Disasters and emergencies happen. Hurricanes in New Orleans. Tornadoes in Oklahoma. Potential terrorist attacks. As we’ve seen with Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, natural (or man made), disasters requires quick responses from local, state and federal emergency agencies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates there are over 10,000 professional Emergency Management directors in the United States with an expected 6% job growth over the next ten years.
Positions for Emergency Management directors can be found with local, state and federal agencies, as well as private companies, hospitals and local organizations. The planning and coordination of resources and services following a public emergency is key among the EM director’s tasks. Directors must analyze resources, equipment and staffing following an emergency; and, directing from a command center, manage the emergency response and make necessary adjustments. Emergency Management directors must coordinate medical care, rescue operations, provision of food, water and shelter for people in need.
Emergency Management directors are required to have at least a bachelors degree in Emergency Management; but, graduate degrees are available as well. These directors experience working in emergency situations, developing a rapid and reasonable response, public administration or disaster planning. The average annual salary for a EM director is, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $67,330. The lowest 10 percent earn approximately $34,000 and the top 10% may earn in excess of $127,000.
Financing Your Degree
There are several ways to finance your college degree and help reduce your total cost.
Federal Student Aid
The U.S. government provides financial assistance to students entering or returning to college. There are various forms of financial aid available to students that includes grants (money that does not have to be repaid) or student loans (typically, loans at a lower interest rate). You can learn more about whether you qualify for federal financial aid by talking with your high school guidance counselor or college/university financial aid office. Additional information may be found on the Department of Education website Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Veterans, Spouses and Dependents
Often, schools will offer reduced tuition rates for active military personnel, their spouse and dependents. Many schools also offer tuition reduction benefits for veterans. Be certain to check with your school of choice to see if you qualify for this special rate.
Employee Tuition Assistance
Some employers offer tuition assistance for employees. You should check with your Human Resource department to see if your employer offers such a program and if your degree would qualify.
Even though this is a relatively new educational area, several universities and colleges offer graduate degrees in Emergency Management. Best Medical Degrees, using a list by the Federal Emergency Management Agency Institute of Emergency Management (FEMA), has researched the ten cheapest Emergency Management programs. Looking at tuition cost and school accreditation, Best Medical Degrees compared these schools to U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of colleges and universities to develop a list of affordable online programs. Those schools receiving a U.S. News and World Report ranking will be noted.
1. Arkansas State University
Known as A-State, Arkansas State University was founded in 1909 and currently has an enrollment of over 13,000 students in 160 areas of study. Located in Jonesboro, Arkansas, A-State serves students in the Delta and the Mid-South region. Ranked #21 in Top Public Schools and #41 in Best School for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report, the Masters of Science in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management of A-State’s College of Nursing and Health Professions has accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Emergency Management Education (CAEME) pending.
This online program is a Master of Science in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (DPEM) and is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students in becoming professionals in the field of disaster preparedness and emergency management. The curriculum includes studies in Theoretical Framework for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, Communication in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, esearch Topics in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management,Humanitarian Perspectives in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, Collaboration in Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management and Internship, Research Project or Thesis. The program is set up in six modules, but students may enter in any module. Application and more information may be found at Master of Science in Emergency Management.
Length of Program: 36 Credit Hours
Tuition Cost Per Credits: $257
2. Arkansas Tech University
Located in Russellville, Arkansas, Arkansas Tech University’s online programs have been ranked #193 by U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. A public institution founded in 1909, Arkansas Tech has a total enrollment of 11,000 undergraduate students. The school offers a Master of Science in Emergency Management concentrating on the skills and practices of emergency planning and management associated with homeland security. The online program has been approved by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
This program is accredited through the Foundation for Higher Education Accreditation (FFHEA). Coursework will examine Contemporary Issues in Emergency Management, Principles of Hazards and Emergency Management, Research Design and Methods, Principles and Practice of Disaster Relief and Recovery, Disaster and Emergency Management Ethics, Community Management of Hazardous Materials, Design and Management of Preparedness and Mitigation Systems, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment for Business and Industry and Introduction to Terrorism . Details on this program may be found at Master of Science in Emergency Management.
Length of Program: 36 Credit Hours
Tuition Cost Per Credit: $274 (In-State); $548 (Out-of-State)
3. American Public University
American Public University (APU) is a private, for profit school, founded in 1991 by a retired Marine Corps officer. First known as the American Military University (AMU) it offered career oriented, online programs for military personnel. In 2002, AMU was reorganized and became part of the American Public University System. The American Public University System began trading on NASDAQ. The American Public University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) and has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report #58 in its Best Online Bachelors Programs and received the award for Best for Vets Colleges distinction from Military Times for 2016.
Graduate coursework will include: emergency and disaster theory, emergency management, including communication and mitigation, emergency responses and recovery, terrorism, interagency disaster management, research methods in emergency and disaster management and crisis action planning, including leadership and methodologies. The program is recognized by the Foundation of Higher Education for Disaster and Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Information on this program may be found at American Public University. The school offers a tuition grant for active military personnel, spouses, dependents and veterans.
Length of Program: 36 Credit Hours
Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $350
4. University of South Florida
University of South Florida (USF) has an online Master of Public Health in Global Disaster Management, Humanitarian Relief & Homeland Security degree offered through its School of Public Health. USF was founded in 1956 in Tampa, Florida and has a current enrollment of 48,000 students. USF has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report for its online graduate programs in business, education, computer technology and engineering; and, is #156 in its ranking of national universities.
This MPH degree is intended to form a foundation in public health and provide the tools to enter the profession of a disaster and humanitarian aid worker at the supervisory level. The program is accredited by the Council on Education in Public Health. Among other courses, the MPH candidate will study Foundations of Humanitarian Assistance, Overview of US & International Disaster Management, Public Health Implications and Concerns in Homeland Security. The College of Public Health has established a special tuition rate for non-Florida residents of $525 per credit hour. For more information on this program, see University of South Florida.
Length of Program: 48 Credit Hours
Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $431.43 (In-State); $525 (Out-of-State)
5. Jacksonville State University
This Jacksonville, Alabama school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has been in existence since 1883 and offers 45 degrees, including an online Master of Science and a Doctoral degree in Emergency Management. The school has an enrollment of 8,693.
Recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, this degree Master of Science in Emergency Management requires a total of 30 credit hours for completion. The Master of Science in Emergency Management includes study in Foundations of Emergency Management, Disaster Recovery, Research Methods in Emergency Management, Hazard Mitigation, Emergency Preparedness, Disaster Response and a Capstone in Emergency Management. A 15-hour Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management and a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management degree are also available.
Length of Program: 30 Credit Hours
Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $461
6. California State University Long Beach
California State University Long Beach (CSULB) is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is a public institution founded in 1949 as Los Angeles-Orange County State College and first held classes for its 146 students in an apartment building. The school has since developed and enrollment of over 31,000 students. CSULB has been named a Top 75 ‘Best Value’ by Princeton Review as well as “Best in the West”, ranked No. 4 in the West by U.S.News & World Report, Designated a ‘Military Friendly School’ and Among Nation’s Top 10 in Degrees to Hispanics.
CSULB offers an online Master of Science in Emergency Services Management, developed for working professionals, the program focuses on building leadership and critical thinking skills in order to manage disaster-resilient communities. Housed under CSULB’s College of Health and Humans Services, this program offers classes in Emergency Management Organizations: Constructs for Influencing Complex Systems, Risk, Crisis, and Inter-Agency Communications, Emergency Management Leadership Across the Megacommunity, Strategic Planning and Integrative Practices in Emergency Services Administration and Campus and Community Volunteer Emergency Response, etc. The program is estimated to take 2-3 years for completion. Additional information is available at MS Emergency Services Management.
Length of Program: 33 Credit Hours
Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $475
7. Walden University
In existence for over 45 years, Walden University is a proprietary university located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with than 47,800 students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 150 countries are pursing bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees and certificates. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Walden offers an online Master of Science in Emergency Management. Coursework will also help prepare you to earn certificates from Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Emergency Management Institute.
Students will study Foundations for Graduate Study, Public Safety Issues, Critical Issues in Emergency Management, Managing Public Safety Organizations, Applied Research and Evaluation Methods, Risk Assessment, Preparedness, and Hazard Mitigation, Disaster Response and Recovery, Public Policy Implications of Terrorism Legislation and Policies, Disaster, Crisis, and Trauma, Terrorism: A Systematic Approach for Emergency Preparedness and a Capstone Seminar. The school is currently offering a $1,500 Civil Service grant for students who reside in the US, show proof of working for the US government, and begin this program on August 29, 2016. Information may be found at Walden University.
Length of Program: 51 Credit Hours
Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $480
8. Grand Canyon University
Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Grand Canyon University (GCU) is a propriety institution that opened in 1949. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission GCU has an online MS in Leadership with an emphasis in Disaster Preparedness and Executive Fire Leadership. The program is offered through Grand Canyon University’s Colengelo College of Business.
This MS is developed around strategies and models of federal, state and local emergency management protocols for a variety of emergency situations. Coursework includes study of Understanding Terrorism Threats, Emergency Management, Leading as a General Manager, Law and Legal Issues and Power, Politics and Influence. The MS graduate will be prepared to assume leadership responsibilities with police or fire departments, emergency agencies, schools and cyber security organizations. You may request additional information from Grand Canyon University.
Length of Program: 38 Credit Hours
Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $500
9. University of Nebraska Medical Center
This Master of Science degree in Emergency Preparedness at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Public Health is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health in addition to the Higher Learning Commission accreditation. UNMC was founded in 1869 and its online nursing program has been recognized #73 by U.S. News and World Report.
The curriculum includes prevention, response and recovery study and the key emergency preparedness content material is structured and will be delivered through four core courses based on the above essential core areas. The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health is well known for its expertise in Biopreparedness and Biosecurity. You may find more information at Emergency Preparedness .
Length of Program: 36 Credit Hours
Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $560
10. Eastern Kentucky University
This Kentucky school is located in Richmond and has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report for several of its online graduate programs, including nursing and education. The school, with a #76 ranking by U.S. News and World Report, has a robust online MS degree in Emergency Management which is 100% online and is estimated to take less than two years for completion. EKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Concentration courses will include: Foundations of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Natural Hazards and Threat to the Nation, Evolution in Emergency Management and Managing the Nation’s Disasters. The program examines the responsibilities of First Responders in a public emergency to develop policy and establish objectives to react and respond. Additional information may be found at EKU MS Degree in Emergency Management.
Length of Program: Not listed (the majority of MS degrees in this field are 36-50 credit hours)
Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $600