Online master's degree programs in fire protection engineering are not common, but a few schools do offer them. These programs are available totally online, with students accessing course materials as their schedules permit and interacting with classmates and instructors through Web-based communications. Some schools give the option of a hybrid format that allows students to take some courses online and others on the school campus.
Most programs require that students hold a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field and have completed prerequisite courses useful to this field of study. These programs are designed for working engineers who take classes part-time. They can complete the program in about 15 months.
Courses cover the theory and practice of fire protection as it relates to engineering and designing fire protection systems for buildings and industrial complexes. Students study the science of fire risk and use technology to model various situations. Courses in fire behavior and its characteristics are also included. Graduates of a master's degree program in fire protection engineering are eligible to seek certification as a specialist in the field.
Master's Degree Program in Fire Protection Engineering
An online master's degree program in fire protection engineering focuses on the analysis and design of building fire safety. The curriculum covers a variety of topics, including evaluation and integration of fire protection systems for large structures and industrial complexes. Students learn to use scientific and engineering principles to access structures for fire and hazard risk. Applicants to fire protection engineering online programs are typically required to hold a bachelor's degree in engineering technology, engineering or other physical sciences, as well as have an academic background in fluid mechanics, heat transfer and thermodynamics.
An online master's degree program in fire protection engineering is composed of approximately 30 credit hours. Students attending on a part-time basis can expect to complete the degree program within 15 months. All courses are designed to be completed entirely online. Course materials and learning are conducted through a variety of online resources, including asynchronous streaming lectures, threaded discussions and chat rooms. No research or thesis component is typically required for this type of master's degree program.
Common Coursework for an Online Master's Degree in Fire Protection Engineering
Online coursework for a fire protection engineering master's degree teaches current theories and practices in fire behavior and protection methods. Topics include contemporary fire protection engineering research to uncover new knowledge and focus on fire safety issues.
Fire Protection Systems
This online course provides an overview of automatically activated fire suppression and detection systems. Topics include common chemicals and hardware used in automatic sprinklers, dry chemical systems and gaseous agents. Current installation practices and approval standards are also covered.
The validity, reliability and utility of contemporary computer models are examined. Students become familiar with how application models can be used for risk assessment, loss prediction, underwriting and hazard analysis.
Distance learning students study advanced concepts in fire behavior and combustion. Topics include diffusion flames, ignition, flame spread, fire plumes and flame radiation. The concepts of compartment fire behavior, pre- and post-flashover conditions and zone modeling are also examined.
Career and Information
Fire protection engineers work closely with architects, local building officials, local fire departments and other engineers to build and maintain fire safe communities. Employers include consulting engineering firms, government agencies, fire departments, fire equipment manufacturers and research laboratories. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment opportunities for health and safety engineers, including fire protection engineers, to grow by 5% during the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, these types of engineers earned an annual median income of $89,130 as of May of 2018.
Certification and Continuing Education
A Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS) credential is available through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This voluntary credential is designed for professionals to demonstrate competency within the fields of fire protection, fire safety, prevention and suppression technologies. Loss control specialists, fire protection consultants, building code professionals and fire inspectors are just a few examples of professionals that may benefit from earning the CFPS credential. Certification is obtained by earning a passing score on the national CFPS exam, comprised of approximately 100 questions. Exam content is based on the NFPA Fire Protection Handbook. This open-book exam is offered in both paper and pencil and computer-based formats.
Certified professionals are required to renew their certification every three years. Recertification is based on a point system. Points can be earned in a variety of ways, such as continuing education courses, continued work experience, committee membership, conference attendance and published articles. The NFPA offers a variety of training and continuing education opportunities throughout the year, including regional seminars, online courses, special topic webinars and an annual conference.
At the master's level, students can find online degree programs in fire protection engineering. These programs focus on fire modeling, fire dynamics, and fire protection systems. After graduating, students can complete the CFPS credential to prove their knowledge of these topics.