students must possess some emergency management experience and submit two recommendation letters, a personal statement, and undergraduate transcripts. Finally, degree-seekers may qualify for one or more federal financial aid programs.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Online Master of Arts in Emergency Management & Homeland Security
    School Status: Public
    Available Concentrations:

    Tuition: $543–$1,343 per credit hour
    Credit Requirements: 33 credit hours
    Program Length: Two years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    Find up-to-date admission requirements for ASU Online's Master of Arts in emergency management and homeland security request more information.

    Contact

    Phone: (866) 277-6589
    Email: asuonline@asu.edu
    Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

  4. National University
    Location

    La Jolla, CA

    Tuition

    $13320

    NU's online master's in emergency management program boasts an optional accelerated curriculum, meaning that most students can earn a degree in only one year. The program features coursework in infrastructure protection and global lessons in security. Additionally, graduation requirements include a two-part capstone course.

    The Career Services Department (CSD) offers students and alumni career assessments, mock interviews, and cover letter templates. Also, the CSD boasts the MentorMe program, wherein alumni work one-on-one with degree-seekers.

    NU accepts new learners every month, making the university an excellent choice for prospective students who want to start a program as soon as possible. The university uses a GPA cutoff. Finally, veterans who maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA receive up to $5,000 as part of the Veterans' Victory Scholarship.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $442/credit
    Credit Requirements: 54 quarter credits
    Program Length: 1 year

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (855) 355-6288
    Email: advisor@nu.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  5. Nova Southeastern University
    Location

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Tuition

    $25867

    NSU's online master's in emergency management program boasts six concentration options. Core coursework includes bioterrorism and disaster planning. In the final semester, students complete a practicum at a local emergency preparedness facility.

    Professionals at NSU Career Development help degree-seekers prepare for life after graduation by offering one-on-one appointments, internship opportunities, and professional development courses. These resources help alumni find a job where, on average, they earn a higher salary than 75% of workers in the same profession.

    Admissions requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, and NSU prefers applicants who submit standardized test scores. Other application materials include two recommendation letters and a personal statement. Finally, NSU boasts multiple scholarship opportunities exclusive to graduate students.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: MS in Disaster and Emergency Management
    School Status: Private
    Available Concentrations: Maritime safety and security; cybersecurity; criminal justice; public health; fire administration; environmental hazards
    Tuition: $594/credit
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 2 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous mix

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum
    Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT preferred

    Contact

    Phone: (954) 262-1030
    Email: jason.cohen@nova.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  6. Adelphi University
    Location

    Garden City, NY

    Tuition

    $28406

    In Adelphi's online master's in emergency management program, students earn both a degree and a graduate certificate. Unique courses include securing the homeland and emergency management law. In the capstone, degree-seekers complete original research and present findings to professors and peers.

    Over 90% of Adelphi students who earn a graduate degree find a job or enter another educational program. The university's Center for Career and Professional Development encourages degree-seekers' career success by providing interview preparation guides, a mentoring program, and many other valuable services.

    Application materials include a personal statement, one recommendation letter, and a resume. Adelphi uses a GPA cutoff but does not require standardized test scores. Finally, like many schools in this ranking, Adelphi participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Science in Emergency Management
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $720/credit
    Credit Requirements: 39 credits
    Program Length: 2.5 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.7 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (888) 252-4110
    Email: admissions@adelphi.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  7. Arkansas State University
    Location

    Jonesboro, AR

    Tuition

    $13459

    A-State's online master's in emergency management program features a 60-hour practicum experience that students complete at an emergency preparedness center. Core courses include crisis communications and theory development in disaster preparedness. Additionally, degree-seekers select between a master's thesis and a 240-hour internship.

    At Career Services (CS), degree-seekers can search for jobs and review multiple career success guides. CS surveys of recent emergency management graduates reveal that, on average, over two-thirds of alumni either find a full-time job or enter another graduate program within one year of earning a degree.

    Prospective degree-seekers submit undergraduate transcripts and interview with departmental faculty. All U.S. residents pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Finally, students who need financial aid should apply for private scholarships and federal programs.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Science in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $277/credit U.S. resident; $554/credit international
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 2 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Contact

    Phone: (870) 680-8286
    Email: dpem@astate.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  8. Virginia Commonwealth University
    Location

    Richmond, VA

    Tuition

    $20897

    VCU's online master's in emergency management program features weekly live sessions and a curriculum that emphasizes hands-on learning. Courses include cybersecurity law and policy, emergency management, and terrorism. Additionally, typical full-time students spend 6-8 hours per week on coursework.

    Over 80% of graduates find a career in the emergency management field. VCU Career Services promotes students' success by providing them with career development courses, Handshake software, and job shadowing opportunities.

    Although VCU requires standardized test scores, the university grants waivers under certain circumstances. Other application materials include three recommendation letters. Finally, incoming learners should make an appointment with the VCU Office of Financial Aid to learn more about the latest institutional scholarships.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $30,172/total in-state; $58,156/total out-of-state
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 2 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous mix

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.7 minimum
    Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT

    Contact

    Phone: (804) 207-4695
    Email: onlinewilder@vcu.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  9. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $27432

    Students enrolled in Liberty's online master's in emergency management program benefit from eight-week courses and the ability to graduate in fewer than two years. Core courses include public policy analysis, community economic development, and hazard mitigation. In the final semester, students write a master's thesis.

    Career Services professionals assist students with resume and professional portfolio development, as well as interview preparation. These and other resources help nearly 75% of Liberty's emergency management students find a position relevant to the degree they earned.

    Although Liberty uses an undergraduate GPA cutoff, the university does not require standardized test scores or recommendation letters. Active-duty military personnel receive a generous tuition discount. Other institutional financial aid programs include tuition discounts for first responders and learners who work for a corporate partner.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Public Administration in Disaster Management
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $565/credit civilian; $290/credit military
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 18 months

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (800) 424-9595
    Email: luograd@liberty.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

  10. John Jay College of Criminal Justice
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $4745

    John Jay's accelerated online master's in emergency management program features eight-week courses and a customizable concentration. In class, students analyze emergency management mitigation, project management, and capital and operational budgeting. In the final semester, degree-seekers select between a thesis and a comprehensive examination.

    At John Jay's Center for Career and Professional Development, emergency management students can receive a cover letter critique, complete an interest inventory, and view recorded employer information sessions. Most graduates who use these resources go on to a career in the government or nonprofit sector.

    Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, two recommendation letters, and a 500-word personal statement. In-state students save approximately 45% on tuition compared to out-of-state degree-seekers. Finally, incoming learners may qualify for one of over 75 institutional scholarships.


    Program Overview

    Program Name: Master of Science in Emergency Management
    School Status: Public
    Available Concentrations: Custom
    Tuition: $470/credit in-state; $855/credit out-of-state
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 2 years

    Delivery

    Format: 100% online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum

    Contact

    Phone: (212) 393-6342
    Email: OnlinePrograms@jjay.cuny.edu
    Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Emergency Management Programs

Is a master's in emergency management worth it? true

Yes. While every student has their own perception of value, an online master's in emergency management offers plenty of benefits to graduates. The training positions graduates to help organizations, communities, and individuals during emergencies. It also leads to many professional opportunities and options.

Students in this discipline can benefit from the value of an online degree as well. They have access to more schools and programs than on-campus learners and their scheduling options are more flexible and accommodating. Those who need to maintain employment during their studies might find online learning the only realistic option.

What can I do with a master's in emergency management? true

With a master's in emergency management, graduates can take many different paths. One of the most straightforward options includes entering the criminal justice field in a position that plans for large-scale emergencies, such as with homeland security. Graduates might also focus on emergencies in the public health or business spheres.

They can also continue their training in these areas, pursuing doctorates in emergency management, criminal justice, or business management. More advanced training in these disciplines can lead to careers in teaching and research and development.

Are emergency management graduates in demand? true

Yes. Emergency management graduates are in demand in several industries. The BLS projects 6% growth for emergency management directors, translating to about 700 new jobs 2020 and 2030. The BLS also projects 14% growth for management analysts and 15% growth for community service managers during that time.

The BLS projects 8% growth in the protective services field as well, with an addition of more than 285,000 positions between 2020 and 2030. Graduates with emergency management training can apply their training to many of the occupations within this sector.

How much money can I make with a master's in emergency managemenet?

Wages for professionals in the emergency management field depend on an individual's position, experience, and location. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for emergency management directors was $76,730 in May 2021. The top 10% of professionals earned more than $133,580 per year.

The industry a person worked in also impacted their median annual salary in May 2021. Those in the professional services industry made $125,930 per year, according to the BLS. Meanwhile, hospitals paid $94,310, college and universities paid $79,720, local governments paid $75,670, and state governments paid $69,450.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in emergency management?

The highest-paying jobs for graduates in this discipline are in the management analysis field. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for management analysts was $93,000 in May 2021. Those in the top 10% of earners earned a median annual wage of more than $163,760.

An analyst's industry can make a big difference in what they earn. For example, the professional and technical services field paid median annual salaries of $100,170, enterprise management paid $96,940, finance and insurance paid $83,050, and the government paid $81,090, according to the BLS.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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