On this page 0
Best Online Emergency Management Degrees

Best Online Emergency Management Degrees

Get the details on top schools for earning an emergency management bachelor’s degree online, on your own time, and at a price you can afford. We’ve carefully ranked schools to help you find a quality program at an affordable price.

Whether you’re a first-time student or looking to go back to school after some time, choosing between online emergency management degree programs takes some research and an understanding of what you’re looking for in a school.

We’ve created this college ranking guide to take some of the guesswork out of finding accredited programs that are affordable, flexible, and supportive for all kinds of students. Use this comprehensive guide to narrow down the offerings and prioritize the traits you want most in a school and program.

Additionally, check out our full list of the best schools to earn an emergency management degree in 2024 to help you narrow down your search.

Top Bachelor’s Degrees Online for Emergency Management in 2024

We have ranked the top schools below. Our Rankings Data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES.) Click the About the Ranking link below for more information about our methodology.


    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2024 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
    1. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.
    • For degree-specific pages, ex: Psychology degrees, we list the current number of online programs available at that school for that degree type, as self-reported by the schools.


    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: January of 2024

  • Columbia, SC
    Private not-for-profit $$$

    The Bachelor of Arts in Disaster & Emergency Management from Columbia College is available entirely online. The courses emphasize real-world skills like communication, problem-solving, research and interviewing, and computer literacy. Students can transfer in up to 90 credits, with the remaining courses offered in a seven-week format. Some of the required classes include Psychology and Social Dimensions of Disaster; Planning for Emergency and Disaster Management; Community Resilience, Recovery, and Mitigation; and Research Methods in Emergency Management.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Arts in Disaster & Emergency Management

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: 4 years
    • Cost: $420/credit
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • Jacksonville, AL
    Public $

    Jackson State University’s BS in Emergency Management is available entirely online and pairs nicely with minors in Homeland Security or Public Safety Telecommunications. Thirty of the required 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree will be emergency management education. The interdisciplinary curriculum blends theoretical perspectives with professional practice and emphasizes application of knowledge to practice settings. Several required courses include Disaster Mitigation & Preparedness, Populations at Risk, Disaster Response & Recovery, and Research in Disasters and Emergency Management.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: 4 years
    • Cost: $343/credit
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • Canton, NY
    Public $

    The Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management from Canton State University of New York combines theory, doctrine, and practice to focus on getting students experience with emergency planning, hazard assessment and mitigation, disaster response, and recovery. The online degree offers classes in a seven-week format and uses practical activities such as virtual disaster simulations; hazard assessments and mitigation planning strategies; emergency operations planning using real jurisdictions and organizations; writing and analysis of policies, procedures, and guidance; and application of theory and doctrine to influence preparedness for all hazards.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management

    • Credits: 123
    • Length: 4 years
    • Cost: $353/credit
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: MSCHE
  • McKenzie, TN
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Fairbanks, AK
    Public $
  • Pocatello, ID
    Public $
  • Russellville, AR
    Public $
  • Warrensburg, MO
    Public $
  • Omaha, NE
    Public $
  • Canyon, TX
    Public $
  • Fort Wayne, IN
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Reno, NV
    Public $
  • Daytona Beach, FL
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Millersville, PA
    Public $
  • Boca Raton, FL
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Williamsport, PA
    Public $$$

Bethel University

Founded in 1824, Bethel University is one of the oldest Christian schools in Tennessee. Bethel University’s Bachelor of Science in emergency services management is a highly ranked, 100% online program that prepares students to work in various careers, including natural disaster planning, terrorism prevention, emergency response financial management, and within the Homeland Security Department.

Earning a total of 128 semester hours, all of which can be completed remotely, students take 33 hours of core requirements including composition, mathematics, and religion. They also complete 45 hours of an emergency services management major core, with coursework that includes: 

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction 
  • Natural Disaster Planning and Management 
  • Risk Analysis and Threat Assessment
  • Intro to Science and Hazards 

The emergency services management degree also includes 50 credit hours of electives for a well-rounded degree. 

Program Highlights:

  • Bachelor of Science in Emergency Services Management
  • Credits: 128
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $350 per credit hour
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (Regional)

University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Another 100% online degree program for those going into emergency service management is the one offered at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. This program is unique in that it allows students to choose one of six core concentration areas to help boost their experience and skills in a specific career field, including the following:

  • Cybersecurity and information technology management
  • Emergency management
  • Emergency medical and public health management
  • Fire administration
  • Homeland security
  • Public safety administration

This is the same program also offered as a hybrid and in-person, on-campus degree program. It’s taught by experienced professors via a partnership with the FEMA Higher Education Program and the University and Agency Partnership Initiative (UAPI) through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

Program Highlights:

  • Bachelor of Security and Emergency Management (BSEM)
  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $260-539 per credit hour (in-state) / $826 – 1105 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Fully online, hybrid, or in-person
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (Regional)

University of Florida

If you have a passion for protecting communities from fire and other disasters, the University of Florida’s online degree in fire and emergency services (FES) may be a good fit. While it doesn’t certify you to be a firefighter or emergency medical services (EMS) professional, it does equip graduates to become leaders and managers in these fields.

Students select one specialization to focus their studies, which includes:

  • Emergency management specialization
  • Emergency medical services (EMS) management specialization
  • Fire specialization

Transfer students with fewer than 59 transferable credits may only pursue the EMS paths. The Fire specialization program is only offered to students with at least 59 transferable credits. The school offers a very affordable $300 per credit out-of-state tuition rate specifically for this program. 

Program Highlights:

  • Bachelor of Science in Fire & Emergency Services
  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $129 per credit hour (in-state) / $300 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (Regional)

What You’ll Learn in Your Online Emergency Management Degree Program

The courses you’ll take and requirements you’ll meet for an online emergency management degree depend on which path you choose within each program. Most schools have general education requirements that students must fulfill, including coursework in math, English, the social sciences, and natural science. The program will typically also have core requirements for you to fulfill, with an emphasis on certain practical applications such as cybersecurity, fire, or disaster relief.

These programs emphasize working in an administrative, management, or executive capacity in emergency management, rather than preparing you to become certified as an EMT, firefighter, or similar position.

Main Topics You’ll Cover

  • Human resources management
  • Emergency planning and preparedness
  • Training and management development
  • Homeland security law and public policy
  • Risk analysis and threat assessment
  • Financial management of emergency response teams and organizations
  • Science of hazards
  • Public safety administration

Lower Division Curriculum (Years 1 and 2)

While some colleges have a core set of general education requirements that must be completed before moving on to program requirements, most students begin covering emergency management topics right away. In the first one or two years, students can expect to take courses with an emphasis on organizational leadership, communication, and the basics of how local and federal emergency management teams work. This is also when students begin exploring the business side of the job, including finances and management of resources.

Common Courses

  • Survey of Emergency Management:  This course is an introductory survey that gives students a general overview of the different issues occurring in disaster management and emergency services today.
  • Principles of Homeland Security: This course reviews the history of the current government emergency management organizations and how it operates with other integrated systems. Students will learn how management works at the local, state, and federal levels. 
  • Cybersecurity: Students will learn about the most up-to-date cyberterrorism threats, their responsibility to protect from them, and how to respond to breaches. 
  • Financial Management of Emergency Response Organizations: Payroll, grant acquisition, liability, and budget issues will be covered broadly in this course designed to help students anticipate the various financial and resource needs of an emergency response team. 
  • Science and Hazards: This course combines geology, earth science, and meteorology to bring students real-life examples of the hazards they may encounter. The course will cover ways to live and work within a changing earth environment while keeping communities at lower risk of harm.

Upper Division Curriculum (Years 3 and 4)

Once students get past their general credits and the basic courses that all online emergency management degree seekers take, they’ll go on to study courses specific to their core. Hands-on practice, both in planning and coordinating with teams, is valued at this course level. This is also where any internship opportunities take place for class credit.

Common Courses

  • Introduction to Emergency Management Design: Students will develop skills to implement a Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP) compliant exercise and later executive it as a class project. Students should be able to show how to prepare for all types of disasters. 
  • All-Hazards Risk Analysis: Students will learn about the various types of hazards that occur during a disaster, including nuclear, chemical, or viral. Both man-made (technological) and natural risks are assessed to determine how they should be identified and quantified in the real world. 
  • Comparative Emergency Management: Both global and regional responses are studied to give students an idea of how important collaboration is to mitigating disasters and providing an appropriate recovery response. 21st-century challenges will be explored as they relate to how teams work together.
  • Leadership in Dangerous Contexts: Students will need to be able to communicate and negotiate with leaders and communities of all types, and this course presents situational examples they may face during a crisis. The course covers ways to influence and motivate others for good outcomes. 
  • Management of Mass Casualty Incidents: Students learn how to approach triage, treatment, and transport of victims in a large-scale crisis, including coordinating resources with other organizations, such as hospitals and transport services. 

Admissions: Getting into a Top Online Emergency Management Degree Program

Getting into an online degree program is a lot like applying to an in-person school. Each program has its own requirements that you’ll have to meet, and not everyone will get accepted. You can increase the likelihood of getting a “yes” by knowing what each school requires ahead of time and not waiting until the last minute to put in your application.

General requirements for top-rated programs, like the ones we’ve spotlighted here, include the following:

  • Completed application with application fee
  • Official transcript for any completed post-secondary coursework
  • GPA of 2.5 or higher, depending on the program. (Transferred credits may need to be a 3.0 or higher.)
  • Proof of residency for in-state tuition

The University of Florida also recommends that students transferring with fewer than 30 credits take the ACT or SAT to help determine what level of coursework to place students in. ACCUPLACER, ASSET, COMPASS, and other placement tests are not considered for placement. It also requires students to have taken the core high school requirements with a minimum of 2.5 GPA.

It’s worth noting that getting into a program may have different requirements than later getting hired for a job in emergency management. Since many of the jobs are in the government or within secure positions at big organizations, expect to provide some additional documentation or requirements for any federal internships or field experience you’ll need to complete to earn your degree. You may need background checks, for example, to work for FEMA.

Paying for Your Online Emergency Management Degree: Costs and Financial Aid

While getting a bachelor’s degree can open up your career path and help you earn more than you’d earn without a degree, it is an investment that you’ll need to plan carefully to make it work for your budget. Fortunately, colleges know that students need help to pay for classes, and they have provided a list of many of the available scholarships, merit aid, grant, and loan opportunities on the financial aid pages on their websites. 

Knowing both the cost of tuition and the “cost of attendance” is key. You’ll need to consider how supplies, books, technology fees, and even laptop computers factor into your total price. By breaking down the cost per semester, you’ll be more likely to get an idea of your total program cost, but you can also use the chart below to help you compare.

In-state students often pay less in tuition, but that’s not always the case. Some programs may have a higher added cost for taking additional credits, such as when you want to finish faster to get your degree done earlier. 

These colleges offering online degrees in emergency management give you a better idea of what you might pay for your program.

School NameSchool TypeTotal CreditsIn-StateOut-of-State
University of FloridaPublic120$ 129 / credit$ 300 / credit
University of Alaska, FairbanksPublic120$ 260-539 / credit $ $826 – 1105 /credit
Bethel UniversityPrivate128$ 350 / credit$ 350 / credit
Bellevue UniversityPrivate127$ 440 / credit$ 440 / credit
Columbia CollegePrivate120$ 395 / credit$ 395 / credit

Balancing the total cost of your degree against the money you have available may be a challenge, but that’s where financial aid comes in. Remember, there are a few types of aid, including:

  • Merit aid: offered for grades earned or high test scores and is generally renewable each year
  • Need-based aid: given to students with lower household incomes or demonstrated financial need; may change from year to year as your need changes
  • Outside scholarships: not always given by the school, these can be awarded by talent, merit, or need; ask your school how to find them
  • Grants: offered by both public and private organizations, grants are typically one-time gifts that don’t need to be paid back and can help cover the cost of tuition, books, and more

In order to see all the possible financial aid opportunities you can apply for, start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It opens to students on October 1st of every year for funding the following school year and uses your personal financial information to determine what aid, loans, and work-study may be available. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify, it’s worth filling out. Some schools will require you to submit the FAFSA before presenting you with all your financial aid options.

The University of Alaska at Fairbanks, for example, offers many scholarships to first-time college students, ranging from $500 to $10,000 a year or more.

FAQs About Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Management Online

  • Are online emergency management degree programs offered 100% online?

    Emergency management degree programs are offered completely online and can be taken without stepping foot in the classroom. Many schools also offer a hybrid approach for students that want some face time with instructors and other students. The 100% online environment typically includes some live lectures and asynchronous coursework that can be done at any time. Internships, if available, may sometimes be done remotely or with the hours that work best for the student. This varies by school.

  • What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in emergency management?

    If you like the idea of working almost anywhere in the country or world, an online emergency management degree may be for you. You can choose to work on the front line, getting deep into disaster scenarios and helping people in real time. You may also choose to work in an office, doing the planning, strategy, budgeting, or training for other leaders in the field.

    Consider these common occupations for those with an education in the field:

    • Counterterrorism analyst
    • Disaster specialist
    • Emergency management training coordinator
    • Flood plain manager
    • Hazard mitigation planner
    • Homeland security intelligence specialist
    • Recovery specialist
  • Is earning an emergency management degree worth it?

    From the pandemic response to floods to anti-terrorism, qualified planners will always be needed to help keep communities safe. Most leadership jobs in emergency management require a bachelor’s degree or higher, including disaster planning management and many government positions within FEMA. Starting vs. long-term salaries can vary quite a bit, and only you can determine if the cost of a degree is worth it. For example, the annual median salary in May of 2021 for emergency management directors was $76,730, while the top 10% of earners brought in more than $133,580 and the lowest 10% earned $46,670. However, this type of degree is versatile and positions you to work with a variety of organizations, including public and private settings.

  • What accreditation should I look for in an emergency management degree program?

    At a minimum, the college you attend online should be either a nationally or regionally accredited program. You can usually find this information on the “About” page on the website of the college. You can also check the U.S. Department of Education’s college accreditation database to see if your school is accredited.

    The online emergency management degree program doesn’t have industry accreditation currently. Look for courses taught by experienced instructors with personal histories in the emergency response, anti-terrorism, law enforcement, disaster planning, or program management fields. 

  • How long does it take to earn a bachelor’s degree in emergency management?

    A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years or eight semesters of full-time study as a traditional undergraduate student. That doesn’t mean you have to finish it that quickly. With part-time status, you can take even longer and stretch out the degree to meet your needs.

    You can also choose to take courses during the summer to accelerate the timeline and finish on time, even with a career. Since these programs are online, you can work them around your schedule. 

Employment Outlook with an Emergency Management Degree

Emergency management professionals can work in several industries and perform many of the same functions managers and leaders would in a business or government office, such as financial manager, auditor, planner, or educator, so don’t limit yourself to looking for jobs with “emergency” or “disaster” in the title.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics added emergency management directors as an occupation to help you see what possibilities exist, but you can use this bachelor’s degree to pursue any of the career paths below. Refer to the BLS salary and 10-year growth rate figures for details for any position, including the growth rate and estimated average earnings.

CareerMedian Annual Earnings (2021)Job Growth (2020-2030)
Emergency Management Directors$76,7303%
Management Analysts$93,00011%
Social and Community Service Managers$74,00012%
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians$74,8705%
Financial Manager$131,71017%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Interested in Bachelor’s Degrees in Business? Check Out These Other Specializations: