Online Disaster Management Degree Program Information

Get info about online programs in disaster management. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Online disaster management degree programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. These programs can be completed fully over the Internet. Admission to these programs may require applicants to complete prerequisite coursework, and graduate programs require students to hold a bachelor's degree. Some graduate programs also require applicants to have field experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a bachelor's degree is typically the educational level needed for a career as an emergency management director; these professionals usually have long-term on-the-job training in addition to a bachelor's degree. Graduates may consider pursuing voluntary certification in emergency management.

Bachelor's Degree in Disaster Management

An online bachelor's degree program in disaster management prepares students to undertake the task of coordinating rescue, safety, recovery and relief measures during and after a man-made or natural disaster. They also learn to create community disaster plans to prepare for possible emergency situations. Graduates of these programs are awarded a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts or a more unusual Bachelor of Technology degree.

Program Information and Requirements

Many online bachelor's degree programs in disaster management are traditional 4-year programs; however, some are designed for working students who need to take classes on a part-time basis. Most programs allow students to complete their degree entirely online, though some online disaster management programs require students to complete general education courses prior to admission.

Internet-based chat platforms and message boards provide students with the opportunity to correspond with classmates and instructors. Some programs allow students to simulate real-world situations, like manning a control center, via online simulations. A computer, high-speed Internet, e-mail and software are required.

Common Online Bachelor's Degree Disaster Management Courses

Disaster management bachelor's degree students take courses that teach them how to plan for disasters and emergencies. Students also learn how to minimize the damage caused by events such as hurricanes, terrorist attacks and earthquakes.


Students learn about preparing communities and workplaces for dealing with disastrous events. Through lectures and analytical exercises, the course prompts students to consider methods to minimize loss of life and assets, recover resources following an emergency and use technology to aid in the relief effort.

Laws of Disaster Management

In this course, students explore the political and legal aspects of disaster management. Public policy, administration, liability and other law-related aspects of emergency and disaster management are covered.


A skills course ensures that students possess the leadership and managerial skills necessary to work as a disaster management professional. Through online simulations and lectures, students learn how to lead, run a command center and adhere to regulations.

Master's Degree in Disaster Management

Online master's degree programs in emergency and disaster management fulfill a nationwide need for professionals with the skills necessary to lead relief efforts in the wake of calamitous events. Programs are geared both toward those with experience in the field and to those who have a bachelor's degree but little experience.

Program Information and Requirements

Graduates of an online master's degree program in disaster management are awarded Master of Science or Master of Public Health degrees. Typically, online disaster management students can complete the requirements for a master's degree in about two years. Programs often include hands-on simulations or field work which can be completed through volunteer work or through an approved agency. Some disaster management master's degree programs adhere to FEMA's Higher Education Project.

Online disaster management master's degree students use Internet-based programs to take part in discussions and view lectures. Intermediate-level proficiency in Microsoft Office software and the ability to follow technical instructions is necessary to complete coursework and utilize computer programs.

Common Disaster Management Master's Degree Courses

The courses included in an online disaster management master's degree program teach students how to communicate effectively, understand the sociological side of disasters, plan for possible environmental events and respond to terrorist attacks. Some programs also teach students about toxicology issues.

Disaster Management Communication Course

In a disaster management communication course, students learn how to share information with various audiences before, during and after a crisis. The course discusses communication complexities for the general public, health workers, responders, community leaders and other groups. Some programs also offer a disaster management writing course that covers the technical aspects of writing policy.

Social Health and Disaster Course

In this course, students learn about the social effects of disasters. Discussion includes mental health during disasters, vulnerable populations and organizational challenges.

Emergency Management Theory Course

Students who take a theory course in emergency management learn how to understand and implement research and new information into their work. The course aims to prepare disaster management leaders who are able to contribute to the field.

Career Information for Graduates

Work experience related to crisis management is listed as an important qualification for some of the highest-paid positions listed in the USA Jobs ( database. reported that emergency management specialists earned a median salary of $56,076 as of October 2016.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that emergency management directors will see 6% job growth, about as fast as average for all occupations, from 2014-2024. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $67,330 for emergency management directors as of May 2015. The U.S. government and military is a large employer of disaster management professionals, and those with a master's degree and experience in disaster management qualify for many of the top-paying jobs listed in the USA Jobs database.

Continuing Education Information

Those who wish to gain credentials in disaster management can receive training through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a department of U.S. Homeland Security. FEMA's programs prepare elected officials, emergency responders, disaster management professionals and civilians for responding to all manner of emergencies and disasters. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are available online for those who wish to continue their education without completing a master's degree program.

The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) offers the Certified Emergency Manager designation, a qualification endorsed by FEMA. Education, experience and an exam are required for the certification. The successful applicant has demonstrated his or her ability to lead a disaster management relief effort and work in various situations.

Online disaster management programs prepare students to become disaster management professionals with courses that cover topics such as disaster planning, law, social effects and managerial skills. Training is available through FEMA, and certification is available through IAEM.

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