Meeting the career education needs of aspiring management-level professionals is one of the things Saint Leo University does best. In particular, our master's degree program in Emergency and Disaster Management continues to grow in popularity. Now, due to rising demand across the nation, we are proud to offer a Master of Science in Emergency and Disaster Management – Specialization in Fire Science Administration.

In this revealing discussion with Dr. Robert Diemer, Saint Leo's Director, Department of Public Safety Administration, you'll learn why this program is an ideal step toward advancement in the fire science field.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the new master's degree Specialization in Fire Science Administration program. For instance, when will it be offered, and what can enrolling students expect to learn?

A: This program is for working adults and is ideal for first responders who require an educational component to augment their experience, enabling them to move forward in their careers. In addition to the core cuurriculum, it consists of 4 courses, each lasting for an 8-week term, that students take 100% online at their own pace. It is designed to be completed in 2 years, but students can take more time if they need it.

The curriculum coincides with accepted best practices by fire service organizations. All 4 courses work together cohesively to convey an expert understanding of these major topics:

  • Personnel administration for fire and emergency services
  • Political context of fire and emergency services administration
  • Fire service organization dynamics
  • Fire-related human behavior

This is by no means merely a theoretical curriculum. Students will learn practical, hands-on approaches to fire science administration and skills that they will actually be able to use on the job. We want our graduates to be ready to seek viable employment when they complete the program. With this master's degree, they should be able to make valuable contributions in fire protection, mitigation, investigation, and other related services anywhere in America.

Q: Speaking of employment options, what types of careers can students enjoy after graduating with this particular degree?

A: The M.S. with a specialization in Fire Science Administration prepares students to advance into many high-demand managerial roles. Like any academic program, the program appeals to achievers who want the highest level of education in their field. More important is that for those seeking a promotion, a master's degree is an essential qualification for attaining certain higher-level positions in various fire, police, and emergency services organizations and government agencies. In addition, our master's degree program provides excellent preparation in fire service professionalization for those seeking opportunities in the private sector.

I can't possibly think of all the position titles a student might attain as a result of completing our program, but a few examples include:

  • Fire marshal
  • Arson investigator
  • Smoke jumper
  • Fire captain
  • Fire chief

Q: What makes Saint Leo's graduate Fire Science Administration program a top choice when compared to other universities?

A: There are just a handful of fire science graduate programs available across the U.S., and ours is definitely a cut above. It's distinctly different in important ways.

For one thing, most other fire science degree programs are offered by research universities, so their curricula is theoretical rather than practical. On the other hand, our program is all about application. You don't just bounce theories around – you learn what to do and how to handle real-world situations.

Another nice perk is our convenient entrance requirements. All you need is a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and a 3.0 GPA to be eligible. We also accept up to 6 graduate credit hours from other institutions, giving you a head start. There is no GMAT or GRE requirement at all.

Once you are accepted, you can begin your studies right away. Study materials are all provided online. We have the full cadre of educational support and resources available, and all students get my cell phone number. Our faculty has an impressive background in law enforcement, firefighting, and criminal investigation work. We have all been practitioners, working our way up as professionals just like our students. In other words, we can relate to you.

That's how we have been able to pull together such a strong, comprehensive fire service graduate curriculum designed to prepare students for a fulfilling future. The program is very challenging but quite doable for anyone seeking advanced employment in this fascinating field. Our program will definitely give you an advantage in your career.

Q: How did Saint Leo decide to begin offering this particular program?

A: Saint Leo's Master of Science in Disaster and Emergency Management has been tremendously popular.  Fire science is really all about managing disasters and emergencies, so the Fire Science Administration Specialization was a natural outgrowth of and augmentation to that program. The program fills a huge need for specialists in this critical arena.

Q: What makes you most excited about the new M.S. in Emergency and Disaster Management – Specialization in Fire Science Administration program?

A: Until recently, there has not been a major push toward academic degrees for advancement in fire science. But recently, there has been a rise in the level of professionalism, supported by experience and higher-level education, demanded in fire services. In this regard, it is starting to catch up with what has already been happening in law enforcement education. Our program truly delivers on that front.

We expect many students coming into our program will have undergraduate degrees in public administration, public policy, or emergency management, and want to move up into fire science administration. They may have experience working in the public sector, or possibly working for FEMA, for example. Either way, they will need the skills and knowledge in our curriculum to get ahead.

Being fully online, our program has the flexibility to accommodate the commonly unpredictable schedules of fire service or public safety personnel – or anyone who is currently busy working. It is asynchronous so you can easily make it fit any schedule.

Q: Whom can students contact if they have any questions about the program?

A: To learn more about the Master of Science in Emergency and Disaster Management – Specialization in Fire Science Administration, you may contact me, Dr. Robert Diemer, at or by phone at 352-588-8974.

We look forward to hearing from you and filling you in on this exciting program.