What You Should Know About This Degree
Emergency management positions typically require only a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree combined with relevant work experience can greatly help you advance and excel in the field. This competitive edge prepares you to serve in a variety of higher-level managerial and directorial positions in the public and private sectors.
Some students enter these programs with many years of work experience in emergency response, disaster planning, or public administration. Others might have little to no training in the field and are looking to change careers. Common foundational courses in the curriculum include emergency preparedness, hazard mitigation, terrorism and homeland security, business continuity planning, and emergency management law. Many programs culminate with a thesis or practicum requirement that offers supervised, real-world work experience at an emergency management job site.
Upon graduation, students with a master’s in emergency management degree enjoy a variety of career paths. Local governments employ more than half of the emergency management directors in the United States. However, the highest-paid directors work with hospitals, colleges, or the professional, scientific, and services industries. Applicants with the highest levels of education and work experience have the best job prospects.
Here are some questions to ask when researching master’s in emergency management programs:
- How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most universities require between 30 and 36 credits to graduate. The majority of students complete the full curriculum in two years; however, programs are typically flexible if you need more time. If you want to graduate faster, look for programs that offer an accelerated track.
- What licensing or certifications are required? Some states and agencies require that emergency management directors obtain a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP), or equivalent designation. These credentials may be earned through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) and Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI). While certifications must be renewed every few years, continuing education courses keep your skills and knowledge sharp to further your career.
As you research programs, keep track of application deadlines and requirements. Universities may request your Graduate Records Examination (GRE), Miller Analogies Test (MAT), or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score, as well as letters of recommendation.
Give yourself enough time to compile these materials, and remember to inquire about financial aid. Visit your prospective schools’ websites or contact them directly to learn more about the availability of loans, grants, and scholarships to help pay for your degree.