Graduate Degrees in Safety Leadership: Program Options

Graduate safety leadership programs often go by other names, such as homeland security, public safety leadership, or security and safety leadership. They're designed for those pursuing careers in homeland security or safety or crisis management.

Essential Information

Graduate level programs in safety leadership often discuss public health, fiscal management, fire protection, professional responsibility, sociology, and public economics.

Graduate certificate safety leadership training programs can be completed in 1 to 2 semesters. Applicants must hold bachelor's degrees. Students take courses that may include homeland security, disaster planning, environmental hazards and recovery management.

Master's degree programs require that applicants hold a bachelor's degree. Some programs are exclusively for law enforcement professionals. These programs usually take 18 months to two years to complete. Accelerated 1-year programs also exist. Courses may include organizational management, budgeting, global security issues and cyber crime. Students develop their research skills and usually must complete a final project.

Doctoral programs consist of three to four years of study beyond the master's degree. Students often are allowed to design their own course of study and research to fit their career goals. Topics of study may include areas such as safety policy development or e-government programs. Doctoral candidates must research and defend a dissertation.


Graduate Certificate Safety Leadership Training Programs

Homeland security professionals are trained to use technology and create preparedness plans to restore order after an emergency and investigate threats to public safety. These programs prepare students--often professionals already working in the field--to collaborate with law, fire and emergency management professionals. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs are encouraged to apply regardless of their undergraduate major. At this level, training is available in:

  • Disaster planning
  • Environmental crimes
  • Management principles
  • Risk analysis
  • Worksite safety law

Master's Degrees Covering Safety Leadership

Graduate programs in safety leadership are designed as Master of Science or Master of Professional Studies programs in public safety leadership, or security and safety leadership. Students learn to take global concerns into account, make ethical decisions, negotiate among various groups competing for resources, and resolve conflicts. Students will also learn about:

  • Computer security
  • Correctional organizations
  • Ethics
  • Leadership styles
  • Organizational communication
  • Terrorism

Doctoral Degrees in Public Administration

Public administrators, while not working on the front lines of safety, ensure that professionals are legally allowed and financially prepared to protect and serve the community. These programs can be offered as Doctor of Public Administration degrees or Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration programs.

Doctoral research can include the role of leadership in e-government projects or planning for the continuity of infrastructures critical to public safety. Programs allow students to gain additional training in topics like:

  • Financial analysis
  • Healthcare systems
  • Justice system administration
  • Policy making
  • Organizational theory
  • Statistics

Popular Career Options

Safety professionals can work in the military, private sector and in various levels of public service. Community leaders working in public safety who have completed a master's program can be qualified to find work as:

  • Correctional administrators
  • Disaster relief directors
  • Homeland security directors

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, emergency management directors are expected to see 6% employment growth between 2014-2024. These professionals earned a median salary of $67,330 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Graduates of bachelor's programs are eligible for the International Association of Emergency Managers' Certified Emergency Manager credential. Candidates are required to pass a 100-question exam and have at least 100 hours of training in management as well as emergency management; certification is valid for five years.

The American Society of Industrial Security administrates certification programs for Physical Security Professionals, Professional Certified Investigators and Certified Protection Professionals. Certifications expire every three years.

Recertification requirements include the completion of continued training and experience in the field. Training relevant to protecting the public against injury and illness is available in topics like physical security, intelligence analysis, logistics and technology.

Graduate safety leadership certificate programs prepare students for collaboration work with law and emergency teams. Master's programs in the field focus on issues on a global scale, while doctoral programs prepare students for roles in public administration.


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