Online Fire Science Degree

To respond to complex emergencies, more online schools now may offer fire science degree programs. They understand fire dynamics and may size up risks to public safety. If you want to protect people from fire and arson, you could  prepare for this fast growing field with an online degree. 

A fire science degree studies fire chemistry, fire behavior, and safety practices in the fire service industry. These areas may help students understand how fires start and spread. Plus ways to prevent, control and extinguish them. One may find fire science programs at all levels. Many common degree programs are associate, bachelor’s, and master’s. At each level, you may learn to match a response to a type of fire and fire safety rules.

An associate’s degree in fire science is entry level. You may learn what causes fires and how fires behave in certain conditions. Grads may leave with the skills needed to prevent fires and pursue a career in emergency response. A bachelor’s degree may help current firefighters grow leader skills. Grads may be able to enhance their careers into mgmt. positions in fire departments, emergency services or private industry.

Master’s in fire science may hone fire related admin skills. These online programs often focus on U.S. fire administration policy and practice. Grads may leave with the strategic decision skills to jump start their career. If drawn to research, there are a few university programs with PhDs to choose from too.  These tend to be PhD in fire protection engineering degrees. As the highest awards, having a PhD may help prepare grads to teach, lead, innovate and consult.

Associate Degree in Fire Science 

An online associate in fire science is generally a 2 year degree program. It may entail about 60 credit hours and typically includes some kind of practicum. There are two forms of the degree. One is an Associate of Science (AS). It may yield transfer credits for those who seek to earn  a bachelor’s degree program later.

The other option is an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. Either one is introductory. You are likely to take general education, elective and core classes.  The general ed classes may help you learn write in a clear way and show you how to use computer software. Core topics could explore fire dept. org and process. These may help you understand the science behind fires. And, the firefighting tactics to curb and put out them out.

To apply into AAS programs, you may need a high school diploma or GED. Some schools may also look at your GPA and may set a minimum standard. Another variable is cost. Per the most recent NCES data, the average total cost of attending a public community college during the academic year 2017-2018 was $9,400.

Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science 

An online bachelor’s degree in fire science is usually a 4 year degree program. It may entail about 120 credit hours. Fewer if using transfer credits from an AS.  The most common form is a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. Some online programs award a BS in fire science but there are other related majors to look into. Like fire safety engineering technology. Either way, bachelor’s programs tend to be practical. They may cover gen ed classes if you didn’t already take them. Plus electives and fire science core topics.  

Core areas could help you learn about fire behavior, flame spread, and water supply. You may also study how to investigate fires. Plus the technical, legal, and social aspects of arson and explosions.  Many programs may also explore admin skills. Things like budget, finance and staffing for fire departments. Plus it may include how to team up with other agencies if disaster strikes. To apply, you must have a high school diploma or GED (plus transcripts). Certain online schools might also check for a minimum GPA.  The cost of tuition at a public school is about $14,600 per year. Private nonprofit schools ($41,100) and for profit schools ($22,700) are more expensive as a rule. That said, many students qualify for financial aid like scholarships and grants. 

Master’s Degree in Fire Science 

An online master’s degree in fire science is a grad degree. It may entail about 30 to 36 credit hours and a research project.  Many schools award a Master of Science (MS) degree. You may also find the fire science major as part of a master’s in public administration (MPA) degree.  Those seeking it may also choose a MEng. degree in fire protection engineering. Or may look for a program that builds exec skills in a preferred area. MS students may often learn to manage the budget and staff in a fire services dept. Many programs may also discuss how public policy impacts risk for entire communities. 

Apart from core courses, there could be a research element. Here you might learn not only how to conduct research. But also, could assess it to make data driven decisions. To gain admission into a MS program, you may need a bachelor’s degree as well as work experience. In some schools, they could look for at least 2 years if not more. Many schools may look for applicants with a 3.0 GPA. Apart from your transcripts, an application might include a letter of intent, resume or CV,  and proficiency in English. As with other levels, tuition varies between schools. The average cost, if at public college, for the academic year 2016/17 was $11,617 per year

What could I do with an Online Fire science Degree? 

A degree in fire science may be an entry point to current and up and coming fields. Forest fires, hazardous materials and today’s high rises create many new risks. And this is creating a bright out look in many fire related occupations. As fire service careers evolve, there may be jobs for all levels of education. Firefighters often start out with training at a fire academy. A next step might be a promotion. First to engineer. Then to lieutenant, captain, battalion chief. And from there, assistant chief, deputy chief, and, finally, chief.  Some fire fighters may also work for years. Then they may step into an inspector or investigator job. 

1. Firefighter

Firefighters may put out fires and respond to 911 calls for other emergencies. Many may also have the skills to deal with trauma. In some cases, a fire dept also may require fire fighters to have EMT and paramedic credentials. 

2. EMT/Paramedic

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics may respond to 911 calls. Their ability to make a snap decision often saves lives. These emergency medical services often do not take an MD degree. But may call for formal study. 

3. Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors also go by the name Fire Marshal. These pros may check buildings (new and old) for fire hazards. To do this, they often look at blueprints, evacuation plans and fire protection systems. Like smoke detectors and fire alarms. They may also ensure buildings comply with local, state and federal fire safety laws. 

4. Fire Investigator

Fire investigators are sleuths with some police powers. Their skills may detect the origin and cause of a fire or explosion. When doing so, they often collect evidence, interview witnesses and testify in court. 

5. Forest Fire Inspector

Forest fire inspectors often look for risks of wildfires. To do this, they may assess homes and public areas. On patrol, they may look for ways to lower risks and enforce fire codes. As the job is complex, employers may prefer to hire firefighters with a 2 or 4 year degree. 

6. Emergency Mgmt Directors

Emergency mgmt. directors often handle crisis. As public safety leaders, they may plan for, and direct responses to all kinds of alerts. Disease outbreaks, floods, homeland security issues and the like. Apart from many years on the job, students may need a bachelor’s degree for entry level roles. 

7. Fire Chief

Fire chiefs often go by the name Fire Marshall. These supervisors may train and oversee fire fighters. Using tactical skills, they may also check fire dynamics and water supply. They may send fire fighters to strategic areas to suppress fires and conduct rescue efforts.  

8. Engineers (Fire Prevention)

These pros often study the causes of fires, smoke control and risk. They may use this info to find ways to protect life and property. In doing so, they may design new tech to solve problems. This includes fire alarm systems, fire detection tools and sprinkler systems. 

Is an Online Degree in Fire science worth it? 

Fire science programs may yield flexible skills and prospects. Jobs in fire investigation and related fields are growing much faster than average.  There are two main causes of this growth. Forest fires and hazardous material. Both are creating the need for specialists who can shut fires down before they spread. This takes a solid knowledge of fire prevention, codes and responses. As per the, opportunities for those who know how to prevent forest fires may see a 24% growth in jobs to 2028 in this niche. And an overall 8% for fire inspectors and investigators for the same time period. 

Emergency services administration may be an option too. As budgets could change, many duties may shift over to fire chiefs. So, having some leadership skills may provide an edge. Above all in a competitive field that expects 5% more open jobs by 2028.Those who study fires from the engineering side may face opportunity as well. Fire protection engineering technology pros typically work to design safer materials and systems. This field expects about 6% growth and yields a median annual Salary of $91,410.

Salaries in all these other areas vary by location and job title. Fire investigators earned a median annual salary of $61,660 in May 2019. Admin skills may also pay well. First line supervisors like Fire Chiefs earned a median annual salary of $76,330 in May 2019

Online Fire Science Degree Jobs & Salary

Occupation Median Annual Wage Jobs
Firefighters $50,851 17,600
Firechief $76,330 65,920
Fire Inspector $60,230 1,300
Emergency Management Directors $74,590 500

Top States for Jobs as a Fire Inspector and Investigator

State Jobs Annual Mean Wage
FL 2,290 $60,230
TX 1,680 $66,540
NJ 1,590 $55,000
CA 680 $107,270
IL 640 $65,130

What classes may I take with an Online Fire Science Degree? 

Many programs draw from chemistry, physics, strategy and life safety. These areas may help learners understand how fires start and behave. As well as suitable actions that they could take to suppress and extinguish them. When looking into course plans, you may notice some follow FESHE guides. FESHE is the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education Model. It is an outline from the U.S. Fire Administration and National Fire Academy. Six of their core topics are: 

  1. Emergency Services
  2. Building Construction for Fire Protection
  3. Fire Behavior 
  4. Emergency Services Safety & Survival
  5. Prevention of Fires
  6. Protection Systems

You may study many of these topics when you are going for a fire science degree online. But each level of degree is likely to do this in its own way. Below are some of the classes you may find at the associate, bachelors, and masters levels. 

Associate’s Degree Courses

Classes in an AAS program are intro level. They explore fire chemistry, fire safety, leadership and crisis mgmt. Through them, you may learn how fires start, spread and how to respond to them.  To round things out, you may take gen ed classes. Like English, math and social sciences. These aim to nurture the soft skills that enable one to communicate in a clear way.  These classes may also be part of your program: 

Fire Behavior

Aims to provides insight into fire chemistry and the process of burning. You may study these areas to learn how fire behaves and can affect the safety of fire fighters. 

Building Construction for Fire Protection

An overview of materials that resist fires and those that cause fire to spread and combust. As a side topic, you may study building codes and ways to spot hazards during an inspection. 

Intro to Fire Prevention

This class may go into the fire safety laws, rules, codes, and standards. You might study training, use of media, and public education programs that lead preventive efforts. All while learning about the devices and systems that prevent fire spread (e.g. sprinklers, fire alarms). 

Fire Protection Hydraulics

In this kind of class, you may study water supply. A more technical topic, it takes a look at how water moves and its use to put out fires. Side topics are pumping, fire streams, hydraulic laws and nozzle pressure. 

Bachelor’s Degree Courses

Classes in a BS program may explore fire behavior, prevention, response and investigation. Many study these topics from the point of view of leadership. As a result, they may help grow the decision skills needed for admin roles. From the finance and budgeting side. To mgmt. tactics that help with staffing, team work and operations. These classes may also be part of your program: 

Fire and Emergency Services Administration

This class is likely to look at models of ES programs (such as FEMA). How these agencies interact with health care systems, public policy and public health systems. You may also learn about budgeting, and effective ways to lead and manage a fire dept.  

Fire, Explosion and Arson Investigation

This course presents the
A deep look at the dynamics of ignition, flame spread, and room fire growth. Plus, aspects of criminal justice. For e.g. learning how to interview suspects and prep a court case. 

Community Risk Reduction

Learn how to be strategic and plan fire safety programs. Both for local communities and against terrorist incidents. You also tend to study codes. How to craft and enforce them as well as investigate infractions.  

Fire Service Personnel Development

Study issues, rules and practices related to staffing for a fire org. How to recruit and select personnel. Also, ways to keep a team both productive and disciplined. 

How long could it take to get a Fire science Degree online? 

Both degree level and course load impact the length of an online fire science program. An associate degree tends to take 2 years. From there, either 2 to 4 years for a bachelor’s degree. You may then need from 1 to 2 years for a master’s degree in fire science. Some schools may also swap credits for military course work. Or, may offer transfer credits to students with a prior degree from an accredited school. 

University Level of Degree # of Credits Required Starts Per Year Minimum Months to Complete
Keiser University Associate 60 3 24
St. Petersburg College Associate 60 4 24
American Public University Associate 60 12 24
University of Florida Online Bachelor’s 120 3 48
Purdue University Global Bachelor’s 180 4 24
Eastern Kentucky University Bachelor’s 120 6 24
Arizona State University Master’s 33 Every 7.5 weeks 24
University of Maryland Master’s 30 4 24
Anna Maria College Master’s 36 3 24

15 Schools with Online Fire Science Degrees 

Many online schools offer fire science degrees. We have ranked our top 15 schools based on the number of graduates from the program in 2019. Our process looks at 2019 data from the NCES. And, it may help you narrow your search down.

  1. Keiser U
  2. St. Petersburg College 
  3. American Public University System 
  4. Columbia Southern U
  5. Hillsborough Community College 
  6. University of Florida – Online 
  7. Purdue University Global 
  8. Eastern Kentucky U
  9. New Jersey City U
  10. University of Cincinnati 
  11. Arizona State U – Online 
  12. University of Maryland 
  13. Anna Maria College  
  14. University of New Haven  
  15. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


Let’s take a closer look at the online law enforcement degrees that these 15 schools have to offer. 


Keiser University

Associate of Science in Fire Science 

Fully Online

This fully online program entails 60 credits. It is a terminal degree and up to any next school to assess transfer credits. One of the goals is to help you understand crisis mgmt. The program may also cover EMS and a range of fire prevention practices. While you learn about the FS major, you may take general ed classes in English, math, history and psych. Some classes you might take are:

  • Blueprint Reading & Plans Review 
  • Firefighting Tactics 
  • Codes & Standards

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $21,008
Grad $27,162

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St. Petersburg College

Associate of Science in Fire Science

Fully Online

This program entails 60 credits and fully online classes. It aims to grow your knowledge of fire hazards and how to control and prevent them. Apart from gen ed classes, there are usually two parts to the fire science major. The first consists of core topics like fire chemistry and fire company leadership. Second, are electives that you choose from areas like blueprint reading, fire cause and origin. Some classes you might take are:

  • Private Fire Protection Services 
  • Building Construction 
  • Firefighting Tactics   

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $9,286
Grad N/A

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American Public University

Associate of Arts in Fire Science

Fully Online

This fully online program entails 60 credits.The program follows FESHE guides. So, it typically looks at the basics of fire science, fire safety, leadership, and crisis mgmt. As a learner, you could study how and why fires start, spread and what needs to be done to put them out. Some classes you might take are:

  • Fire behavior 
  • Fire Prevention 
  • Fire Protection Hydraulics 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $7,324 
Grad $6,615

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Columbia Southern University

Associate of Science in Fire Science

Fully Online

This fully online program typically entails 60 credits. It looks at the physics and chemistry of fire. And may explore key areas such as admin, fire safety and building codes. For those who want to study on, CSU also offers a BS in Fire Administration. It comes with a track in fire investigation. All are FESHE approved. Some classes you might take are:

  • Fire & emergency Services 
  • Building Construction 
  • Legal Aspects of Emergency Services

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $5,655 
Grad $3,780 

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Hillsborough Community College

Associate of Science in Fire Science Technology

Fully Online

This fully online program often entails 60 credits. In may mix fire science topics with general ones in each semester. First classes are basic and introduce fire science and prevention. Later courses may get into firefighting tactics and hydraulics. And towards the end, you may study codes, standards and fire protection systems. Some classes you might take are:

  • Aerial Operations 
  • Company Officer 
  • Fire Service Building Construction 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $9,111
Grad N/A

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University of Florida Online

Bachelor of Science in Fire & Emergency Services

Fully Online

This fully online program typically entails 120 credits. It may take you through a series of core classes about  strategy, ethics and disaster planning. On top of these areas and electives, you may have the opportunity to choose a focal area or track. Fire which is about research, command, control and mgmt. EMS which focuses on risk, safety mgmt. and tactics for mass casualty events. And emergency management. which looks into disaster policy and more. Sample courses might include:

  • FES Financial mgmt. 
  • Leadership 
  • Strategic Planning

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $16,580
Grad N/A

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Purdue University Global

Bachelor of Science in Fire Science

Fully Online

This fully online program typically entails 180 quarter credits. It aims to enhance fire service skills. So, it may take an in depth look at fire incident command and inter agency efforts. While it nurtures these skills, one could also learn about building codes, strategy and firefighter safety. There is also an internship option for those who may seek the hands-on aspect. Sample classes might include:

  • Arson Investigation 
  • Fire Prevention, Org, & Mgmt. 
  • Community Risk Reduction

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $14,358
Grad $9,768

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Eastern Kentucky University

Bachelor of Science in Fire, Arson & Explosion Investigation


This program typically entails 120 credits. It is one of a few focused fire science degree programs at EKU. In this course plan, one may look at the science and sleuth skills crucial to finding the cause and criminal nature of fires and explosions. You may also study the practices that foster inter agency teamwork. Apart from online coursework, there may be some on campus summer intensives. Sample classes might include

  • Fire & Safety Eng. 
  • Hazardous Materials 
  • Fire Dynamics

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $19,948
Grad $13,950

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New Jersey City University

Bachelor of Science in Fire Science


This program typically entails 123 credits mapped over four years. it uses a blend of online classes and in person experiences. First classes could be  basic. They may instruct in fire behavior and tactics used to prevent, put out and investigate a fire. Further topics could expand on fire dept. org, firefighting tactics, building codes and safety. Sample classes might include:

  • Ladder Company Ops 
  • Building Construction 
  • Problems in Fire Eng.

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $22,220
Grad $21,052

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University of Cincinnati

Bachelor of Science in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology


This program typically entails 120 credits. It is part of an Open Learning fire Service program that is available through 7 schools. These may work in line with the U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Academy, DDP program. So, the courses may offer practical skills. Some could focus on data analysis for fire and EMS. Others in leadership, budget, and admin. Sample classes might include:

  • Fire tactics 
  • Problem Solving 
  • Personnel Mgmt.

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $26,994
Grad $24,532

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Arizona State University Online

Master of Science in Public Safety Leadership and Administration

Fully Online

This fully online program typically entails 33 credits and includes a final research project. It focuses on executive fire administration.   They may aim to support skills in data analysis, org’al mgmt., leadership, public policy and admin. Through a varied course plan, you may learn to navigate fire and emergency services as a manager. And, about budget, finance, staffing and crisis response. Sample classes might include:

  • GIS Systems & Analysis 
  • Program Eval for EM and Homeland Security 
  • EMS Operations Analysis

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $19,398
Grad $6,384

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University of Maryland

Master of Engineering – Fire Protection Engineering

Fully Online

This fully online programentails30 credits. It is typically for engineers and technical pros who want to refine skills. FPE courses may explore the way fire behaves and develops as well as that of smoke. You also study combustion of materials and furnishings. Plus, the effects of fire on structures and the environment, smoke management, evacuation and the law. Sample classes might include:

  • Advanced Fire Suppression 
  • Smoke Control 
  • Advanced Life Safety Analysis

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $36,891  
Grad $29,250

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This fully online program generally entails 36 credits. Or it may be 30 credits for those eligible for a mid career entry option. The program is typically for those who seek an executive role in fire and rescue services. The core classes typically aim to build public manager skill sets including strategic planning. Stacked on may be courses geared to FES admin. Labor relations, customer care, trends in fire service delivery and tech. Sample classes might include:

  • Topics in Fire and Emergency Services 
  • Managerial Statistics  
  • Executive Leadership

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $38,630
Grad $10,530

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University of New Haven

Master of Science in Fire & Explosion Investigation

Online Hybrid

This program typically entails 39 credits. It may be  technical and draws from a few areas. Fire / arson investigation, emergency mgmt. and public safety. You could also take required courses in topics such as the chemistry of fires, dynamics of structural fires, and arson analysis. Then have a choice of electives. Sample classes might include:

  • Terrorism 
  • Fire Scene Reconstruction 
  • Arson for Profit  

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $40,440
Grad $16,920

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This fully online program entails 36 credits. The basic MPA classes include weave theory, research and practice. These typically aim to grow public leadership skills. In them, you may study public policy analysis, HR and budgeting. FEAM classes follow IFSAC guides. These typically aim to grow supervisor skills. Especially ones needed in times of crisis.  Sample classes might include:

  • Strategic Planning for Fire Dept.’s 
  • State & Local Gov’t 
  • Health Care Admin Law 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $15,229
Grad $17,107 

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*Unemployment Earnings.  Sources for school stats and data include the NCES and IPEDS.