Emergency Medical Services Management Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Info

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Bachelor's and associate degrees in emergency medical services can lead to careers as an EMT or paramedic. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your training.
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Associate and Bachelor's Degrees in Emergency Medical Services at a Glance

Becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT), and rising to the training levels of EMT-Intermediate, EMT-Advanced and finally paramedic, requires formal training that is often administered in certificate programs. EMTs and paramedics positions also require state licensing. Although these pre-professional programs do not require an academic degree, in recent years more emergency medical services (EMS) professionals have chosen to enroll in such programs.

Some academic programs focus on management aspects of EMS, leading to the development of emergency medical services management (EMSM) degrees at both the associate and bachelor's levels. Many emergency services directors have earned academic degrees, most commonly at the bachelor's level.

Employment for all emergency medical technicians and paramedics is expected to grow 33% between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This employment growth is the result of an aging population that will require increased medical care, as well as a rise in the number of specialized medical facilities that with require patient transfers.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in becoming supervisors for paramedics in emergency medical services Individuals seeking to further their formal education in the EMS field to compete for leadership positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Emergency medical technician and paramedic ($31,000)*
- First-line supervisor of protective service workers, all other ($46,000 - based on salary for protective services supervisors across multiple fields )*
- Same as associate, plus:
- Emergency services director ($112,000 based on at least ten years of experience)**
Time to Completion Two years full time Four years full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 20-25 courses - Roughly 40-45 courses
- Possible internship requirements
Prerequisites - CPR training
- High school diploma
- EMS certification
- 18 years of age
- Valid driver's license
Same as associate
Online Availability Rare Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (October 2012 figures)

Associate in Emergency Medical Services Management

Associate degree programs in emergency medical services management are not very common, and are usually taken after completion of EMT or paramedic training. You may be able to find schools that offer an EMT training associate program with a concentration in management or a management component. Programs like the Associate of Science in EMS Management can train students in core topics, as well as those related to EMS technology and management.

Pros and Cons


  • Academic degrees in this field are still somewhat uncommon, so having this degree might enhance an EMS career at any level
  • You will have the opportunity to learn about EMS topics, as well as technical and management areas of the field
  • An associate degree can provide background for further education in the medical field


  • You may be competing for jobs against applicants with less training but more experience
  • EMTs and paramedics already work challenging schedules without adding coursework
  • Unlike EMT and paramedic training certificates, these programs have general education requirements, which may not appeal to all students

Courses and Requirements

Associate-level training in EMS management is very closely related to other EMS associate degree programs. It combines practical knowledge about EMS, education in how to train others and management theory. These programs focus on making sure that students understand every aspect of EMS. They will cover such topics as EMS management, paramedic clinical training in the ambulance and hospital, advanced life support, medical terminology and effective communication.

Online Degree Options

EMS management associate programs with online components are rare. If you find an available program, you may be required to already have training as a paramedic, EMT or in another EMS position. Students may also consider a program that offers classes in a hybrid format, which means that you will still be required to complete some of your studies on-campus. For programs like these, you may want to check attendance requirements and make arrangements to assure program completion.

Stand Out with This Degree

It is likely that all paramedics and EMTs enrolled in these programs are looking to use their degrees to develop their management and promotion potential or otherwise earn an academic degree to develop skills for a current leadership position. In order to get ahead of the curve, you may want to put effort into developing close professional relationships with mentoring instructors who will be able to write more personal letters of reference for job applications or recommendations for further schooling. The BLS noted in 2011 that there should be an increased demand for EMTs and paramedics during age-related health emergencies. Because of this, you could stand out by taking elective courses related to this group, such as geriatric emergency medical services, as you complete your degree program.

Degree Alternatives

Paramedics have already completed significant schooling, and may consider attending what is known as a bridging program. These programs provide supplemental courses that allow EMS professionals to build on their preexisting training and coursework to quickly earn an associate degree. After students complete a series of bridging courses, usually about four, as well as all the general education requirements, they are awarded an associate degree in emergency medical services. This degree can then be used as a foundation for transferring to a bachelor's program or to fulfill licensing requirements.

Bachelor's in Emergency Medical Services Management

Bachelor's degree programs, such as the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Emergency Medical Care or B.S. in Emergency Medical Services Management, may follow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines for the content of their programs. These bachelor's programs typically devote more time to management topics than associate programs, focusing on developing leaders among those already in the ranks of emergency medical services professionals. These programs may be designed as a 2-year completion program for those who have already earned an associate degree in the field.

Pros and Cons


  • Bachelor's degree programs in EMS management are very common
  • These programs provide practical management training, covering topics that will assist rising professionals in making decisions that benefit their whole organization
  • Bachelor's degrees are the highest level of education most commonly held by directors of emergency management services


  • Students may find completing this coursework while working in the field, which offers services 24/7, to be extremely challenging
  • EMS management degrees do not automatically guarantee being selected for leadership positions
  • You may still need to gain experience for supervisory or other leadership roles

Courses and Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs focusing on EMS management cover topics relating to leadership roles and the financial aspects necessary for helping organizations provide services. Courses cover such topics as human resources, as well as smooth operation and effective delivery are covered, including areas of study like:

  • Best practices for EMS systems
  • EMS communications and operations
  • EMS financial management
  • EMS leadership and management
  • EMS quality assurance
  • Funding development for EMS
  • Human resources for EMS

Online Degree Options

Online degree options in emergency medical services management are available. Some of these programs are designed to follow an associate degree program in emergency medical services. You can build on your practical knowledge and develop the skills that allow paramedics to move into leadership positions. These online programs may have some attendance requirements, so you may want to examine the programs thoroughly before selecting one.

Stand Out with This Degree

In the field of EMS, bachelor's programs focusing on management skills are designed to help working professionals make the jump from providing services to leading those who do. For that reason, students should also be looking for ways to increase their management experience, showcasing their potential as leaders through taking on more responsibility and engaging in other career development activities. Internships or volunteer experiences can help applicants highlight these skills as well as provide experience for further developing and providing context for the decision-making processes that go into managing EMS providers.

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