Students interested in learning how to handle and respond to various emergency situations, whether life-threatening or not, may wish to pursue a master's degree program in emergency management. These programs vary in the specific courses they offer, as well as other program details, but all work to prepare graduates for high levels of management. Explore below some of the courses many of these programs have in common, as well as typical program admittance requirements.
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Program Information for a Master's Degree in Emergency Management
Many master's degree programs in emergency management are offered online and cover a variety of topics that prepare graduates to plan for and manage situations like natural disasters, terrorist attacks, hazardous spills and more. These programs can usually be taken full- or part-time and can be accomplished in as little as 15 months, or completed over a 5-year period, while covering some common courses, such as:
Disaster Response and Recovery
A course in disaster response and recovery may explore the different ways governments and organizations respond to disaster situations. Students might discuss issues and challenges that arise before or after disasters, such as evacuations and relocations, infrastructure, and communication. This course may also examine the various government policies at local, state and national levels that affect response and recovery efforts.
An emergency preparedness course allows students to examine different planning strategies and ways to evaluate potential risks, which may be used to try and prevent emergencies from even occurring. Students may study guidelines and strategies from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and/or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They might also explore the needs of at-risk populations and ways to reduce various vulnerabilities.
Understanding how to make tough decisions and lead in emergency situations is vital to this field, and courses that discuss decision making and leadership aim to equip students with the necessary skills in each area. Students in these courses will study organizational cultures and roles, expectations of leaders and managers and even the differences between leadership and management. These courses may also cover logistical skills, such as managing a budget, setting goals and developing strategic plans.
Students in homeland security courses may examine current issues in homeland security, as well as some of the history of the Department of Homeland Security and how it has affected public policy. These courses might address topics in threat assessment, ethical issues, and telecommunications. Students may be asked to apply some of the critical-thinking skills they have obtained through the course to current issues in the field.
Critical Issues in Management
Courses that examine issues in emergency management may look at the theories and concepts of the field. Various issues and shortcomings in preparedness might be addressed. Students may explore the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and discuss possible improvements and needs in the field.
Admittance Requirements for Master's Degree Programs in Emergency Management
Most master's degree programs in emergency management require applicants to send in official transcripts from all undergraduate and/or graduate work, as well as filling out the required graduate application and submitting the attached application fee. Some programs may not require a specific GPA or undergraduate major for admittance, but others may require a 3.00 GPA and prefer a background in criminology, public administration, public safety and other related fields. Many applicants will need to submit letters of recommendation, a written statement about their personal and professional goals and/or a resume. Most emergency management programs do not require GRE scores.
A master's degree program in emergency management likely covers topics in decision making, disaster response, and emergency preparedness. On-campus and online degree programs are both available.