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 1300 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. Our top picks for best fire science degrees are well-respected and affordable. (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 29 Fire Science Degrees

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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.
    Consider what type of program will work best for you when researching online programs
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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.