Online Fire Science Degree

To respond to complex emergencies, more online schools now offer fire science degrees. Today’s fire officers are tactical leaders. They understand fire dynamics and size up risks to public safety. If you want to protect people from fire and arson, you might get ready 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 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. Most common 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 work in emergency response. A bachelor’s degree might help current firefighters grow leader skills. Grads may be able to move 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 take a next (exec) career step.

If drawn to research, there are a few school 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 ready grads to teach, lead, innovate and consult. 

Associate Degree in Fire Science 

An online associate in fire science is a 2 year degree program. It may entail about 60 credit hours and 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 enter a bachelor’s degree program later. 

The other option is an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. It tends to be a terminal degree for those who seek an entry level role in a fire service field.  Either one is intro level. You may take general education, elective and core classes. The gen ed classes may help you learn write in a clear way and show you how to use computer software. Core topics explore fire dept. org and process. These help you learn the science behind fires. And, the fire fighting tactics to curb and put out them out.

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

Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science 

An online bachelor’s degree in fire science is 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 cover gen ed classes if you didn’t already take them. Plus electives and fire science core topics.  

Core areas help you learn about fire behavior, flame spread, and water supply. You also study how to investigate fires. Plus the technical, legal, and social aspects of arson and explosions.  Many programs also explore admin skills. Things like budget, finance and staffing for fire departments. Plus 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 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.  Most 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 look for a program that builds exec skills in a preferred area. MS students often learn to manage the budget and staff in a fire services dept.  Many programs also discuss how public policy impacts risk for entire communities. 

Apart from core courses, there tends to be a research element. Here you might learn not only how to conduct research. But also, assess it to make data driven decisions. To get into a MS program, you need a bachelor’s degree as well as work experience. In some schools, they look for at least 2 years if not more. Many schools also 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 school, is $11,617 per year.

What can 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.  For this to happen, many fire dept.’s require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. Mainly in fire science, public admin, or a related field. Some fire fighters may also work for years. Then step into an inspector or investigator job. 

1. Fire fighter

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

2. EMT/Paramedic

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

3. Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors also go by the name Fire Marshal. These pros check buildings (new and old) for fire hazards. To do this, they look at blueprints, evacuation plans and fire protection systems. Like smoke detectors and fire alarms. They 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 detect the origin and cause of a fire or explosion. When doing so, they collect evidence, interview witnesses and testify in court. 

5. Forest Fire Inspector

Forest fire inspectors look for risks of wildfires. To do this, they may assess homes and public areas. On patrol, they 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 handle crisis. As public safety leaders, they 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, one tends to need a bachelor’s degree for entry level roles. 

7. Fire Chief

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

8. Engineers (Fire Prevention)

These pros study the causes of fires, smoke control and risk. Then 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, prospects and above average earning potential. 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 BLS.gov, those who know how to prevent forest fires face the brightest out look. They predict a 24% growth in jobs to 2028 in this niche. And an overall 8% for fire inspectors and investigators. 

Emergency services admin is an option too. As budgets change, many duties may shift over to fire chiefs. So, having some leader 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 work to design safer materials and systems. This field expects about 6% growth and yields avg. salaries of $91,410. Salaries in all these other areas vary by location and job title. Fire investigators earned an avg. annual salary of $61,660 in May 2019. And those in the top 10% of their field earned more than $96,400.  

Admin skills may also pay well. First line supervisors like Fire Chiefs earned an avg. annual salary of $76,330 in May 2019 with some earning more than $122,910. 

Online Fire Science Degree Jobs & Salary

Occupation Average Salary 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 will I take with an Online Fire Science Degree? 

Most programs draw from chemistry, physics, strategy and life safety. These areas help learners understand how fires start and behave. As well as suitable actions to 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 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

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 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 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 are practical. They explore fire behavior, prevention, response and investigation. Most 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 does 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 also swap credits for military course work. Or, 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. To help you narrow school search results, here are 15 schools with online degrees in fire science at all levels. 

  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

FIND AN ONLINE FIRE SCIENCE DEGREE

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

1

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 also covers 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
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,015 

Average Net Price:
$30,437 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

2

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 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

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$6,933 

Average Net Price:
$3,315 

Military Programs:
Credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

3

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 looks at the basics of fire science, fire safety, leadership, and crisis mgmt. As a learner, you 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
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$1,639 

Average Net Price:
$10,995 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training & dedicated point of contact.

Accredited:
International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, FESHE, HLC

4

Columbia Southern University

Associate of Science in Fire Science

Fully Online


This fully online program entails 60 credits. It looks at the physics and chemistry of fire. And explores 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 
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$1,900 

Average Net Price:
$10,951 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, FESHE, Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)

5

Hillsborough Community College

Associate of Science in Fire Science Technology

Fully Online


This fully online program entails 60 credits. In mixes fire science topics with general ones in each semester. First classes are basic and introduce fire science and prevention. Later courses get into firefighting tactics and hydraulics. And towards the end, you 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
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,580 

Average Net Price:
$2,836 

Military Programs:
Credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
SACSCOC

6

University of Florida Online

Bachelor of Science in Fire & Emergency Services

Fully Online


This fully online program entails 120 credits. It takes you through a series of core classes about  strategy, ethics and disaster planning. On top of these areas and electives, you 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 emerg. mgmt. which looks into disaster policy and more. Some classes you might take are: 

  • FES Financial mgmt. 
  • Leadership 
  • Strategic Planning

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

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$6,035 

Average Net Price:
$9,755 

Military Programs:
Credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
SACSCOC

7

Purdue University Global

Bachelor of Science in Fire Science

Fully Online


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

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

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

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,289 

Average Net Price:
N/A

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) Institution, IFSAC, HLC

8

Eastern Kentucky University

Bachelor of Science in Fire, Arson & Explosion Investigation

Online/Campus


This program entails 120 credits. It is one of a few focused fire science degree programs at EKU. In this course plan, one looks at the science and sleuth skills crucial to finding the cause and criminal nature of fires and explosions. You also study the practices that foster inter agency team work. Apart from online course work, there are some on campus summer intensives. Some classes you might take are:

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

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

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,539 

Average Net Price:
$14,674 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
IFSAC, SACSCOC

9

New Jersey City University

Bachelor of Science in Fire Science

Hybrid


This program entails 123 credits mapped over four years. It uses a blend of online classes and in person experiences. First classes are basic. They instruct in fire behavior and tactics used to prevent, put out and investigate a fire. Further topics expand on fire dept. org, fire fighting tactics, building codes and safety. Some classes you might take are:

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

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $22,220
Grad $21,052
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$9,327 

Average Net Price:
$13,685 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

10

University of Cincinnati

Bachelor of Science in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology

Hybrid/Online


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

  • Fire tactics 
  • Problem Solving 
  • Personnel Mgmt.

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $26,994
Grad $24,532
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$7,568 

Average Net Price:
$19,219 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
HLC

11

Arizona State University Online

Master of Science in Public Safety Leadership and Administration

Fully Online


This fully online program entails 33 credits and includes a final research project. It focuses on exec fire admin. So, aims 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. Some classes you might take are:

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

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $19,398
Grad $6,384
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,907 

Average Net Price:
$14,568 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
HLC

12

University of Maryland

Master of Engineering – Fire Protection Engineering

Fully Online


This fully online program entails 30 credits. It is for engineers and tech pros who want to refine skills. FPE courses 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 mgmt., evacuation and the law. Some classes you might take are:

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

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $36,891  
Grad $29,250
Special rates available for military students 

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$10,020 

Average Net Price:
$17,723 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
MSCHE


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

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

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $38,630
Grad $10,530
Special rates available for military students  

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$22,000 

Average Net Price:
$24,796 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program & credit for military training.

Accredited:
New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

14

University of New Haven

Master of Science in Fire & Explosion Investigation

Online Hybrid


This program entails 39 credits. It is technical and draws from a few areas. Fire / arson investigation, emergency mgmt. and public safety. You 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. Some classes you might take are:

  • Terrorism 
  • Fire Scene Reconstruction 
  • Arson for Profit  

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

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$19,911 

Average Net Price:
$34,353 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
NECHE

15


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

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

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $15,229
Grad $17,107 
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:
$5,569 

Average Net Price:
$11,980 

Military Programs:
Yellow Ribbon Program, credit for military training, dedicated point of contact, recognized student vet organization & member of SOC.

Accredited:
International Fire Service Accreditation, HLC

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