What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Public Safety Administration Program?

Online master’s in public safety administration programs offer the same academic quality as on-campus programs in a more flexible format. By eliminating the need to commute to campus, online programs make it easier for working students to maintain their job responsibilities while they further their education. Another benefit is that online programs allow you to attend a school outside your area without the cost and inconvenience of relocating. Remember that no two online master’s in public safety administration programs are exactly alike, so you should carefully review each option to find the best match for your needs and professional goals.

Available concentrations

If you already know what role you would like to have in the public safety administration field, look for a program that allows you to focus your studies on this specialty. Some of the most common concentration options for a master’s in public safety administration include:

  • Executive Police Administration: Students learn about law enforcement management, dispute resolution, and community relations issues.
  • Environment and Disaster Response: Learn how to develop proactive environmental and disaster-response policies and procedures.
  • Terrorism and Homeland Security: This concentration deals with homeland security issues and approaches the interrelated topic of preventing and responding to terrorism.

Common degree curriculum

Some colleges offer a Master of Arts (M.A.) in public safety administration, while others offer this degree in a Master of Science (M.S.) format. The difference between these two options is that M.S. programs typically cover more math and science topics, such as statistics.

As for the curriculum, you will likely encounter some of the following courses:

  • Public Policy Analysis: Reviews how policies are designed and implemented.
  • Organizational Behavior: Analyzes how individuals and groups behave within an organization.
  • Public Safety Management and Administration: Covers the established best practices for managing a public safety organization.
  • Public Safety and Incident Response: Addresses how to prevent and respond to various public safety threats, including attacks, epidemics, and natural disasters.

Certification and license preparation

In addition to your master’s degree, you should consider earning professional certifications to bolster your resume further and advance your career. Some of the most valuable certification programs in this field include:

  • Certified Public-Safety Executive: This credential, conferred by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), recognizes individuals for their professionalism, performance, and valued participation in public safety and public safety communications. Individuals must attend APCO courses to achieve certification.
  • Associate Safety Professional: To earn this certification from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and one year of relevant work experience. You’ll need to pass an exam as well.
  • Certified Safety Professional: Earning Associate Safety Professional certification (or another BCSP credential) is one of the requirements for becoming a Certified Safety Professional. You’ll also need to gain four years of relevant work experience and pass the required exam.

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate the faculty and curriculum of postsecondary education institutions to ensure they offer students a high-quality academic experience. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Program completion timeframe

Online master’s in public safety administration programs range from 33 to 48 credit hours. Accelerated programs may allow some students to earn their master’s in 18 months. Otherwise, this degree typically takes two to three years, with a limit of five years of study. Many programs require students to complete a capstone project, practicum, or internship to graduate.

If you are already employed in law enforcement, public safety, or homeland security, you can earn college credit for your work experience. You’ll also be able to reduce the length of your program if you can transfer credits from any previous attempts to earn a master’s degree.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Public Safety Administration Graduates

Most workers in this field earn about $70,000 to $85,000. There’s the potential to make much more, though — the top 10% of occupational and health safety specialists earn over $121,510, and the top 10% of emergency management directors earn over $147,870.

You should adjust your salary expectations according to where you plan to work, as areas with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher pay. For example, the average salary for emergency management directors is $122,390 in California but just $50,920 in Mississippi.

While only a bachelor’s degree is usually required for jobs in this field, there are still career benefits to earning a master’s. A higher level of education will help you stand out from your peers, improving your odds of getting hired and earning promotions.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Emergency Management Director Emergency management directors help design policies and procedures for responding to emergencies and direct response activities both during and after such emergencies. $79,180 3%
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist Occupational health and safety specialists design programs and inspect facilities to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses and ensure regulatory compliance. $75,240 13%

Professional organizations

Joining a professional organization after graduating with a master’s in public safety administration will provide you with access to the latest industry news, networking opportunities, and many other valuable resources. Some of the top organizations for public safety administrators include:

Financing Your Online Master’s in Public Safety Administration Degree

While online degree programs tend to be more affordable than on-campus programs, you still may need help paying for your degree. Fortunately, remote students have many financing options available to them.

First, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federally funded grants and loans. Workers in this field may be able to take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Depending on factors such as demographics and financial need, you may also be eligible for scholarships from nonprofit organizations and private companies.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

As mentioned above, there are many ways to finance your online master’s in public safety administration. The resources listed below will help you sort through all this information and save as much money as possible.

Online Master’s Degree Scholarship Database

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.