Saint Leo University is now enrolling students for a new, online Bachelor of Arts degree in emergency management, with classes beginning in January 2020.

Faculty at Saint Leo were inspired to create the new program by the sustained demand across the country for people trained in managing coordinated responses to disasters, fires, and other  emergencies caused by conditions ranging from coastal flooding and powerful storms to industrial accidents and criminal actions. Emergency management directors can work for local and state public agencies, private-sector companies, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Admissions inquiries about the emergency management degree can be made online or by calling (877) 622-2009 toll-free.

Saint Leo anticipates its new degree program will appeal to adults who want to advance in their careers. Many of the likely students are people already working in fields including law enforcement, fire safety, public works and utility systems, and related occupations, said Dr. Phillip Neely, chair of the undergraduate criminal justice program within Saint Leo's College of Education and Social Services. They may have completed some occupational training, come from a military background with some relevant skills training, and perhaps have a two-year degree, he said. But, Neely added, "They need to get a bachelor's degree to get promoted."

The Saint Leo degree in emergency management will equip these learners for career growth by building upon their analytical and communications skills, and then providing the career-specific knowledge they need to carry out their duties.  

Faculty members drawn from the ranks of practitioners

Saint Leo is particularly suited to this educational mission, added Dr. Susan Kinsella, dean of the College of Education and Social Services. She noted Saint Leo is already well-known among many local law enforcement agencies as an institution where personnel can turn to for instruction leading to degrees for career advancement.

"Throughout our College of Education and Social Services, we offer applied programs that are developed by faculty who are former practitioners in the field, and that were created for students who want to be in the helping professions like teaching, criminal justice, social work, or human services," Kinsella said.

Many of the faculty who will be teaching in this program are already teaching in the college's undergraduate or graduate programs in criminal justice, or in the existing master's program for emergency and disaster management.

The university decided to introduce the new BA in emergency management through its online platform because of the convenience this learning option affords: students are able to read and complete assignments from home or during downtimes at work. This best suits the scheduling needs of working adult learners. Students will earn 120 credit hours to attain the degree; almost all courses will carry three credits each. 

Lasting benefits of well-rounded curriculum

The new students will likely start by completing Saint Leo's well-regarded general education curriculum, unless they already have college credits that can meet the general-education requirements. The curriculum helps students develop their capacities in problem-solving, writing and communications, mathematical awareness, and ethical reasoning. Students are also required to choose courses in subject areas that help students become better-informed citizens, and that are highly relevant to careers in the public-service sector. These can include, for instance: democracy in troubled times, living in a multiracial society, understanding the impact of energy on a global society, or evaluating information about global warming.

From there, students will move into the core of the major, and will have to earn 39 credits from foundation courses and elective areas. Foundation courses will include topics such as: principles and practices of emergency management, emergency planning, hazard identification, interagency management, leadership skills and ethics, technology in emergency management, social impacts of disaster, and terrorism and emergency management.

Several elective courses in the major are available that relate to directly to management of fire safety operations and departments. Others electives include crisis communications, emergency operations center management, and management of large-scale events and critical incidents. Additional electives are under development.

In addition, students will be required to choose from a slate of courses from other university departments that will equip them for administrative decision-making. The possible additional electives include business courses in accounting, financial statement analysis, strategic management, economics, logistics, project management, sociology, and others.

The cost per-credit-hour for online courses during the current academic year, including Spring 2020, is $370 per credit for civilians, and $250 per credit for active-duty military members.

Saint Leo encourages students to ask their employers about available tuition benefits, and counsels students on other financial aid options available to veterans and civilians.