Online Emergency Management Degrees

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When earning an emergency management (EM) degree, you may study the ways to plan in times of crisis.  You can expect this to include natural events such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. Also, you could learn to plan for high stress events. These could include terrorist attacks or shootings.

Per FEMA, there are four key phases you should know in the Emergency Management process.

  1. Mitigation (Reducing Risk)
  2. Emergency Planning
  3. Emergency Response
  4. Recovery (Inter Agency communication)

You can expect most EM programs to touch on several themes. One theme you may learn about is the things that threaten local and national security. You could expect these to include, for example, criminal behavior, cyber crime, and more. As a result of the course, you may learn how to stop and prevent breaches. You may also gain basic knowledge of:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Counter Terrorism
  • Intelligence Analysis


Associate of Arts in EM

In this program, you may gain a foundation of knowledge in the Emergency Management field. As a student, you could explore aspects within EM. These may include, for example, the four phases of emergency management, terrorism in emergency management and inter agency disaster management.

Course Examples:

  • Disaster Mitigation and Preparation
  • Disaster Response and Recovery
  • Terrorism in EM
  • Inter Agency Disaster Management

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Homeland Security and EM

In this program, you may study criminal justice and criminal processes. Other courses, similarly, may deal with planning, strategy and inter agency communications. You could also study terrorism, risk, and basic business practices.

Course Examples:

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminology
  • HR & Administrative Issues in Homeland Security and EM

Master of Science in Homeland Security and EM

In this program, you may explore how private and federal organizations find effective security and emergency management solutions. These could be, for instance, on a local, regional, national, and global level.

Course Examples:

  • Economics and resources
  • Regulation and law
  • Politics of security
  • Dynamics of EM

Emergency Management Degree Specializations


In this program, you would earn a BS degree in Criminal Justice with a Homeland Security and EM concentration. In addition to learning about Emergency Management planning, you may gain a wider view of criminal justice and criminal processes. Also, you may cover topics such as terrorism, constitutional law and intelligence.


If you plan to go into Emergency Response, earning a BS in Fire Science and EM may help you learn how to plan and lead in a crisis. In some courses, as such, you may learn leadership topics, such as HR and finance. In others, for example, you may cover recovery, risk reduction, and response.


Earning a BA in HSEM may give you a broad view of homeland security and emergency preparation. In this course, you may learn about counter terrorism and planning for natural disasters. You could also learn about terrorism responses. Other topics you may touch on, could include, similarly, ethics, global relations and cybercrime.


Earning an MPA degree is similar to earning an MBA. However, in an MPA degree, you may focus on more on managerial skills in public offices. You could also learn about public budgeting and public policy, for example. Or, about national security. In addition, a focus on EM and homeland security may help you predict and stop threats. Other courses you could take may help you to build a more decisive and strategic mindset.


In an MS HLS program, you may study the practices and processes that keep our nation safe. As such, this course may help you develop as a leader. You may study topics, for example, like risk analysis, planning and operations.


A focus on public health may help you to understand the nature of epidemics. You could, for example, learn how to prepare for and respond to crisis. You may also learn effective solutions to crises, such as how to quarantine and monitor symptoms.


Earning an MS Criminal Justice could allow you to focus on emergency and crisis management. You could start with courses that cover criminal justice systems and policies. Then, you may move on to EM courses. These courses relate to key ideas, such as, how to manage crisis. Electives will enable you to tailor your studies to your interests.

Online Emergency Management Degree Courses You May Take

Have you heard of the saying, “It takes a village?” Many agencies think this way in times of an emergency response. At these times, you must remember this idea. As such, your courses may cover how agencies communicate with the public.

You may also learn about the different pieces that go into recovery. As such, you may study topics like how to lead, or how to organize and manage people. This may help you to learn the ins and outs of emergency procedures. You could also learn how to predict weak areas in a disaster response system.

Below, you can take a look at a few sample classes and programs you could take. You could also expect to take general edu courses, if you haven’t already completed them, and a capstone.

Course Examples:

Intro to Homeland Security and EM: In this course you could learn about homeland security in the U.S. You may cover principles, missions and theories. Or, you may look at past and current issues, policies, and potential career paths.

Emergency Response to Terrorism: In this course, you may learn how to assess an emergency. What is the function of first responders? Which agencies do we alert? How are first responders dispatched? You may cover hands on practice as you create a recovery plan.

Legal Aspects of Emergency Services: In this class, you may cover the legal issues that relate to emergency services. Arson law, criminal, and civil law, are some examples. You may study the legal duties of emergency services officers.

Fire Science Tech: These courses may teach you the industry’s latest practices including administration, fire safety, investigation, leadership, and more.

Emergency and Disaster Incident Command: In this course, you may learn the history, principles, and org structure of the Incident Command System. Learn about emergency planning, and response or recovery efforts.

Chemistry of Hazardous Materials: In this course, you could learn to work safely at the scene of a hazardous materials incident by understanding the potential hazards.

Psychology of Disaster: In this course, you may learn about the role of mental health, psychosocial needs, and associated response in complex emergencies.


If you are a full time student, it may take you four years to earn a BA in EM. You will usually need to earn about 120 credits. However, if you have transfer credits, you could graduate sooner.

If you would like to get an MS, it can you take as little as one year. Two years is more common though. If you pursue a PHD degree, it may take you at least four years to complete.


Example Time Frames

SchoolDegree# of Credits ReqStart DatesMin Months to Complete
Ashford UBA HS & Emergency Planning120 creditsMultiple208 weeks
Colorado Technical UniversityBS in Criminal Justice, HS & EM182 quarter creditsApril, May, July15 terms, self paced
Purdue University GlobalBS in Fire and EM180 quarter creditsMay, July, Oct.Four years or less with transfer credits


There are several things that may affect how much it could cost you to earn an online degree in emergency management.

One thing you may consider, for example, is whether you will earn your degree in or out of state. The avg in state tuition for you to obtain a degree in Homeland Security is $7,049. An out of state tuition for you could be $28,710.

The other factor at play for you, is how many credits total that you will need to complete. When paying by cost per credit, you having fewer credits to earn may save you money.  If you are a military student, some schools may also extend discounts to you.

School# of Credits ReqCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Ashford120 credits$485$58,200
Colorado Technical University182 quarter credits$325$59,150
Purdue Global University180 quarter credits$371$66,780


At the last check, you can see, 113 schools offered Homeland Security degrees or programs. From those schools, you will find that 2,080 degrees in crisis, emergency, and disaster management were awarded to students. Most of these were BA programs.

School2021 Grads total / degrees awarded2023/24 Tuition (out of state unless *)
Webster University98$30,730*
Penn State University World Campus15$15,204*
Eastern Kentucky University143$10,130
Miami Dade College160$9,661
Virginia Commonwealth University112$39,042
University of New Haven97$45,730
Madonna University14$27,360*
St Petersburg College86$9,286
Thomas Edison State University22$8,598
Tiffin University46$32,400


One way that you can make your resume stand out more is through EM certification. Becoming a certified EM shows that you have met high level criteria.

In some states, once you are hired, directors may ask you to be certified within a set amount of time. This is a way you can show that you understand how to manage. Also, it shows that you can make decisions in stressful situations.

You will see that there are two standard national certifications for EMs. Both of these, you will find, are from the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). The IAEM is the largest national agency that you will find in this field.

  • Associate Emergency Manager (AEM)
  • Certified Emergency Manager (CEM)

You will need to have a BA  to pursue being a CEM. Once you are certified, you will need to renew it every 5 years. Some employers would prefer that you have either your CEM or your Certified Business Continuity Professional certificate (CBCP).

The Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI) awards you with the CBCP certificate. To be eligible, you need to have work experience. You also need to pass an exam. Once you are certified, you will need to renew it every 2 years.

You may also find that many agencies and states offer voluntary certification programs. If you are an EM director and you take a course, you can pick up extra skills that may be a good fit for your location. You can easily check if your state has an Emergency Preparedness Association.


You will be happy to learn that the HS work force is over 1M strong. You can see it is growing at a rate of 0.745%. Also, you will find that most people (69.7%) with a degree in protective services are men, age 39.8.

You will see that workers with a BA are in the majority.

Top Salaries by States for Emergency Management Directors

In the table below, you can see which states have the highest salaries. You will find that this career path often needs a degree in emergency management, or in public admin.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
District of Columbia140$161,790


There are many career paths you could take in EM. For instance, you may decide to focus on the manager side of planning and preparing for crises. Or, you could handle response, recovery, and relief sides. You will find that most (64%) EM jobs are government jobs or private sector jobs.


Emergency Management Directors are key leaders in their field. In this role, you’d be responsible for strategizing and overseeing responses to various crises. This could involve addressing natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Additionally, as an EM director, you might handle situations such as terrorist attacks, hostage incidents, or hazardous oil spills. Taking charge of emergency plans also involves training others for effective crisis management.

According to 2022 BLS Data:

Avg Salary: $79,180 per year
Job growth through 2032:3% (As fast as average)
Entry Level Degree: BA


Health and Safety Engineers are involved in designing systems and processes. Some of these systems are geared towards safeguarding people from illnesses, while others aim to protect property from damage. In this role, as a health and safety engineer, you’d ensure the safety of chemicals, machinery, software, and furniture. Staying abreast of health and safety regulations and staying updated on industrial methodologies would be crucial aspects of this responsibility.

According to 2022 BLS Data:

Avg Salary: $100,660 per year
Job growth through 2032: 4% (as fast as average)
Entry Level Degree: BA

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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