Public Safety Management Degrees by Program Level

Oct 14, 2019

Public safety management degree programs generally teach the management and communication skills necessary for graduates to take on leadership positions in agencies such as law enforcement, emergency preparedness and fire service.

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Essential Information

Bachelor's degree programs in public safety management offer an overview of community service policies and programs, along with courses in management, statistics and economics. Master's degree programs, which take around two years of full-time study, prepare students for administrative jobs in the field through courses and research in topics such as criminal justice and business management. At the doctoral level, students engage in classes, research and field work that prepare them for careers as educators, researchers, consultants or top policy makers. Doctoral programs vary in length, depending on the study, but most require three to five years to complete. Independent research and hands-on experience is required in most graduate programs.

Bachelor's Degree in Public Safety Management

Public safety management bachelor's degree programs, also called public policy or public administration, can often be taken online, on campus or a combination of both. In four years, they tend to cover a wide range of subjects, including community service policies and procedures, urban education programs and fire science technology.

Some of the bachelor's degree programs that offer a major in public safety management focus the curriculum toward students who may have already completed a formal educational or training program in a related field. These students are often seeking complementary and advanced courses in order to grow their overall knowledge base and further their expertise in subjects specific to public safety management.

Acceptance into most bachelor's degree programs in public safety management normally does not hinge upon specific education prerequisites beyond a high school diploma or GED. Some schools also offer degree completion programs to those who hold an associate's degree in related fields, such as paralegal studies, police science and human services.

As with most bachelor's degree programs, general education courses are a required component to those in public safety management. In addition, students usually take a certain amount of core and elective classes in the aforementioned academic subjects of community service, law enforcement and emergency services. Some of the classes that are common to the majority of these programs can include:

  • Urban studies
  • Information technology
  • Principles of management
  • Public safety environment
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics

Master's Degrees in Public Safety Management

Master's degree programs in public safety management often blend public administration and policy curriculum with advanced coursework and research opportunities in topics like criminal justice, homeland security and business management. Students who enroll in these graduate-level degree programs typically develop proficiency and expertise in several areas in their chosen occupational field, including crisis management, disaster responses and theories related to the causes of crime.

In order to gain admittance to graduate schools, students are required to have earned a bachelor's degree. The majority of master's degree programs in public administration or public safety management do not have additional education prerequisites for admission.

It's common for public safety management master's degree programs to include approximately 36-credit hours of classroom instruction. Some of the specific classes incorporated into many of these programs can include:

  • Fundamentals of evaluation
  • Critical event stress management policies and procedures
  • Principals of environmental protection
  • Occupational safety and hazard evaluation
  • Compliance management related to chemical regulations

Doctoral Degrees: Public Safety Management

Many of the degree programs in public safety management offered at the doctorate level fall under the academic category of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs. These programs primarily allow students to focus their studies on in-depth research topics relevant to the current state of public safety management, such as environmental and economic policies, international security and development issues, and governmental regulations.

There are a number of areas of specialization from which Ph.D. candidates can choose. Some of these include child and family policy, economic development, nonprofit management, state and local finance, and energy policy.

While not a requirement, a number of Ph.D. candidates come into doctoral degree programs in public safety management already holding a master's degree and a significant amount of real world work experience in a public policy occupation. Programs may accept students with master's or bachelor's degree in a subject related to public safety management.

Doctoral degree programs in public safety management generally incorporate both classroom instruction and fieldwork. Students are usually required to successfully complete comprehensive exams, a research apprenticeship and an original dissertation in order to earn a Ph.D. The classroom instruction portion of these programs commonly includes coursework in the following subjects:

  • Governmental policy analysis and economics
  • Approaches to designing public and social policies
  • Strategies for budgeting, expenditure and revenue management
  • Politics and public administration analysis
  • State and local government finance management

Employment Options

Those who hold a Ph.D. in this field usually go into careers as teachers, college professors or researchers. Some other possibilities include occupations in environmental and natural resources policy, conflict resolution and collaborative government. At the undergraduate level, popular careers include:

  • City manager
  • Chief administrative officer
  • Information services director
  • Fire chief
  • Director of economic development

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Job opportunities for occupational health and safety specialists were predicted to grow by 6% between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( This was slightly more than the estimated job growth for all occupations, which was 5%.

The BLS stated that salaries for public safety managers can fluctuate, depending on several logistical factors, including the state's or locality's size, the specific occupation and the region. The BLS listed the median yearly wage for these professionals at $70,210 in 2015. Most workers took in between $40,890 and $102,980 each year.

Bachelor's degrees in public safety management are designed for both those who already have some experience in the field and those with no experience. Master's degrees in the field are often pursued by those seeking an administrative job, and Ph.D. programs are pursued by those who seek careers in post-secondary education, research and consulting.

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