Daniel D'Souza
Written By - Daniel D'Souza

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In a growing world, emergencies are becoming increasingly common. Unfortunately, emergencies happen daily at different levels: Pandemics like COVID-19, natural disasters, acts of terror, mass shootings, etc. Emergency management professionals are in high demand to respond to these situations by preparing plans and procedures for use in emergencies. These seasoned professionals also handle emergencies in real-time by coordinating with government agencies to direct resources, personnel, and equipment. This comprehensive guide sheds light on all aspects of Online Master’s in Emergency Management programs, providing valuable insights for industry professionals and individuals aspiring to enter this dynamic field.

Masters in Emergency Management

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online MS in Management – Emergency Management

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

The Best Online Master’s in Emergency Management  Degree Programs

Prospective students seeking admission to online Master’s in Emergency Management programs should consider the diverse options available. Key factors to assess include the institutional environment fostering education, research, and learning in this field, admission requirements, available financial aid or scholarships, the extent of student support services, mentoring programs, and opportunities for practical exposure in the field. The team at  Online Master’s Colleges has curated a list of some finest programs across the country. Here are the top 10 Online Master’s in Emergency Management programs for 2024:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Oklahoma State University
107 Whitehurst, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, California 90840
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Ave, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314
George Town University
37th and O St NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20057
Arizona State University
1475 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona 85257
Southern New Hampshire University
2500 North River Road, Manchester, New Hampshire 03106
Jacksonville State University
700 Pelham Road North, Jacksonville, Alabama 36265
Adelphi University
South Ave, Garden City, New York 11530
Arkansas State University
2105 E. Aggie Road, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
Eastern Kentucky University
521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, Kentucky 40475
American Public University System
111 W Congress St, Charles Town, West Virginia 25414
University of Maryland Global Campus
3501 University Blvd East, Adelphi, Maryland 20783
Lander University
320 Stanley Avenue, Greenwood, South Carolina 29649
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
524 W 59th St, New York, New York 10019
Saint Leo University
33701 State Road 52, Saint Leo, Florida 33574

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

What Online Master’s in Emergency Management  Programs Entail

Online Master’s in Emergency Management programs cover critical areas such as crisis response, risk assessment, and disaster preparedness. Typically requiring 36 to 45 credit hours, these programs blend theoretical and practical learning. Coursework includes strategic planning, emergency law, and security management. Students engage in simulations and projects, gaining hands-on experience to navigate and lead effectively in the dynamic field of emergency management.

Curriculum and Coursework

The Master’s in Emergency Management curriculum imparts comprehensive knowledge in crisis response, risk assessment, and disaster management. Coursework covers strategic planning, communication strategies, and leadership skills, ensuring students acquire a versatile skill set. This dynamic curriculum equips graduates with the expertise to navigate and lead in the complex emergency management landscape, fostering readiness and resilience. Here are some examples of Emergency Management master’s courses in the online degree program:

Risk ManagementThis course focuses on identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks in crisis scenarios. Students gain insights into risk analysis, decision-making, and strategies to enhance organizational resilience. This course prepares professionals to effectively navigate uncertainties and make informed decisions critical for emergency management.
Business Continuity PlanningThis course examines strategies ensuring organizational resilience during crises. Students learn to develop and implement robust continuity plans, safeguarding essential operations. This course equips professionals with vital skills to sustain business functions amid disruptions and emergencies.
Emergency Management LawThis course focuses on legal frameworks and regulations governing disaster response and preparedness. Students gain a comprehensive understanding of legal principles essential for effective emergency management. This course equips professionals to navigate legal complexities in the field.
Applied Emergency ManagementThis course emphasizes the practical application of emergency management principles. Students engage in real-world scenarios, applying strategic planning, crisis communication, and leadership skills. This hands-on course equips professionals with the practical expertise to effectively respond to and manage emergencies in diverse contexts.
Security ManagementThis course concentrates on safeguarding critical infrastructure and assets during emergencies. Students explore security measures, risk assessments, and crisis response strategies, preparing them to ensure the security and resilience of organizations and communities in emergencies.

Degree Types

Common Master’s in Emergency Management degrees include the Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). These degrees offer distinct approaches, providing a choice between a broader understanding and a more technical focus in the field.

Master of Arts in Emergency Management

The Master of Arts (MA) in Emergency Management provides a comprehensive understanding of crisis response, blending social, policy, and management perspectives. This degree emphasizes broader aspects of emergency management, preparing graduates for leadership roles where interdisciplinary knowledge and effective communication are crucial in navigating complex crises.

Master of Science in Emergency Management

The Master of Science (MS) in Emergency Management focuses on a technical and analytical approach to crisis response. This degree equips graduates with in-depth scientific and data-driven skills, preparing them for roles requiring a detailed understanding of the scientific and technical aspects of managing and mitigating emergencies effectively.

Learning Outcomes and Skills Gained

Master’s in Emergency Management programs equip students with critical skills and knowledge to navigate complex crises. Graduates gain expertise in risk assessment, strategic planning, and effective communication, preparing them to lead emergency responses. Upon completing this program, students can expect to gain the following skills and learning outcomes:

  • Advanced risk assessment skills
  • Proficiency in crisis management strategies
  • Competence in strategic emergency planning
  • Effective communication in crises
  • Leadership skills for emergency response
  • Ability to design and implement business continuity plans
  • Legal and ethical understanding in emergencies
  • Applied knowledge of security management in crises
  • Practical experience in handling real-world emergency scenarios.
  • Advanced risk analysis skills
  • Effective crisis communication abilities

Specializations for Master’s in Emergency Management Students

Specializations in a Master’s in Emergency Management provide focused expertise, enabling students to tailor their education to specific career paths. Whether in public health, cybersecurity, or humanitarian aid, these concentrations deepen knowledge and skills, enhancing graduate’s employability. Specializations also align with industry demands, allowing professionals to advance in their careers by addressing specialized challenges and contributing meaningfully to emergency management and disaster response efforts. Here are a few specializations emergency management students can consider:

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration Prepares For
Public Health Emergency ManagementThis specialization focuses on integrating public health principles with emergency management. This specialization prepares professionals for public health agencies, healthcare emergency management, and pandemic preparedness roles. Graduates contribute to safeguarding community health by effectively managing emergencies and crises within the context of public health initiatives.Roles in public health agencies and healthcare emergency management, and pandemic preparedness.
Homeland Security and CounterterrorismThis specialization focuses on national security, counterterrorism, and critical infrastructure protection. Graduates are equipped for careers in homeland security agencies, intelligence, and roles addressing critical threats to safeguard the nation’s security.Careers in homeland security agencies, intelligence, and border protection.
Environmental Hazards and Climate ChangeThis specialization addresses emergencies related to environmental hazards and climate change. Graduates contribute to environmental agencies, climate adaptation planning, and disaster risk reduction, enhancing community resilience and sustainability in changing environmental conditions.Opportunities in environmental agencies, climate adaptation planning, and disaster risk reduction.
Nonprofit and Humanitarian AidThis specialization focuses on managing emergencies within humanitarian and nonprofit contexts. Graduates pursue careers in international relief organizations, NGOs, and humanitarian agencies, playing crucial roles in providing aid, disaster response, and rebuilding efforts in diverse global contexts.Opportunities in international relief organizations, NGOs, and humanitarian agencies.
Healthcare Emergency ManagementThis specialization centers on managing emergencies within healthcare settings. Graduates contribute to hospital emergency preparedness, healthcare administration, and public health, ensuring effective response strategies to safeguard patient well-being and the continuity of healthcare services during emergencies.Careers in hospital emergency preparedness, healthcare administration, and public health.

Graduation Timeline for Master’s in Emergency Management Online

The graduation timeline for an online Master’s in Emergency Management varies, typically ranging from 1.5 to 2 years of full-time study. Part-time options are available, allowing for greater flexibility. Factors like individual pacing, course load, and any potential breaks taken during the program may also influence the timeline. Students should consult the specific program’s structure and requirements for the most accurate timeline information.

Accelerated Master’s in Emergency Management Online Programs

Accelerated programs condense traditional degree timelines, enabling students to complete their Master’s in Emergency Management more quickly. These programs often appeal to working professionals seeking to advance their careers swiftly. Students considering accelerated programs should thoroughly research institutions to ensure program quality, accreditation, and alignment with their career goals, as the intensity of accelerated formats requires a careful match with individual learning preferences and professional objectives. Here are examples of colleges that offer accelerated master’s in emergency management online programs:

John Jay College of Criminal Justice1

University of Maryland Global Campus2

Admission Requirements For Online Master’s in Emergency Management Programs

Applicants to an Online Master’s in Emergency Management degree must satisfy certain entrance requirements specific to the program offering school. The requirements vary from school to school, and most schools will need the following:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Typically, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • GPA Requirement: Many programs specify a minimum GPA, often around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Work Experience: While not always mandatory, some programs prefer applicants with relevant work experience in emergency management or a related field.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Programs may require letters of recommendation from professional or academic references.
  • Statement of Purpose: Applicants must often submit a statement outlining their goals, reasons for pursuing the program, and relevant experience.
  • Resume or CV: A detailed resume or curriculum vitae highlighting education, work experience, and relevant skills.
  • Test Scores: Some programs may require GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores, although this is not universal.
  • Interview: Certain programs may conduct interviews to assess applicant’s suitability for the program.

Note: It is important to check the specific admission requirements of each Master’s in Emergency Management program, as they can vary.

Online Master’s in Emergency Management No GRE Programs

GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test assessing verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing skills for admission to graduate programs. Some Master’s in Emergency Management programs require GRE scores, while “No GRE” programs waive this requirement, making admission more accessible. Prospective students should check individual program requirements to determine whether GRE scores are necessary for their application. Some institutions that provide online master’s in emergency management with no GRE include:

Accredited Online Master’s in Emergency Management Programs

Accreditation ensures educational institutions meet specific quality standards, offering students a reliable indicator of program excellence. Accredited programs align with industry expectations, enhancing graduates’ marketability and employability. For students, accreditation signifies that their chosen institution adheres to rigorous standards, providing a credible and valuable educational experience. It assures a recognized and respected qualification, fostering confidence in the education received and facilitating seamless transitions within academic and professional realms.

When choosing an online master’s in emergency management, it is essential to choose a program accredited by a national or regional accreditation body.  Here is a list of bodies that accredit emergency management programs:

Apart from institutional accreditation, emergency management programs can also be accredited. Here is an example:

EMAP, an independent non-profit, champions excellence in emergency management through credible standards and a peer-reviewed accreditation process. Guided by the vision of resilient communities, EMAP’s strategic plan focuses on priorities like accreditation streamlining, assessment consistency, compliance approaches, outreach, personnel development, and financial independence.

 Read about what accreditation is and why it matters in the accreditation guide.

Free Online Emergency Management Courses

Free online courses provide accessible learning opportunities covering diverse subjects. They offer flexibility, allowing learners to study at their own pace. However, it’s essential to note that these courses often lack accreditation. Despite this, they serve as valuable resources for gaining knowledge, enhancing skills, and exploring new interests without financial constraints. Here are some examples of free online emergency management courses that students can explore:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Introduction to Emergency Crisis Management7This free emergency crisis management course offers strategies and insights into handling emergencies. It explores stages of crisis management, guiding through the planning for emergencies and detailing effective communication with stakeholders during crises.Alison
Crisis Resource Management8Crisis Resource Management (CRM) equips professionals with vital skills for effective teamwork in crises, utilizing lessons from aviation in healthcare. The curriculum emphasizes shared decision-making, applicable across disciplines. Moving beyond theory, the course offers accessible CRM concepts through real-life medical examples and simulations, benefiting global healthcare environments often overlooked in traditional medical education.Class Central
Basic Emergency Planning9Large-scale disasters frequently impact numerous lives. This course guides participants through creating or updating an emergency plan, a vital factor in recovery. It covers often overlooked aspects and aims to provide information and resources for survival during disasters. The second goal involves crafting a personal Emergency Operations Plan for potential use.Udemy

How to Pay for an Online Master’s in Emergency Management Degree

Higher education costs are increasing rapidly, and paying for graduate education is more expensive than a bachelor’s degree. Many organizations recognize this financial burden and actively offer various kinds of financial aid, scholarships, and assistance specifically tailored to support graduate students in pursuing advanced degrees and achieving their educational goals.


Scholarships are financial awards granted to students based on academic achievement, talent, or specific criteria. These funds help alleviate the financial burden of education, covering tuition, fees, and sometimes living expenses. Scholarships are available from various sources, including educational institutions, private organizations, and foundations, providing opportunities for diverse students. (Note: To prevent being defrauded online, read about Scholarship Scams.)


Grants are financial awards from government agencies, foundations, or private entities to individuals, organizations, or projects. Unlike loans, grants do not require repayment. They support diverse initiatives, including education, research, and community development, fostering positive social impact and encouraging innovation across various fields.

Employer Sponsorship

Employer sponsorship involves companies financially supporting their employees’ education or professional development. This assistance may cover tuition, training programs, or certification courses. Employer sponsorship enhances employee skills, fosters loyalty, and benefits companies by cultivating a more qualified and motivated workforce. Working professionals interested in applying for graduate-level Emergency Management degrees should check with their employers to see if they have any programs to encourage and fund education.

Payment Plans

Many universities provide flexible payment options, enabling students to spread tuition costs over an extended duration instead of necessitating a one-time payment at the commencement of each term. This offers significant financial relief and enhances the accessibility of education.

Student Loans

Student loans are financial tools designed to help individuals fund their education. These loans, often offered by government and private institutions, cover tuition, books, and living expenses. While they facilitate access to education, borrowers must repay the loan with interest after completing their studies.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or  FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is critical for students seeking financial assistance for higher education. Completing FAFSA determines eligibility for federal grants, work-study programs, and student loans, helping make college more affordable.

For comprehensive guidance on funding higher education and making informed financial decisions, read the best Financial Guide.

Scholarships for Emergency Management Students

Scholarships for Master’s in Emergency Management students can significantly alleviate the financial burden of advanced education. These awards, often merit-based, help cover tuition and related costs. Students should meticulously research available scholarships, considering criteria, deadlines, and application processes. Securing scholarships not only reduces financial stress but also recognizes academic excellence, fostering a more supportive environment for students pursuing careers in emergency management.

Several institutions offer scholarships, financial aid, and other forms of assistance to emergency management students. Here are some of those organizations:

IAEM Scholarship Program10

The IAEM Scholarship Program, initiated by the International Association of Emergency Managers, aims to foster disaster preparedness and resilience by supporting students pursuing education in emergency management or related fields. This program seeks to identify and cultivate individuals with the intellectual and technical capabilities to advance and elevate the practice of emergency management and disaster preparedness.

Award/Amount: Varies

Deadline: TBA

FEMA Higher Education Program Scholarship11

The FEMA Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) initiative promotes educational research and innovation within the emergency management field. Designed for educators, it encourages the development of effective teaching methods, enhancing the quality of education in disaster response and preparedness.

Award/Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Career and Salary Outlook for Graduates of Emergency Management Online

A master’s degree in emergency management significantly enhances one’s prospects in emergency management. Graduates typically work for governmental agencies, hospitals, professional services, etc. Individuals with a master’s degree in emergency management may also qualify for leadership roles. Here are some career titles that emergency management graduates may qualify for:

CourseDescriptionMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2032)
Emergency Management Directors12Emergency Management Directors strategize and develop plans to address natural disasters and emergencies, overseeing response efforts in collaboration with public safety officials, elected representatives, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. They play a pivotal role in guiding responses both during and after emergencies.$79,1803% (as fast as average)
Fire Inspectors 13Fire inspectors play a crucial role in ensuring public safety by inspecting buildings for compliance with fire codes and safety regulations. They assess fire risks, educate businesses on safety measures, and enforce standards. Fire inspectors create safer environments and reduce the potential for fire-related incidents in various structures.$65,8005% (faster than average)
Emergency Response Planning Coordinator14An Emergency Response Planning Coordinator plans, prepares and facilitates staff training for emergency response. Audits documentation to ensure up-to-date emergency response procedures and operational signage and equipment. Coordinates drills to assess plan effectiveness and trains staff. Contributes to responding to real incidents.$66,610No Data Available
Emergency Communications Supervisor15The Emergency Communications Supervisor guides dispatchers, handles escalated matters, and supervises a team addressing emergency and non-emergency calls, dispatching appropriate units. They meticulously track unit responses and facilitate training on message codes, situational protocols, and message prioritization. Additionally, the supervisor manages staff schedules to ensure comprehensive coverage.$66,200No Data Available

Certifications and Licensing for Emergency Management  Graduates

Certifications and licensing validate individuals’ skills and knowledge in specific fields, enhancing their credibility with potential employers. These credentials serve as tangible proof of expertise, boosting career opportunities and earning potential for students. Additionally, certifications ensure a standardized level of proficiency, contributing to industry standards and professionalism. By attaining such qualifications, Emergency Management Master’s students not only contribute to industry standards and professionalism but also signal a steadfast commitment to ongoing learning, ensuring a competitive edge in dynamic job markets. Here are a few Certifications for graduates of an Emergency Management master’s to explore and consider:

  • Certified Protection Professional (CPP)16
    The Certified Protection Professional (CPP) is the premier certification for security management experts, representing the highest standard. This certification affirms expertise across all facets of security management. To qualify, candidates must have 5-7 years of security experience, with at least three years in a leadership role overseeing a security function.
  • Professional Certified Investigator (PCI)17
    The Professional Certified Investigator (PCI) certification is tangible evidence of an individual’s proficiency in case management, evidence collection, and comprehensive reports and testimony preparation. Eligibility mandates 3-5 years of investigative experience, including a minimum of two years in a case management capacity.
  • Associate Protection Professional (APP)18
    The Associate Protection Professional (APP) designation marks the initial step in the security professional’s career progression. Designed for individuals with at least one year of paid security experience, it assesses their understanding of security fundamentals, business operations, risk management, and response management.
  • Physical Security Professional (PSP)19
    The Physical Security Professional (PSP) certification signifies proficiency in conducting physical security assessments and expertise in the application, design, and integration of physical security systems. It also demonstrates the ability to implement effective security measures. To qualify, candidates must possess 3-5 years of experience in the field of physical security.

Additional Resources for Emergency Management Students

Associating with additional resources for students, such as professional organizations, alum networks, and industry conferences, offers graduates numerous advantages. These connections provide ongoing learning opportunities, access to the latest industry trends, and networking possibilities. Engaging with these resources fosters career development, mentorship, and a sense of community, helping graduates stay informed, connected, and well-positioned for success in the evolving field of emergency management. Here are a few to explore:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with over 20,000 nationwide staff, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and operates ten regional offices. With a robust capacity for federal coordination, FEMA ensures America’s disaster readiness. Its mission centers on aiding individuals throughout all phases of disasters, guided by core values and goals.
  • National Emergency Management Association (NEMA)
    Established in 1974, the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) association dedicated to enhancing public safety by improving the nation’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies, disasters, and threats to national security. NEMA supports emergency management professionalization, strengthens the nation’s emergency management system, and advocates for effective policy development and adoption. The association ensures ongoing growth, evolution, effectiveness, and influence.
  • Disaster Recovery Institute International 
    Disasters Recovery Institute DRI) is the oldest and largest non-profit organization that helps other organizations around the work to prepare them for disasters and recovery. DRI consists of more than 15,000 professionals in 100 countries. DRI provides many courses, certifications, and other knowledge resources for Emergency Management professionals.

Here are a few other additional resources students can consider:

FAQs About Online Master’s in Emergency Management Programs

What is an online Master’s in Emergency Management program?

A Master’s in Emergency Management program is a graduate-level academic curriculum that prepares individuals to effectively manage and respond to emergencies, disasters, and crises. It covers areas such as risk assessment, disaster planning, leadership, and communication, aiming to develop expertise in coordinating and leading emergency response efforts.

How long does it take to complete an online Master’s in Emergency Management program?

Can I work while pursuing an online Master’s in Emergency Management?

What technology requirements are needed for an online Master in Emergency Management program?

Do I need work experience in emergency management to apply for an online Master’s program?

How does an online Master’s in Emergency Management differ from undergraduate programs in the same field?

Is a master’s in Emergency Management worth it?