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Masters Degree Programs in Disaster Management

If you want to pursue a career in disaster management, master's degree programs in disaster management and emergency and disaster management are both good choices. Find out more about these programs and career prospects.

Essential Information

Master's degree programs in disaster management prepare students to handle natural and man-made disasters. Professionals may pursue graduate programs in emergency and disaster management or focus specifically on emergency management. In both programs, students learn to create crisis management plans and manage disaster and recovery efforts. Admission into these programs typically requires a bachelor's degree and may require the submission of a portfolio. Some programs and courses may be available online.


Master's Degree in Emergency and Disaster Management

A master's degree program in emergency and disaster management teaches students to plan, manage, analyze logistics, and implement effective responses to man-made and natural disasters. Students learn to prepare for and handle emergency situations such as terrorist attacks, hurricanes and floods. Some programs culminate with the creation of a comprehensive crisis management plan that is ready for implementation.

Emergency and disaster management master's degree programs emphasize critical thinking and ethical decision-making. Students learn to assess emergency situations and provide management and recovery support to public and private disaster management agencies. The curriculum of a master's degree program in emergency and disaster management includes:

  • Disaster management strategies
  • Public health and emergency response
  • Information technology communication techniques
  • Economics of disaster management and recovery
  • Disaster and emergency management delivery service analysis

Master's Degree in Emergency Management

A master's degree program in emergency management emphasizes occupational health and safety strategies, ethical theories and emergency response planning and management. Students learn how to navigate chaotic emergency situations so that they are ready to make quick, methodical and ethical decisions.

Students in a master's degree program in emergency management learn to create emergency management plans and implement recovery operations if needed. They also study homeland security issues, such as bioterrorism, and they hone continuity strategies for getting businesses, communities and individuals back on their feet after experiencing a disaster. Courses cover:

  • Crisis management ethics
  • Emergency management strategies
  • Emergency management analysis and risk management
  • Homeland security procedures
  • Natural, technological and biological risks

Popular Career Options

Private and public emergency and disaster management agencies hire master's degree program graduates to fill top-level, directorial or managerial positions. These positions require professionals to handle all types of crisis management issues. Example job titles include:

  • Federal emergency management administrator
  • Disaster management consultant
  • Emergency planning director
  • Crisis manager
  • Disaster management planner

Many graduates of a master's degree programs in emergency management help private sector employers create and implement company-wide emergency management plans. Others use their graduate degrees to pursue top-level careers in governmental agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Job titles may include:

  • Emergency management officer
  • Risk management analyst
  • Disaster planning specialist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for emergency management directors was expected to grow 6 percent between 2014 and 2024, about as fast as the national average for all occupations. As of May 2015, the mean annual wage was $73,750.

Continuing Education Information

There are no continuing education or licensure requirements for emergency and disaster management professionals. However, many attend conferences and seminars that keep them informed of modern-day potential threats and cutting-edge delivery systems. These conferences help crisis managers streamline disaster management and recovery efforts. Many also are active members of the American Red Cross.

Emergency management professionals are not required to be licensed by a specific governing board. However, some may attend annual emergency and disaster management conferences and seminars to keep current with modern crisis planning and management techniques.

Overall, with a master's degree in disaster management, students develop the skills they need for success in the highest levels of the field.

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