Master’s in Public Safety Administration Career Guide
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:
|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
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
|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:
- Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
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
Public safety administration education prepares graduates to work in many different industries, including emergency services, law enforcement and environmental operations.
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.
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%|
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
|Financial Aid for Graduate Students|
|Knowing Your Options|
|Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program|
Eligibility: Scholarships are offered to students working towards a career in public safety.
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.
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.