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An online doctorate in emergency management will prepare you for executive and academic positions in the growing field of emergency management. Due to the rise of terrorism and the growing frequency of natural disasters like wildfires, hurricanes, and floods, emergency management has grown into a thriving profession over the past decade. Transformed by 9/11, the field continues to develop, and the need for high-level, administrative professionals grows steadily. To meet this need, several universities offer online doctoral programs in emergency management.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for executives in emergency management will remain steady. Several of the occupations a Ph.D. in emergency management prepares you for continue to add jobs at rates well above the national average. Medical and health service managers, for example, command salaries near $100,000 a year and run public health agencies in an industry growing by 20% through 2026. College professors in emergency management also outpace the national growth-rate average.

Online Doctorate in Emergency Management Programs

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Online Doctorate in Emergency Management Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The motto of is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

The Best Online Doctorate in Emergency Management Degree Programs

Jacksonville State University View School Profile Jacksonville, AL Jacksonville State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Jacksonville State University offers an online doctorate in emergency management to candidates who meet application requirements and successfully complete the 60-credit degree plan. Courses cover topics in administration and policy, practice areas, and research methods and statistics. Students also have nine different elective options to customize the degree, including risk communication, health care systems in disaster, and IT applications for disaster management.

An asynchronous learning format allows students to access course material at any time, as long as assignment and exam deadlines are met. After completing 42 credits, students must successfully pass three qualifying exams before they begin the 18-credit applied research dissertation. While all major degree requirements of this online doctoral program in emergency management allow for completion from anywhere in the world, students must attend an on-campus, week-long integrative seminar every academic year.

Capella University View School Profile Minneapolis, MN Capella University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Capella University, a private, for-profit university established in 1993 offers two opportunities for students to earn doctorate degrees in emergency management, through an online doctor of emergency management degree program and an online Ph.D. in emergency management degree program. Both programs prepare students for top positions in emergency management, with different emphases; the doctor of emergency management program takes a professional practice focus, while the Ph.D. focuses more on theory and research.

The online doctor of emergency management program requires 90 quarter-credits for completion and consists of 14 core courses, four elective courses, two doctoral research seminars, and a doctoral capstone. The program develops advanced skills and knowledge in areas such as emergency management theory and application, emergency management systems, operations and planning, and contemporary issues of the field. The online Ph.D. in emergency management requires 96 quarter-credits for completion, and consists of 14 core courses, four elective courses, three dissertation research seminars, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. The program develops advanced skills and knowledge in key areas, including critical analysis and research, emergency management systems, evaluation and implementation, and research design and analysis.

Both programs also offer concentrations in the areas of continuity management, critical infrastructure and key resources, higher education, and project management, allowing for professional specialization through academic focus. Students in either program benefit from thorough curricula, dedicated faculty, and flexible course delivery.

Walden University View School Profile Minneapolis, MN Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Walden University, an online for-profit university established in 1970, offers numerous online degree programs, including an online Ph.D. in public policy and administration with a concentration in emergency management. The program prepares students for leadership roles in emergency management settings, with the skills to develop and apply solutions, utilize leadership models, evaluate and change practices, and make key ethical decisions.

The online Ph.D. program requires 88 quarter-credits for completion, including core courses, specialization courses, and a dissertation. Courses in the program covers topics such as research methods, leadership models, critical issues in emergency management, disaster response and recovery, and governance and public policy.

Students must complete four Ph.D. residences, equal to a minimum of 16 days total. Applicants must hold a minimum of a master’s degree for admission.

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Choosing an Online Emergency Management Program

Emergencies take many forms and the field of emergency management trains students to plan for and respond natural disasters, health outbreaks, and manmade attacks. The field takes an interdisciplinary approach, with courses in subjects diverse as law enforcement, disaster relief, national security, and public health. Emergency management doctoral degree online programs also offer classes dedicated to administrative skills, including communication, public speaking, leadership, and critical thinking. Together, these subjects create an exciting program designed to create leaders ready to handle a variety of situations.

Doctorate emergency management online programs differ widely, so do your homework. Many schools offer them as part of criminal justice or homeland security programs, while others grow out of MBAs. Make sure you understand the requirements of each program that interests you. Many Ph.D. programs require a thesis or dissertation, while others call for a practicum experience. Furthermore, some programs offer concentrations in areas like public health, counter terrorism, or fire science, while others simply blend these subjects into the degree itself. The diversity of these programs means that you can find a program that suits your career interests.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Emergency Management Program?

Because emergency management doctoral programs take interdisciplinary approaches, they tend to vary widely. Some programs concentrate on one area, such as administrative skills, while others focus heavily on disaster preparedness. Most, however, include classes like those on the list below.

Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Emergency Management

  • Emergency Management Systems:
    This course explores the infrastructure of emergency management, including communications and agencies. Because it focuses on theory and incident command, it provides great training for jobs in emergency management.
  • Contemporary Issues in Emergency Management:
    The latest trends and challenges in emergency management form the basis for this class. It looks at the use of social media and other communications, risk-based planning, and jurisdictional issues, making it particularly useful to administrators and other leaders in any emergency management area.
  • Risk Management:
    This course focuses on how to mitigate the risk of natural and manmade threats, with particular emphasis on threat identification. The topic helps anyone going into emergency management but especially those in risk assessment.
  • Finance and Budgeting for the Public Sector:
    This course examines the administrative side of emergency management, including determining who is responsible for paying for disasters and ensuring administrators have access to appropriate resources. The course serves as exceptional training for anyone on the leadership side of a government agency.
  • Dissertation Research:
    Doctoral education almost always includes a dissertation, and this class prepares you for the research. It features help at uncovering resources, identifying sources, and organization.
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Careers with a Doctorate in Emergency Management

Online doctorate in emergency management programs position you to step into a wide range of fields. You might take a position as a college professor, lecturing to classes on homeland security, or work in public health, traveling the world to prevent disease outbreaks. You could work for FEMA or take a job with a private corporation, keeping their operations safe from natural and manmade disasters.

  1. Emergency Management Director:
    Emergency management directors work for local, state, and federal government agencies preparing communities to handle natural and manmade disasters. They run tests, implement strategies, oversee training, and maintain communication networks. A doctorate in the field prepares you for jobs at the highest administrative levels.
    • Median Annual Salary: $72,760
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
  2. Post-Secondary Teacher:
    Emergency management remains in its relative infancy as a subject, and demand for experts who can teach and train others continues to grow. College professors in emergency management instruct the next generation, conduct research, and help write policy. A doctorate gives you an advantage in landing a position.
    • Median Annual Salary: $76,000
    • Projected Growth Rate: 15%
  3. Medical and Health Services Manager:
    These individuals typically run public health agencies, a field that overlaps with emergency management. Executive-level jobs often require a master's or better, and a Ph.D. positions you perfectly as a candidate.
    • Median Annual Salary: $98,350
    • Projected Growth Rate: 20%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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