West Texas A&M University

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Emergency Management Administration Program Frquently Asked Questions

Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice

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.
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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
  • Creating an outstanding commitment to service with the EMA community and WTAMU
  • Providing cutting-edge 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.
We accept the tuition waiver provided by the Texas state legislature to firefighters who work for a political subdivision within the state.

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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, masters, and doctorate 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. www.sacscoc.org

West Texas A&M University 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?

Interested persons should apply for the program between January 1st and March 31st. If accepted, the student will begin classes the following fall semester.

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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. Most students complete the program within four years.

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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. See a course listing. Every student is required to earn a grade of “C” or higher in all of these courses.

All students must also hold an associate degree with general education core curriculum of 42-44 credit hours in (not limited to) the following subjects: English, communication, mathematics, natural sciences, humanities, visual and performing arts, social and behavioral sciences, and an institutional designation option. All these courses should be transferred into WTAMU. 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. More information about the Core Curriculum.

EMA students must also take 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. We do not give credit for relevant life experiences.

Degree checklist in PDF format (2018-2019 academic year)

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 adviser 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 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 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 average length is approximately 15-20 pages double-spaced, plus the cover sheet and references. The final work usually takes one semester to complete and must be accompanied with 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?

The application process is easy. It is a three-step process: a) apply, b) send transcripts, and c) establish a degree plan.

First, a student must apply to West Texas A&M University at the state’s universal, online application program 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 even if the student sends the Admissions Office an unopened, official transcript that was issued to the student. Please send all transcripts 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.

If you are accepted to the university, your application will be forwarded to the program for the second-round screening. Once being admitted by the program, each student will be notified through the student's WT e-mail account of their admission to the university. WTAMU identification numbers, college e-mail accounts, and other services will be provided at this time. All official information will be sent to you by either e-mail or by letter. It is imperative 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 talk with professors, staff, or administrators.

Once you are admitted to the university and the program, each student is required to complete an application for a degree plan. This is an extremely important requirement. An advisor will analyze your transcripts and apply the transfer classes to your degree plan checklist. This application is made directly to the individual’s college located within the university. EMA students use the application form through the College of Education and Social Sciences’ website.

Students will also need to contact Patricia McCormick in Advising Services for help in deciding what classes they need to register for in the first semester. She can be contacted at 806-651-5300 or pmccormick@wtamu.edu.

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How is a student advised?

Students are required to contact their advisor each semester and discuss the classes they should take in the coming semester. Students are unable to register for classes until they have done this. This process helps to ensure that students are taking the right classes and are progressing toward graduation.

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What is greenlighting?

Once a student is advised on the courses that can be completed in the upcoming semester, the advisor will approve this student for course registration. This process is known as greenlighting.

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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, www.wtamu.edu and clicking the Registration button at the bottom of the main web page. This button connects the student to Buff Advisor where he or she can register for classes. Faculty members do not register students for classes unless there are unusual, extenuating circumstances or teacher permission is required to register for a specific course. Otherwise, class registration is a student's responsibility that occurs after consulting with one’s advisor.

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Will I register after or during orientation?

Most on-campus students attend campus orientation. Most online students cannot for various reasons. Students register for classes after developing a degree plan and talk with their advisor. Registration usually opens about two months prior to the beginning of the upcoming semester. Please contact your advisor to schedule an appointment to discuss your plans by telephone or electronic mail.

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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 State 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 volunteers 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.

Peace officers enrolled in certain courses (criminal justice or law enforcement) can be exempted from pay tuition of these courses only. More information can be found on the webpage of State Code 54.3531. Please contact the Criminal Justice Program Director, Dr. Harry Hueston (hhueston@wtamu.edu), for the details of applying for the peace officer tuition exemptions.

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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. The certification (waiver form) should be received prior to April 1 for the Fall semester. The subsequent certifications should be received prior to the payment deadline of each long semester (Springs and Falls) to avoid being removed from registered classes. It is suggested to have the tuition waiver submitted in March for the Fall and in November for the Spring for timely approval. The Summer sessions will be associated with Spring certification only. Late certification submission will be rejected but can be applied to the following long semester if the student keeps an active status.
  3. The applicant must have completed five years of Firefighter service by the end of the degree.
  4. Eligibility for tuition waiver will be certified by the EMA Program Coordinator (Dr. Xiangyu Li, xli@wtamu.edu) or Department Head (Dr. Lisa Garza, lgarza@wtamu.edu) of Political Science & Criminal Justice.
  5. Tuition waivers when approved will be transmitted to the Business office for handling.
  6. Approved applicants are responsible to pay university fees, which are not covered by the tuition waiver.
  7. WTAMU is required to have the original letter on file. WTAMU cannot accept or apply the tuition waiver for students who only fax, e-mail, or provide a copy of the original letter. The original letter should be printed using the following form and on agency letterhead:

    EMA Program Firefighter Tuition Waiver Form

    The letter should be Signed by the student’s supervisor or an official from the agency’s human resource office, and Mailed to the following address:

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

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

Once your letter and tuition waiver forms have been received and approved by university officials, the Business Office will be notified. The waivers will be applied to your account. 

We must have all information included in the description below to meet auditing and legal requirements as well as guaranteeing 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. A sentence stating that the student currently has or will have a minimum of five years of emergency management experience prior to graduation;
  6. Date of employment with the current agency;
  7. Date of employment in the field as written on the student's employment application with their current volunteer or professional EMA department;
  8. A sentence stating the student qualifies for the tuition waiver program as outlined under Texas State Code 54.353.

Please contact the Registrar with any questions pertaining to your individual accounts.

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

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Are there additional fees for online students?

Online courses have an additional $40, per semester hour, Distance Education fee.

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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 State 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 during the first month of their last semester. To apply, students need to fill out a form entitled Application for Graduation and Tuition Rebate.

The form must be submitted to Kathy Lefever, Assistant to the Dean of the College of Education and Social Sciences via e-mail at klefever@wtamu.edu or by fax at 806-651-3602. She can be reached by phone at 806-651-2600.

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What are the career opportunities for this field?

EMA students can find employment in various areas such as:

• Local, state, and federal governments

o Department of Homeland Security
o Federal Emergency Management Agency
o Your state’s department of health
o Federal and state Departments of Justice

• Private businesses

o Particularly after 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

• Coordinating volunteer organizations

o Red Cross
o Salvation Army

• International organizations


• Humanitarian and relief agencies

• Emergency management consulting firms

EMA students are in moderate-to-high demand, particularly students who have experience in the field but 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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What will I earn upon completing the EMA program?

A bachelor’s degree in emergency management professionals must be capable to demonstrate knowledge of all relevant laws, policies, and procedures pertaining to the protection of the people, property, and data during any type of emergency. The WTAMU program instructs its students in those administrative, budgetary, and management skills needed to advance beyond the entry-level position toward leadership positions within their departments and agencies.

Data obtained from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA) states the EMA growth rate will average between 13 and 28 percent annually for the next five years with a beginning salary ranging between $40 - $42K annually.

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