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A master’s degree in emergency management equips students to take on high-level roles in disaster response and recovery, including homeland security officer, public safety director, nuclear emergency planner, and emergency management director. Students graduate with a thorough understanding of disaster preparedness, mitigation, and response. Government agencies, non-profits, hospitals, and private sector companies are the top employers of graduates.The median annual salary of an emergency management director is $79,180, but it will vary depending on the industry and location. Those in the professional and technical services industry have the highest median salary of $106,000 annually, while those in state government have the lowest median wage of $66,750. Graduates with the highest education level and relevant work experience will have the strongest job prospects.

Most master’s degrees in emergency management require two years of full-time study to graduate, with programs consisting of 30 to 46 credits. The average annual cost is $19,749 for tuition and fees. Students living on-campus will incur higher annual housing and living expenses costs.

How to Choose a Master’s in Emergency Management Program

Choose your area of study

Consider your interests and career goals, and choose the program that best aligns. Master’s of emergency management programs often fall into five categories:

For example, if you’re interested in working in homeland security, consider a Master of Arts in homeland security. Some schools also offer a Master of Science in emergency management, which covers all emergency management categories. This degree is best for students who need more clarification on their specialized field or want to leave their options open.

Research schools and programs

As you narrow your options, apply to emergency management programs from accredited institutions. Accreditation ensures that these schools meet a set quality standard that employers and other institutions recognize. You’ll have an easier time transferring credits, getting hired, and receiving financial aid.

Check that the master’s in emergency management program you’re applying to is accredited. Program accreditation ensures the curriculum meets quality standards and adequately prepares students for their careers. You can use the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP) to check on a school’s accreditation status.

You can learn more about prospective schools and programs by visiting their website, attending open houses, browsing social media, or visiting the school in person. You can also speak with an admissions counselor to learn more about the program and school culture.

Prepare for tests and applications

Application requirements for a master’s degree in emergency management vary by institution but typically include previous school transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, GRE or GMAT scores, and letters of recommendation from professors or employers.

Keep an eye on the admission deadline for the programs you’re interested in, and make sure you have all materials gathered and submitted before the date approaches. Also, speak with an admissions counselor to ensure you understand the application process and meet all requirements.

Select your program

As you refine your options and determine the school and program that best fits your academic and lifestyle needs, consider the following:

  • Is the program part-time or full-time?
  • Do they have housing options?
  • Is online learning an option?
  • What’s the cost of the program?
  • How long will the program take to complete?

Choose the program that will set you up for success. If you’re having trouble, speak with an academic advisor to review your options and find the best choice.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Financial considerations will help you determine your program selection. Create a budget that includes all your expenses during your degree, including tuition, fees, housing, food, transportation, and supplies. Based on this budget, determine whether you can pay for the degree yourself or if you’ll need financial assistance.

Visit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website and fill out the form to determine the amount of financial aid you’re eligible for, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and loans. Due to the essential service of those in the emergency management field, you may also be eligible for employer tuition assistance or tuition waivers for first responders.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Emergency Management Degree Programs

Best Master's in Emergency Management Programs badge
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Georgetown University
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Thomas Jefferson University
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Jacksonville State University
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Northeastern University
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Arkansas Tech University
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North Dakota State University
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Arizona State University
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National University
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University of Delaware
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Florida International University
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Eastern Kentucky University
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The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
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University of Alaska Fairbanks
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University of New Haven

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

Because graduate students might need more flexibility with their daily schedules, we reviewed emergency management degrees offered on campus, online, and in hybrid formats. This list includes a variety of degree types, such as Master of Science in emergency management and Master of Arts in homeland security and emergency preparedness.

All of the schools featured in this guide are regionally accredited institutions. Accreditation ensures that these programs meet the highest standards for curriculum quality and professional preparedness.

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.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Emergency Management Program?

A master’s degree in emergency management offers students a thorough understanding of disaster preparedness, processes, and relief. Students graduate with the communication, technical, and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in the field. Most two-year programs include core and elective classes covering emergency preparedness, terrorism, homeland security, ethics, and hazard mitigation.

Students will use various learning methods during the program, including coursework, exams, lectures, internships, and case studies. Many programs conclude with a thesis that combines the knowledge learned throughout the program or a practicum that allows students to gain real-world experience in the field.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in emergency management program

  • Health Care Issues and Policies Related to Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. Students study the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of current government and institutional policies related to emergency management and disaster preparedness.
  • Radiological Emergencies. Students learn how to respond to a radiological incident, with topics including radiological concepts, response team operations, commercial nuclear power facilities, plume modeling, radiological instrumentation, and decontamination.
  • Crisis Communication in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. This course evaluates communication strategies before, during, and after a disaster. Students will analyze private and public information exchanges, including social media use.
  • Epidemiology of Disasters. Students will study the health effects of natural and human disasters. They will cover the factors contributing to these effects, the needs of affected populations, and the resources used to prevent continued adverse health effects.
  • Vulnerable Populations in Disasters. This course analyzes how disasters affect vulnerable populations. Students will learn about the characteristics of these populations and determine the planning, mitigation, response, and recovery processes needed to mitigate further effects.

Master’s in Emergency Management Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in emergency management degree program?

The application requirements for a master’s degree in emergency management often consist of:

  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • GRE or GMAT test scores
  • A resume
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement

Talking to an admissions counselor before applying is essential to ensure you have all the required materials and understand the application process.

How much does a master's in emergency management degree cost?

The average annual cost for a master’s degree in emergency management is $19,749, but it will vary depending on the program, school, and supplies needed. If you plan to live on campus, housing, food, transportation, and other living expenses will increase that amount. Online or part-time students will likely see a lower annual cost.

How long does it take to earn a master's in emergency management degree?

Most master’s programs in emergency management require 30 to 46 credits to graduate. The majority of students complete this in two years of full-time study. However, some schools offer online, part-time, or accelerated programs, allowing you to complete the program at your chosen pace.