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Emergency Management Doctor of Philosophy in Emergency Management

School of Public Service Leadership

Lead Communities Through Crisis

Emergencies call for experienced professionals who can respond at a moment’s notice. Knowing what to do and when to do it makes all the difference when it comes to saving lives, protecting property and the environment, and helping a community return to normal after a crisis. Capella’s online PhD in Emergency Management degree offers a strong balance of theory, research, and application, to expand your decision-making capabilities and build your leadership and communications skills. You’ll learn to apply evidence-based best practices and become the leader communities need most. 

At a Glance

  • Online & In Person
  • 14 Core Courses
  • 4 Elective Courses
  • 3 Dissertation Research Seminars
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Dissertation

Classes Start July 8th

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 SPRING)

What you’ll learn

Examine Research & Policy

Evaluate how research impacts policy in emergency management issues.

Identify the Hazards

Apply theoretical perspectives dealing with hazards, risks, and vulnerability within emergency management systems.

Conduct Viable Research

Conduct valid, reliable, and ethical research. 

Study Cross-Cultural Shifts

Examine how cross-cultural historical shifts have affected contemporary emergency management.

Back Up Decisions with Research

Apply valid, reliable, and ethical research to your decisions.

Communicate Professionally

Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with the expectations for your profession.

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.

Program features

Our program offers additional benefits you might be interested in.

Scholar-Practitioner Faculty

Learn the latest in theory and practice from doctoral faculty who are actively engaged in the emergency management field.

Relevant, Real-World Learning

Learn through our immersive media simulation, Riverbend City, to develop and practice your skills in a risk-free environment.

Convenient, Flexible Learning

Access our engaging, online learning environment anytime, anywhere, with any device—set your own schedule while meeting deadlines.

Learn to make practical, field-ready decisions based on research. 

Because our curriculum is research-based and practically applied, you’ll gain the foundational knowledge you need to make effective, evidence-based decisions in the field that are based on research and not popular opinion.

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. 

Our original learning format offers extra structure for those who want it. 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.

Ways to save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

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.

Employer & association discounts

If your employer or organization is a partner with Capella, you may be eligible for a tuition discount.

Learning online doesn’t mean you’ll learn alone. 

From day one, you’ll interact in a multidisciplinary courseroom that mimics the real world. You’ll be paired with an expert instructor and writing coach who’ll help you develop the skills needed for success.

Accredited & recognized

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

Sample courses

The online PhD in Emergency Management curriculum features a balance of theory, research, and application in emergency preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery, helping you build your decision-making capabilities. The 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.

Relevant blog posts

When Disaster Strikes, the World Depends on Public Service Professionals

It takes a range of public service professionals, from law enforcement to case managers, to respond to a crisis.

Mark's Journey to a PhD in Emergency Management

Firefighter Mark Warnick shares how he achieved his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD at Capella.

Move forward in your career

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with our online emergency management doctoral degree.

Related Job Titles to Explore*

  • Full-time, part-time, or adjunct faculty
  • Disaster response consultant
  • Crisis management consultant
  • Risk management consultant
  • Emergency management agency director
  • Preparedness and incident management director
  • Logistics coordinator
  • Crisis management training director
  • Disaster and emergency service director
  • Mitigation planner/specialist
  • HSEEP training officer
  • Director of emergency operations

Related Employment Settings to Explore

  • Law enforcement organization–local, state, federal
  • FEMA
  • Private security firm
  • Federal government agency
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Preparedness directorate
  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Community college
  • Emergency medical service
  • Fire service
  • Business continuity department for private business—railroads, hospitals, and Fortune 500 companies
  • Federal or state emergency management agency

*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.