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Masters of Emergency Management Online

Your interest in earning a masters degree in emergency management online probably stems from your desire to help others. This sense of public service isn’t something that can be taught. Rather, it is ingrained in who you are and has led you to the point of pursuing a masters degree.

Emergency management programs appeal to that desire to help others and to protect your community by teaching individuals and institutions how to prepare for and respond to emergencies and how to mitigate risks. You’ve always been drawn to helping your community. An emergency management master's may teach you the skills and knowledge to pursue your passion.

Did You Know?

Eight of the 10 most deadly natural disasters since 1980 have occurred after the year 2000. The most deadly of which was the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that resulted in more than 222,000 deaths.

What Is Emergency Management?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, otherwise known as FEMA, defines emergency management as the managerial function that creates the framework that communities use to reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters.

What’s that mean to you? Well, for one, that describes some of the subjects you may study while pursuing your masters degree in emergency management online, which may also include:

  • How to lead and manage organizations in emergency preparedness situations
  • Evaluate current research to apply practical solutions to emergency management issues
  • Analyze hazards, emergencies, and disasters to create solutions for emerging threats

But FEMA’s definition goes much further than that. In fact, FEMA’s vision says: “Emergency management seeks to promote safer, less vulnerable communities.”

An emergency management masters degree teaches how to prepare companies, communities, or even states and countries how to be less vulnerable. This preparation can even help you save your friends, family, or neighbors in case of an emergency.

Difference Between Disaster Management and Emergency Management

An emergency is a situation of grave risk to health, life, or environment. A disaster is any phenomenon, natural or man-made, that has the potential to cause a lot of destruction of life and property.

The United Nations makes it a little easier to distinguish the difference and says that an emergency can be responded to using the resources available with no need for external assistance. On the other hand, a disaster overwhelms local resources and requires external assistance.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen this a number of times in 2017 with hurricanes ravaging islands and countries in the Caribbean. These islands simply don’t have the resources to cope with the magnitude of these disasters and need help from the international community in order to provide basic supplies and to begin the process of rebuilding.

Emergency and Disaster Management Degrees

While there are differences between emergencies and disasters, when searching for the perfect program for you, rest assured, there is no difference between a masters degree in emergency management online and a disaster management masters.

This is no accident. The ways to prepare for, mitigate the risk of, and respond to emergencies and disasters are very similar. In fact, some schools use the terms interchangeably or have it as one degree name.

However, though both terms may be used, each school has a unique design. Start using the research and planning skills that many programs teach to check out a number of different schools before deciding where to attend.

Did You Know?

In 2016, there were 315 natural disasters around the world.

Masters Degree in Emergency Management Online: What You’ll Learn

For the most part, a masters degree in emergency management online teaches you how to safeguard the public in case of emergencies or disasters. Preparing for worst-case scenarios is no easy task, which is why so many programs focus on developing the necessary leadership and decision-making skills for handling these events.

In addition, many programs examine the principles of crisis management. Usually, this includes the FEMA tenets of:

  • Planning
  • Preparedness
  • Response
  • Recovery

Some of the other coursework typically covers topics such as:

  • Crisis communication
  • Risk assessments
  • Emergency leadership

This coursework teaches how to prepare for terrible events. Just as importantly, courses focus on developing leadership skills that are so important in the field, such as how to:

  • Lead and manage emergency management organizations and agencies
  • Apply strategic and tactical thinking
  • Apply professional and social ethics to decisions

When Disasters Strike

At some point, disasters and emergencies will affect every community. The worst part about these events is that there’s no way to tell when they’ll happen, which is why many people panic during catastrophes.

But just because they’re unexpected, doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for them. Leaders in emergency management apply current research and findings to create effective plans, essentially giving communities the resources they'll need in case of various emergencies and disasters. That way, when emergencies happen, you can think and communicate clearly.

How Do You Earn a Masters in Emergency Management Online?

Every school has different requirements for you to earn your masters degree in emergency management online. Some of the differences include choosing a concentration for your masters degree, which include:

  • Biosecurity and Threat Management
  • Community Resilience
  • Homeland Security
  • Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR)
  • Higher Education

While your core courses usually remain the same regardless of your concentration, choosing one of the above options for your masters degree usually varies your courses. So, be sure to research each of your different options.

In addition, when pursuing a masters degree in emergency management online, many programs ask that you complete a capstone or thesis project to earn your degree. This may be a research paper or presentation, depending on the program. Either option is a way to apply the lessons from the program and to show that you’ve learned the key concepts.

Good to Know

Some of the most important aspects of an emergency kit for your family include a water filter, three days worth of nonperishable food, portable lighting, and prescriptions and medications.

Careers in Emergency Management

Often, those who are drawn to an emergency management degree are excited by the prospect of helping others. Few people have the opportunity to say that their job consists of providing friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors with ways to mitigate risks in case of an emergency.

Therefore, some students who pursue a masters degree in emergency management online have a background in emergency services. This may include experience in the military, or as a police officer, firefighter, paramedic, or dispatcher.i

While this experience isn’t necessary to pursue a career as an emergency management director—one of the jobs you can consider with your masters degree—it enables candidates to make tough decisions in stressful and time-sensitive situations. Some employers may even look for candidates with this experience.

In 2016, the median annual salary for an emergency management director was $70,500.ii However, the median annual salary varies depending on the industry. Some of the most common industries for emergency management directors and their 2016 median annual salaries include:

  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private: $88,150
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services: $86,430
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private: $78,380
  • Local government, excluding education and hospitals: $64,470
  • State government, excluding education and hospitals: $60,230ii

Key Responsibilities in Disaster Management and Emergency Management

Emergency management directors can have one of the most stressful jobs around, which is why decision-making skills can be so important. Typically, the key tasks include:

  • Preparing plans and procedures for natural disasters and other emergencies
  • Leading response during and after emergencies
  • Coordinating with officials, nonprofits, and government agenciesiii

While the job may be stressful, many find it rewarding to be in a position of meaningful public service, serving communities across the United States. Helping others has led you to this point. Use that desire to pursue a degree that teaches you how to have a measurable impact on your community.

Did You Know?

48% of Americans lack emergency supplies for use in the event of a disaster.

Learn How to Help Your Community

Earning a masters degree in emergency management online isn’t for everyone. But the people who hear this calling want to learn how to apply their passion for public service and how to help protect their communities.

Follow those passions and find the perfect emergency management and disaster management program for you. Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page for more information about each of the schools. You can even contact those schools directly to learn how to apply today.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm#tab-4 [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm#tab-5 [iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm#tab-2