Best Online Bachelor’s in Emergency Management 2021

by TBS Staff

Updated September 20, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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An online bachelor's in emergency management prepares you to help people affected by disasters.

When you think of emergency workers, people such as doctors, firefighters, and police officers may come to mind. These professionals perform critical work by directing front-line personnel and resources behind the scenes.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that positions in emergency management will grow by 8% from 2016 through 2026, outpacing the average growth for all professions in the United States. By earning your online bachelor's degree in emergency management, you can explore several job opportunities.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Emergency Management Programs

  1. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

    Daytona Beach, FL

    A private aviation and aerospace university founded in 1926, ERAU offers an online bachelor of science in emergency management. Students can choose from two specializations: aviation and emergency management or fire and emergency services.

    Students complete general education courses first before moving on to concentration-specific work. Learners then take courses such as community risk reduction for fire and emergency services, disaster planning control, and managerial issues in hazardous materials.

    Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. The school strongly prefers students send SAT or ACT scores.

  2. Arkansas State University-Main Campus

    Jonesboro, AR



    A public university founded in 1909, A-State offers an online bachelor of science in disaster preparedness and emergency management. Students can choose an area of emphasis such as law enforcement or healthcare.

    Required courses include pandemic planning and preparedness, introduction to community response, principles of healthcare emergency management, and environmental health training in emergency response. Learners then complete electives in their chosen emphasis area.

    Students need a high school diploma and a competitive GPA to qualify for admission. Applicants first apply for acceptance to the program and then apply to the department.

  3. University of Alaska Fairbanks

    Fairbanks, AK



    A public university founded in 1917, UAF offers an online bachelor of security and emergency management. Students can choose one of six different concentrations, including emergency management, fire administration, law enforcement management, and emergency medical and public health management.

    Required courses include introductory human resources management, training and management development, principles of emergency management and homeland security, and disaster response operations and management.

    Applicants need a high school diploma with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 to qualify for admission. Students must also submit standardized test scores to apply.

  4. University of Central Missouri

    Warrensburg, MO



    A public university founded in 1871, UCM offers an online bachelor of science in crisis and disaster management. Students choose from four focus areas: business continuity, emergency management, emergency services management, and environmental hazards.

    Required courses include social media in emergency management, introduction to the incident command system, introduction to the national incident management system, and applications of GIS for emergency management. A 150-service-hour practicum satisfies degree requirements.

    Applicants need a high school diploma to qualify for admission. Students with a minimum GPA of 2.7 may waive SAT or ACT score requirements.

  5. SUNY College of Technology at Canton

    Canton, NY



    A public university founded in 1906, SUNY Canton offers an online bachelor of science in emergency management. Students receive virtual incident command training as part of the online program's disaster simulation.

    Required courses within the major include fundamentals of emergency management, hazard assessment and mitigation, emergency management and response, and legal issues in disasters and emergencies. Students finish degree requirements with an internship at an approved location or a senior project.

    Applicants need a high school diploma and must send SAT or ACT scores to apply for the program.

  6. Crown College

    Saint Bonifacius, MN

    A private Christian college founded in 1916, Crown offers an online bachelor of science in disaster and emergency management. Students explore emergency management from a Christian perspective.

    Coursework covers topics such as management principles, risk and crisis communication, emergency preparedness, and disaster preparedness. Students also receive training in research with social science research methods.

    Applicants need a high school diploma to qualify for admission if they have fewer than 24 college transfer credits. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores.

  7. Pierce College-Fort Steilacoom

    Lakewood, WA



    A public college founded in 1947, Pierce College offers an online bachelor of applied science in homeland security emergency management.

    Students take required courses such as risk assessment for homeland security emergency management, leadership in homeland security emergency management, systems thinking and individual leadership, and continuity planning for business and government.

    Applicants need a high school diploma preferably, but may also apply at the age of 18 if their high school class has graduated.

  8. Upper Iowa University

    Fayette, IA

    A private university founded in 1857, UIU offers an online bachelor of science in emergency and disaster management. Students complete coursework without needing to come to campus.

    Courses required for the major include emergency preparedness and planning, principles of emergency management, disaster response and recovery, and integrated emergency management. Students receive training in administrative law and complete a senior project to satisfy degree requirements.

    Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. The school does not require SAT or ACT scores if students have more than 24 college transfer credits.

  9. Bethel University

    McKenzie, TN

    A Christian university founded in 1842, Bethel offers an online bachelor of science in emergency management. Students complete all 128 credits without needing to come to campus.

    Required courses include a survey of emergency management, planning for emergency and disaster management, homeland security law and public policy, and risk analysis and threat assessment. Learners also receive training in financial management and leadership.

    Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. Students must also submit SAT or ACT scores (waived through 2022).

  10. Immaculata University

    Immaculata, PA

    A private Roman Catholic university founded in 1920, Immaculata offers an online bachelor of science in emergency planning and management.

    Students complete required major courses such as principles of emergency management, risk analysis and threat assessment, legal aspects in emergency management, and human dimensions communications planning of disaster management.

    The school accepts applications on a rolling basis. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. Students must also submit standardized test scores (waived through 2021).

Best Online Bachelor's

Online Bachelor's in Emergency Management Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

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Featured Online Emergency Management Bachelor's Programs

The Advantages of an Emergency Management Education

While an associate degree may enable you to assume some entry-level positions, a bachelor's degree serves as the minimum education requirement for many positions in the emergency management field. Emergency management careers require strong organizational and management skills, along with in-depth knowledge of complex emergency response procedures — competencies a four-year bachelor's program gives you plenty of time to develop.

Earning your emergency management bachelor's degree online prepares you to enter a wide variety of positions in the field, particularly higher level roles that require you to manage other emergency personnel. A bachelor's opens most career paths in the industry, but certain highly specialized roles in upper management may require a master's degree. In the following section, you'll find an overview of general career prospects for emergency management specialists, along with a selection of common careers for bachelor's degree holders in the field.

Choosing an Online Emergency Management Degree Program

Because pursuing a bachelor's degree involves significant investments of time and money, deciding which institution best serves your needs should not be taken lightly. Ensure that you have fully investigated all your options, keeping in mind that in-state schools are often more affordable, even for online programs. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you examine schools:

Accreditation for Emergency Management

When researching online emergency management degrees, always make sure that a program has proper accreditation. This process indicates that a college meets standards for academic and organizational effectiveness and provides adequate preparation for career success or further academic study. All reputable colleges in the U.S. hold either national or regional accreditation, with national accreditation typically serving vocational institutions and regional accreditation typically reserved for traditional academic institutions.

While no specific accreditation agency assesses emergency management programs, those administered by regionally accredited colleges or universities have established their reputability. Look for accreditation from one of six regional agencies: the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the New England Commission of Higher Education, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

If you ever need to determine a school's accreditation status and have trouble finding information on its website, you can check both the Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Administration (CHEA). These agencies work together to oversee accreditation standards for colleges and universities, with CHEA serving as the main authority that evaluates regional and national accreditation agencies.

Emergency Management Concentrations

Some programs allow you to choose a concentration. In a business continuity concentration, you can learn how to help businesses prevent economic losses following disasters. If you want to work in state or local government, you can specialize in homeland security. This concentration covers terrorism prevention and response. When researching these and other concentrations, pay close attention to how they align with your career goals and interests.

Homeland Security:

A popular concentration for emergency management students, this field focuses on strategies for detecting and averting threats to U.S. national security, including terrorist attacks. Most programs emphasize a global approach, exploring the roots of terrorism, intelligence collection, threat assessment, and response strategies.

  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Homeland Security Officer, FBI Agent, CIA Operative

Fire Science:

Wildfires present a growing risk in many parts of the country, and fire science explores methods for fire prevention, crisis management, and emergency response. Fire science graduates often work with state or federal agencies to prevent and respond to forest fires, though they may also work to combat urban and industrial fires, as well.

  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Firefighter, Safety and Disaster Coordinator

Disaster Preparedness:

This generalized concentration trains students to respond to disasters. Disaster preparedness specialists commonly focus on logistics and organization to ensure that disaster agencies maintain adequate crisis management plans. This concentration often includes courses in resource management, risk assessment, and communications.

  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Emergency Management Specialist

Public Safety Leadership:

Public service plays a large role in emergency management, and this concentration focuses on the communicative and organizational aspects of the field. Students gain the skills to manage communications and response efforts during disasters, typically taking courses in organizational behavior, communications, law, and ethics.

  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Emergency Management Coordinator

Business Continuity:

This popular concentration explores emergency management in the context of business operations, preparing companies to navigate emergencies and continue operations after disaster events. Most programs focus on protecting data and maintaining organizational efficiency in the face of disaster. Business continuity students typically complete supplementary business courses to understand business operations further.

  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Operations Manager, Information Technology Manager

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Emergency Management?

Several factors can affect the length of an online emergency management degree, but the most common factor is your program format. Many online programs offer a choice between part- and full-time enrollment, allowing for the flexibility to take a lighter course load if you have significant responsibilities outside of school (such as work or family obligations). Part-time enrollment means fewer class obligations each semester, but it also results in a lengthier degree completion time, typically requiring more than four years total.

Conversely, enrolling full time typically enables you to complete your online emergency management degree in about four years, even faster if you enroll in summer courses. However, full-time enrollment requires serious commitment and can make it difficult to balance school with other obligations. If you have a highly flexible schedule, some schools even offer accelerated programs that enable you to take extra courses each semester, graduating in under four years.

Courses in an Online Bachelor's in Emergency Management Program

Online emergency management degree programs take a holistic approach to education. Courses should teach you valuable skills, such as leadership, mitigating harm, and coordinating with various government and private relief agencies. These classes give you the skills necessary to respond to any emergency.

  • Emergency Management Leadership: Leadership in the world of emergency management poses unique challenges, such as resource management and extremely quick decision-making. This course explores major theories and leadership tools, including persuasion and influence, conflict management, accountable budgeting, and interactions with outside agencies.
  • Politics of Emergency Management: Emergency management services frequently intersects with government agencies and other institutional structures. This course examines government organizations and policies at the local, state, and federal levels to evaluate the impact these systems have on disaster relief efforts and corresponding public policy.
  • Applied Research in Emergency Management: Research forms the foundation for many common emergency management techniques and policies, and this course gives students the tools to conduct research and evaluate others' work in the field. Many courses require students to complete research projects into areas of emergency management.
  • Emergency Planning and Administration: This course explores the theories and principles of emergency planning, giving students the tools to assess risks and implement preparedness measures. Common course topics include operational controls, public accountability, and emergency management budgeting. Students also explore the intersection of emergency management with government agencies and nonprofits.
  • Technology in Emergency Management: Like most fields, emergency management increasingly relies on technology to increase efficiency and facilitate decision-making. This course explores common tools for incident management and emergency communication, giving students the skills to prioritize technology and make effective purchasing decisions for emergency management organizations.

Emergency Management Degree Salary Information

Emergency managers work as emergency responders and risk prevention specialists in the private and public sectors. Like in other career fields, experience and education can help you advance in your career. The occupations below represent only a sample of the possible careers you may pursue after completing your homeland security or emergency management degree online.

Emergency Management Specialist

Emergency management specialists, in one of the most common careers in the emergency management field, prepare response efforts for emergencies and other disasters. They may work full time or as consultants in a variety of environments, such as government organizations, private companies, or hospitals.

Emergency Manager

Emergency managers operate in a supervisory capacity, overseeing emergency preparation and response efforts. They may be responsible for creating and enacting disaster response plans for entire organizations or communities. Emergency managers must often coordinate with government officials, other public safety officials, and disaster relief organizations.

Management and Program Analyst

Management and program analysts in this role concentrate on the evaluation and improvement of emergency preparedness measures and responses. They conduct deep organizational studies into potential threats and response strategies, determining methods to improve efficiency. This job involves significant research and quantitative reasoning skills.

Materials Manager

Materials managers work with hazardous materials, such as chemicals or industrial waste. Along with standard operations management, many companies employ materials managers who take responsibility for disaster preparedness, such as chemical spills, fires, or industrial explosions. Like other emergency managers, materials managers also coordinate preparedness and response protocols.

Research Analyst

Research analysts evaluate emergency response protocols to improve efficiency. However, they focus specifically on research-based analysis, examining operations-related trends to inform organizational decision-making. They may also create complex simulations to gather data for improved emergency response practices.

Salary by Experience for Emergency Management Careers
Job Title Entry Level
(0-12 Months)
Early Career
(1-4 Years)
(5-9 Years)
(10-19 Years)
Emergency Management Specialist $49,000 $51,000 $60,000 $71,000
Emergency Manager N/A $53,000 $68,000 $79,000
Management and Program Analyst $56,000 $61,000 $74,000 $97,000
Materials Manager $54,000 $63,000 $72,000 $80,000
Research Analyst, Operations $61,000 $70,000 $85,000 $106,000

Source: PayScale

Emergency Management Membership Associations

As one of the country's premier emergency management organizations, NEMA offers peer networking, education opportunities, and community engagement. The organization hosts several annual forums and meetings that bring together emergency management professionals of all types. Founded in 1962, DERA seeks to connect disaster organizations, professionals, and volunteers across the world. The organization offers mentorship, technical training, quarterly publications, and a comprehensive disaster management reference library for members. Dedicated to homeland security, the IACSP serves security professionals through educational resources, trade publications, and professional conferences. The organization also publishes Counter Terrorism, a quarterly journal for security professionals. A nonprofit that provides education and professional accreditation services, DRI has certified more than 15,000 disaster recovery professionals in more than 100 countries around the world. The organization also offers an assortment of specialized disaster management certifications. One of the world's largest professional organizations for emergency management professionals, IAEM advocates and advises for emergency management policy, provides training and professional certifications, and hosts conferences around the world.

Header Image Credit: SDI Productions | Getty Images

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