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Earning a master’s in public safety administration prepares students to create and carry out policies that protect and secure the general public or private corporations. Accredited degree programs provide the critical skills and training to work within a community or local business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places median salary ranges for emergency management directors at $79,180. However, directors working in scientific and technical fields can earn up to $106,000.A master’s in public safety administration degree program can take approximately two years, depending on the curriculum and whether you attend full or part-time. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found the average tuition for a master’s degree during 2021-22 to be $20,513, with private colleges costing about $7,500 more and state institutions $8,000 less than the average.

How to Choose a Master’s in Public Safety Administration Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Your duties as a public safety administrator may differ significantly depending on your employer. Research the work environment and type of role that interests you to determine a study program. For instance, if you plan to work in the corporate world, you’ll want a master’s degree that covers environmental and worker safety.

In contrast, if you aim to assist during public emergencies, you need a program emphasizing immediate response systems and security management. Taking electives in cybersecurity, chemical safety, or disaster recovery can further define your role and make you more marketable.

Research schools and programs

To get a feel for the objective of a school’s program, identify keywords in the degree title. Terms like emergency management, criminal justice, and homeland security indicate a different type of study from environmental management, employee safety laws, and business continuity. Look closely at the required courses and find out if you can adapt the curriculum to fit your needs.

Once you’ve found schools that offer your type of program, explore other factors, such as the availability of online coursework, accreditation, student environment, and tuition costs, including the length of the program and required credit hours.

Prepare for tests and applications

While applications and prerequisites may be similar among graduate programs, each college and department will have unique requirements. Carefully review the school’s website for a listing of necessary documentation. If you didn’t attend this school for undergraduate study, you must provide official transcripts of prior schooling. Other standard requirements include an essay or statement of professional objective, letters of recommendation, and a minimum GPA or test scores. Most applications also include a nonrefundable fee.

Schedule an appointment with an admissions counselor to prevent any problems with eligibility and ensure you’re on track to join the next cohort. Some programs only start in the fall.

Select your program

Your school’s master’s in public safety administration degree program may have two or more tracks to follow, including subspecialties. Glance through the coursework to see what interests you and which classes are offered at convenient times or in your preferred format. You may have the option for 100% online study or a hybrid program. Consider how much time you plan to devote to your studies. Full-time attendance is the best choice if you hope to finish in two years. If you work full-time and are only taking one or two classes a semester, look for a program that lets you set the pace.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Public and private universities offer financial aid resources to help with tuition costs. Plus, many employers provide reimbursement for education expenses. To see how much additional help you may require, start by calculating the cost of your total degree. Submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid can also help, as some schools use this to determine eligibility for other aid.

Your tuition is based on credit hours. However, you’ll also have indirect expenses, such as transportation, books, loss of work hours, and fees. Once you have a total, compare it to your savings and the amount you can put aside each term. You can make up any shortfall through federal, state, and private loans. Don’t forget to check with the financial aid office at the college regarding graduate study work programs and long-term payment solutions.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Public Safety Administration Degree Programs

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How we rank schools

This list covers graduate programs in public safety administration that prepare graduates for leadership roles, such as emergency management director, chief security officer, and law enforcement officer. The degree types offered include Master of Science in safety management, Master of Public Administration in emergency management, Master of Science in homeland security and emergency management, and Master of Science in occupational safety management. Students can choose from on-campus, in-person, or hybrid learning formats.

All of the institutions featured on this list are approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) or the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Many of these options also have programmatic accreditation from the National Environmental Health, Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC) or the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission of ABET.

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 Public Safety Administration Degree Program?

Students enrolled in a master’s program dedicated to either public or worker safety are trained to prevent and manage health and safety emergencies. You’ll learn what factors influence individual and crowd behavior during crises and the legal ramifications of disasters. Depending on your chosen path, you may study with law enforcement personnel or government officials.

Most master’s programs take, on average, two years to complete, but 15 months to three years is not uncommon. The required credits can range from 30 to 50 hours, and your status (full or part-time) helps determine program length. Depending on the career track, you may have additional requirements, such as lab work in HAZMAT or technical classes involving cybercrime. Some programs finish with a capstone project, while others require hands-on experience through internships. These can take place within businesses, correctional facilities, local and state police departments, and private security agencies.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in public safety administration degree program

  • Risk Assessment. This course teaches students how to analyze hazards in a workplace or public setting. Once hazards are identified, students explore deterrents and determine the cost-effectiveness of alternative solutions.
  • Environmental Fundamentals. Public safety programs offer this course as an introductory overview of environmental impacts from private individuals, corporations, and governments. In addition to reviewing legislation that helps control and curtail environmental hazards, students use case studies and computer models to identify and assess health risks.
  • Global Criminology. By examining crimes in other countries, students can better understand how crimes against humanity affect all people, from human trafficking to gun violence. You’ll also discover how governments work together to prevent or stop victimization.
  • Safety and Health Administration. This class prepares you to develop and manage a safety program in a business or community setting. You’ll learn organization skills and discuss ways to motivate and train participants in the program.
  • Data Systems and Cybercrime. By studying how the internet, cloud storage, and mobile phones are interconnected, you’ll learn why these resources are so vulnerable to attack. In addition to analyzing the risks associated with an infrastructure, you’ll discuss possible responses to blackouts and other types of cybercrime.

Master’s in Public Safety Administration Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in public safety administration degree program?

If you’re interested in applying for a master’s in public safety administration, you must first have obtained a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the chosen career track, schools may require an undergraduate degree in a related field, such as environmental health and safety or criminal justice.

It’s advisable to speak first with an admissions counselor to see if your major is acceptable. A counselor can also help ensure you meet all other program requirements. You’ll also need to complete all applications before the deadline and pay the fee. Make sure to allow enough time for the college to receive letters of recommendation and transcripts.

How much does a master's in public safety administration degree cost?

The average tuition for a state (public) university master’s program was approximately $12,596 in 2021-2022. For-profit private schools were slightly higher at $14,161, while nonprofit private schools topped the list at $29,931. In-state tuition is usually much less expensive than out-of-state tuition. However, some states offer reciprocity with their neighbors, and many online colleges ignore location when setting their tuition rates. Remember to calculate indirect costs when creating a budget. Besides books, lab fees, and other school expenses, consider the cost of time off work, transportation, and food.

How long does it take to earn a master's in public safety administration degree?

A typical program with around 30 to 36 credit hours may take two years to complete. Some fast-track programs are designed to finish in 14 months. Taking elective courses can increase your knowledge base and marketability. However, they may extend your time in school.

The final factor influencing course length is your time budget. If you can attend classes full-time, you’ll finish much sooner than if you take one class a semester. You may find that online courses integrate better with your lifestyle and work schedule.

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