Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (B.A.A.S.) Degree

Major in Emergency Management Administration (Major Code: 603)

We recognize and accept the state tuition waiver provided by the Texas State Legislature to emergency responders as outlined in State Code 54.353

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

What is the mission of the Emergency Management Administration program?

The mission of the Emergency Management Administration (EMA) program is to prepare firefighters, police officers, emergency responders, military personnel, private-sector and other emergency-services professionals for advanced levels of administration and management within the emergency services professions.

What are the goals of the Emergency Management Administration program?

  • Increasing administrative capabilities of emergency responders by providing a state-of-the-art online learning environment
  • Expanding all of our students' current written and verbal skills that will enable them to present themselves and their agencies to any community before, during, and after emergency situations
  • Creating an outstanding commitment to service with the EMA community and WTAMU
  • Providing an excellent curriculum from experienced faculty who support a student’s professional and intellectual development
  • Expanding the student’s current leadership capabilities within and contributions to the EMA profession
  • Helping communities, both large and small, to deal with and minimize the effects caused by emergencies

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Why was the EMA program created? 

WTAMU’s EMA Program is a professional emergency management program based on a public administration curriculum.
The EMA Degree Program was specially designed by West Texas A&M University faculty and administrators in cooperation with the Texas Engineering Extension Service for non-traditional students. Offered completely online, our students can complete the program while remaining employed full time.

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Is the EMA Program completely online?


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Is the EMA program accredited?

The EMA program is offered through West Texas A&M University.

West Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees. Contact the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of West Texas A&M University.

West Texas A&M University's EMA program has been ranked as one of the best universities located in the western United States by U.S. News and World Report and The Princeton Review.

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When can I begin the program?

You can apply to the program at any time using the Apply Texas application process which you can find on the WTAMU home page. 

Once you have been accepted to the University you will need to contact Advising Services so they can review the course work and training you have transferred in and how it affects the courses you will need to take to complete your degree.  They will then set you up for your first semester in the EMA program at WTAMU and refer you to your EMA advisor for the rest of your program.

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Is on-campus residency required?


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Is this program limited only to citizens of Texas?


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Can international students apply for the EMA program?

Yes. International applicants must have an associate degree earned in the United States or have completed 42 core curriculum courses in WTAMU before applying for the EMA program.

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Is the program self-paced?

No. Courses begin and end within a semester.

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Can I attend part-time?

Yes.  Most EMA students are enrolled part-time and take classes as their personal and professional lives allow them. 

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If I attend part-time, will the courses I need to graduate be offered in a timely manner?

Yes. Most classes will be offered at least twice during a student’s part-time study.

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What are the degree requirements for the EMA degree?

Students are required to complete 120 hours to earn a degree in EMA from West Texas A&M University.

The degree includes 42 credit hours of classes in the EMA major. Every student is required to earn a grade of “C” or higher in all of these courses.

All students should hold an associate degree or completion of appropriate technical-education courses at accredited technical-education facilities such as the National Fire Academy and appropriate general education courses Since the EMA Program requires 36 hours of electives, up to 36 hours of academic credit can be earned through the transfer of technical courses taken at community colleges or technical-education facilities. To be eligible for the EMA Program, a prospective student must have technical credit from a community college or technical-education facility and must be currently employed in an emergency management profession.  However, a student may be required to complete courses, prior to being enrolled in the program, required by WTAMU and our accrediting agencies that are not included in their community college curriculum.

EMA students must also take an additional 36-hours of credit to achieve the required 120 total credit hours. Most EMA students fulfill this requirement by transferring technical education courses that were completed at their community colleges or other accredited technical education facilities, like the National Fire Academy. 

All the 42 hours required courses toward the EMA degree must be taken at WTAMU. Because the hours transferred to WTAMU are unique to each student, a student should request a formal degree plan immediately after being admitted to WTAMU.

Contact the EMA academic advisor for additional information about the EMA major.

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Am I required to pass a comprehensive examination to graduate?


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Am I required to complete a thesis or a comprehensive study?

Yes. Each student is required to complete a comprehensive undergraduate paper in an area of interest within emergency management. Students are not allowed to enroll in the Directed Research course until they have completed most, if not all, of their major courses. The paper combines the student’s individual interest in a topic with the coursework outlined in the EMA curriculum. This final paper varies in length and is based upon the student’s research interest.  The final work usually takes one semester to complete and must be accompanied by a presentation that the student can use to deliver to other emergency managers, community groups, elected officials, and other leaders in one’s community or field of interest.

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How does a student apply to the program?

First, a student must apply to West Texas A&M University at the state’s universal, online application portal through the link to Apply Texas.

Secondly, a student will request official transcripts from all colleges and universities to be sent to our Admissions Office. We do not accept transcripts sent from the student. Please have all transcripts sent to the following address: Office of Admissions, West Texas A&M University, Box 60907, Canyon, Texas 79016. Any additional questions can be answered by referring to the Admissions website.

Once a student has been admitted to the university, the student is required to complete a degree plan. This is an extremely important requirement. Students will then need to contact Patricia McCormick or one of her team in Advising Services for help in deciding what classes they need to register for in the first semester, and filing for their degree plan. She can be contacted at 806-651-5300 or

Once issued, it is important that each student relies upon their WTAMU e-mail account for all official communication with their professors, staff, and administrators. Do not use personal e-mail accounts to correspond with professors, staff, or administrations. 

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How do I register for classes?

It is the student’s responsibility to register for classes after advising. Students register by entering WTAMU’s website, go into their Buff Advisor, review their Program Evaluation, and then go into Student Planning where they have additional planning tools and Registration tools. Faculty members do not register students for classes unless there are unusual, extenuating circumstances or faculty permission is required to register for a specific course. Otherwise, class registration is a student's responsibility.

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Will I register after or during orientation?

There is a base fee for all students who complete orientation, whether in-person or online. This fee will be applied to the bill for the student's first long semester. Online Transfer Orientation will include an introduction to our on-campus resources via a series of web pages followed by a brief quiz to assess your readiness. Upon successful completion, you will be directed to schedule an appointment for academic advising with Advising Services

Students may access the online orientation by the following steps:

  1. Follow this link to orientation 
  2. Log in using your Buff ID and password
  3. Complete the orientation in its entirety
  4. Pass the final quiz

The Online Transfer Orientation will take approximately one hour to complete.  You may start and stop the orientation as often as you need.  The system will remember where you left off.

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What are the tuition rates?

WTAMU is one of the lowest-cost, public institutions of higher education in Texas. To determine what the cost will be to you, please go to our Cost Calculator.

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Do I qualify for tuition waivers?

Firefighters who are employed or volunteer with a political subdivision of the State of Texas qualify for a tuition waiver for all courses as outlined by Texas Education Code 54.353. The tuition waiver program is the state legislature’s efforts to guarantee that we have a well-educated, well-informed emergency management workforce throughout the state. The Texas State Legislature created a program whereby firefighters may apply for a tuition waiver if these persons are majoring in an emergency management administration degree program. This tuition waiver applies to any firefighter who meets the program requirements for a volunteer firefighter or works for a fire department, public safety agency, or other emergency response organizations and does so within a political subdivision located within the state of Texas. To read this legislation, please go to the link below:

Information about the state tuition waiver program.

The Texas Attorney General’s (AG) Office has ruled in favor of the Texas State Legislature’s creation of the EMA tuition waiver for Texas citizens enrolled at community colleges and universities that offer programs in fire science, emergency management, emergency management administration, and public administration. To read the Attorney General’s ruling to its entirety, please go to the link provided at the AG's office.

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If I qualify for the state tuition waiver, how do I apply for it? Do I apply for it only when I apply or do I have to apply for the tuition waiver each semester?

  1. To receive the Tuition waiver, the applicant must be certified as a Firefighter by a responsible official in the department/agency in which he/she serves.
  2. It is suggested to have the tuition waiver mailed in March for the Fall and in November for the Spring for timely approval. The summer sessions (when offered) will be associated with Spring or Fall certification submitted in a timely manner. 
  3. Eligibility for tuition waiver will be certified by the EMA Program Coordinator or Department Head of Political Science & Criminal Justice.
  4. Tuition waivers when approved will be transmitted to the Registrar's Office for processing.
  5. Approved applicants are responsible to pay university fees, which are not covered by the tuition waiver.

EMA Program Firefighter Tuition Waiver Form

The Firefighter Tuition Waiver form should be copied and completed on the student’s Department letterhead, signed by the student’s supervisor or an official from the agency’s human resource office, and Mailed to the following address:

EMA Program Director
Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice
West Texas A&M University
WTAMU Box 60807
Canyon, TX 79016

The waiver can also be submitted via e-mail to

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How will I know if the tuition waivers have been applied to my account?

Once your letter or the tuition waiver form has been received and approved by EMA officials, the Registrar’s Office will notify the Business Office. The waiver will then be applied to your account. 

We must have all information included in the description below to meet auditing and legal requirements as well as guarantee that we are applying the waiver to the correct account. (All requirements are included in the tuition waiver form)

  1. Student's name;
  2. Title;
  3. Date of birth;
  4. Last four digits of the student's Social Security number or the student's entire WTAMU identification number (Buff ID);
  5. Date of employment with the current agency;
  6. A sentence stating the student qualifies for the tuition waiver program as outlined under Texas State Code 54.353.

Your academic advisor does not have access to your financial records.  

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I am active military or have prior military experience. I have GI Bill educational benefits. I also qualify for Hazelwood educational benefits. Do I have to use the tuition waiver program?

No. Students have the option to use the tuition waiver program as provided by Texas Education Code 54.353 but are not required to use this program for admission into it.

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Does WTAMU accept GI Bill and Hazelwood Scholarships?

Absolutely! We are considered to be one of the nation’s more military-friendly campuses by Military Advanced Education. For more information about this honor, please see the veteran's information.

More information about our programs for active military, prior military, and their families.

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When do I apply for graduation?

Students apply for graduation before the first month of their last semester. To apply, students need to fill out a form entitled Application for Graduation and Tuition Rebate. Please contact the Emergency Management Program Director for assistance. 

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What are the career opportunities for this field?

EMA students can find employment in various areas such as:

Government Agencies and Departments 

  • Local Government (Cities, Counties, Districts)
  • State Government and State Agencies 
  • Federal Government and Federal Agencies
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency 
  • Departments of Health
  • Departments of Justice

Coordinating Volunteer Organizations 

  • Red Cross
  • Salvation Army
  • CARE

Other Opportunities 

  • International Organizations
    • UNESCO
  • Humanitarian and Relief Agencies 
  • Private Business and Industry
    • Emergency Management Consulting 
    • Many companies and firms have developed emergency management operations and plans requiring dedicated personnel

EMA students are in moderate-to-high demand, particularly students who have experience in the field and hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

EMA managers are responsible for planning and coordinating emergency responses from all types throughout their political subdivisions, businesses, or geographic agencies. This includes conducting vulnerability analyses, capability assessments, writing comprehensive strategic plans, implementing budgets, and communicating these needs to various groups. These groups vary from local neighborhood associations and volunteer groups to a board of directors/elected officials throughout a jurisdiction.

Emergency managers are expected to coordinate and conduct education programs for various groups within a community or field. All the while, they are expected to develop training exercises. Confidence, team building, and leadership skills are necessary. The ability to work under pressure and possessing problem-solving abilities are essential.

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