Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing a degree and a university are important decisions; therefore, a list of frequently asked questions and answers about JSU’s Emergency Management degree programs has been compiled for your convenience. 

It is likely that you will have more very good questions to ask, so when you do, please contact Dr. Jeff Ryan, the department head, to discuss why JSU’s Emergency Management degree programs are some of the best in the country.

Jump to a FAQ topic:
» General Information
» Online Courses
» Tuition & Financial Aid
» Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Management
» Master’s Degree in Emergency Management
» Doctoral Degree in Emergency Management
» Career Paths

General Information

Q: What is emergency management?

A:  Emergency management is a body of knowledge that focuses on the application of science, technology, planning and management to deal with extreme events that can injure or kill large numbers of people, do extensive damage to property, and disrupt community life.

Q:  Is JSU accredited?

A:  Yes, JSU is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; therefore, JSU offers accredited programs.  Additionally, the JSU is recognized by the FEMA Higher Education Project as having a program that offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in emergency management.

Q:  Is there a residency (on campus) requirement for the Emergency Management program?

A:  All EM and PST courses are offered online.  Most general education and elective courses are offered online.

Q:  Is there a comprehensive exam?

A:  No, passing a comprehensive exam is not required for graduation from Emergency Management degree programs.

Online Courses

Q:  How will I access my online courses?

A:  Online classes are administered through Blackboard.   Visit the Blackboard at JSU page for system requirements, a demo course, and login information.   

Q:  What types of assignments can I expect?

A:  Course requirements vary from instructor to instructor; however, you can expect such things as discussion board postings, virtual class sessions, research paper requirements, exams, and / or group projects.  A syllabus is provided the first day of class so that you will know requirements and due dates.

Tuition & Financial Aid

Q:  What are the tuition rates?

A:  Tuition rates vary by the level of degree you are pursuing and if it is distance learning hours (online) or traditional hours (in the classroom).  Please see JSU’s Tuition & Fees page for current tuition rates.         

Q:  Does JSU accept military financial aid?

A:  Yes, JSU accepts military financial aid.  If you will be using military financial assistance, contact JSU's Office of Veterans Affairs for assistance at 800-231-5291, ext. 5892.  For military tuition paperwork submission, contact the JSU Bursar's Office at 800-231-5291, ext. 5458, or send a fax to 256-782-8067.

Q:  What if my employer pays tuition for my class(es), but payment will not be made by the tuition deadline?

A:  The employer should complete the Emergency Management Scholarship form and return it to JSU's Department of Emergency Management.  The employer can request a scholarship form by emailing

Q:  Are there any scholarships available for Emergency Management students?

A:  Yes, there are several scholarship opportunities available to reduce the total amount of tuition owed by the student.  There are both scholarships specifically for Emergency Management students and general scholarships available to all JSU students.  Be sure to pay careful attention to all scholarship application deadlines.

Q:  What other types of financial aid are available?

A:  There are many types of aid available to assist students with the financial commitment that comes with attending a university.  If you can’t find the answer to your financial aid questions online, contact JSU Student Financial Services at (256) 782-5006 or email

Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management

Q:  How long do I have to finish my Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management degree?

A:  Undergraduate students who have not completed an online Emergency Management degree within 12 years may be required to convert to a new catalog.

Q:  How do I apply?

A:  Your first step is to apply to JSU.  Visit the Undergraduate Admissions page for requirements, or call 800-231-5291, ext. 5268 if you have specific questions.  If you are ready to apply now, go to the Applications & Forms page to begin completing the online application.  There is a $35 application fee and you will need to provide official transcripts from any college or university previously attended.  You may also be asked to provide proof of a high school diploma or equivalency.  If you are 25 years of age or older, you do not have to provide SAT or ACT scores.  Non-U.S. residents or graduates from institutions outside of the U.S. must meet additional admissions requirements.

Q:  When can I begin earning my degree?

A:  JSU operates on a semester system with three terms:  fall (August-December), spring (January-April) and summer (May-July).  If a student is cleared by admissions in time, and registration is still open, a student could begin the program in fall, spring or summer session.

Q:  Is this a self-paced program?

A:  No, JSU operates on a semester system.  Online courses follow the University calendar just as traditional, on-campus offerings.

Q:  Will I receive transfer credit for completed coursework at another institution?

A:  Only the JSU Registrar has the authority to determine transfer credit.  Generally speaking, if you took courses for academic college credit at a regionally accredited institution, courses should be accepted; however, it will depend on what courses were taken and, for courses that do get accepted, how they transfer as to what specific degree requirements may or may not be met for this program at JSU.  Once Admissions receives all of your transcripts from institutions previously attended, they will be forwarded to the Registrar for evaluation for potential transfer credit.  Once this evaluation is complete, you will be notified, and your academic advisor can assist you with identifying which degree requirements may or may not have been met.  Again, the Registrar is the only authority who can determine whether courses will transfer in and how.  Contact the JSU Registrar’s Office at 800-231-5291, ext. 8270.

Q:  Can I get work experience credit?

A:  Once a student has earned 18 hours of residency credit at JSU, he / she is eligible to apply for work experience credit if he / she has worked, or works, in the field of emergency management or public safety telecommunications.  Depending on position(s) held and the time spent in full-time position(s), a maximum of 18 hours may be possible in either emergency management or public safety telecommunications work experience credit.  Work experience credit that is awarded is considered non-traditional credit subject to non-traditional credit rules and limitations.  To view information about non-traditional credit, refer to the academic regulations in the undergraduate catalogue.  If awarded, work experience credit can be used towards Area V elective or general elective categories only.  Work experience credit that is awarded cannot count toward major or minor requirements.

Master of Science in Emergency Management | Certificate | Concentration under MPA

Q:  Which program should I pursue: the MS Emergency Management or MPA with an Emergency Management concentration?

A:  It is recommended that students who are interested or anticipate careers in emergency management consider the Master of Science Emergency Management program unless their career path specifically requires a master’s degree in Public Administration.  The master’s program is a 30-hour program consisting of emergency management coursework.  The MPA may be appropriate for the individual whose goal is a career in the public sector or a non-profit area, though possibly in an emergency management-related capacity.  Students interested in the MPA should contact program director Dr. Paul Hathaway, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, at 256-782-5652.

Q:  Is there a thesis option?

A:  There is no thesis option for JSU’s Master of Science in Emergency Management program.

Q:  How long do I have to finish my Emergency Management master’s degree?

A:  Students have up to six years to finish their Emergency Management master’s degree.

Q:  Can the JSU Emergency Management certificate courses be used toward my master’s degree?

A:  Students who have been admitted to pursue the MS Emergency Management degree program by the College of Graduate Studies after having been awarded the Emergency Management certificate can use the Emergency Management certificate courses completed towards the MS Emergency Management degree requirements - as long as all program requirements are completed within six years.

Q:  How do I apply to the graduate program?

A:  Admissions requirements vary depending on the program a student is applying to pursue.   The first step is to apply to JSU's College of Graduate Studies.  For more information or questions about JSU graduate programs school, contact the Graduate Studies department 256-782-5348 / 800-231-JAX1 (5291).

Generally speaking for the MS Emergency Management degree program,  an application; a $35.00 graduate application fee; official transcripts from every college you have attended (ensuring at least one has a Bachelor's Degree posted); a statement of purpose/interest that shows why the MS degree is important to the applicant, what the applicant will bring to the program, and how the degree will benefit the applicant’s career aspirations; and a professional resume including academic history, employment, and voluntary/community work will need to be submitted.  An undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or better (4.0 scale) is required for conditional admission, and a 3.0 or better undergraduate GPA (4.0 scale) is required for unconditional admission. If English is not the applicant’s native language, the applicant is required to submit an official TOEFL score report, an IELTS score report, or a PTE score report.

Students who are interested in pursuing both the Emergency Management Certificate and degree need to complete the certificate as an initial goal, then pending admission to the degree program, completion of degree.

Students seeking admission to the MPA program should contact the program director Dr. Paul Hathaway at 256-782-5652 for verification of program and admission requirements and deadlines.

Q:  Do I have to have an undergraduate degree in emergency management to apply?

A:  No special area of study at the undergraduate level is required for admission to the MS Emergency Management or Emergency Management Certificate programs.

Students seeking admission to the MPA program should contact the program director Dr. Paul Hathaway at 256-782-5652 for verification of program and admission requirements.

Q:  Does JSU accept transfer credit for graduate-level work?

A:  Courses must have been taken at a regionally accredited college or university for graduate level academic credit to be considered for transfer.  Ultimately, the Dean of Graduate Studies makes the final decision regarding whether or not transfer credit is to be accepted.  Students who wish to have graduate level coursework considered for potential transfer to the program need to submit a Transfer Credit Request Form to the office of the College of Graduate Studies as a first step.  Transfer credit that is accepted is applicable to the six-year rule specifying all program requirements must be completed within six years.  Additional rules and limitations of transfer credit are summarized in the Academic Regulations section on the Graduate Studies website.  A maximum of six hours of transfer credit can be considered for 30-hour programs.  A maximum of 12 hours of transfer credit can be considered for 36+ hour programs.

Q:  Can I get work experience credit?

A:  Work experience credit is not awarded at the graduate level. 

Doctor of Science in Emergency Management

Q:  How do I apply to the doctoral program?

A:  Admission materials include a completed graduate application, a Statement of Purpose setting forth career goals and research interests, a resume including education, employment, and service activities, three graduate reference forms, official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities, and official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) test scores.  The application fee is $35.  If English is not the applicant's native language, the applicant is required to submit an official TOEFL score report or an IELTS score report.  For more information, contact Dr. Jeff Ryan.   

Q:  When is the deadline to apply for the doctoral program?

A:  The next deadline by which all application materials must be submitted is January 31, 2016.  Consult the Graduate Studies website for future dates related to application admission.

Q:  How many hours are required for the Doctor of Science in Emergency Management degree?

A:  The Doctor of Science in Emergency Management requires a total of 60 semester credit hours including 42 hours of required coursework in administration and policy, practice areas, and research methods and statistics, plus a minimum of 18 hours of dissertation credit. Students also are required to participate in a weeklong seminar on campus once each academic year.

Q:  How will I advance to doctoral candidacy?

A: Upon completion of the required 42 hours of coursework, doctoral students are required to pass three qualifying exams. Accommodations will be made to support students with either onsite or offsite qualifying exam administration. After students have passed all three exams, they may advance to doctoral candidacy.

Q:  How long do I have to complete my Doctor of Science in Emergency Management degree?

A:  All requirements for the Doctor of Science in Emergency Management degree must be completed in ten years. 

Q:  Can the doctoral degree in Emergency Management be completed online?

A:  Yes; however, while courses are delivered online, students are required to participate in a weeklong seminar on the JSU campus once each academic year.

Career Paths

Q: What kind of job can I get with an Emergency Management degree?

A: An Emergency Management degree, coupled with training and practical experience, can be used to acquire a job in an emergency management agency (local, state or federal), work with disaster relief organizations, and/or business continuity programs.

Q: What are emergency managers?

A:  Emergency managers are government officials who work for local, state and federal agencies. They mitigate the impact of hazards, prepare their communities for disaster, and provide resources for response and recovery efforts in the wake of serious incidents.

Q:  Do I need an Emergency Management degree to work in emergency management?

A:   A degree in one of the social sciences, specifically Emergency Management, will make an applicant more competitive when entering the job market or seeking advancement opportunities; however, while having a degree is a distinct advantage, it is not always needed to begin work in this field.

Q:  What do I need to study to be a relief worker?

A:  Like emergency management, disaster relief is a broad field. Response agencies, non-profits and non-governmental organizations participate in disaster relief activities.  These entities have full-time professionals and volunteers engaged in disaster relief activities.  Thorough knowledge of emergency management systems, response and recovery strategies, and public safety should be studied by people who wish to be employed as relief workers.

Q: How do I get a job with FEMA or other relief agencies?  

A:  Job opportunities with FEMA and other disaster relief oriented agencies are competitive.  Job applicants must demonstrate knowledge, skills, and abilities in emergency management.  This is often demonstrated through a combination of education, training, and experience.  A degree in Emergency Management, coupled with FEMA training and on-the-job experience makes an applicant more competitive for open positions.