While fire protection services have traditionally been a working-class position, and often staffed by volunteers, contemporary fire services have become increasingly professionalized. While an associate’s degree or diploma have typically been the only standard, many municipalities have begun setting minimum education standards for firefighters, and administrative positions often require a higher degree. Today, many entry-level jobs in fire protection prefer a bachelor’s degree, and leadership positions very often require at least a bachelor’s
For working professionals in the field, growing standards mean going back to school to keep pace and stay competitive on the job market. That is the benefit of fire science degrees online; for working adults who already have an associate’s degree or some transferable college courses, an only degree completion program can be a convenient way to earn a degree. Students can work around their schedule – a must for firefighters, who have to be on-duty at odd hours – and apply what they are learning to their current positions.
Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Fire Science Degrees Online
We began ranking the best online fire science degree programs by researching all reputable, accredited colleges and universities offering a fully online or hybrid program in fire science, fire service administration, or related area. From there, we used 5 criteria to rank programs: Cost, Employment Rate, Graduation Rate, Salary Potential, and Student Reviews. For data, we consulted College Scorecard, IPEDS, and Niche.
1. Texas A&M University-San Antonio
When you want to study fire science, the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Fire and Emergency Services Administration at Texas A&M University in San Antonio is a good option for your goals. The degree program focuses on teaching firefighters and professionals in emergency service enhanced knowledge of fighting different fires based on the situation and the type of fire. It also recognizes the value of administration and management skills, so students learn the leadership skills they need to advance in their career.
Fire science degrees online from Texas A&M University in San Antonio offer the opportunity to advance in your career. The degree program stands apart by offering a FESHE Certificate through the online program and takes a multi-disciplinary approach to fire science education. Students can expect to learn useful skills to enhance their capabilities while still working with emergency services.
What We Like: Texas A&M University in San Antonio stands apart by offering an online program with a focus on leadership, management, and administration skills that enhance a student’s emergency service abilities.
Degree: BAAS in Fire and Emergency Services Administration
2. Colorado State University
When you”re looking for a bachelor in emergency management, the BS in Fire and Emergency Services Administration from Colorado State University builds on your knowledge and helps you advance in your career. The degree program recognizes that firefighters and emergency personnel have the technical skills to handle unexpected emergencies. The goal of the degree program is teaching students to take on a leadership role while thinking critically about the situation. It gives students the skills they need to act quickly in an emergency.
Colorado State University offers an online degree program that teaches effective communication as a leader. It emphasizes the importance of quality leadership in an emergency situation and strives to help students advance in their career by acting quickly when an emergency arises. It also offers the opportunity to advance in a career by obtaining the right degree for long-term opportunities.
What We Like: Colorado State University stands apart by providing an online program that focuses on effective communication as it applies to leaders. That focus on communication and decision-making allows students to act quickly in an emergency.
Degree: BS in Fire and Emergency Services Administration
3. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers a BS in Emergency Services that helps students advance in their career. The degree program focuses on critical tasks and areas of study as it applies to fire-related emergencies. It recognizes the role of firefighters in different situations and strives to ensure that students understand the tasks they may face when they respond to different situations.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University stands out by offering a certificate of recognition from Fire Emergency Services Higher Education, or FESHE. The certificate recognizes that students are knowledgeable and have the skills to provide emergency services in different situations. The online degree program also offers students the flexibility to work on their degree at a pace that fits their schedule.
What We Like: The way Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University differs from other programs is its focus on excellence. Students who complete the degree program receive FESHE certification as well as a National Fire Academy certificate, which means they are qualified to work in emergency services at the highest level of service.
Degree: BS in Emergency Services
4. UNC Charlotte
The online BS in Engineering Technology in Fire Safety at UNC Charlotte offers the training and education students need to understand fire and the safety precautions associated with fire. The degree program emphasizes the technical and non-technical aspects of fire and safety, which allows students to work in firefighting and fire safety occupations within private companies. The engineering technology approach to the topic provides a well-rounded set of skills and knowledge that helps students advance in their career.
UNC Charlotte differs from other programs by emphasizing fire safety technology and systems. It does not only emphasize the value of effective leadership. It also recognizes that students will need to understand the different active and passive solutions for fire safety in different environments. That ensures that students are aware of the options when working on a fire safety system.
What We Like: UNC Charlotte stands out by offering an engineering technology approach to fire and fire safety. It recognizes that students will need to understand the different protection systems available as part of the process of making decisions about a situation.
Degree: BS in Engineering Technology – Fire Safety
5. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
The University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh offers a BS in Fire and Emergency Response Management online that gives students the skills they need to handle fire-related emergencies. The degree program prepares students for their role as a leader in fire emergency response by ensuring they know how to handle a variety of situations. It recognizes that firefighters may work in public health situations and provides students the well-rounded education they need to act as leaders based on the emergency.
The way the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh stands apart is their focus on leadership at an accelerated rate. Students can transfer as many as 60 credits to the program and graduate within two years. The program also gives students FESHE certification, which helps with their long-term goals in emergency response management and leadership roles.
What We Like: The University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh offers an accelerated online program for students who want to work in fire and emergency response management positions. The program allows students to transfer as many as 60 credits.
Degree: BS in Fire and Emergency Response Management
6. Adelphi University
The BS in Emergency Services Administration from Adelphi University takes a multi-disciplinary approach to fire safety and emergency services. The degree program recognizes that students are facing a variety of hazards and situations when they work in firefighting careers. By focusing on teaching students the methods to handle different emergencies, the degree program allows students to focus on their career goals.
Adelphi University teaches students in the Emergency Services Administration program to handle a variety of emergency situations. It does not only focus on fire-related emergencies. It also recognizes that students may face natural disasters, health epidemics, or other emergency situations. It prepares students for the challenges they may face and provides the training to work as a leader in a chaotic emergency.
What We Like: The online degree program at Adelphi University offers students flexible and up-to-date education they need to handle emergencies in different situations. It provides a strong foundation in emergency services a student needs to work in a myriad of situations.
Degree: BS in Emergency Services Administration
7. University of Cincinnati
The BS in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology at the University of Cincinnati gives students a well-rounded view of emergency services. It does not limit students to the study of fire safety. It also recognizes that students may face different types of emergencies in their career and provides the education to handle the emergencies that may arise. Students learn to provide emergency care and to handle occupational hazards as part of their degree.
The University of Cincinnati offers a degree program that helps students reach their long-term goals as a professional in firefighting or emergency services. The degree program recognizes that students may work in different emergency services and provides a strong foundation to address occupational hazards, paramedic services, or challenges with fires. The program gives students a FESHE certificate when they finish their degree.
What We Like: The University of Cincinnati offers an accelerated online program that focuses on different areas of emergency services. It takes a multi-disciplinary approach to education within fire safety.
Degree: BS in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology
8. Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University offers a bachelor in emergency management that allows students to focus on developing the skills they need to work in firefighting and related emergency services. The BAS in Emergency Management offers leadership training and provides students with the flexibility to focus on their career without giving up on their current position. Students work at their own pace and accomplish their goals when they finish their degree.
Northern Arizona University allows students to transfer up to 90 credits into the program. That flexibility combined with the online program allows students to complete their degree at an accelerated pace. It also ensures that students are able to maintain their obligations and responsibilities while working on their leadership skills.
What We Like: Northern Arizona University differs from other programs by allowing students to transfer up to 90 credits and to work on their degree at their own pace. It also focuses on leadership within emergency services.
Degree: BAS in Emergency management
9. Purdue Global University
Purdue Global University offers fire science degrees online that help students improve their career opportunities. The school offers two programs for firefighters and emergency workers. The BS in Fire Science focuses on topics related directly to firefighting skills and fire safety. The program ensures that students understand the different fire safety systems and the methods of handling fire-related emergencies. The BS in Fire and Emergency Management takes a multi-disciplinary approach and provides students with the management and leadership skills to handle emergency situations.
The way Purdue Global University differs from other programs is its focus on different aspects of fire science. The degree programs give students a focused approach to their career. It ensures that students have options to keep up with their aspirations and goals.
What We Like: Purdue Global University offers two online degree programs for firefighters and emergency service providers. The programs allow students to obtain a FESHE certificate by providing the skills and knowledge they need for their career goals.
Degree: BS in Fire Science or BS in Fire and Emergency Management
10. Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University offers a BS in Fire Administration that prepares students for the role of a chief officer. It recognizes that students will need to take on leadership roles within their field and it provides students with the knowledge to handle challenges as a leader. It also focuses on ensuring students know the foundational skills they need to maintain a successful firefighting unit.
Bowling Green State University stands out by offering a fully online degree program. The students are able to work around their schedule and finish their degree at their own pace. The degree program allows students to transfer credits and only requires 30 credits at Bowling Green State University.
What We Like: Bowling Green State University allows students to transfer credits and finish their degree online. The program only requires 30 credits at the university to qualify for graduation, so students can finish the program in a short amount of time.
Degree: BS in Fire Administration
11. American Public University
American Public University’s BS in Fire Science Management provides students with a well-balanced education in fire science. The program provides students with the technical knowledge and skills they need to handle fire operations and fire safety. It also ensures that students have the leadership skills to take on tasks as a chief officer when they advance in their career.
The way American Public University stands apart from other programs is its focus on a well-balanced education. Students gain a comprehensive education in the behavior of fire in different situations and scenarios. That allows them to act quickly in an emergency and make decisions without hesitation. That leadership skill provides an opportunity to advance in a career.
What We Like: American Public University offers an online program with a focus on quality curriculum and balanced knowledge. It allows students to transfer up to 90 credits to accelerate their education.
Degree: BS in Fire Science Management
12. Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University offers a BS in Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigation that prepares students for the rigors of working in firefighting and emergency services. The degree program recognizes that modern firefighters take on more tasks that putting out a fire. They are called on to investigate the cause of a fire or to address the cause of an explosion. The degree program focuses on ensuring students have the skills and knowledge to recognize arson and the cause of fires.
The way Eastern Kentucky University stands apart is its focus on providing students with the foundational skills they need to handle different fire emergencies. It recognizes that students may need to work in fire safety, occupational fire safety, or fire prevention, as well as firefighting. It provides the skills and information students need to handle the challenges of their career.
What We Like: Eastern Kentucky University takes an investigative and comprehensive approach to fire science and safety. Students can also transfer up to 90 credits to accelerate their degree.
Degree: BS in Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigation
13. Neumann University
The BS in Public Safety Administration from Neumann University provides a structured program that helps students accomplish their career goals. The online degree program allows students to focus on their career and learn the skills they need to handle emergency situations. It recognizes that students will face different situations throughout their career and provides the opportunity to take a leadership role when they finish their degree.
Neumann University allows students to gain credit for certifications and to transfer up to 90 credits into the program. The accelerated program is an online degree that gives students the flexibility to work on their education when it fits their work schedule. It also focuses on coordinating between different organizations to address challenges in emergency service.
What We Like: Neumann University offers an accelerated online degree for public safety. The program only takes 20 months to complete and students can transfer credits when they have taken classes from other colleges or universities.
Degree: BS in Public Safety Administration
14. Utah Valley University
Utah Valley University’s offers a BS in Emergency Services Administration degree program that can be completed entirely online. Students explore the related fields of emergency management, homeland security, and criminal justice. UVU is home to a 53″ Mobile Command Center that offers fire training to the school’s Bachelor in Emergency Management students and many Utah fire agencies throughout the state. UVU’s emergency management online degree can be completed in 2 to 3 years and accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC).
Utah Valley University was established in 1941. The school’s main 225+-acre campus is located in Orem; however, UVU operates several satellite campuses in Spanish Fork, North Orem, Heber City, Lehi, and the Provo Municipal Airport.
What We Like: Utah Valley University’s library has been recognized and awarded as the most energy efficient “green” public building in Utah.
Degree: BS in Emergency Services Administration
15. Northwestern State University
Northwestern State University of Louisiana’s Global Campus offers a BS in Unified Public Safety Administration degree program that can be completed exclusively online. NSU’s fire science degrees online include several concentrations — Fire & Emergency Management Administration, Law Enforcement Administration, and Emergency Management Administration. Students must complete 123 credit units to graduate. Each concentration requires a minimum of 21 credit hours dedicated to the specific major. Northwestern State University offers a generous transfer credit policy for previous earned eligible credit hours.
Northwestern State University was established in 1884 as a teacher’s training school by the state’s legislative body. NSU is a member school of the University of Louisiana system. Northwestern State University of Louisiana’s rural campus is home to more than 11,000 students.
What We Like: Northwestern State University offers a generous transfer credit policy for previous earned eligible credit hours.
Degree: BS in Unified Public Safety Administration
16. Columbia Southern University
Columbia Southern University’s BS in Fire Administration degree program has received an accreditation certificate from the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education organization (FESHE). Additionally, the Board of Certified Safety and the organization, Quality Matters have recognized CSU’s fire science degrees online. Students are required to complete 120 credits; however, CSU offers a generous transfer credit policy, up to 90 eligible credits. Students find gainful employment in the fields of Municipal, or Forest Fire Fighting/Prevention, Regulatory Administrators, Loss Prevention Directors, or Compliance Managers, among others.
Columbia Southern University was established in 1993 as an online educational institution of higher learning. CSU has received accreditation from the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC); an oversight agency recognized by the US Department of Education.
What We Like: Columbia Southern University is one of about 100 schools that have been approved to offer up-front tuition help through Go Army Ed.
Degree: BS in Fire Administration
17. Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville State University offers a BS in Fire & Emergency Services Administration degree program that can be completed entirely online. FSU’s Bachelor in Emergency Management degree program that is recognized among the most affordable fire science degrees online in the nation. Fayetteville State University’s emergency services degree has been recognized the Fire & Emergency Services Higher Education oversight agency. Students experience hands-on training at Fayetteville Fire Station 14.
Fayetteville State University was established in 1867 and a recognized HBCU (historically black college/university) institution of higher learning. FSU is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the North Carolina University system. FSU’s Fayetteville campus is home to more than 6,000 students.
What We Like: When established, Fayetteville State University was the South’s first state-funded institution of higher learning dedicated to educating African American students as teachers.
Degree: BS in Fire and Emergency Services Administration
18. Point Park University
Point Park University’s BS in Public Administration degree program, with a Fire Service Administration, specialty can be completed exclusively only. Students explore the fundamentals necessary to become leaders in the many facets of the fire service industry. PPU’s Bachelor in Emergency Management degree program is has received an accreditation certificate from the industry oversight agency FESHE.
Point Park University was established in 1960 as a training college for business professionals. Point Park University’s urban campus is located in downtown Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle, and home to more than 4,000 students. The school is organized into four schools/colleges in the areas of Business, Arts & Sciences, Performing Arts, and Communication. Point Park University’s location places it near much of Pittsburgh’s nightlife, parks, arenas, and Heinz Field.
What We Like: PPU partners with the National Fire Academy, which offers students unique opportunities as they earn the required 120 credit units to graduate.
Degree: BS in Public Administration – Fire Service Administration
19. Park University
Park University offers a Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA) in Fire Service Management that can be completed entirely online. Students must complete 45 credit units of courses specifically required by the Fire Service Management degree program. Coursework includes a Fire Services Seminar, Public Service Values, Public Leadership, Administrative Law, and the Geography of Terrorism. Park University’s Bachelor in Emergency management program is accredited by ACBSP — The Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs.
Park University was established in 1875. This private school’s campus overlooks the Missouri River and is home to nearly 11,500 students. Park University operates with more than 40 campuses in 22 states — most campuses are located on or near US military bases.
What We Like: Park has been recognized by Washington Monthly as a best adult learning 4-year school and by Military Times as the 2nd best non-traditional, online school.
Degree: BPA in Fire Service Management
20. St Thomas University
St Thomas University’s BS in Fire & Emergency Services Management degree program, offered by the Biscayne College, is recognized by College Factual among the top, most focused programs in firefighting, law enforcement, and homeland security. Coursework includes Emergency Personnel Management, Rescue Operations, Fire Suppression Training, and Fire & Emergency Services Technology. Students graduate ready for careers in FEMA, the Emergency Medicine, State/Local Governments, or the many facets of Business & Insurance.
St Thomas University was established in 1961. St Thomas University is affiliated with the Archdiocese of Miami as well as the Roman Catholic Church St Thomas University offers students the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, India, Croatia, Israel, and Italy. Miami’s famous beaches & famed nightlife, Fort Lauderdale, the keys, the Wynwood Art District, are located near St Thomas University.
What We Like: STU’s accelerated fire science degrees online program can be completed in only fifteen months.
Degree: BS in Fire and Emergency Services Management
21. University of Maryland University College
The University of Maryland University College’s Global Campus offers a BS in Public Safety Administration (PSA) that can be completed entirely online and is fully accredited by FESHE. Students studying for their Bachelor of Emergency Management degree must complete 120 credit units to graduate. UMUC’s PSA program is flexible and convenient because it is designed for fire safety professionals reaching for advanced positions of leaders and public policy-making. UMUC offers a generous transfer policy of up to 90 eligible credits.
The University of Maryland Global Campus was established in 1947. The school focuses primarily on distance learning options but operates physical campuses in Maryland, Baltimore, Washington, Italy, and Asia. UMUC’s domestic and international student enrollment exceeds 90,000.
What We Like: The University of Maryland University College provides degree programs in more than 125 military operations across the world.
Degree: BS in Public Safety Administration
22. Liberty University
Liberty University offers a BS in Fire Administration that can be completed entirely online. Students study their 120 credit units in eight-week classes, and the average completion time of the program is 30 months. Liberty University’s transfer policy offers up to 90 eligible credit units to be applied to the fire science degrees online. To reduce student expenses, the school provides electronic textbooks to students, rather than requiring the purchase of textbooks.
Liberty University was established in 1971 and holds the distinction as being one of the biggest Christian institutions of higher education in the world. The school’s 7,000-acre suburban campus is home to more than 15,000 students; however, the school’s total enrollment is about 110,000 students, when including online students. The school’s 170,000 square foot Jerry Falwell Library proudly features a robotic retrieval system capable of retrieving 250,000 items.
What We Like: Current first responders are offered a 25% tuition discount and optional credit for experience and service in Liberty’s online program.
Degree: BS in Fire Administration
23. Anna Maria College
Anna Maria College offers a BS in Fire Science that can be finished on an accelerated track and entirely online. AMC’s fire science degrees online program holds a FESHE certificate, which allows degree graduates to find rewarding careers as a Fire Prevention Educator, a Fire Captain or Marshall, an Arson Specialist, an Insurance Adjuster, or Fire Service Training. Anna Maria College’s fire science baccalaureate degree is designed for income students to already possess 60 credit units.
Anna Maria College was established in 1946. AMC is a private institution of higher learning affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church that was founded by the Sisters of Saint Anne. The school’s 175+-acre rural campus is home to nearly 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students. The school operates with six Schools/colleges in the areas of Education, Fire & Health Sciences, Performing Arts, Humanities, Business, and Justice & Social Sciences.
What We Like: Anna Maria College is located in the heart of New England and within driving distance of Cape Cod, Connecticut, Boston, the Berkshires, and Vermont.
Degree: BS in Fire Science
24. Idaho State University
Idaho State University offers a BS in Fire Services Administration degree program is available 100% online. Idaho State University’s, fire science degrees online program is accredited by the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education organization (FESHE). Coursework includes Fire Protection, Fire Research, Hazardous Materials, and Fire Protection Systems, among others.
Idaho State University was established in 1901. The school’s Pocatello campus sits at an elevation of more than 4,500 feet above sea level and is home to more than 13,500 students. Idaho State University offers a Career Path Internship (CPI) program where students can apply their studies to real-world situations while receiving compensation for their work performed. Washington Monthly recognizes Idaho State University among the top 160 national public universities.
What We Like: Ranked fire officers teach live classes online to fire science degree candidates studying at Idaho State University.
Degree: BS in Fire Services Administration
25. Eastern Oregon University
Eastern Oregon University offers a BS in Fire Services Administration degree program that can be completed exclusively online. Eastern Oregon University’s Bachelor in Emergency Management degree has been accredited by the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education organization (FESHE). BestColleges.com recognizes the Eastern Oregon University fire services degree among the top fire sciences degree online.
Eastern Oregon University is a public institution of higher learning that was established in 1929 as a normal school. EOU is one of only a few state-funded universities in the state. The school’s campus in La Grande, OR and is home to more than 3,700 students and situated within the beautiful Blue Mountain range — between Boise, ID and Portland Oregon.
What We Like: Eastern Oregon University has responded to regional needs by creating a degree in Fire Service Administration and Global Foods.
Degree: BS in Fire Services Administration
Can I Get a Job with an Online Fire Science Degree?
Many people are interested in the best degrees for firefighters, and their research leads them to the top fire science colleges online. There are many fire science bachelor degree colleges, but are these online degrees taken seriously? The answer is yes, as long as the degree has been obtained from one of the accredited top fire science colleges.
Some people with an old-fashioned mentality may say that the best degrees for firefighters and the best colleges for fire protection engineering must be attended in-person, However, most fire chiefs these days have no problem with online fire science bachelor degree colleges. This means that a search for “fire protection jobs near me” will likely return potential job openings that you may be considered for. The competition for these openings is fierce, and an online fire science degree may just provide applicants with the edge they need.
Many online fire science bachelor degree colleges are actually among the best colleges for fire protection engineering overall. Are you asking yourself “Can I get fire protection jobs near me with an online degree?” The answer is yes, you certainly can.
What Does it Mean to be a FESHA Recognized School?
FESHE stands for the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education. FESHE recognized schools are respected through the fire science and firefighting professions. If a school has this recognition, this guarantees that the education is comprehensive and that the students leave with considerable scientific knowledge and practical experience. Many firefighting and fire science job listings require a degree from one of the many FESHE recognized schools. Even firefighting and fire science jobs that don”t require this degree will often prefer that the candidates for the position have a degree from one of the growing number of FESHE recognized schools. Having a degree from a recognized program will certainly give you a leg up on candidates that don”t have a degree. It will also give these applicants an advantage over other people applying to the job who have a degree, but did not get it from a recognized school.
When prospective fire science students are looking for an online program, they should always look for a school that has been recognized by FESHE. There are quite a few online fire science programs. However, many of these programs are not recognized by FESHE and would not count for as much on job applications.
Do I Need a Bachelor’s in Fire Science to Become a Fire Chief?
Those who are already working as firefighters and prospective firefighters looking to enter the field are often interested in learning how to become a fire chief. First, you must answer the question “What does a fire chief do?” A fire chief is responsible for managing and organizing the firefighters under them. They are also responsible for many of the strategies and tactics that their men and women use to fight fires.
A bachelor’s in fire science is part of the usual path for those wondering how to become a fire chief, as a fire science degree will educate students in the duties of a fire chief. It will go much more in-depth than simply answering “What does a fire chief do?” A degree in fire science is not necessary for students who want to become fire chiefs, but it will help their chances of a quick promotion. Of course, students will have to start as regular firefighters and work their way up to a fire chief position, even if they do have a fire science degree.