How to Choose Schools with Fire Safety Programs

While no formal education is required to apply for a firefighter position, fire departments do offer extensive training to employees. Also, some colleges and universities offer 2- or 4-year programs in fire science or fire engineering.

There are several options for individuals wanting to enter the firefighting profession or already working in the fire services industry. Programs are available at the certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree levels.

10 Schools with Fire Science Programs

The following schools offer fire science programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*
Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK 4-year, Public Bachelor's
$7,778 In-state
$20,978 Out-of-state
Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY 4-year, Public Bachelor's $8,150 In-state
$17,640 Out-of-state
University of Akron Akron, OH 4-year, Public Associate's $10,509 In-state
$19,040 Out-of-state
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's $6,810 In-state
$13,920 Out-of-state
University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4-year, Public Certificate
$6,381 In-state
$28,659 Out-of-state
University of North Carolina-Charlotte Charlotte, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's
$6,532 In-state
$19,703 Out-of-state
Idaho State University Pocatello, ID 4-year, Public Associate's
$6,784 In-state
$20,182 Out-of-state
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH 4-year, Public Associate's
$11,000 In-state
$26,334 Out-of-state
University of New Haven West Haven, CT 4-year, Private not-for-profit Certificate
Utah Valley University Orem, UT 4-year, Public Certificate
$5,386 In-state
$15,202 Out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

The following considerations should be noted when choosing a fire science school:

  • When selecting a firefighting school, students should be clear about their career and educational goals. Some programs have concentrations in different sub-fields to choose from, while others prepare students for only one specialty.
  • A certificate program may help students start their careers in the firefighting profession or current firefighting employees obtain a promotion.
  • Some programs require that students be of a certain age or have EMT training before enrolling.
  • Prospective students may want to look for schools that have state-of-the-art equipment and 'burn buildings' for training.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs in fire science and closely related fields offer aspiring firefighters a general overview of the field, providing introductory courses in fire safety, fire behavior, fire prevention and structure protection. They may also include Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training. Prior to graduation from one of these two-year programs, students must fulfill general education requirements.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs in fire science or fire safety provide a comprehensive overview of the emergency field. In addition to the basic coursework included in associate's degree programs, students have the chance to take advanced electives, and they may be able to specialize in a particular topic of interest, such as fire administration or fire investigation. Some programs also include training for state certification exams, such as the paramedic and fire inspector certifications.

Master's Degree Programs

There are only a few schools in the United States that offer a master's degree in fire science. In these programs, students take advanced courses in fire chemistry and dynamics, and those who are particularly interested in fire safety may have the chance to declare a concentration in public safety management. Depending on the school, students may be able to choose between thesis and non-thesis tracks. Thesis programs require students to conduct a research project in a particular area of interest, while non-thesis students may be required to complete an internship in the field.

Certificate Programs

The content of certificate programs varies depending on the school. Some offer coursework similar to associate's degree programs, but without general education courses. Others include a series of fire safety coursework for experienced emergency service professionals who have already earned an associate's degree in a related field. While some certificates include only theoretical coursework and can be completed entirely online, others include real-world training within the curriculum.

Fire safety programs are available at the certificate, associate's degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree levels. These programs emphasize the fundamentals of fire science, arson investigation, disaster management and public safety.

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