Best Online Fire Science Degree Programs

Explore the top undergraduate and graduate programs in fire science, including program requirements, specializations, and common coursework. Also, learn how to choose the right fire science program and how to afford your degree. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Degree Programs in Fire Science

To determine the best online fire science programs, we took into consideration program cost, length, and flexibility. Below, you can delve into the best schools that offer online undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree programs in fire science.

1. University of Florida

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Gainesville, FL $6,381 93%

The University of Florida offers an online Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Services degree program that allows students to specialize in the following areas:

  • Emergency management
  • Fire management
  • Emergency medical services (EMS) management

Students take courses that center on financial management, technology, leadership, and disaster planning in the context of fire and emergency services. This is a 120-credit-hour program, and for the 2019-2020 academic year, out-of-state undergraduate students paid $552 per online credit, while in-state undergraduate students paid $129 per online credit. The University of Florida also has an online Master of Science in Fire and Emergency Sciences degree program that requires 33 credits and prepares students for a career in disaster response, emergency planning, and hazard preparedness.

2. Anna Maria College

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Paxton, MA $37,860 100%

Anna Maria College has an online Bachelor of Science in Fire Science degree completion program that is for those who have already earned an associate degree or 60 college credits in the fire science field. This program has earned Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) recognition, making it one of five programs in the nation that have earned this distinction. As they complete their coursework, students can earn FESHE certificates of completion for certain classes, which can help them pursue Executive Fire Officer (EFO) candidacy. Anna Maria College also offers an online Master of Public Administration (MPA) program with a specialization in fire and emergency services. BS in Fire Science students can earn their MPA degree in only one year by taking graduate-level courses during the final year of their undergraduate degree program.

3. West Georgia Technical College

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Waco, GA $2,838 87%

At West Georgia Technical College, students can earn an online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree or a diploma in fire science technology. The online AAS program requires 62 credits with courses that focus on the following subjects:

  • Arson investigation
  • Hazardous materials
  • Fire inspection
  • Incident command

The online diploma program consists of similar courses but only requires 55 total credits. For the 2019-2020 year, in-state students at West Georgia Technical College paid $100 per credit for degree and diploma programs.

4. Central New Mexico Community College

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Albuquerque, NM $1,626 80%

Central New Mexico Community College offers a variety of fire science-related online programs, including the following:

  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Fire Science
  • CNM Fire Academy, Certificate of Completion
  • Managing Fire Officer, Certificate of Completion
  • Wildland Firefighter Type 1, Certificate of Completion

The online AAS in Fire Science can be attended full or part time and requires 60 credits. Students take courses in EMT skills, fire behavior, and fire prevention. The online certificates of completion require anywhere from 18-28 credits and prepare students for specialized firefighter careers, such as managing officer or wildland firefighter. Students are able to apply some of their certificate credits to the full AAS in Fire Science program as well.

5. Albany Technical College

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Albany, GA $2,712 93%

Albany Technical College features the following online programs in the field of fire science:

  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Fire Science Technology
  • Fire Science Technology Diploma
  • Fire Officer I, Fire Officer II, and Basic Fire Officer Technical Certificates

The AAS in Fire Science Technology program requires 62 credits and can be completed 100% online with classes on fire safety, fire administration, and firefighting strategies. The online diploma program requires 55 credits with similar course topics. The firefighter certificate programs partner with the Georgia Fire Academy and Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training in order to prepare students for firefighter careers.

Rank School Name Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Southern Crescent Technical College Griffin, GA $2,842 92%
7 Lanier Technical College Gainesville, GA $3,336 80%
8 Casper College Casper, WY $3,072 93%
9 Purdue University Global-Mason City Mason City, IA $14,343 100%
10 Meridian Community College Meridian, MS $3,054 89%
11 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL $20,208 88%
12 University of Florida-Online Gainesville, FL $3,876 88%
13 Georgia Northwestern Technical College Rome, GA $2,798 91%
14 Vincennes University Vincennes, IN $5,902 89%
15 Atlanta Technical College Atlanta, GA $2,820 93%
16 South Florida State College Avon Park, FL $3,165 79%
17 Idaho State University Pocatello, ID $7,420 92%
18 Thomas Nelson Community College Hampton, VA $4,806 62%
19 Southeast Community College Area Lincoln, NE $3,128 88%
20 Pueblo Community College Pueblo, CO $5,179 95%
21 Volunteer State Community College Gallatin, TN $4,522 93%
22 Kansas City Kansas Community College Kansas City, KS $3,300 73%
23 Lincoln Land Community College Springfield, $ 6,480 68%
24 Pikes Peak Community College Colorado Springs, CO $3,840 71%
25 Chattahoochee Technical College Marietta, GA $2,816 76%
26 Purdue University Global-Lincoln Lincoln, NE $14,343 100%
27 Johnson County Community College Overland Park, KS $3,300 65%
28 Houston Community College Houston, TX $3,360 64%
29 Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, VA $5,610 57%
30 Walters State Community College Morristown, TN $4,224 98%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics; tuition based on 2018-2019 school year.

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Fire Science Programs

There are several kinds of online fire science programs, including non-degree, undergraduate, and graduate programs. These online programs prepare students for careers in emergency and fire management. Typically, online fire science programs don't require in-person requirements and can be completed in a 100% online format.

Fire Science Certificate Programs

Fire science certificate programs are usually designed to prepare students for firefighter careers or for administrative fire service careers. Online certificate programs are non-degree programs that could require anywhere from 12-28 total credits. Usually, the coursework only consists of fire science and firefighter-related classes with no general education requirements. Students can usually complete a certificate in just a few semesters of study.

Fire Science Diploma Programs

Online diploma programs in fire science generally require around 55 total credits. These online programs are for students in the field who want to become leaders or officers. Along with basic skills courses in English, math, and psychology, students primarily take fire science-focused courses. Online diploma programs can take about two years or fewer to complete.

Fire Science Associate Degree Programs

Fire science associate degree programs usually lead to an Associate of Applied Science or an Associate of Science degree. Students are required to earn about 60 credits with some general education coursework in math, composition, and the social sciences. Generally, students can earn their online associate degree in fire science in about two years.

Fire Science Bachelor's Degree Programs

Online Bachelor of Science degree programs in fire science typically require about 120 total credits and can be completed in four years. However, bachelor's degree completion programs can usually be completed in less time, and students with transfer credits can also earn their degrees in less than four years. Online bachelor's degree programs require general education coursework in the fields of composition, the social sciences, math, the natural sciences, and the humanities along with fire science-related classes.

A limited number of online fire science bachelor's degree programs allow students to specialize in one area of fire science. Below are the common concentrations that offered:

  • Fire Investigation - This concentration prepares students to investigate arson and examine forensic evidence. Students take classes on criminal law, investigation techniques, and evidence collection.
  • Fire Administration - This area of study prepares students for management roles in fire and emergency service agencies. Students learn about such topics as HR management, leadership skills, and incident command.
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) - This specialization concentrates on developing students' EMS skills and knowledge. Students take courses on mass casualty incidents, risk management, and EMS management.

Fire Science Master's Degree Programs

There are several different master's degree programs in the field of fire science. Some examples of degree types include:

  • Master of Science in Emergency and Disaster Management with a specialization in fire science administration
  • Master of Public Administration with a specialization in fire and emergency services
  • Master of Science in Fire and Emergency Sciences
  • Master of Science in Fire Protection Engineering

Each of these online master's degree programs has a unique focus. For example, the MS in Fire Protection Engineering focuses on fire safety and protection methods, while the MS in Fire and Emergency Sciences focuses on emergency planning and disaster response.

Typically, a master's degree program requires around 30-36 total credits and can be completed in about two years or less. There are no general education requirements, so students take classes within the fire sciences, with exact coursework dependent on the focus of the degree.

Common Courses in Online Fire Science Programs

While every program has different coursework requirements, there are some common topics found in many programs. Below, you can explore classes you will likely take in your online fire science program.

Incident Command

This course focuses on the skills and knowledge students need to make decisions about safety, communication, and personnel in fire and emergency situations. Some courses also focus on how to cooperate with other departments and agencies during major incidents.

Disaster Planning and Control

Students learn the methods and concepts behind planning for and responding to disaster scenarios, including fires, environmental disasters, and terrorist incidents. Common subjects that are covered include communication strategies during incidents, disaster mitigation and recovery after the incident, and preparedness training.

Fire Investigation

This is a course that teaches students techniques for investigating fires and their causes, including fire analysis, fire behavior, combustion causes, and environmental factors. There is also a focus on arson investigation and related topics, such as the psychological characteristics of arson and legal considerations.

Fire Prevention

Fire prevention centers on all areas of fire safety and prevention. Students learn about the history of fire prevention and how fire response agencies operate. They also study fire inspection techniques, how to do risk assessment, and how to educate the public about fire safety.

Fire Administration Management

This course covers concepts and issues related to managing an emergency response agency. Students learn budgeting, change management, and problem-solving skills.

How to Choose a Fire Science Program

There are several factors you should consider when choosing which fire science program to attend, including the program's total cost and if it is accredited by an outside organization.

Cost

The total cost of an online first science program includes the price per credit and additional fees.

Tuition

The tuition price for online fire science programs depends on several factors, including the type of degree, enrollment status, and residency status.

Online fire science bachelor's degree programs can range from $100 to $455 per credit hour, which would make a 120-credit-hour program $12,000 to $54,600.

Online fire science master's degree programs can range from $590 to $1,566 per credit hour, which would make a 36-credit-hour program at $590 per credit cost $21,240, and a 30-credit-hour program at $1,566 per credit cost $46,980.

Fees

Universities also charge additional fees on top of the tuition price. These individual fees could include technology fees, graduation fees, support fees, registration fees, and online program fees. Some fees are charged each semester, while others are one-time fees. To get an idea of the total cost of your program, including tuition and fees, contact your university.

Accreditation

By choosing an accredited program, you are assured that you are receiving a high-quality education that has met outside standards and prepares you thoroughly for a fire science-related career. Accreditation might also affect financial aid and certification options.

International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC)

IFSAC is an organization that accredits fire science degree programs at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. To become accredited by IFSAC, a program must employ qualified, experienced faculty, must offer institutional support, and must have specific course offerings.

The Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE)

While not an accrediting agency, the FESHE offers a recognition certificate to fire science programs that meet their criteria in terms of curriculum. To receive this recognition, a program must offer specific core and elective courses in fire prevention, firefighting, fire administration, and EMS management.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Fire Science Programs

To help you pay for an online fire science program, you can apply for federal financial aid and scholarships.

Federal Financial Aid

One of the first steps you should take to discover your financial aid options is filling out the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal aid comes in the form of:

  • Direct subsidized Loans
  • Direct unsubsidized Loans
  • Pell grants
  • Direct PLUS loans
  • Work-study programs

The amount and kind of aid you qualify for depends on your financial status and enrollment status. While direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, direct PLUS loans are only for graduate or professional students (or the parents of dependent undergraduate students).

Scholarships

There are also many different kinds of scholarship opportunities for fire science students. These scholarships can come from private or non-profit organizations or specific universities.

  • John M. Buckman, III Scholarship - This scholarship is from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Foundation and is awarded to associate or bachelor's degree students in fire science who are also volunteers in fire service.
  • Edward ''Ned'' Carter Memorial Scholarship - This is a $1,500 scholarship from the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York for high school students who will pursue a community service-related career, such as fire service.
  • Arthur Glatfelter Scholarship - This scholarship is for Eastern Kentucky University students who are in the fire protection and safety engineering technology degree program.

Career Options with a Degree in Fire Science

With a degree in fire science, you can pursue a career as a firefighter or a fire inspector. Learn more about both careers below.

Firefighter

Firefighters respond to fires and emergency situations, such as building fires, health situations, hazardous material accidents, and wildfires. They must be able to drive fire trucks and vehicles; use water hoses, pumps, and hydrants; and enter buildings that are on fire. Firefighters must also administer emergency medical care. Along with firefighting duties, firefighters interact with the public and teach fire safety.

Firefighters usually need a high school diploma and possibly EMT certification. Advanced firefighter positions, such as fire chiefs, battalion chiefs, captains, or lieutenants, typically require a bachelor's degree in fire science or a related field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters earned a median salary of $49,620 as of 2018, and employment in this field is expected to increase 5% from 2018-2028.

Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors are responsible for making sure that buildings adhere to fire codes and regulations. They inspect buildings, looking for fire hazards and testing fire prevention systems, such as alarms and sprinklers. Fire inspectors may review building plans and give feedback about fire safety. They might also administer fire safety educational programs or administer controlled burn permits.

Fire inspectors usually begin their careers as firefighters, and to advance into the profession, an associate or bachelor's degree in fire science or a related field is often preferred.

Per the BLS, fire inspectors earned a median salary of $60,200 as of 2018, and the number of jobs is expected to increase by 8% from 2018-2028.

Professional Organizations for Fire Science

There are several organizations that represent firefighters and promote fire safety.

International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)

The IAFF represents over 320,000 firefighters and paramedic professionals and advocates for the firefighting profession by lobbying the US government to improve pay and labor conditions. IAFF is a union organization that offers members a range of services and benefits, including discounted tuition at select colleges, scholarship opportunities, financial advice, and training resources.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

The NFPA is a non-profit organization that has developed codes, standards, and safety measures to prevent fire hazards and injuries. Along with public education and outreach programs, the NFPA offers professional certifications for firefighting professionals. NFPA also offers memberships that include learning resources and networking opportunities.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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