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A master’s degree in safety and emergency management may be referred to by one of a number of names, including Master of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management, Master of Safety Management, Master of Emergency Management, or Master of Disaster Management.
Regardless of its title, a Master of Safety Management can position students for roles within the growing safety and security industries. Health and safety professionals can pursue roles across many different businesses and industries, in varied fields like agriculture, mining, food production, and construction. They work to implement legislation, help build safe and healthy working environments, and minimize the risk of accidents to employees, customers, and others. 
In a master’s in safety management program, students learn how to create, assess, and implement workplace safety programs that promote a more secure environment. They can also learn how to prevent emergency situations and how to deal with them when they arise.
Typical programs cover topics that include safety management, accident investigation, worker compensation, personal protective equipment, fire response, industrial hygiene, planning, toxicology, and research methods. 
At the end of your program, you should have the necessary theoretical knowledge to work in a health, safety, security, or emergency response role, to draw evidence-based conclusions, be a creative thinker, and an excellent communicator.
The master’s in safety, security, and emergency management is a popular choice for people from a variety of backgrounds. Here are some of the reasons for choosing this program.
Advancement: This program is often pursued by people wanting to progress in their current career. This is often the case for those who already have on-the-job experience which they want to bolster with a formal degree program. Advanced degrees help to position you for more senior roles and can improve your salary prospects. 
Changing careers: Health and safety is a growing field, and a master’s in safety, security, and emergency management can help career changers enter the field.
Improving skills: Those already working in the industry often wish to learn more and develop their credentials as part of their commitment to making working environments healthier, safer, and more environmentally friendly.
Health and safety professionals analyze a variety of working environments and assess their safety. They inspect work environments to ensure that rules and regulations that relate to health, safety, and the environment are being followed, implementing appropriate responses where there are omissions or quality issues.
This might involve:
According to the BLS, occupational health and safety specialists earned $70,920 per year in 2016.  Students can qualify for higher-paying roles after completing the master’s, particularly if they achieve specialty certifications.
Occupational health and safety specialists will usually be required to hold an occupational health and safety degree, or a degree in a related field. The master’s degree can give an edge in the marketplace. 
Ideal for diverse backgrounds:
Health and safety master’s degrees allow you to progress your career in a number of directions according to your interests, offering a more flexible career path
Exposure to new learning:
When you undertake a master’s program, you gain insight into the latest academic theory, regulations, thinking, and ideas in the field. In this way, it allows you to rapidly gain technical knowledge that would take far longer on the job. 
Every program will have a unique syllabus, but topics can include:
A master’s in safety management program prepares you for employment in a range of industries, including oil and gas, fire protection, manufacturing, law enforcement, construction, government, environment, education, and mining.  Some graduates will also work in training, consultancy, education, or research capacities. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the field, students can customize their study by choosing specializations or electives that meet areas of interest and personal career goals. Below are some possible roles:
Occupational health and safety specialist
As an occupational health and safety specialist, you might find yourself working in a range of employment settings, including factories, offices, public organizations, and mines. Jobs often involve travel and fieldwork, and can have an element of risk. These roles are sometimes called industrial hygienists, ergonomists, environmental protection officers, and others. Many people in this role work for the government. 
Health and safety engineers
Health and safety engineers tend to work in offices, with some travel. The role involves creating systems and processes that protect customers, employees, and property by minimizing risks and creating a safety culture. The role is set to see a 6% growth from 2014 to 2024. 
Emergency management director
These professionals prepare procedures and plans to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters. If such events occur, they also help to guide the response, working with nonprofits, government agencies, and public safety officials. These roles tend to be within government organizations, although some are employed by hospitals, nonprofits, or private companies. 
School safety specialist
These roles focus on ensuring that students, teachers, and staff are safe within a school, working with law enforcement on preventive programs, and working with the community and parents to communicate safety measures, enforcing safety processes at school events, and ensuring all processes are followed. Emergency plan creation, visitor screening, and other security measures are also part of the role. 
Some states require each school system to employ a school safety specialist. The field is relatively new and specialized. Those considering this path may choose to take the Certified Safety Professionals qualification, assessed by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). 
These professionals monitor, evaluate, and resolve issues relating to health and safety at work. The role would include the evaluation of biological and chemical dangers, such as workplace ergonomics, noise levels, air quality, and even workplace productivity. It can cover in-house hazards or environmental hazards. Industrial hygienists tend to work for consultancies, private firms, or government agencies. 
Other roles include:
Depending on your program of study and concentrations, you can specialize in areas as diverse as ergonomics, toxicology, indoor air quality, and occupational reproductive risks. 
Master’s in safety management graduates can work in roles including health and safety managers, construction and building inspectors, environmental health and safety specialists, or occupational health and safety specialists.
Emergency management careers are found in a range of organizations, including NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, the American Red Cross, and with universities and hospitals. Roles are also available in industries that are vulnerable to disaster and terrorism, such as utilities and energy.
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
A typical role after graduation is occupational health and safety specialist. These jobs are found in the public and private sector, particularly hospitals, engineering, and manufacturing. They are also called industrial hygienists.
Construction and Building Inspector
These professionals ensure that construction sites are meeting building ordinances and codes, contract specifications, and zoning regulations.
In this role you apply your knowledge to protect both human health and the environment. Your work might involve working with industry leaders to lessen carbon emissions and waste, cleaning up polluted areas, or advising policymakers.
Health and Safety Engineer
These professionals develop procedures and design systems to prevent injuries and sickness, and to protect property. 
Safety & Health Magazine, the industry publication, found in its annual salary survey for 2016 that the average health and safety manager earned between $100,000 and $126,000. Respondents were split between employment in manufacturing (35%), construction (17%), public administration (10%), services and education (9%), and utilities (8%). 
Payscale finds that specialists in the field with an Associate Safety Professional (ASP) Certification can earn the following:
Additionally, the BLS reports the following median salaries:
Check that the program matches your areas of interest and intended professional direction. For example, if you are interested in environmental safety, you will want concentrations and electives in that subject. You might also look for a program with the option of an internship in an environmental organization. An institution with employer links that match with your professional ambitions could also be very attractive, along with faculty with expertise in your chosen specialization.
Master’s programs that focus on emergency response and terrorism/homeland security will have a heavier emphasis on the topics that specifically support this focus, such as natural and technological disasters, international humanitarian disasters, and terrorism.
Many programs offer the chance to take additional graduate certificates in health, safety, and security topics. These can demonstrate your broad technical knowledge and appeal to employers.
Because the degree is focused toward professional practice, most students will have a bachelor’s degree in a science, math, engineering, or health and safety field, and already be employed in the field.
Most universities will have other prerequisites, which will include coursework completion in math, science, and engineering. A requirement for experience in an occupational health and safety or related field is also typical.
Online programs typically include the same curriculum as campus-based programs. Where there are any face-to-face study or assessment elements required, an online program may include a residency element.
Most programs will require completion of a capstone project. The capstone is designed to demonstrate the level of theoretical knowledge that you have gained and how you can apply it to a real-world problem.
Some distance programs will require one or more residencies to support learning. These are often held over a weekend to offer flexibility for working students. Residencies add the value of face-to-face learning to the curriculum, allowing students to network, meet faculty, and engage in group work.
These residencies can add value to the program and bring the learning to life, allowing you to build vital contacts in the process.
When choosing a specialization or concentration, you must consider your overall career goals. For example, if you wanted to work in chemical engineering, you might choose hazard control as a specialization, and if you wanted to work in construction you might choose construction safety.
A specialization can enhance your employment prospects and salary. You can choose specializations by function or career path if you know what type of role you are working toward, or one that aligns to an industry you are interested in, such as public health or nuclear energy.
Each institution will offer a different range of concentrations depending on the program and its focus.
Common specializations include:
You may be required to select elective courses from a number of available classes or a concentration. These classes will focus on individual topics, allowing you to focus on specific issues relating to the management of health, safety, environment, or emergencies.
Typical electives might include
Consider your broader career goals, experience, and personal interest. You may want to build on existing knowledge or learn about a new area that could be valuable for your career. The more you specialize in a certain area, the more closely you position yourself for employment in that field.
Conversely, you may prefer to generalize and have broader technical knowledge to maximize your chances of gaining employment across different fields or roles.
Other approaches to take include: 
The right concentration will depend on your career path and ambitions. For example, if you want to work in workplace safety, you might concentrate on ergonomics, indoor air quality, and noise control engineering.
Safety programs are not standardized, and curriculums and specialization options will vary according to institution. This makes it important to carry out in-depth research to find the right program for you, and to map the content to your career goals.
An internship can give you real-world insight into the work involved in health, safety, and security. It demonstrates that you are ready for work if you have minimal experience. If you have broader experience already, it allows you to work in a new industry or field and to build your network. It can even lead to a job offer. 
In order to help you succeed in the workplace, many programs will require or recommend that you participate in an internship. This requirement can sometimes be waived if you have relevant work experience in the field.
Most firms will advertise their programs and availability, although students can apply speculatively. If an institution requires an internship or field project, it will usually have a coordinator or placement team that can help you secure a place.
Your school may allow this, but in some cases, there might be more value in getting an internship at a different employer. It will broaden your industry experience and contextual understanding while allowing you to develop your professional network and giving you additional value for your resume.
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The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.
Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.
You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.
While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.
In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.
For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.
There are master’s-level programs in a range of aligned subjects, including:
The Institute for Safety and Health Management is the major accrediting body for safety programs in the U.S. 
ISHM accredits institutions that offer health, safety, and security programs and also offers opportunities for students to pursue additional certificates, such as the Associate Safety and Health Manager Certificate (ASHM) and the Certified Safety and Health Manager (CSHM). The latter exam can be taken once you have three years of experience in the field.
There are also a small number of graduate degrees accredited by the Environmental Health, Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC). Fewer than 10 programs have this accreditation. 
Some organizations will only hire graduates from accredited programs.
Non-accredited programs may not have the quality you want from a master’s degree in terms of curriculum, teaching, program delivery, and achievement of the educational standards, knowledge, and skills. Also, if you hope to pursue further education, most institutions won’t accept transfer credits or degrees conferred from non-accredited colleges or universities.
State authorization is managed by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, or SARA. The council sets and manages national standards for all distance and online learning programs to ensure that minimum standards of quality are achieved and that the integrity of the program is maintained. Institutions sign up to SARA’s standards on a voluntary basis. 
Prominent organizations in the health and safety industry include:
In addition to providing valuable networking opportunities, professional organizations can help keep you informed about trends and developments in the health, safety, and security fields, or provide access to roles and new opportunities, information about further training, professional events, and more.
It is also possible to study for a certificate in the field rather than undertaking a full degree. These include: 
OSHA also offers specialist accredited certificates in personal protective equipment, confined space entry, hazardous materials, respiratory protection, industrial hygiene, and fire protection. These are often available from degree-granting institutions accredited by OSHA. They are called ‘cards’ and take between 10-30 hours to earn. 
Although most fields in health, safety, and security management don’t require formal certification, there are accredited industry certificates that you can seek. These include:
Certification is particularly valuable for some roles, including environmental health specialists. There are credentials from the National Environmental Health Association that cover specialist areas such as hazardous materials, food services, or wastewater treatment. Some require graduation from an appropriate program for eligibility, along with experience in the field and an examination. 
Similarly, if you want to become an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety specialist, there are additional OSHA certificates available. These each take 10-30 hours to complete and cover specialist topics such as workers’ compensation, fire protection, confined space entry, ergonomics and nerve disorders, respiratory protection, and personal protective equipment. 
There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.
For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.
There are different ways to finance your master’s. Financial sources include student loans, employer reimbursement, savings, grants, and scholarships. Each institution may offer options for grants, scholarships, fee reductions, and loan forgiveness. You could consider:
A master’s in safety management is a degree designed to expand a student’s knowledge of safety principles. It prepares graduates to take on a leadership or managerial roles within their organizations. Many universities offer specialized concentrations, such as emergency management, occupational safety and homeland security, to help students focus on their area of interest.
Student pursuing a master’s in safety management seek advancement. They view safety as crucial in the workplace and seek to advance their knowledge and credentials to improve quality standards. They are also motivated to make their industry safer and reduce accidents.
The core mission of safety professionals is to prevent injury to workers or harm to property and the environment. These professionals can be found in a broad array of fields, such as, construction, fire protection, law enforcement, manufacturing, environmental agencies and government. They help develop, educate and enforce techniques that help prevent accidents, illnesses, fires, and explosions.
To pursue a Master of Safety Management, prospective students need a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the university requirements, it may not have to be in a related subject. Typically, students who pursue this degree have relevant industry experience. Each university has its own requirements, so it is important to check to see if you qualify for each program you are considering.
Students looking to take on a leadership role in their current field can often qualify for more roles by completing a master’s program.
Yes, there isn’t a standard naming convention with master’s degrees in safety. Many universities offer specialized degrees to meet the needs of numerous different fields that a safety professional can work in. Interested students should pay close attention to the concentrations and curriculum offered by universities to find the safety master’s program that best aligns with their career goals.
A minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) is determined by each university. Generally a 3.0 based on a 4.0 scale is the minimum at many universities but exceptions for work experience or the GRE/GMAT may be considered if your GPA is lower than 3.0.
Whether you will need to complete the GRE or GMAT prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE or GMAT. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.
Some universities will allow students to receive degree credit for work experience or training.
Generally speaking, no. Some universities may require an undergraduate degree related to safety or allow students to use professional work or safety-related certifications in place of a degree.
Some master’s programs require prerequisites in math, chemistry, and physics.
When looking for a master’s program in safety, it’s important that the program has been accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). It’s also important to choose a regionally accredited program if you want to transfer credits or pursue further education. 
Core courses within a safety management master’s program usually focus on the evaluation, design and implementation of safety protocols. Below are common core course subjects:
Pre-requisite courses are typically specific to the university, so it is important to check each program’s requirements. Some universities require prerequisites in college level math, chemistry and physics.
Look for a program with a specialization that meets your career goals and interests. There is a variety of options and concentrations for master’s in safety degree programs. Also be sure that your program is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
A master’s in safety management typically takes approximately two years to complete. Many online programs offer part-time study options, which can extend the period of study.
Yes. Many institutions offer this degree online.
Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned
Yes, typically schools follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus-based programs.
There are different types of master’s degrees that you can earn in the safety field, each with their own specialization. Students looking to pursue a master’s degree in safety management should consider their career goals and interests when researching master’s programs.
There are many professional organizations dedicated to the safety field that can provide guidance on specializations within the field, including:
Some universities offer specialized graduate-level certificate programs. These certificate programs are a good option for students looking for credentials in a specific topic of study or to springboard into a master’s degree at a future time.
In addition, there are numerous industry-recognized, third-party certifications for safety professionals. These can certifications require at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, a passing grade on the certification exam and on-going education credits for yearly renewal. Below are details on a few of the main certifying organizations:
OSHA 10 and 30 hour Outreach Training Program 
Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) 
Below are a few of the general certifications available at the BCSP. They also have industry-specific certification.
Institute for Safety and Health Management (ISHM) 
Below are a few of the general certifications available at the ISHM. They also have industry specific certification.
Certifications can help boost your marketability, give you a competitive advantage in hiring, and demonstrates the high standard of your education. Some states, organizations, unions and employers may require certain certificates, which would be listed within the job posting. 
From construction and manufacturing to government and schools, safety professional have an impact in virtually every workplace. With a higher level of education and experience, safety professionals can move into management position.
Below find popular careers and salary ranges for master’s in safety, security, and emergency management graduates:
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports slow growth in the occupational health and safety field, there is a good variety of lucrative roles that you can pursue as a safety management professional. Your master’s degree can help you become more competitive for these roles. 
A recent survey of safety professional say their job is very or relatively stable. Nearly 25% of respondents said their employers plan to add staff to their departments within the next year.
The current pool of safety professionals is getting closer to retirement so new vacancies will be opening up in the coming years. 
No — attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.
Yes, the American Board of Engineering Technology (ABET) is an accrediting body for safety programs. The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) worked with ABET to help create a set of standards to which members of the safety management profession are expected to adhere. Successful completion of an ABET-accredited program indicates that the student has obtained the required competencies to pursue a career in this field. 
Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.
SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.
Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. 
Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.