Why This Matters


    Job growth for emergency management directors is expected to continue at an average pace through 2028. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy will add about 500 new director jobs in the next decade.


    A degree in emergency management can take you down many different career paths. Individuals in this field can work in crisis management, policy development, inspection, emergency field coordination, and more.


    The median annual salary for an emergency management director is $74,420, but depending on the industry, the earning potential is higher. Those in professional, scientific, and technical services earn $101,570 on average.

Our Research

The most common degree titles in the emergency management field are Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), and Master of Science. We reviewed a variety of programs to meet different educational and professional needs.

We focused on online programs for this list, although several programs are also offered on-campus, and some allow students to complete coursework in a mixture of in-person and online classes.

All schools on this list have regional accreditation, ensuring that they meet a high standard for quality education. Several programs are also accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Emergency Management Education (CAEME).

Once we narrowed our list of programs, we evaluated their reputation, cost, course strength, flexibility, and faculty, and then we gave each an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 71 hours to write this article
  • 166 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 318 education programs we compared

The Top 61 Online Emergency Management Programs

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

Being successful in emergency management requires the right blend of skills, education, and experience. Emergency management personnel are often required to work long hours in stressful situations. Their work may take them to dangerous or remote locations. They must demonstrate leadership, collaborate, make decisions, and communicate clearly in complex and high-pressure situations.

A degree in emergency management provides the theoretical framework for this career. However, real-life experience is also critical in developing the skills that emergency management personnel need and employers seek. Some programs require internships that give students hands-on experience. You can also work or volunteer as a firefighter, emergency medical technician, paramedic, or in a similar role, to put into practice the skills you learn in your degree program.

Depending on the job you want, on-the-job training may be more beneficial than a degree. Carefully consider your intended career path and whether a degree is essential to achieving your goals.

You can also obtain professional credentials to confirm your expertise in the field. The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) grants the Associate Emergency Manager (AEM) and Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) certificates to emergency management professionals. To earn these credentials, you must pay fees, pass an examination, document experiential hours, and complete continuing education requirements for periodic recertification.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Emergency Management programs:

  • Does the program have in-person requirements? Even if all coursework can be completed online, some emergency management programs also have in-person experiential learning requirements. This will help you apply your theoretical knowledge in a practical setting. Find out what, if any, experiential learning requirements the program has, and make sure you are able to fit them into your schedule.
  • Does this program offer the concentration I want? There are a number of focus areas within emergency management, including occupational safety, public health, and homeland security. If you are interested in concentrating in a particular area, make sure you select a program that offers that concentration option.

When researching programs, take a look at their admission requirements and deadlines. It will make your application process easier if you have all of your materials gathered and submitted well ahead of the application deadline. If you have questions about the admissions requirements or processes, contact the school’s admissions department for guidance.

Funding your education is another important consideration. Get information about institutional and private scholarships, financial aid, assistantships, and employer tuition assistance benefits if you are currently working.