Why This Matters

  • U.S. AVERAGES 67,000 WILDFIRES PER YEAR

    Since 2009, there have been an average of 67,000 wildfires per year in the U.S., burning an average of 7 million acres. The top five largest fires in the U.S. since 1960 have all occurred since 2006.

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 1,300 MORE FIRE INSPECTORS

    The job outlook for fire inspectors is bright, with employment expected to increase by 8% by 2028. Employment growth will be fastest for forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists.

  • EARN $12,890 MORE PER YEAR WITH A DEGREE

    Fire inspectors earn an average annual salary of $62,510. These jobs typically require an associate’s or master’s degree. Firefighters, who do not need degrees, earn $49,620 annually.

Our Research

Most schools offer Associate of Applied Science or Bachelor of Science degrees in fire science, although a few master’s-level programs exist as well. We reviewed all types of degrees for this list, so you can find the one that best suits your education level and career goals.

We only reviewed programs offered by institutions with regional accreditation. Many programs are also recognized by the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) Recognition Program, which means they meet standards of excellence and follow FESHE’s educational model.

These programs can all be completed online. Some also offer coursework on-campus or in a hybrid format.

Each program was evaluated on the basis of flexibility, faculty, reputation, cost, and coursework. We then assigned each program an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 83 hours to write this article
  • 88 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 429 education programs we compared

The Top 10 Best Online Fire Science Degree Programs

Eastern Oregon University

Intelligent Pick

Eastern Oregon University’s Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Art in Fire Services Administration (FSA) program is a nationally recognized FSA program that meets Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. The flexible, career-focused pathway allows you to pursue your degree full-time or part-time. Advisors help you apply previous college coursework credits and work experience toward your degree requirement and help you locate scholarships to make this affordable degree program even more accessible. The program has been ranked as one of the best online programs by Best Degree Programs, and it achieved a place in the top 10 of 2019 Most Affordable Online Fire Science Degrees by OnlineU. Courses are taught by current and veteran fire chiefs and cover topics like principles of emergency services, fire behavior, strategy and prevention, as well as administration, analysis, and management.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $265 (in-state); $305 (out of state)
  • Credits required to graduate: 180
  • Academic calendar: Four start dates annually (spring, summer, fall, winter)
  • Graduation rate: 42%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Phone: 855-805-5399

Learn more

Kilgore College

Best Career Services

Kilgore College’s Associate of Applied Science in Fire Protection program includes basic fire academy training. If you have already completed this training, you can receive transfer credit for 23 of the required 60 program credits. Because the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) requires you to complete the basic fire academy training and either the emergency medical responder (EMR) course or an emergency medical technician (EMT) course in order to become a state-certified firefighter, Kilgore offers both the EMR and the EMT option, enabling you to complete TCFP firefighter-certification requirements through the program. Because Kilgore is a highly career-focused institution, you have access to great career services in partnership with Workforce Solutions East Texas.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $53 (in-state); $103 (out of state)
  • Credits required to graduate: 60
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 27%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 903-984-8531

Learn more

University of Florida-Online

Most Innovative Curriculum

University of Florida Online’s Bachelor of Science in Fire & Emergency Services is geared toward emergency services professionals seeking an increase in managerial responsibility and leadership skills. The program’s unique curriculum offers a combination of Fire Science, EMS, and emergency management coursework, allowing you to specialize in one of these areas and tailor the program to your particular goals and interests. University of Florida Online has a strong record of offering high-quality online courses and degrees, and the Gator alumni network is particularly robust, which means you’ll have access to academic and career-oriented resources and professional networks that can potentially open doors for you after graduation.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $129.18 (in-state); $300 (out of state)
  • Credits required to graduate: 120
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester

More program information:

  • Accreditation: American Council for Construction Education (ACCE)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 855-994-2867

Learn more

University of Cincinnati

Best Scholarships

University of Cincinnati’s (UC) Bachelor of Science. in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology program focuses on practical, applied learning techniques. The open-learning method makes the program flexible and suitable if you lead a busy life but do not want to sacrifice quality. UC provides you the unique option to receive college credit by developing a portfolio assessment for prior learning experiences, state training, and military training. Moreover, residency workshop programs offer you the chance to complete an entire course over the course of five intensive days. UC also offers a number of scholarships for undergraduate students to make the degree program more accessible and affordable.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $504
  • Credits required to graduate: 120
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 66%

More program information:

Learn more

Colorado State University

Best Electives

Colorado State University’s Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Services Administration program offers a customizable curriculum. In addition to career-oriented core courses that build upon your technical training and provide you with knowledge in emergency services management, personnel administration, finance, and program development and evaluation, you have the option to pursue a minor in one of nine fields: agricultural business, anthropology, business administration, economics, gerontology, global and environmental sustainability, media studies, political science, or sociology. This allows you to customize the program to your particular goals and interests. Most students in the Fire and Emergency Services Administration program have an EMT certificate and/or have completed fire academy training, and many continue working as first responders while completing their degree. Moreover, U.S. News and World Report ranks Colorado State University’s online bachelor’s degree programs #11 in the country.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $476
  • Credits required to graduate: 120
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 970-491-5288

Learn more

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte - Distance Education

Best for Working Professionals

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte – Distance Education’s Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology: Fire Safety program is designed to meet the needs of working professionals who want to continue their education in order to enhance their career advancement potential. The curriculum consists of extensive coursework in dealing with fire behavior, active and passive protection systems, and the foundational principles of research investigation. The program also strongly emphasizes leadership and managerial skills within the fire safety industry. For hands-on training, students complete several lab courses as well as a capstone project in fire and safety. You should have some professional experience in fire safety before joining the program.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $188.48 (in-state); $347.32 (out of state); $748.23 (international)
  • Credits required to graduate: 60
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 58%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 704-687-5235

Learn more

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Best for Industrial Safety

University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management program offers broad training in emergency management that can be tailored to your particular areas of interest. In addition to core coursework that helps you develop skills in preventing, planning and preparing for, responding to, and recovering from large-scale natural or man-made disasters and public events, the program also enables students to choose two 15-credit hour concentration areas among the following options: Criminology and Criminal Justice, Fire Service Management, Gerontology, Intelligence and Security, Logistics Management, Nonprofit Management, Private Sector Management, Public Administration and Management, and Tribal Management and Emergency Services. These niche concentrations give you the chance to hone very industry- and problem-specific skills that can differentiate you on the job market.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $259 (in-state); $534 (out of state)
  • Credits required to graduate: 120
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 50%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 402-554-4900

Learn more

Oklahoma State University

Best Master’s Degree Program

Oklahoma State University’s online Master of Science in Fire and Emergency Management Administration program is among the oldest and most well-established of such programs in the country. It is possible to complete the degree entirely online, but you should know that regular semester classes are taught live using Zoom one night per week/per class. Therefore, this program is a good fit for you if your schedule allows you to participate in live class sessions rather than asynchronous learning activities. Toward the end of your program, you have the option to complete a research-based thesis or a practice-oriented practicum in fire and emergency management administration, so you can choose which is the best option for your goals.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $533.60 (in-state); $663.80 (out of state)
  • Credits required to graduate: 33
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 62%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 405-744-9371

Learn more

Keiser University

Best for Fire Scene Investigation

Keiser University’s Associate of Science in Fire Science degree program has well-defined objectives: to provide you with a firm understanding of crisis management, fire suppression, and extinguishment methods; to prepare you to conduct a proper fire scene investigation; to ready you for a career in fire service; and to develop your ability to serve the community by protecting lives and property. These objectives come to life through Keiser’s curriculum, which includes classes like Firefighting Tactics and Strategy, Fire Prevention Practices, and Blueprint Reading and Plans Review. The program is student-centered and features small class sizes, hands-on learning opportunities, and a unique academic calendar where you take one class at a time for four weeks.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $20,800 per academic year
  • Credits required to graduate: 60
  • Academic calendar: One class at a time for four weeks
  • Graduation rate: 57%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 888-453-4737

Learn more

Eastern Kentucky University

Best for Prior Learning Credits

Eastern Kentucky University’s Bachelor of Science in Fire Protection Administration program makes it easy to receive credit for prior coursework and work experience. The 120-credit program allows you to transfer up to 90 credits, which can help you finalize your degree as quickly as possible. In accelerated eight-week terms, you make the most of your time in school and progress steadily toward your degree. You also benefit from having the same personal advisor from the time you submit your application to the time you receive your diploma, so you always have someone in your corner supporting and guiding you. Eastern Kentucky University also offers free tutoring and career services, both of which can be conducted conveniently online.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $417
  • Credits required to graduate: 120
  • Academic calendar: accelerated eight-week terms
  • Graduation rate: 47%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 859-622-4455

Learn more

Other Online Fire Science Degree Programs to Consider

Best Online Fire Science Degree Programs
01
loader Image

What You Should Know About This Degree

Fighting fires is a dangerous job that requires physical strength and stamina, as well as the ability to remain calm and communicate clearly in high-pressure situations. Many fire-fighting skills can only be developed or honed in real-world situations. Having paid or volunteer experience as a firefighter is equally as important as earning a degree in fire science for individuals who want careers in fire prevention and safety.

A college degree is not necessary to become a firefighter. They usually receive training at a fire academy and take written and physical exams to confirm their preparedness. However, having a college degree can help you advance within the department to roles like deputy chief or chief, or to other related jobs like fire inspector.

Firefighters also provide emergency services in situations like car accidents, natural disasters, or situations involving hazardous materials. Therefore, firefighters are also usually certified as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), a process which involves completing a training course and passing an exam.

Emergency management is a closely related field that may also be of interest to those considering fire science degrees. Emergency management directors coordinate and oversee emergency preparedness and response efforts to situations like fires, natural disasters, and more.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Fire Science programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Some programs seek applicants who are currently active firefighters or have previous firefighting experience. When researching programs, be sure to ask what their admission qualifications are, and plan to get some hands-on experience if necessary.
  • How are online courses delivered? Online courses are typically delivered in one of two ways – synchronously or asynchronously. If you are taking synchronous courses, you will need to be available at specific times to attend classes remotely. Asynchronous courses are more flexible, with lessons and course materials accessible at any time.

You should also find out the application requirements and deadlines for the program to which you plan to apply. Gathering your application materials well before the deadline will facilitate a smooth admissions process. This information should be available on the program’s website, or you can contact the school directly.

Financing your fire science degree is another important consideration. Research your options for federal financial aid, grants, scholarships, and assistantships. If you are currently working, find out if your employer offers tuition assistance benefits.