Professionals often enroll in online master’s degree programs in fire science to gain further expertise in fire investigation, occupational safety, and emergency management. Fire science generally deals with fire safety and prevention, but at the advanced level this interdisciplinary field concerns other sectors like federal and state legislature and regulations, public finance, and workers’ compensation laws, as well as scientific fields like chemistry, geology, and environmental science.
Many students who enroll in master’s in fire science programs are already employed in fire services, military, and even business-related positions. These students hope to attain leadership roles in their field and obtain knowledge beyond the scope of their current occupation.
Why a Master’s Degree in Fire Science?
Since a high school diploma is the only educational requirement for many entry-level firefighter positions or similar jobs in fire science, the master’s degree can be a strategic career move for already experienced professionals. The graduate degree, therefore, is typically pursued by professionals hoping to glean knowledge of new technologies, policies, and research procedures.
Importantly, students of the master’s level in fire science will learn the myriad of skills necessary to become great leaders in their field. Through required and elective courses, students will learn various leadership styles, the art of persuasion, and decision-making strategies. They will gain advanced knowledge in legal and regulatory aspects of their industry, learn to conduct safety audits, and develop impactful policies.
Some students may begin their education with a two-year associate degree in fire science program, or the four-year bachelor’s degree in fire science. While most of these students will go into fire science or a related field like forestry, some will pursue careers in academia.
Getting Into a Fire Science Master’s Program
Though the master’s of fire science is a non-traditional graduate degree, many admissions committees look for routine prerequisites.
- Resume and cover letter/statement of intent
- Two letters of recommendation
- Online application and fee
- Official undergraduate transcripts
- Two- or four-year degree from an accredited institution of higher learning
- Minimum undergraduate cumulative 3.0 GPA
- Competitive MAT/GRE scores
Inside a Fire Science Master’s Degree Program
The master’s-level fire science program at the University of New Haven allows students to concentrate in one of three areas: ‘Fire Administration, ‘Fire/Arson Investigation,’ or ‘Public Safety Management.’ Students who choose the Fire Administration concentration, for example, will select among elective courses such as ‘Fire Casualty Insurance Practices,’ or ‘Fire Casualty Insurance Practices.’ Requirements for all students in the program include the completion of ‘Dynamics, Evaluation, and Prevention of Structural Fires,’ and ‘Chemistry of Fires and Explosions,’ as well as an internship or research project.
Students in the Eastern Kentucky University Fire and Emergency master’s concentration will study topics such as management theory, leadership development, liability issues, and public sector emergency services. This concentration comprises more leadership classes than other programs because of its focus on safety, security, and emergency management. Furthermore, the program is specifically tailored to currently employed professionals in the field.
Both programs boast impressive faculty such as current and former Department of Homeland Security officials, fire and police chiefs, investigators and insurance agents.
What’s Next for Fire Science Master’s Degree Holders?
Master’s degree in fire science graduates may assume various leadership positions in both private and public organizations and agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics the median salary for fire inspectors and investigators was $52,230 in 2010. However, the top 10% of all employees in this field earned more than $85,260. Therefore, it may be reasonable to assume that fire inspectors and investigators with a master’s degree and greater experience earned a median salary of $85,260 in 2010. The BLS indicates that the median salary for firefighters during the same year was $45,250. The top 10% earned more than $75,390.
Fire and police departments continuously offer training for their employees. Professionals in this industry are are required to learn and refresh skills throughout their careers such as first aid/CPR, weapon and tool safety, and driving. Workers may choose to enroll in certificate programs like the certificate vocational in wildlife/forestry conservation as a way to change careers within the general field of fire science.