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Emergency Management Doctor of Philosophy in Emergency Management

School of Public Service Leadership

Expand your skills to lead in emergency management

Looking for a way to step up as a leader to meet disaster management challenges and support public safety? You can build the skills for making practical, field-ready decisions and help communities and individuals in crisis with the Capella online PhD in Emergency Management. This program is designed to help you understand the principles of response, recovery, and mitigation needed by professionals seeking emergency management careers. You’ll get ready to lead with independent research into the complexities of managing and leading emergency systems and emergency management organizations. 

At a Glance

  • Online & in-person
  • 14 Core courses
  • 4 Elective courses
  • 3 Dissertation research seminars
  • Comprehensive exam
  • Dissertation
  • 96 Total quarter credits
  • 20 Max transfer credits

Classes Start January 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 Fall19)

PhD in 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 help expand your leadership skills to apply valid, reliable, and ethical research to your decisions. 

Become a scholar-practitioner

Evaluate theories and their application to the field while assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of a criminal justice organization.

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

Source: Alumni Outcome Survey, 2018

Scholar-practitioner faculty

Every member of Capella’s emergency management faculty hold a doctoral degree and many are certified emergency managers.

Meet the faculty »

90% of alumni are satisfied with their Capella experience.

Source: Alumni Outcome Survey, 2017

Our unique doctoral structure

Our PhD in Emergency Management program is designed to remove roadblocks for you and demystify the dissertation process. This unique approach centers on supporting you in three ways: through program structure, a dedicated faculty and support team, and online resources. To help generate momentum toward graduation, you’ll begin your dissertation early in the program. Our faculty, support team, and online resources will 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, 96 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

$5K toward your doctorate

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

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.

PhD in Emergency Management sample courses

Build your decision-making capabilities with the online PhD in Emergency Management. Your coursework will cover a balance of theory and research, as well as how they are applied in emergency preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery. This program includes dissertation research seminars, which allow you to get an early start on your dissertation.

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
EMG8045 *
Contemporary Issues in Emergency Management

This course introduces learners to the contemporary issues relevant in the emergency management profession today. Learners analyze the intersection of social norms, professional best practices, and emergency management theory as well as their impact on disaster events, policy development, and the administration of emergency management services. Prerequisite(s): EMG8035. 

4 quarter credits


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.

Continuity management

Apply research and theory to inform policy and practice to design and manage resilient systems.

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.

Higher education

Prepare to teach using your personal teaching philosophy and applying ethical decision-making, multicultural competence, and more.

Project management

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

What you’ll learn

The right education can change everything. Discover how your PhD puts you into a position to learn and educate on key emergency management issues. 

  • Evaluate how research can make an impact on policy.
  • Apply valid, reliable, and ethical research to your decisions.
  • Examine the cross-cultural evolution of contemporary emergency management.
  • Develop theoretical perspectives to deal with hazards, risks, and vulnerability.
  • Master scholarly, professional, and consistent communication practices.
  • Conduct valid, reliable, and ethical research.

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.

Myths of Emergency Management and How to Counter Them

Fiction often trumps fact when disaster strikes—here’s how to counter emergency management myths for better preparedness.

PhD in 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 PhD in Emergency Management.

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?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.