Why This Matters


    Demand for emergency management professionals is expected to grow by 4%. Emergency management directors are considered essential to businesses and governmental organizations because of their specialized knowledge.


    The median annual income for all occupations is $53,490. Emergency management directors make nearly $75,000. The highest-paid emergency management professionals earn six figures.


    Emergency and disaster management professionals don’t exclusively work in government. Hospitals, schools, and private companies also rely on them to preserve resources and maintain safe operations before, during, and after a crisis.

Our Research

This list highlights emergency management programs that award a Certificate in Emergency Management or postsecondary degree, which ranges from associate degrees to master’s. Programs are available in both traditional, on-campus and online formats, offering maximum flexibility for working adults who may or may not have a degree in another discipline.

Emergency management degree programs with active accreditation are more marketable to potential employers and make it easier to transfer credits. Look for schools that are accredited by widely recognized entities. These include the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 63 hours to write this article
  • 200 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 399 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Emergency Management Degree Programs

Best Emergency Management Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

Though related to other subjects, an emergency management degree is distinct in its focus on research, policy, and regulations surrounding disaster mitigation. Similar degrees include security management, homeland security, and public safety. Individuals with a law enforcement, first responder, or military background have an edge due to their understanding of the socioeconomic nuances of emergency situations.

When looking for the best emergency management degree program, keep an eye out for an active accreditation from HLC, SACSCOC, or MSCHE. Additional reputable accreditations include those awarded by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC), and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Job growth for emergency management professionals is expected to remain stable. With more graduates training for a career in emergency management, the competition may be steep. Look for programs taught by professors with both academic and real-world knowledge of emergency management practice.

There are no certifications or licensing required for this degree or profession, but industry-specific certifications may help hone your skill set and stand out from the competition. These include the Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) distinction awarded by the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) and the Professional Development Series (PDS) Certificate earned from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

What’s Next?

As you search for emergency management degree programs, ask the following questions:

  • Am I eligible for this program? An associate degree in emergency management requires a high school diploma or completion of a GED, while bachelor’s and master’s programs may require pre-admission testing, such as a passing score on the SAT or GRE and a minimum GPA.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? If you’re looking for greater flexibility and the option to work at your own pace, look for degree programs that offer asynchronous classes. Many online degree programs are structured so that students can customize their learning experience to their scheduling needs.

When you review degree programs, note the application requirements and important deadlines. Certificate programs in emergency management often don’t have transcript requirements but won’t accept new students without an application. If you’re searching for a bachelor’s or master’s program, you need official transcripts, an admissions essay, and letters of recommendation.

Many options are available to finance your education. Start exploring aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible. Then, check with prospective colleges to see if they have school-specific funding options, such as tuition waivers for law enforcement and first responders, undergraduate work-study programs, or graduate assistantships.