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DEM - Doctor of Emergency Management Public Service

Doctor of Emergency Management

Take the lead in emergency management

It takes a leader with skills and confidence to make life-saving public safety decisions and help communities survive a disaster. The Capella University online Doctor of Emergency Management (DEM) degree can help you develop the skills you need to evaluate crisis and emergency preparedness to make a difference where it counts.

You’ll learn to support policy development and analyze all phases of emergency management. And your coursework can help you prepare for a role in leadership, management, or operations.

At a Glance

  • Online
  • 14 Core courses
  • 4 Elective courses
  • 2 Doctoral research seminars
  • Doctoral capstone
  • 90 Total quarter credits
  • 20 Max transfer credits

Reduce your tuition by $5,000

Enroll in a qualified program and apply for a $5K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help fund your doctoral degree.

Apply now »

Classes Start April 13th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 application fee (waived w/promo WINTER)

Doctor of Emergency Management program highlights

Real-world skills

Our curriculum is designed to meet IAEM National Partners industry standards to help you act effectively in an emergency.

No wasted time

This program is designed to teach critical skills, knowledge, theories, and abilities that employers want to add to their workforce.

Capstone vs. dissertation

A capstone is designed to help you solve a real-world problem using applied research instead of a traditional dissertation.

81% of doctoral alumni found that their Capella education was designed around working professionals.

Source: Alumni Outcome Survey, 2018.

Scholar-practitioner faculty

Many of Capella’s emergency management faculty members hold a doctoral degree or are certified, emergency managers.

Meet the faculty »

90% of alumni are satisfied with their Capella experience.

Source: Gallup Research Study, 2016.

25 years of online doctoral experience

With over 25 years of experience in online doctoral education, we understand the unique needs of doctoral students, and have designed our programs to meet those needs. We've structured our programs to help you reach your goals and obtain critical skills—with our expert faculty, support teams, and online resources to help guide you every step of the way.

Cost & learning format

Online education isn’t one-size-fits-all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

A more structured learning format with an active peer community and faculty guidance. We’ll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$710 per credit, 90 total quarter credits, 20 max transfer credits

Get the details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.


Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

Ways to save

Affording your education shouldn’t be an obstacle to reaching your goals. We can help you find ways you can save

10% military discount

If you're an active-duty military service member, spouse, or veteran, discounts may be available.

Transfer credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools.

$5K toward your doctorate

Apply for a $5K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help fund your doctoral degree.

DEM sample courses

The Doctor of Emergency Management degree curriculum focuses on policy development and evaluation in crisis and emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. See dissertation research requirements.

Show course with description
EMG7025 *
Emergency Management Policy and the Administration of Emergencies and Disasters

This course focuses on the organizational challenges that emergency management leadership typically encounters in contemporary society. Learners critically examine the intended and unintended effects of political, social, and legal policies and pressures impacting the ways emergency management organizations function. Learners assess organizational and administrative theories, and best practices for leadership and administration in emergency management. Learners also analyze innovative policies and change initiatives to achieve specific ethical and functional objectives. Prerequisite(s): Completion of or concurrent registration in EMG7015; PSL7030.

4 quarter credits
EMG7035 *
Emergency Management Systems

Learners in this course identify best practices to coordinate and manage comprehensive emergency management systems. Learners examine technology and research-integrated applications, risk communication, risk-based decision making, application of theory, and monitoring and measurement of the programs analyzed. Prerequisite(s): EMG7015, PSL7030. 

4 quarter credits
EMG8015 *
Risk Management in Emergency Management

Learners in this course integrate the concepts of hazard, risk, and vulnerability with impact assessments to inform the planning of effective and efficient risk-based decision making. Learners examine multiple real-life disaster scenarios, public events, and existing risk assessments then identify the relevant theoretical perspectives that can be applied to each type of context. Learners also develop and implement an assessment of their own creation as a final project. Prerequisite(s): EMG7015, EMG7025. 

4 quarter credits
EMG8025 *
Emergency Management Operations and Planning

In this course, learners examine relevant theoretical paradigms related to risk, planning, and resiliency. Throughout the course, learners analyze the interorganizational and intergovernmental roles seen regularly in the emergency management field, and interpret current federal laws and national policies driving the field. The course culminates with the learner selecting a specific community and developing a strategic proposal for enhancing community resilience. Prerequisite(s): EMG7035, EMG8015. 

4 quarter credits
EMG8035 *
Response, Continuity, Recovery, and Resilience

This course focuses on an examination of human-made and natural disasters through cross-cultural and historical perspectives. Learners analyze the impact that culture has on disaster response, recovery, and resilience as well as the cultural variation that may be seen across and within communities, including variations within disasters and emergency management systems. Prerequisite(s): EMG8025.

4 quarter credits

What you’ll learn

A doctorate in emergency management helps you take on real-world challenges that can affect society across many levels of safety. 

  • Use research to help improve policy and practices.
  • Employ theory to address hazards, risks, and vulnerability within emergency management systems.
  • Apply emergency management theories to research questions and policies.
  • Design a program for responding to emergencies in public, private, and nonprofit organizations.
  • Make decisions supported by valid, reliable, and ethical research.
  • Master scholarly, professional, and consistent communication practices.


Concentrations let you hone in on your specific area of interest that can get you even closer to your exact career goals. The concentrations you earn will be included on your transcript.

Critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR)

Address the hazards that threaten the well-being of society with the Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR) Concentration.

Project management

Implement project management practices through innovative technology related to communication, collaboration, information management, and decision support.

Emergency management insights

Preparing For a Hurricane: An Emergency Manager’s To-Do List

Emergency managers provide an essential public service in the face of natural disasters such as hurricanes.

Technology Trends in Emergency Management

Adoption of new technological advances is having a positive effect on the emergency management field.

The Difference between a PhD and Professional Doctorate

Learn the main difference between these two doctoral program types and the questions you should ask to help guide your program decision.

Emergency management professional paths

Your education can help you reach your goals, professionally and personally. Here are some of the jobs and employment settings to consider with a DEM.

Related job titles to explore*

  • Full-time emergency management faculty
  • Adjunct or part-time emergency management faculty
  • Emergency management specialist

Employment settings to explore

  • Land-based or online college or university
  • FEMA
  • Emergency relief services
  • Government - federal, state, local

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other programs to explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

Ready for the next step?

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