OT: Masters Programs Advice.

So I'm about a year from finishing my bachelors and the boss and I have talked and I've decided to take the plunge into the graduate level programs. For someone who out of high school wasn't even sure about getting any degree this is something.

Here is my issue, because public safety/emergency management is such a broad stroke field and relatively new for most programs, in having problems finding online only programs that are actually any good.

How did y'all find the right graduate school for yourself? Did any of y'all do it later in life? Online? Any advice or thoughts?

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Here is my issue, because public safety/emergency management is such a broad stroke field and relatively new for most programs, in having problems finding online only programs that are actually any good.

if masters programs are relatively new in your broad field, why do you need one?

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Because it's becoming more important to stand out. Also the issue is many people think homeland security is working for NSA or CIA, DOD, State (Tech's program) or its only working for FEMA or local EM agency (VCU program). I'm looking for a program that offers a wide variety of electives and core classes not narrowed down.

In EM you mostly have 2 groups, well educated with only limited field experience or a lot of field experience and limited formal education. The people who can bridge that gap are sought after, I'm hoping to be in that bridge.

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Fair enough on bridging that gap.

It was a question worth asking, because usually if degree programs don't really exist, it's because there's not the requisite demand to justify having them.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

They exist but it's either just getting off the ground UCF or just in it for government cash Liberty. There are some really good on campus programs VCU and Georgetown and John Jay in NYC but their online courses aren't as good. Plus if I can I'd like in state, Florida, tuition.

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Hey FM, I just started my graduate degree. I had an easy time choosing where I am doing my program because:

1. Work pays for anything in system.
2. There is only one place that is all online because I work full time.

I want to share a link with you because I believe it is up your alley. I am super new to the school though so I cannot share much in the way of experience yet. https://www.umuc.edu/academic-programs/masters-degrees/management/emerge...

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I think a really important step in seeking a graduate education is figuring out what job you want, and then finding the training to get you there. I am not familiar with your field, but looking for a "broad overview" in a Masters degree is close to an oxymoron. Typically they are more specific than a Bachelor's degree. Are there people in your field you aspire to become? Seeking their advice or following in their footsteps may get you closer to where you want to be in the long run. With the price of tuition these days and the rising distribution of college degrees, it might be better to have a higher confidence going in that what you are pursuing will put you in a position to succeed in your career choice.

See that's the thing ask 10 Emergency Managers what they do and manage within their agency and you will get 10 different answers. In some places they are trainers of personal. Others they are the central public safety official in government. While in some they have more of a hands on approach and respond to incidents right along side other agencies.

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Hmm.. Well which of those three things would you say you are naturally good at, and which ones do you feel you need more structured training in? If it were me, I'd lean more towards the ones you need to have "proof" of accomplishment in order to be taken seriously. Clearly our fields of interest are very different, but if you were to be a trainer of personnel, I don't think that a degree program would give you any better leg-up than seeking a personal mentor and developing a well-written and thought-out philosophy statement to give to the potential employer during the interview. This could also be a one course elective. However, if you are a central public safety official you probably need more "proof of competency" and formal training. With respect to the hands-on approach it sounds like it is probably more of a on-the-job skill to learn as well. Take my advice with a whole mountain of salt though. With my graduate education I kept falling back on "What do I enjoy doing?" as the question that I kept asking myself for direction.

Many years ago I worked for a company that did flood plain maps, and when we did community outreach, the list of job titles that the "Emergency Manager" had was quite extensive, so I know what you mean. For so many of the smaller communities, they were dual hatted.

I'm currently nearing the end of doing a Master's after over 20 years from my bachelor's, so when I decided to take the plunge, I went with a university that others in my field went through, knowing my work would pay for it primarily, but also had a good reputation. I did a quick google search for emergency management and found this site that may provide a starting place: LINK

Good luck!

Yea google has been my main search tool. I've gone through a ton of websites like that and even FEMA which maintains a dated list of programs. One thing that hurts unlike in a lot of fields there isn't a certification or licensing you take after graduation. That's one thing that interest my in USF's program you actually come out a certified MPH, master of public health, with a Public health license.

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I'd definitely recommend picking from that FEMA list then. They wouldn't be (as) influenced by $$ and would have a wider breadth when compiling their list. Just my 2 cents on that. Also there are certification programs that aren't necessarily related to the master's (I was a Certified Floodplain Manager without one) so combine a master's with something like that (I'm sure there are other certifications) would be a good thing. Is USF's program on FEMA's list?

I still have a lot of friends that work in emergency management/FEMA too. It gave me my start and I thought it was pretty interesting until I decided to go the defense route.

FEMA just lists every program that tells them they have a program.

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Ah, right, I forgot how FEMA worked for a minute there...

This is actually right up my alley - I work for a higher ed marketing/consulting firm and I more specifically am in the adult learner and graduate part of it. One of our clients has an MS in Disaster and Emergency Management and I believe it is completely online. It's also in Florida, which I see you mentioned, and has a specialty track for Fire Administration. It's Nova Southeastern University and is housed in their College of Osteopathic Medicine. Great looking campus too, by the way; I've had the chance to go down there a few times.

https://osteopathic.nova.edu/msdem/index.html

I have a few contacts that I could potentially get you in touch with there if you're interested.

How did y'all find the right graduate school for yourself? Did any of y'all do it later in life? Online? Any advice or thoughts?

I did the nerd route and stayed in school. My undergrad was liberal studies with a concentration in Elementary Ed.. I graduated from Longwood in May of 03 and went straight back in August for 2 more years. For me the school was an easy choice because I was already there. I knew that if I didn't do it immediately that I probably wouldn't go back after becoming an adult--getting married, kids, jobs, etc... I also knew that it would be harder if I went back later. HokieEnginerd ended up going back for his Masters several years later (after we got married and such). It took him a while and it was a lot going on for him/us. If you find a job that offers a Grad program that you could do through them, that might be something to consider. I know several of my teacher friends got their Masters that way.

2 time Longwood grad married to a Hokie.

The advice I give everyone: Go on LinkedIn, find people who have your dream job. See where they went to school. Reach out to them, ask if they'll meet for coffee or hop on a call to discuss their path, what they'd do differently, etc.

How did y'all find the right graduate school for yourself? Did any of y'all do it later in life? Online? Any advice or thoughts?

I was trying to pivot into (what I thought was) a slightly different role. I made a handful of final round interviews, each time losing to someone who either (a) had more technical knowledge, or (b) had an MBA. After examining the long term career trajectories for both approaches, I chose to pursue an MBA. After making this decision, I focused on picking a school/program:

  1. First, I had to understand if I should enroll in a full time, evening, or executive program. After talking to administrators, admissions depts, career services, and alumni from various schools, it was clear that, since I wanted to switch both industries AND job functions, a full time MBA would get me the best results.
  2. Next, I did a ton of networking and research and created a list of programs I was interested in based on the companies, industries, and regions that those schools tend to send graduates to.
  3. Then I submitted applications to all of these schools
  4. Finally, of the schools I was admitted to, I weighed cost/benefits given school network, education, scholarships/cost, opportunities, etc.

Sine you asked about age, I was 26 when I started thinking about grad school, 27 when I started applying, and 28 when I actually started. It's a 2 year program, so I'll be 30 when I graduate. I don't have kids or a family, but a long time GF - I'd say about 10% of my class has kids, 20-25% are married, and over 50% entered school in some sort of relationship.

Here is my issue, because public safety/emergency management is such a broad stroke field and relatively new for most programs, in having problems finding online only programs that are actually any good.

I'd also do research about where the field is going. Who's disrupting the field, what new tech is emerging in the field, what new business models are coming about, etc. For example, one trend we're seeing a variety of industries is reliance on 'big data' - it might be possible that you could really separate yourself from the rest of the field by having an MS in data analytics (or even a 'bootcamp' diploma) in addition to your industry knowledge (note - I'm just using this as an example, I have no idea how data is used in public safety).

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What's the pay difference between having one and not having one? Need ROI if you're finding yourself

To jump on this thought, in my field (environmental consulting) getting professional certifications are alot more valuable than graduate degrees.

Well I make 0$ now as a part time student/stay at home dad. So....

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That's not what was asked, though

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

There is no easy answer here. Most new hires into the field need an advanced degree, however there are many high level folks who don't have any degrees because they already worked for city/county/state in some fire or law enforcement capacity. This field is changing from "this is how we have always done it" to "what does the evidence, research AND experience tell us".

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Echoing chumps' comments above, but you need to understand the potential upside and costs of each degree. Potential upsides to consider include:

  • What companies, industries, and job functions can this degree get you?
  • How much salary can this degree get you upon graduating? 5 years down the road? 10?
  • What regions of the country (or world) can this degree help you get a job in?

Costs can be financial, or time:

  • How much does the degree cost you?
  • How much future income are forfeiting (I see that you're a stay at home dad, but if you considered working part time in the next couple years, how much income would you be sacrificing)?
  • When do classes meet? Is the potential upside enough to warrant missing kids' soccer games or things of that ilk?

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My framework for answering these questions begins by asking myself:
What problem exists that will be fixed by "blank"?

What is the problem that exists that would be fixed by going to grad school? It doesn't sound as though you have narrowed your focus down on what exactly you want to do.

I would work for at least a year first. Get as much broad exposure in the industry you are interested in and learn specifically what you want to do and how your skill set matches up with what is required to pursue that career. Get paid and make connections while you figure out the direction you want to go. I find that too many people aren't exactly sure what they want to do and grad school becomes the path of least resistance while they try and figure it out.

I'm also a big fan of specific professional designations over broad based grad programs.

I've worked in public safety off and on since 2003. I have an idea of what I want to do, county or city emergency management. Grad school hell school in general is the path of at best middle ground for me. I don't have to work to have a comfortable life, I want to work and have a career when my kids are older so my options are to sit at hone or go to grad school after I graduate next May.

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I know you are not local but I pulled this from Blacksburg as a reference. Emergency Coordinator for VT. Is this along the lines of what you would like to do?

https://www.higheredjobs.com/search/details.cfm?JobCode=176921460&Title=...

Have you considered getting your Certified Emergency Manager designation? In a lot of cases work experience and professional certifications outweigh a grad degree. In my field every job will list MBA as a requirement but that is just a tool used by the employer to narrow the applicant field. As soon as the employer knows I have my CFA, they could care less about me not having an MBA. Your work experience alone should get your foot in the door somewhere.

My only advice is to exhaust all other options before forking over thousands of dollars without any guarantee of ROI.

I did a graduate program later in life.

Was a good experience, made my brain function, let me take classes I was interested in and and get credit, I got someone else to pay for most of it, I did it mostly in live classes, and took several classes on line.

Given that background, here are the answers, in general, and then specifically for you.

In general:

1) Unless it's a required credential, you generally don't NEED it.

2) It can help make your resume seem more current.

3) It can give you some updates to the theory or practice in your field.

4) It can help you branch to another field.

5) It's another accomplishment to check off your list

Now, in your case:

1) You don't need it.

2) is there no way you can work part time? That will likely give you more relevance if you can swing it.

3) It's nice if you can get someone else to pay for it, as in an employer, or qualifying for some kind of scholarship or GI Bill. Not sure you're really going to get a lot of financial return on this investment.

4) It may make sense in terms of life goals if it keeps your mind active and you can't swing the part time thing. The usual problem is that the better "prestige" programs in any given field are spendy. Then again, in public safety, not everyone has a master's, so the credential itself can be a discriminator.

5) There are also FREE graduate classes available (Coursera, for example), but you don't get the credential. Then again, the credential may not be all that important.

One important consideration would be the time frame you intend to seek employment. If you can time it so that you just finished your graduate program when you're looking for a job, it does help a little with the storyline.

I want to work and have a career when my kids are older so my options are to sit at hone or go to grad school after I graduate next May.

If this really is the choice, I'd go for it. As to which program, this is all about a "program of convenience" to your lifestyle. Since it looks like you might be paying for it, that's also going to be a major factor.

How did y'all find the right graduate school for yourself?

I did a co-op while at tech so while I graduated a year later I had experience, I opted to do grad school at night right when I started my full time job. For me I identified I identified what I valued in a program, for me that was cost effective so that it fit in my company's reimbursement parameters, had in person classes and was relatively fast. Once I did that I was able to narrow down the programs I was looking at and ended up picking one. I hope this helps a little bit.

VT '17

As someone who works with and hires lot of people with (and without grad degrees), appreciate that the real value they provide is a network and a brand.

If you're going to invest the money into getting a post-graduate degree, then it should be somewhere where you 1) will significantly expand your professional network and 2) the institution that you choose should pop on you resume / proposals. Anything else is probably not worth the money, as you will learn as much (if not more) actually working vs. continued studies and any salary increase isn't worth the ROI (of the off brand schools). Just my opinion but a top 50 program is probably a good investment - others are not necessarily going to move the needle on opportunities or $$.

Work experience will always be more meaningful than a masters degree unless you're starting out and have an Ivy degree or the person interviewing you is from same school or you are going into academia.

Just find the one that is most convenient and in your budget.

Having gone and gotten two masters degrees (one straight up, the second phd not worth my time) make sure it is worth your time and money. Most importantly make sure it is an area you are passionate about.

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Have you thought about getting a sugar momma instead?

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You're first mistake was assuming I knew something! Actually that was your whole post, so more like you're only mistake.

So going over costs today with two potential programs they tell me it will be 14-17k to get my masters.

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