More than ever before, communities and businesses today must prepare effectively for natural disasters and large-scale emergencies that threaten public safety. That need is fueling growth in emergency and disaster management professions in government, non-profit agencies and the private sector. Western Carolina University is one of fewer than 12 four-year institutions nationwide to offer an emergency and disaster management degree program. In 2014, the program was ranked second in the United States by the Emergency Management Degree Program Guide in its list of top 10 best online emergency management degree programs.
Theory and hands-on practice are brought together through the program’s interdisciplinary curriculum. Taught by faculty with a wide range of expertise and experience, many of whom are nationally recognized for their research, the curriculum applies the evolving knowledge and standards of public safety and security management and stays current with developments in the field. Core courses include Introduction to Emergency and Disaster Management, Risk Assessment and Vulnerability Analysis, and Political and Policy Basis of Emergency and Disaster Management. All students complete a capstone project, a unique opportunity to gain work experience with an emergency management organization or community group while earning academic credit.
Program graduates find employment with the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and state, county and local governments as well as not-for-profit and commercial hazard mitigation organizations. A number of graduates choose to pursue advanced education in the areas of homeland security and emergency management.