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

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION CAREERS 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:

Course Description
Public Policy Analysis Teaches 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 Behavior Grounds 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 Administration Presents 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 Destruction Identifies 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 Response Presents 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

CONCENTRATION CERTIFICATION
Certified Public-Safety Executive This 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 Professional Certifications 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 Professional This 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 TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Emergency Management Directors Professionals 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 year 8%
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist Specialists 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 year 8%
Public Safety/Law Enforcement Administrator Administrators lead managers and front-line employees, locations and initiatives related to public safety and law enforcement. $94,020 per year 10%

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.