By EMD Staff
Posted October, 2014
This article considers the 20 best affordable emergency management degree programs – specifically those costing less than the typical $23,000 one can expect to pay for a year in college.
When you think about all the natural disasters and crises we have had to deal with in the past decade or so, it’s no wonder the field of emergency management is a burgeoning one. Unexpected events as diverse as Hurricane Katrina, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and wildfires in the Southwest all require the attention of highly trained professionals. To help meet this demand, many universities have developed curricula so that undergraduates can earn a B.S. or B.A. in Emergency Management. Such a degree is a useful stepping stone to graduate-level work or can provide a solid foundation for government work, involvement with NGOs, or private sector employment.
The following schools are the 20 best Emergency Management programs in the United States with a net price under $23,000 a year. This means that these schools’ tuition, once you factor in financial aid and scholarships, costs less than $100,000 for all four years of education. What’s more, many of these schools fall well below this mark, and some even cost less than $10,000 a year!
The methodology for ranking these schools involved researching information about the institutions’ freshmen retention rate, 6-year graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, campus organizations available for emergency management students, and the quality of their career services departments. We also researched whether or not the curricula required students to complete an internship and if they provided opportunities for related minors, certification, or to choose a concentration within the minor. The goal in this ranking was to pinpoint schools that offer versatile and comprehensive degrees while also going above and beyond to prepare students for professional work.
Take a look below to see who came out on top. They are listed according to their affordability, but we have also provided their placement in the quality ranking as well.
20. Pennsylvania College of Technology
Emergency Management Technology
The Pennsylvania College of Technology prepares graduates for a fast-paced, high-paying career in Emergency Management, a major predicted to show significant growth over the next few years. This exciting new program, started in 2013, focuses not only on the basics of emergency management technology and public safety, but specifically equips students with the necessary skills to find careers in the natural gas industry as well as ‘green’ careers in industry sectors, such as clean transportation, pollution prevention, and resource conservation. This four-year bachelor’s program includes numerous benefits, such as a low student-to-faculty ratio, required participation in an internship, and a capstone project in students’ senior year.
Net Price: $21,263
19. Kansas Wesleyan University
The mission of the Emergency Management program at Kansas Wesleyan University is to prepare to help others in crisis. Students learn how to help people and organizations to prevent, mitigate, and recover from natural and manmade disasters, such as mass crime, oil spills, and tornadoes. This program is extraordinary because it is one of the only Emergency Management degrees offered at a four-year liberal arts university, granting students the opportunity to work closely with faculty members and receive quality mentoring. In addition to the standard Emergency Management track, students may also specialize in Homeland Securities, Victim Services, or NonGovernmental Organizations. Required internships ensure that graduates have the hands-on experience necessary to save lives after they graduate.
Net Price: $21,197
18. Concordia University
The Homeland Security Bachelor’s degree at Concordia University was developed in response to the attacks of 9/11. This major is designed for students who are passionate about securing our country from threats and responding to major events when they occur. This flexible program offers both full-time and part-time students the opportunity to take classes online in eight-week cycles, with courses taught by fire and police commanders, federal agents, and military leaders. A one-of-its-kind state-of-the-art simulator offers an immersive experience for students to experience the action of real-life disaster scenarios, from chemical spills and wildfires to factory explosions. Students gain valuable experience by interning with private companies, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations, and graduate with the training they need to start exciting careers as first responders, cyber security personnel, disaster responders, and much more.
Net Price: $21,197
17. Western Illinois University
The Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency Management educates students about disaster response activities, how to create emergency plans, and how to develop superior network and communication skills. This program, the only one of its kind in the state of Illinois, is taught by expert Ph.D. holding faculty in an on-campus format. Faculty members not only serve as instructors, but also mentor students according to their specific interests. In addition, students gain hands-on experience through a professional internship, may join organizations such as the National Professional Health Education Honorary and the Gamman Club, and have the opportunity to collaborate in research studies in diverse areas such as methamphetamine surveillance, disaster planning for the homeless, and binge drinking on college campuses.
Net Price: $16,919
16. Virginia Commonwealth University
Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
Students graduate from VCU’s emergency preparedness program equipped to not only tackle natural disasters, but those caused by terrorists as well. The university recognizes that officials need to incorporate homeland security into their toolkit in order to coordinate an effective disaster response plan. Coursework includes emergency planning, intelligence, risk and vulnerability assessment, and international relations, among other areas. When staff created the program, they found VCU’s proximity to Washington, D.C., invaluable for making contacts in this quickly changing field. Graduates go on to both private- and public-sector employment in diverse areas such as homeland security, emergency preparedness for natural hazards and security-related incidents, and graduate study in fields such as law or policy planning.
15. University of Akron
Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Net Price: $16,764
The University of Akron’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security program offers students the only bachelor’s degree accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, and the only B.S. of its type in the state. Students have the unique opportunity to study a varied E.M. curriculum featuring geology, climatology, ecology, and research methods and applications. To give students a hands-on advantage, the university encourages enrollees to take an internship. Moreover, students can interact with others in their field via student organizations such as the International Emergency Management Student Association and the Fire Protection Society. Akron also offers service learning through joint projects with local emergency management agencies, as well as the American Red Cross.
Net Price: $15,972
14. Northern Arizona University
Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Northern Arizona University gives students with busy schedules the freedom to complete Emergency Management coursework in their own time through an interactive distance education format. Some courses are also available in a hybrid mode that combines in-person and online learning. The program touches on emergency prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery, among other areas. In addition, students hone their skills by learning about leadership, ethics, budgeting and critical thinking, and professors often integrate theoretical knowledge into specific problems and actual case studies. Graduates are prepared for emergency management careers in the public and private sector and non-profit work, as well as graduate education. NAU is a particularly great choice for working adults, as its “90/30” plan can potentially reward students for their prior educational, training and certification experience.
Net Price: $14,398
13. University of Central Missouri
Crisis and Disaster Management with specializations in Business Continuity, Emergency Management, Emergency Services Management, and Environmental Hazards
Thanks to its 17-to-1 faculty-to-student ratio, the University of Central Missouri offers students in the Crisis and Disaster Management program personalized attention far beyond what many institutions provide. Students also enjoy a great quality education, as many faculty members hold professional certifications in this growing field. Students can specialize in business continuity, emergency management, emergency services management, or environmental hazards, which gives them plenty of opportunities to mold the degree to their own interests. Regardless, all students learn the basics of disaster management technology and integrated emergency management and community mitigation and recovery, among other subjects. Those seeking service learning opportunities can enjoy the Institute for Rural Emergency Management’s mission to help rural communities and high-risk organizations prepare for emergencies and potential disaster.
Net Price: $13,842
12. Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
Emergency Management or Environmental Protection, Safety, and Emergency Management
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy offers students two major programs: Marine Safety and Environmental Protection, and Emergency Management. However, because issues in these majors overlap, the academy uses a common curriculum for the first two years in both programs. Beginning in their junior year, students usually pick one major but can still get a minor in the other, while a few students seek out a dual major. Marine Safety graduates often pursue careers relating to climate change, diminishing natural resources, green and sustainable development and even population growth, while Emergency Management students focus on practical coursework in hazards, risk management, and disaster.
Net Price: $13,791
11. North Dakota State University
Fargo, North Dakota
The Emergency Management major at NDSU encourages students to pursue a broad-based education in behavioral, social, and natural sciences and also trains students in the specific areas of disaster management, including prevention, response, and recovery. The university boasts a low student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1, with professors specializing in areas such as mitigation, spatial analysis, and social vulnerability to disasters. Laboratories offer students the opportunity to study and train how emergency operation centers function during an incident, and mandatory internships in government, volunteer agencies, community development, or business help to ensure job placement after graduation. The university’s well-developed program also makes it easy for ambitious learners to pursue a master’s or Ph.D. in emergency management after earning a bachelor’s.
Net Price: $13,662
10. Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers a concentration in Emergency Management and Homeland Security as part of their BS in Public Service and Public Policy. Because of this arrangement, students who concentrate in Emergency Management gain an understanding of public issues and how emergencies and disasters affect communities in the long term. The Emergency Management classes are only available at the campus in downtown Phoenix, though several other ASU campuses are only a short drive away. The ASU School of Public Affairs also has its own Career Services office on the Phoenix campus to help students network and find jobs after graduating. The school’s EM-related student organizations include a chapter of the International City/County Management Association and an American Red Cross club.
Net Price: $12,380
9. SUNY Canton
Canton, New York
Students at the State University of New York at Canton earn their Bachelors degree in Emergency Management through entirely online courses. As one of the few online EM degrees in the country, SUNY Canton offers seven-week sessions for most classes; access to virtual disaster simulators; and exercises with local, state, and federal agencies. The school’s student to faculty ratio is 5:1, which means that students have the opportunity for a lot of individual attention from their professors. The program also encourages and helps students to find internships in order to balance their academic knowledge of Emergency Management with practical, real-life experience.
Net Price: $12,065
8. Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, North Carolina
Emergency and Disaster Management
Western Carolina University offers online Bachelor’s degrees, minors, and certificates in Emergency and Disaster Management for long-distance or working students. The Emergency Management curriculum covers a variety of useful subjects, such as Risk Assessment & Mitigation and Social Dimensions of Disaster, and keeps enough students engaged that 79% return for a second year. Class sizes are generally intimate, with a ratio of eight students to each faculty member. The program also ensures that students have plenty of individual and practical experience through required independent studies, research projects, and internships. For local students, campus groups like the Management Club, the Sociology Club, and multiple honor societies offer a way to further engage with their education and their community.
Net Price: $11,978
7. University of Nebraska at Omaha
The Emergency Management program at the University of Nebraska has a variety of degree options, which makes it a good choice for many different types of learners. Students who want a more traditional experience can earn a Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management and concentrate in two of a wide selection of subjects, including Public Administration, Public Health, Intelligence and Security, Private Sector Management, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Native American Studies, Fire Service Management, and Aviation Administration. Students can also minor in Emergency Management or Fire Services Management. For adult learners looking to build on previous education or advance their career, the University offers a General Studies degree with a concentration in Emergency Management.
Net Price: $10,967
6. University of North Texas
Emergency Administration and Planning
The Emergency Administration and Planning program at the University of Texas is well established, well rounded, and international. The Bachelor of Science degree offers the chance to gain experience in the school’s Emergency Operations Center, participate in field exercises, work with the Red Cross and other emergency response services, and study abroad in countries such as Mexico, India, Thailand, and Turkey. Students are also required to do an internship in order to build their practical skills. UNT’s on-campus organizations include a chapter of the International Association of Emergency Managers, which connects students to emergency management-related activities. The University’s student to faculty ratio also sits outstandingly low, guaranteeing small class sizes and individual attention from professors.
Net Price: $10,773
5. Savannah State University
Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Savannah State University is the first university in Georgia and the first historically black university to offer degrees in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The program is designed to give students an interdisciplinary education, and allows credit from geography, sociology, anthropology, history, and foreign language classes to count towards the major. The small student to faculty ratio in the program leads to small classes and a feeling of community among students, while required practical experiences through internships and a senior capstone project help HSEM majors secure their careers. Multiple honor societies, leadership organizations, and a student group specifically for Homeland Security and Emergency Management majors provide social and academic support on campus.
Net Price: $9,657
4. Arkansas State University
Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management
The Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management program at Arkansas State University is a good choice for students who already work full time and are looking to advance their careers. The classes are all online, which makes the Bachelor’s degree easier to fit into a busy schedule. Arkansas State University also offers Experiential Credit, which means working and/or older students can get credit for learning done in non-traditional settings like jobs, training programs, or during military service. The courses included in the major prepare students for a variety of specific situations, and include topics from Initial Response to Suicide Bomb Attacks to Radiological Emergencies. Classes are usually small, with a student to faculty ratio of 6:1.
Net Price: $8,984
3. American Public University
Charles Town, West Virginia
Emergency and Disaster Management
The online Bachelor’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management at the American Public University was the first online program to be recognized by the Foundation of Higher Education for Disaster and Emergency Management and Homeland Security. The program ensures that students graduate with an extensive knowledge of Emergency Management by pulling courses from the Homeland Security and Public Health programs as well as its own core classes. APU’s student to faculty ratio is 8:1, and over 80% of freshman at the university continue on to their second year. The Career Services office helps EDM students explore the wide selection of career options open to them, and provides advice about which certifications will prove most useful to each individual.
Net Price: $8,839
2. University of Alaska Fairbanks
Homeland Security and Emergency Management
The University of Alaska at Fairbanks offers unique opportunities for Homeland Security and Emergency Management students. The program allows students to choose between attending class on campus, learning through distance education, or doing a mix of both as best suits their schedule. For on-campus students, going to college in Alaska provides the chance to experience Homeland Security and Emergency Management hands-on. Students can get involved at the on-campus fire station or at one of the two nearby military bases, and take part in field exercises that take advantage of the singular Alaskan environment. The University also stands out because it is home to the Center for the Study of Security, Hazards, Response and Preparedness, a research center for emergency management.
Net Price: $8,281
1. Arkansas Tech University
Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Unlike other programs, the Emergency Management program at Arkansas Technical University places an importance on learning the ins and outs of management, and not just how to deal with crises. The Bachelor’s degree courses are split into three sections: the Technical Specialty, which is made up of the traditional EM classes; the Administrative Core, which includes courses in accounting, computers, communications, and management; and the Interdisciplinary Core, which represents the natural and physical science courses. The program also requires a practicum and an internship so that students can build on their real word experience. Students can choose between taking classes online or on campus in Russelville.
Net Price: $8,137