This guide provides essential information about 2020's best online bachelor's degrees in safety. You can learn more about the top 10 programs in the United States and visit each degree's website by using the embedded link.
This page also describes typical courses, admission requirements, and potential career tracks. The final section answers many questions that prospective students may have during the application process.
What are the best safety programs of 2020? Here are our top five:
|1||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|2||Florida International University||Miami, FL|
|3||Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton, FL|
|4||California State University-San Bernardino||San Bernardino, CA|
|5||California State University-Sacramento||Sacramento, CA|
|6||Minot State University||Minot, ND|
|7||University of Houston-Downtown||Houston, TX|
|8||Western Carolina University||Cullowhee, NC|
|9||Sam Houston State University||Huntsville, TX|
|10||Central Washington University||Ellensburg, WA|
Online bachelor's degrees in safety cover criminal justice, fire prevention, occupational health, and environmental health. The specific degree you choose provides you with specialized knowledge and skills and focuses your career path.
Many environmental health graduates become environmental scientists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals work for local governments and hospitals to test samples for contaminants. Testing results guide public policy.
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2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Safety Programs
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
An experienced provider of distance learning, UCF also operates a central campus in Orlando and 11 regional learning locations. The university serves more than 68,000 students and offers more than 220 programs, including more than 80 online options.
Students may complete their choice of a BA or BS in criminal justice online, each requiring 120 credits. The online bachelor's in safety program provides a comprehensive introduction to the criminal justice system through coursework in crime in the United States, police and society, and corrections and penology.
The program culminates in a capstone in criminal justice ethics. Students may concurrently earn a certificate in one of six criminal justice concentrations. The degree takes four years to complete and includes two summer sessions.
The University of Central Florida holds regional accreditation from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida International University
|Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Among the premiere public research universities in Miami and the U.S., FIU operates two campuses, multiple extension centers, and an online division. FIU's approximately 54,000 students can choose from over 190 programs, most of which are available on campus or online.
FIU offers an online BS degree in criminal justice that requires 120 credits. This online bachelor's in safety program explores topics such as criminological theory, research methods and analyses, and criminal justice and the Constitution, culminating in a senior criminal justice capstone.
Students may start the program at one of two summer terms, or in the fall or spring semester. FIU invites distance learners to participate in commencement on campus. FIU also offers an online bachelor of science in crime science and a popular dual-degree program leading to a BS and MS in criminal justice.
Florida International University holds regional accreditation from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida Atlantic University
|Boca Raton, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
FAU serves more than 30,000 students at six campuses across southeastern Florida and online. Students may choose from more than 170 traditional and online graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs across 10 schools and colleges.
FAU's online bachelor's in public safety administration takes a contemporary approach to public safety based on recent terrorist acts and natural disasters. The 60-credit curriculum offers concentrations in law enforcement and corrections or disaster management. Both paths culminate in a capstone in public safety administration.
Both concentrations require core coursework in subjects like introduction to public safety administration, public safety systems, and administrative process and ethics. FAU accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year and admits students into the online bachelor's in safety program in the fall, spring, and summer terms.
Florida Atlantic University holds regional accreditation from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
California State University-San Bernardino
|San Bernardino, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
One of 23 California State University campuses, CSUSB serves an enrollment of more than 20,000 students each year on campus and online. Students may choose from more than 70 programs, including more than 12 delivered in a fully online or hybrid format.
CSUSB offers the online BA in criminal justice as a bachelor's completion program. Online coursework spans two consecutive semesters in the summer and fall, each lasting for seven weeks. Course topics include cybercrime, law enforcement, white collar crime, victimization, and terrorism.
CSUSB's online bachelor's in criminal justice suits students with full-time careers who have met lower-division prerequisites through a community college program. Applicants must have already completed at least 60 credits, including a CSU history course, with a minimum 2.7 GPA.
California State University, San Bernardino holds regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
California State University-Sacramento
|Sacramento, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
Located in the capital city of Sacramento, Sac State is one of 23 members of the California State University system. Sac State enrolls roughly 7,000 students each year and offers more than 100 programs on campus and online.
Sac State's online BS in criminal justice enables students with previous experience to complete their bachelor's degree. The program builds on transferable credits, requiring a total of 60 credits of courses like fundamentals of corrections, police and society, and crime and punishment. Students can access live lectures from professors online through Canvas.
Each course in the program lasts eight weeks. Applicants must already have at least 12 lower-division credits to apply. Full-time students typically complete the degree in two years, though accelerated options are available to students with additional transferable credits.
California State University, Sacramento holds regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Minot State University
|Minot, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
MSU serves more than 3,000 students online and on its campus in Minot, North Dakota. Students may choose from dozens of programs across six colleges, including more than 40 available through MSU Online.
MSU's online bachelor's in criminal justice offers an optional concentration in criminal justice research and policy evaluation. The 122-credit program includes courses in criminological theory, policing, and corrections, culminating in a senior seminar. Students may choose to complete a field experience and an independent research project.
MSU accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year and admits students into any semester. Online courses last for eight weeks. MSU charges in-state tuition for all online undergraduate coursework regardless of residency.
Minot State University holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Houston-Downtown
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
One of four schools in the University of Houston System, UHD enrolls nearly 14,500 students on campus and online. Students may choose from dozens of programs across five schools and colleges, including nearly 20 through UHD Online.
UHD offers an online bachelor of applied arts and sciences with a major in criminal justice. The program requires 120 credits. All students must complete the final 30 credits at UHD. Major courses include criminal justice cornerstone, criminology, and ethics in criminal justice. The program culminates in a senior seminar.
UHD developed its online safety degree as a bachelor's completion program, suited to students with prior academic or military experience. While not required, students may opt to pursue a criminal justice internship with the approval of program faculty.
University of Houston-Downtown holds regional accreditation from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Western Carolina University
|Cullowhee, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
Among the nation's leading undergraduate research institutions, WCU operates a main campus in Cullowhee, a satellite location in Asheville, and an online division. WCU's approximately 12,000 students can choose from more than 150 programs.
WCU's online BS in emergency and disaster management suits students seeking a bachelor's completion program. The part-time program requires 120 credits in liberal studies, major, and elective coursework. Topics include homeland security, emergency planning, and risk assessment. The program culminates in a methods of disaster research project. Students may also complete an optional 12-credit internship.
Applicants must hold an associate degree or satisfy liberal arts general education prerequisites with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Western Carolina University holds regional accreditation from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Sam Houston State University
|Huntsville, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
SHSU operates an online division and a central campus in Huntsville, Texas. SHSU serves more than 21,500 students and offers more than 150 on-campus and online programs across eight academic schools.
SHSU offers an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice that awards either a BA or a BS. Both programs require 120 credits; however, the BA in criminal justice emphasizes foreign language electives, while the BS includes social science electives. Core courses in both tracks include cybercrime, victimology, and forensic science.
Students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. SHSU designed the online bachelor's in criminal justice as a four-year program; however, students with previous college credit may be able to complete the program more quickly. SHSU offers 40 scholarships specifically for criminal justice majors.
Sam Houston State University holds regional accreditation from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Central Washington University
|Ellensburg, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Based in Ellensburg, Washington, CWU also operates multiple statewide learning centers and an online division. CWU's approximately 12,000 students can choose from more than 135 programs, many of which are offered on campus and online.
CWU offers BS and BAS degrees in risk, insurance, and safety management. The online bachelor's in safety trains students in the seven core competencies outlined by the Risk Management Society and includes management and technical coursework. Both the BS and BAS require 180 quarter credits and culminate in an internship and capstone requirement.
All distance learners at CWU pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. While education requirements vary for the BS and BAS degrees, all applicants must have a minimum 2.25 GPA.
Central Washington University holds regional accreditation from The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Online Bachelor's in Safety Program Overview
The subjects you study during an online bachelor's degree in safety depend on the subfield you choose. Although courses vary among degrees, expect to learn about the field's history, best practices, and issues facing professionals in the 21st century. You can review five typical courses in the following section.
Common Bachelor's in Safety Degree Courses
- Introduction to Emergency and Disaster Management
Students in this course memorize key terms, analyze different disaster management roles, and research how agencies coordinate to provide disaster response. Most degree-seekers take this course in their freshman year.
- Emergency Planning
Emergency managers must have an in-depth plan for each natural or man-made disaster. Coursework involves analyzing emergency planning fundamentals with an emphasis on the manager's role. Students often create a preparedness plan that focuses on both responding to a disaster and helping the affected community recover.
- Homeland Security
In response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. government created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect the nation from both terrorism and other disasters. This course introduces future emergency managers to the DHS's structure and functions. This knowledge helps managers coordinate federal resources during an emergency.
- American Environmental History
American environmental history refers to how human activities like farming and manufacturing affect the nation's environment. Students analyze the environmental movement's effect on U.S. politics, regulations, and overall environmental health. Degree-seekers also explore how emerging technologies may help solve issues like pollution and global warming.
- Principles of Risk Management
Risk management refers to a process that involves weighing potential risks when making financial decisions. This course covers risk management fundamentals that relate to both individuals and organizations. Additionally, this course conveys essential skills that emergency managers use when developing a department's budget and allocating resources.
Online Bachelor's in Safety Admission Requirements
High School Transcripts
Admissions departments use your high school transcripts to judge your academic potential. They often focus on your overall GPA and grades in core English, math, history, and science.
Many public four-year colleges and universities admit applicants who did not graduate high school but passed the GED. The GED assesses your knowledge of English, history, math, and science.
ACT or SAT Score
ACT and SAT scores play two essential roles in the admission process. Like your transcripts, these scores demonstrate your familiarity with core academic subjects. Additionally, many colleges and universities use these scores to make decisions regarding merit-based scholarships.
Depending on your online bachelor's degree in safety program, you may need to undergo a background check. This process involves providing fingerprints and other information to a local law enforcement authority. The completed background check reports your criminal record at the local, state, and federal levels.
Colleges and universities that use the Common App -- also known as the Common Application -- ask applicants to write an essay based on one of seven prompts. The most recent prompts cover topics such as life lessons, how you solved a problem, and your academic interests.
Online Bachelor's in Safety Career Paths
A bachelor's degree qualifies you for many entry-level careers in your safety subfield. You can research and apply for positions while still in school. Your college or university's career center should provide you with the latest information concerning economic trends and employers in your area. Additionally, keep in mind that your long-term career goals may involve earning a master's or doctorate.
You likely do not need a license to work in your safety subfield. However, professionals can advance career and salary potential by earning a professional certification. Many aspiring emergency managers work toward the certified emergency manager certification after gaining professional experience in entry-level jobs.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is a safety degree hard?
The answer depends on both your past academic performance and familiarity with online learning. Many students struggle with online learning as it provides less structure than in-person classes. If you feel overwhelmed, research your college's academic resources, such as tutors and advisors.
- How long does it take to get a safety degree?
Incoming students without prior college experience can expect to earn a bachelor's in four years. However, you can graduate sooner if you take courses during the summer or enroll in a program that offers accelerated courses.
- What kind of jobs do safety majors get?
The answer depends on your safety subfield. Popular disaster relief occupations that require a bachelor's degree include operations manager, fundraiser, social worker, and community service manager. These professions may also require professional experience or a certificate, depending on the employer.
- How much do safety majors make?
Occupational health and safety specialists earn a median annual salary of $70,480. Other safety professionals earn more or less depending on job duties, years of professional experience, and certifications. Geographic location also affects salary, as densely populated areas such as cities often feature positions with higher salaries.
- Is a safety officer a good career?
Working as a police officer or detective presents many challenges, such as apprehending armed criminals. However, the profession features numerous benefits uncommon to other jobs that include early retirement and a higher salary for officers who speak a second language.
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Additional Reading and Resources
Want more? We have additional resources to help you in every stage of your educational journey.