What is Emergency Management?

The purpose of emergency management is to protect natural resources and take all measures to ensure the safety of citizens. Therefore, preparation and recovery are crucial. The event could be a terrorist attack or weather-related conditions, such as a hurricane, flood, or earthquake.

Emergency managers’ action starts long before the imminent disaster. Preparation is paramount to minimizing potential damage and loss of life. After the event, they direct those who will be engaged in the cleanup, rebuilding, power restoration, and other critical services.

Degree Options

Whether online or a residency program, schools often couple emergency management (EM) with a related discipline. The combination may include EM with homeland security, business administration, fire services, disaster preparedness, public safety, emergency medical care, and more. We will primarily look at the typical classes you can expect in a program devoted to emergency management.

Examples of Classes

Public Administration

You learn how public administrators use their communication and analytical skills in a political setting. In this official position, you must master public relations and decision-making to operate effectively in this environment.

Fire and Emergency Services Administration

The course stresses the importance of effective leadership during emergencies. It also highlights the skills necessary to direct fire and emergency service personnel. You will study how to maintain a budget, manage finances, communicate with local politicians, and conduct research studies.

Practical Food Safety and Awareness

You will learn about the preparation and storage of food to prevent harmful bacterial agents and other microorganisms. The statistics prove the significance of avoiding the ingestion of contaminated foods. Over 128,000 people in the U.S. require hospitalization due to food-related ailments. Students will explore the global issues associated with food safety. You look at the health department’s involvement, health inspection reports, and practical knowledge to mitigate unsafe edible products.

Disaster Planning and Response

An efficient and effective communication system is crucial when a catastrophic event is imminent. Students learn how to manage and deploy personnel before, during, and after the disaster occurs.

Natural Disaster Management

This course highlights the role of emergency management from preparation to recovery. You learn how to assess and respond diligently to pending threatening situations.

Chemical, Biological, and Radiological/Nuclear Hazards (CBRN)

This class provides a study of potentially hazardous chemicals and biological agents that could be employed by terrorists. You may study the potential effects of certain chemicals and biological agents.

Community Risk Reduction

This class examines the interaction of legal issues and political intervention. It provides an overview of the methods to create a plan that minimizes risk to a community.

Regulatory Issues

The class introduces students to health and safety regulations governed at the state and federal levels. You learn how these affect emergency services during a disaster or similar occurrence. The most common sources of the rules are from OSHA, the EPA and the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association).

What’s in a Name?

An undergraduate degree in Public Service and Public Policy with a concentration in emergency management and homeland security, provide the coursework for a career as a professional emergency manager. In addition to classes in natural science, writing for public issues, and economics, this particular degree has three-credit hours each of Criminal Justice and Homeland Security. The latter is an overview of theory and practical knowledge related to hazards, criminal elements, and procedures.

Other programs, such as a Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Management adhere to similar classes as most EM programs. The coursework follows the same pattern of stressing courses in leadership, administration, and risk management. In this specific degree, there are classes in Occupational Safety, Fire Prevention, Leadership, and Conflict Resolution, to name a few.

The tandem of Homeland Security and EM is an option. This program may interest individuals who are working or plan to work in homeland security. The degree can prepare you for work at U.S. borders, harbors, and airport terminals. This degree teaches you how to assess and manage threats and to form strategic planning.

The above program may benefit students who want to learn the fundamentals of homeland security and emergency management, which will prepare them for the day-to-day decision-making required in the post-9/11 era.


Depending on your career goals, there are many programs from which to choose. By reviewing the curriculum of each, you will be able to select the one whose classes suit your career goals.

Additional Resources

What Specializations are there in an Emergency Management Degree?

What is the Benefit of a Degree in Fire Science vs. Emergency Management?

How can I gain experience in Emergency Management while attending College?

What is the benefit of a health and safety engineering degree vs an occupational health and safety degree?

What is the Benefit of a Degree in Occupational Safety vs. Emergency Management?

How can I upgrade my Emergency Management Degree?

What Classes will I take in a Bachelor’s Degree in Homeland Security?