Overview

Public safety administration degrees prepare students to work in a variety of fields. In simple terms, professionals prevent and react to emergencies by managing public and environmental safety workers and anticipating public safety hazards. Common fields include emergency management, health services, and law enforcement. In order to develop the skills necessary for managing the multiple moving parts that ensure public safety, many professionals consider pursuing a master’s degree.

Graduate degree programs offer training in core subjects public safety administrators need to be community leaders. For example, many programs provide instruction in communication, conflict resolution, and public policy analysis. Unlike undergraduate programs, these courses give students more intensive training in the subjects to ensure they are prepared to join the forefront of their respective fields. With such advanced training, degree holders are often prepared to handle more complex challenges and threats to public safety.

Degree holders often work as administrators in emergency management, law enforcement, and health services.

Yes, most schools and programs now offer online degrees. The key is to find a program that both matches your scheduling needs and is accredited.

Online degrees are accepted by most employers. While there once was a stigma, the rise in technology has since led many to agree that online degree programs are valuable and logical.

The specifics vary depending on the school, but most programs list their requirements online. Prospective students should check the requirements of the programs they are interested in.

Yes, advanced degree holders have higher chances of obtaining management or leadership positions.

Aside from having a stable career, degree holders can enjoy careers providing a valuable service to their communities. These professionals form the backbone of safe and comfortable communities and an essential safety net in times of emergency. And with the advanced training of a master’s program, graduates can instill even greater confidence in public safety for the community members they serve.

Best Online Masters in Public Safety Administration Programs

We took a deep-dive and analyzed every online Masters in Public Safety Administration program in the nation. Below are the results of our analysis and a list of the 9 best online Masters in Public Safety Administration programs.

Read about our methodology here.

School Type
Public
Tuition
$611 per credit
Most Accelerated

Arizona State University's online master's in public safety administration program requires 33 credit hours but provides the coursework in an accelerated format. Students who want to earn their degree quickly can do so in one year with a full-time commitment.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: College of Public Service and Community Solutions
Program Name: Master of Arts in Public Safety Leadership & Administration
Available concentrations: Emergency Medical Services-Mobile Integrated Healthcare, Executive Fire Administration, Executive Police Administration
Accrediting body: Higher Learning Commission

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's or Master's degree
Credit Requirements: 33 credits

Program LengthProgram Length: 2 year
Program start dates: March 11

Admission RequirementsGPA: 3.0

Address:

1151 S Forest Ave

Tempe, AZ 85287

866-277-6589

Graduation Rate
77%
School Type
Private Non-profit
Tuition
$699 per credit
Best Curriculum

The University of San Diego designed its master's in public safety administration curriculum with collaboration from law enforcement organizations, sheriff associations and public safety leadership groups. Students gain in-depth knowledge and learn from leading-edge coursework to advance their careers.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: Professional & Continuing Education
Program Name: Master of Science in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership
Accrediting body: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree
Credit Requirements: 31 credits

Program LengthProgram Length: 20 months
Program start dates: January

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: December 3
GPA: 2.75

Address:

5998 Alcala Park

San Diego, CA 92110

619-260-4585

Graduation Rate
52%
School Type
Private Non-profit
Tuition
$858 per credit
Best Cohort

The University of St. Thomas has an online master's in public safety administration program and delivers the coursework in a synchronous format. Students remain together as a cohort throughout the program, logging in at a scheduled time to collaborate on projects and to interact with peers and instructors.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: College of Arts and Sciences
Program Name: Master of Arts in Public Safety and Law Enforcement Leadership
Accrediting body: HLC

DeliveryFormat: Online, Traditional

Program requirementsPrerequisites: A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S.
Credit Requirements: 31 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time
Program Length: 2 years

Admission RequirementsGPA: 2.75

Address:

2115 Summit Ave

Saint Paul, MN 55105

651-962-6040

Graduation Rate
55%
School Type
Private Non-profit
Tuition
$1,018 per credit
Most Innovative

Pace University designed its master's in public safety management program to meet the security needs of a post-9/11 world. This program was developed with the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, making it a top choice for both management professionals and career-changers who want to become leaders in homeland security.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
Program Name: Master's in Management for Public Safety and Homeland Security Professionals
Accrediting body: MSCHE

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program start dates: Fall: September; Spring: January; Summer

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Fall: August 1; Spring: December 1
GPA: 3.5

"Our program is about leadership in all situations. Equally important are managers who know how to use their expertise and transferable skills to address all evolving crises."
- Joseph F. Ryan, Ph.D., Professor, Chair and Director, Department of Criminal Justice and Security
Address:

157 William St

New York, NY 10038

212-346-1531

Graduation Rate
44%
School Type
Public
Tuition
$460 per credit
Best for Working Professionals

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale designed its master's in public safety administration program for working professionals who already have years of experience in emergency services. The curriculum includes topics in emergency management to give students the skills for career advancement after graduation.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: School of Architecture
Program Name: Master of Public Safety and Homeland Security Management
Accrediting body: NASPAA

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsCredit Requirements: 39 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program Length: 16 months
Program start dates: Spring, Summer, Fall

Admission RequirementsGPA: 3.0

Contact:

John K. Dobbins

Admissions Contact

Address:

875 S Normal Ave

Carbondale, IL 62901

618-453-1114

School Type
Public
Tuition
$611 per credit
Best for Vets

Eastern Kentucky University educates more than 1,000 military students in its online programs, which include public safety administration. Veterans are afforded reduced tuition and other benefits thanks to the Operations Veteran Success program, giving students more initiative to enroll in the master's program and to earn their degree for greater career success.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: College of Justice and Safety
Program Name: Master's in Safety, Security and Emergency Management
Accrediting body: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Baccalaureate degree
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall: August 20; Spring: January 14; Summer: May 20

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Fall: August 1; Spring: December 1; Summer: May 1
GPA: 3.0

Address:

521 Lancaster Ave

Richmond, KY 40475

859-622-2106

Graduation Rate
62%
School Type
Private Non-profit
Tuition
$575 per credit
Most Flexible

Lewis University provides a flexible master's in public safety administration program for online students. Distance learners can enroll on a part-time basis and work toward earning their degree in only two years without having to give up their full-time jobs.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: College of Arts and Sciences
Program Name: Online Master of Science in Public Safety Administration
Available concentrations: Public Safety Administration and Management; Public Safety Law and Civil Liability, Public Safety Administration Incident Command
Accrediting body: HLC

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time
Program Length: 2 years

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0

Address:

1 University Pkwy

Romeoville, IL 60446

866-967-7046

Graduation Rate
40%
School Type
Private Non-profit
Tuition
$685 per credit
Best for Emergency Management

Anna Maria College's online master's in public safety administration program gives students an opportunity to specialize in emergency management, learning the techniques to work at the highest levels of disaster preparedness organizations. Students learn the skills to manage disaster response activities and to prepare emergency procedures before, during and after disasters.


Program OverviewProgram Name: Master in Public Administration, Emergency Management
Accrediting body: NEASCI

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution.
Credit Requirements: 36 credit

Program LengthProgram Length: 2 years
Program start dates: Summer, Spring, Fall

Admission RequirementsGPA: 2.7

Contact:

Lorene Farrar

Admissions Contact

Address:

50 Sunset Ln

Paxton, MA 1612

508-849-3371

Graduation Rate
50%
School Type
Private Non-profit
Tuition
$627 per credit
Best Faculty

Southern New Hampshire's faculty members have years of real-world experience and are professionals in their academic and administrative careers. Students in the public safety administration program learn from industry experts and develop not only foundational knowledge but also advanced skills to implement strategic management practices for various organizations.


Program OverviewProgram Name: MS in Criminal Justice, Public Safety Administration
Accrediting body: NEASC

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsCredit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Length: 15 months
Program start dates: Spring, Fall

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Rolling
GPA: 2.75

Address:

500 N River Rd

Manchester, NH 3106

888-327-7648

What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Public Safety Administration Program?

Employees with various municipal, state and federal public safety agencies work to protect the welfare of the public as a whole through policies, procedures, regulations and laws that address situations from everyday transportation to environmental protection and disaster areas. With an online master’s in public safety administration, students are immersed in topics that shape their future career, whether through administrative, protective or responsive roles. Students with a bachelor’s degree may work in the field of public safety or law enforcement through front-line or entry-to-mid-level positions, but a master’s can propel the student into higher level roles. An online master’s in public safety administration is a great fit for individuals who wish to maintain their current career while preparing for the next. Online degrees offer flexibility in timing through institutions that offer asynchronous coursework and prevent the need for relocation nearer to a university offering public safety programs.

Degrees Offered for an Online Master’s in Public Safety Administration

CONCENTRATIONDESCRIPTIONCAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Executive Police Administration Students learn about executive law enforcement structures, policies and procedures as well as issues related to management, dispute resolution and community relations. Police chief, police supervisor, police administrator
Environment and Disaster Response Students pursuing a concentration within environmental and disaster responses learn research techniques associated with that field plus methodologies for creating proactive environmental and disaster-response policies and procedures. EPA administrator, environmental health and safety administrator, emergency management specialist, emergency management directors
Terrorism and Homeland Security This concentration deals with the realm of homeland security issues and approaches the interrelated topic of preventing and reacting to terrorism. Federal agent, terrorism analyst, crisis management specialist, emergency management directors

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Public Safety Administration

Universities vary widely in the curriculum offered through their master’s in public safety administration programs. Some colleges offer master’s of art while others confer master’s of science because of the inclusion of math- and science-based courses. Additionally, degree names vary and may be called a general master’s in public safety administration, a master’s in public safety and homeland security or a master’s in law enforcement and public safety leadership. Even if not designated in the degree name, most online public safety programs include criminal justice or law enforcement coursework and specialties.

As a student in a master’s of public safety administration, you may encounter some of these courses:

CourseDescription
Public Policy AnalysisTeaches how policies arise and are designed and how research and problem-solving skills translate into effective policies and considers the value or ethics system of the stakeholders impacted by policies
Organizational BehaviorGrounds students in analysis and development skills to best design the framework of behavior in organizations, including risk factor identification and homeland security considerations
Public Safety Management and AdministrationPresents theories in management and administration and how those correspond to the practices upheld by an organization, particularly by a public safety manager
Terrorism and Weapons of Mass DestructionIdentifies and addresses suspected terrorism signs and behaviors as well as weapons that may be used against targeted groups and teaches students to design policies and responses to limit terrorism and weapons of mass destruction
Public Safety and Incident ResponsePresents future law enforcement and public safety leaders with the tools and procedures necessary to design effective response strategies and addresses various threats including environmental disruption, public health epidemics, attacks and natural disasters

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Public Safety Administration?

Online master’s in public safety administration range from 33 to 48 credit hours. Accelerated course structures can allow some students to complete this master’s in just 18 months. Otherwise, degrees in this field typically take between 2 and 3 years to complete, with a limit of 5 years of study. Many of the programs require a capstone course based on a public safety related topic as the final credits toward the master’s degree. Some programs also require a practicum or internship prior to graduation.

If the student is already employed in law enforcement, public safety or homeland security, some schools offer credits based on time-in-service to reduce the overall course load. Conversely, students new to the area of public safety may need to take additional courses to bridge from their undergraduate area of study to public safety. Additionally, if a student has previously enrolled in a public safety or related master’s program at another institution, up to 12 credit hours may be transferred toward the satisfaction of the current degree. Credit transfers must be approved by the institution, typical before the student begins their studies.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Public Safety Administration Prepares For

CONCENTRATIONCERTIFICATION
Certified Public-Safety ExecutiveThis certification, conferred by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, recognizes individuals for their professionalism, performance and valued participation in public safety and public safety communications. Individuals must attend APCO courses to achieve certification.
Certified Homeland Protection Associate or ProfessionalCertifications offered by the National Sheriffs’ Association, these awards recognize experts in the field of homeland security and differ only based on time-in-service.
Certified Safety ProfessionalThis designation recognizes professionals who commit 50 percent or more to safety-related functions. Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree, 4 years working in the field of safety, and have previously earned a related designation as a safety practitioner. The certification also includes an examination.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Public Safety Administration Degrees

Colleges and universities work to attain recognition for their schools and associated programs because it indicates that their educational practices and offerings have been thoroughly examined by an independent outside party and found deserving of accreditation. Accrediting organizations include national and regional associations, as well as those specific to a degree field like public safety administration. As students research schools to attend for their master’s studies, some accreditations to look for include:

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Public Safety Administration Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Positions in public safety and related fields like criminal justice off enormous job placement opportunities for professionals with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Individuals who have completed a bachelor’s in public safety can enter positions like police officers, federal agents, analysts and coordinators in public safety organizations. Having a master’s in public safety administration enables graduates to enter into mid-to-high level jobs including safety administration, law enforcement administration and environmental safety specialists.

Expected Salary

Public safety administration education prepares graduates to work in many different industries, including emergency services, law enforcement and environmental operations.

Median Salary for Experience Level

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

A master’s in public safety administration can lead to many employer/employment types. As a policy leader and response designer, emergency management directors work with more than 9,500 organizations throughout the country. Salaries vary widely for this role, depending upon the organization.

This chart explores the salary differences, dependent upon employer type.

Mean Wages for Employer Type

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Opportunities

Graduates of a public safety administration master’s program have many opportunities to use their concentrations and certifications to positively impact public sector organizations, law enforcement agencies and private corporations.

JOB TITLEJOB DESCRIPTIONMEDIAN SALARYPROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Emergency Management DirectorsProfessionals working as emergency management directors design policies and procedures for their organizations and oversee operations led by their employees including both proactive preparation and in response to an emergent situation.$72,760 per year8%
Occupational Health and Safety SpecialistSpecialists in health and safety work to understand a job site’s environment, opportunities and constraints and then develop programs and policies to ensure regulatory compliance and employee safety.$67,720 per year8%
Public Safety/Law Enforcement AdministratorAdministrators lead managers and front-line employees, locations and initiatives related to public safety and law enforcement.$94,020 per year10%

Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization after graduating with a master’s in public safety administration opens a world of resources including continuing education, conferences and networking. Associating with these organizations also enable professionals to stay abreast of industry goings-on, emerging legislation and lobbying opportunities.

Many organizations represent, enable and augment the work done by professionals in the law enforcement and legal fields. Most police agencies have their own associations, including unions, educational and groups which cover officers with legal representation

International Public Safety Association: A newer organization founded in 2014, IPSA brings together professionals in the public safety field while offering publications and ongoing events and symposium. Members also have access to research and newsletters on a regular basis.

Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials: APCO works to keep members informed on issues related to communications in public safety and offers training, certification, regularly scheduled events and a vast library of governmental information related to relevant regulations and policies.

International Association for Disaster Preparedness and Response: Founded in 1962, this leading organization is open to membership for emergency and disaster response personnel and offers many programs for its members to remain informed on global disaster topics and topics specific to the member’s country of origin. They provide a robust online reference library and archive.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Public Safety Administration Degree

Graduate education can be very costly, easily outpacing expenses associated with undergraduate degrees. Students who opt for online degrees instead of in-person attendance are often able to save money on their degree due to lower cost structures, but paying for your online master’s in public safety can feel very expense. Fortunately, graduate students have many options to pursue to lower their out-of-pocket costs.

The first step toward obtaining financial aid is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This paperwork identifies the type of financial aid you may qualify to receive, based upon your tax returns and type of schooling sought. Once the form is completed and submitted, you’ll be able to consider various federal government financial aid programs, including grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities and federally backed loans.

Students also have many other avenues to pursue to defray the cost of their graduate education. You can obtain private loans and apply for grants and scholarships offered by philanthropic organizations and organizations within the public safety realm. Additionally, many schools offer scholarships and grants directly to applicants, based on demographics, success in academics and financial need.

For professionals who intend to pursue a career in public safety with a government organization, the government offers the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Through this program, portions of your federally backed loans may be forgiven in return for your completion of a specified term-in-service.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Heroes of Public Safety Scholarship

Award: Varied

Deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: Scholarships are offered to students working towards a career in public safety.

Chief Charles “Chet” Henry Scholarship

Award: $1,000

Deadline: December 15

Eligibility: Students must be active in a career related to public safety or law enforcement and studying toward a degree to further their career. They must submit two letters of endorsement, a resume, college transcript and statement that incorporates ideas for improved fire service.

Raymond W. Kelly Graduate Scholarship

Award: $2,000

Deadline: February 7

Eligibility: Students must be a current law enforcement officer in the NYPD, or the child of an NYPD officer, working toward a graduate degree in public safety management, law enforcement or governmental administration and attending certain East Coast universities.