Master of Science in Emergency Services Administration

Degree Program

The Master of Science in Emergency Services Administration degree program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) is fully online, and prepares graduates for organizational leadership and senior-level positions across the emergency services sector. The program's high-quality, wide-ranging courses engage students in theory and research that inform the management of disaster risk. Program coursework culminates in projects or theses that directly strengthen students’ organizations and communities.

The EMER program at CSULB was named in the Top 5 of the Guide to Online Schools in their 2020 Best Value Colleges (based on tuition rates and salary data) and 2020 Most Affordable rankings. 

In recent years, emergency services professions have become extremely competitive, with demands for personnel to further their education to attain promotion and keep up with technical advances. Those in the following fields are well-suited for this program: firefighters, police officers, military personnel, emergency medical services personnel, and disaster response planners within government, business, and industry.

College: Health and Human Services

Department: School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Emergency Management

Please Note:

  • Out-of-state students who do not reside in California are not eligible to enroll in this fully online program. For more information, visit The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA).
  • Students enrolled in this program are eligible for some forms of financial aid, with the exception of the State University Grant (SUG) and Cal Vet College Fee Waiver.  
  • GI Bill benefits can be used for this program. Click here to learn more about eligibility, rates, and other details.

The purpose of the EMER program is to develop administrative leadership skills in emergency service personnel including:

  • Public administrators
  • Private business and industry disaster planners
  • Emergency medical services personnel
  • Nursing and public health practitioners
  • Military personnel
  • Humanitarian workers
  • Police officers, firefighters, and emergency managers
  • Exclusively online instruction to meet the needs of working professionals
  • Instructors are prominent faculty from the emergency services field
  • Networking with other professionals in a team learning environment
  • Students’ course assignments have practical and real-world applications
  • Courses are scheduled to allow students to pursue the degree on a year-round basis
  • Administrative leadership
  • Emergency planning and management theory and practice
  • International emergency management
  • Legal, economic, and human issues in emergency administration
  • Organizational change mechanisms
  • Participative decision making and collaboration
  • Research methods and analytic techniques for decision support and innovation
  • Hazards and risk management
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Disaster public and mental health
  • Homeland security
  • Risk, crisis, and interagency communications
  • Business continuity
  • Emergency management technologies
  • Public service
  • Critical thinking
  • Sociocultural skills
  • Community Engagement
  • Governance and Civics
  • Leadership

The EMER degree is a 32-unit program of study, distributed across three areas:

  1. The first part is a 23-unit set of required core coursework: EMER 500, 506, 530, 540, 548, 661, and 671.
  2. The second part is the elective area of a specialization. Students take up to 6 units of elective coursework. The electives are selected in consultation with a faculty advisor. EMER students have the flexibility to tailor their studies to meet specific career objectives that they and/or their professional organizations have identified.
  3. The third part of the program is critical to our mission of supporting the development of more disaster-resilient communities. Students are required to complete their program through a culminating capstone assessment. Students will demonstrate their degree competencies through a signature assignment, which includes the completion of either a capstone project (EMER 694) or a thesis (EMER 698). EMER 694 and EMER 698 are four-unit courses, and are required to be completed during the last two semesters of a student's EMER studies.


Every semester, graduate students must be registered in a course, or in GS 700, or must have an approved educational leave.

  • If a graduate student wishes to take a semester off before resuming coursework, s/he must take a Planned Educational Leave, not GS 700.
  • Registration in GS 700 is restricted to graduate students who have completed all their coursework and need additional time to complete their thesis or study for the comprehensive exam.

GS 700 is intended to be taken when a student believes he/she will be graduating at the end of that semester and does not need or desire to take additional courses. Enrolling in GS 700 is a cost-effective means by which to extend the course by one semester, while completing the thesis or comprehensive exam.  Students must enroll in GS 700 during:

  • Each semester they use any of the University's resources (including, but not limited to, faculty, staff, library, and/or other facilities/services), but are not enrolled in any courses; and/or
  • The semester they are taking the comprehensive examination, submitting their thesis the University's Thesis Office, or graduating, if they are not enrolled in any other courses at the University. 

In other words, students must be enrolled in a course or GS 700 during the semester in which they intend to graduate. Although GS 700 is a zero-unit course, the fee is based on one unit of credit for payment purposes; no unit credit is added to the student’s program or transcript.

  • Students may only enroll in GS 700 after they have Advanced to Candidacy and have completed all coursework for their master’s degree program, yet still have to complete their capstone experience (i.e., a thesis or the comprehensive exam). 
  • GS 700 forms are available for Criminal Justice graduate students from the Criminology and Criminal Justice Graduate Advisor; GS 700 forms are available for Emergency Services Administration graduate students from the Emergency Services Administration Graduate Advisor;

The Graduate Advisor will only issue a permit to register for GS 700 for the intended purpose of completing a master’s capstone experience.

Before the Graduate Advisor will issue a permit to register for GS 700, the requesting student must meet with the Graduate Advisor for an advising appointment.  During this appointment, the Graduate Advisor will check the student’s degree progress and verify compliance with all applicable policies and procedures.

Unless compelling circumstances exist, students are permitted to register for GS 700 for a maximum of two (2) semesters. 

GS 700 permits will be issued during the first three weeks of a semester.  No “late-adds” of GS 700 after the University's "Census Date" will be authorized unless compelling circumstances exist.

Graduate students do not need to register for GS 700s during the winter or summer sessions unless the student is graduating during that term. Winter session deadline will be the last day to add deadline (this occurs during the first week of instruction). During the summer session the deadline to add will be the final day of the 3rd week of the summer session.

EMER Program Overview


The class challenged my previously-held beliefs and provided new insight into a subject I had yet to dive into. The quality of instruction and content has surpassed my expectations.

Matt Borasi Current EMER student Master of Science in Emergency Services Administration