Online Degrees and Programs
FIRE SCIENCE: ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS
Online degree programs are ideal for students looking for a convenient, flexible way to gain new knowledge and earn a degree in fire science. Both two and four-year programs are available for firefighters and fire investigators in-the-making.
OVERVIEW: ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN FIRE SCIENCE
If you’re looking to learn the fundamentals of fire science including emergency services, first-response medical care, and fire personnel, an associate’s degree is a fantastic start. It is the most popular degree program in the field because it offers a basic overview and more progressive classes such as fire behavior, fire prevention techniques and strategies, and protection systems, to name a few. By the end of the program, students have a working foundation of the field. While the coursework associated with an A.S. degree is usually pretty general, some programs do challenge students to delve into a specialization within the field. For example, one may be able to pick chemistry as a specialization, and learn about fire science from that perspective. Prospective firefighters hoping to eventually take on a leadership position may consider coursework in leadership and communication studies.
THE A.S. DEGREE IN FIRE SCIENCE ONLINE
Aside from the fact that fire science is a field requiring hands-on training and experience that can’t be provided in an online learning environment, many other aspects of learning can be easily done from home on your own time. For example, many firefighters have to pass three exams before they can join a firehouse. These exams test students on their familiarity in generic areas such as math, problem solving, reasoning, and memory, to name a few. The knowledge required to pass these exams can all be acquired online via video lectures, e-mail correspondences with professors, discussion boards with other students, and other techniques. It’s important to keep in mind that some online classes may require students to spend some time at a campus to finish certain projects or tasks. For example, someone who is studying fire science with a chemistry specialization may be expected to occasionally visit a campus and complete lab work in-person in order to finish a class.
DIVE IN DEEPER: BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN FIRE SCIENCE
While most aspiring firefighters will save lives just fine with an associate degree, bachelor’s degree programs are available for those who want to further their education and increase their chances of getting hired. Depending on the specialization, some graduates are well-prepared for supervisory roles such as fire marshal or fire chief. The curriculum associated with a bachelor’s degree involves general classes as well as coursework in higher-level topics such as engineering, OSHA regulations, and environmental science. Keep in mind that every college offers different programs and classes, so it is important for the student to conduct research on specific course requirements at various colleges before making a final decision.
THE BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN FIRE SCIENCE ONLINE
Similar to online associate degree programs, the bachelor’s degrees in fire science operate mostly online with the occasional requirement to visit campus for up to two weeks at the start of each quarter. The reason for this is because in addition to online learning of the facts, students are also required to complete hands-on training, activities, and projects in the classroom setting. The online platform gives students the flexibility to work at a schedule that is most flexible and convenient for them, while providing them the opportunity to also meet and work with other peers in the field.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCREDITATION
Regardless of what fire science degree program you’re looking to pursue, it’s important to keep accreditation in mind before enrolling in a college or university. Accreditation ensures quality education and the commitment to continue providing it at an institution. To be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, a college must:
- Meet rigorous standards
- Go through an annual review of financial stability, retention rates, acceptance rates, etc.
- Undergo site visits
- Implement and develop an Institutional Effectiveness Plan
Accreditation is important because it:
- Helps students determine whether an institution is good to enroll in
- Helps employers determine whether a candidate is qualified for a job depending on the validity of the programs they studied
- Emphasizes quality assurance in terms of faculty and staff, students, campus environment, and resources and programs available
- Provides a basis for determining student eligibility for financial aid, such as grants and loans
- Helps schools determine whether certain credits taken from one college will transfer to another, or to an overall degree program
- Helps determine whether a school meets or exceeds basic quality standards
- Allows graduates to take certification exams
TOP FIRE SCIENCE COLLEGES
With every institution offering different classes, specialties, and degree programs, it’s impossible to conclude which is the “best” college. However, some colleges may be a better fit for one student than they are for another.
Which online fire science degree program is right for you? See our list of top fire science colleges, offering excellent preparatory coursework for to-be-firefighters and fire investigators!
IS ONLINE SCHOOL FOR YOU?
Before deciding on a program, it’s important to consider the following to determine whether online education is fit for you.
- Do you have a working laptop/computer to complete assignments and participate in class?
- Do you have reliable Internet?
- Do you work well independently with little to no hand-holding?
- Are you goal and result-oriented?
- Are you driven to succeed?
- Will your time management skills allow you to complete assignments on-time?
- Are you aware of the available resources to you in an instance where you find you might need clarification on a topic from your peers or professors?
- Are you proficient in basic computer programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, e-mail platforms, and maneuvering the web?
- Do you have a proper study environment in which you can focus and thrive?
- Are you willing to go out of your way to network with peers in the same profession?
If you answered “yes” to most of these, online learning may be a viable option for you!
ONLINE LEARNING: TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Don’t procrastinate. It can be easy to get side-tracked and put things off to the very last minute when you’re on a more flexible schedule. However, it’s also easy to fall off track due to procrastination. Avoid unnecessary stress by getting started on assignments early whenever possible. This will allow you time to go back and reflect on your work, as well as consult peers or your instructors if you have any questions or are unsure about something.
- Turn off distractions. With nobody supervising you, it’s important to take charge and create a healthy learning environment for yourself. If you live with roommates, it would be a good idea to work in another room where it’s quiet, or let them know that you’re trying to get some work done. This also means disconnecting from social media, personal e-mails, and setting aside a reasonable time frame in a day, dedicated to class lectures and any assignments you may have.
- Have and use a planner. This will help to frame your days and allow you to get school and personal work done in a timely manner. Try your best to stick to schedule, and you’ll find yourself ahead of the game!
- Choose a well-lit, clutter-free environment to work. Distractions can be non-technological, too. With lots of things unrelated to school work surrounding you, it may be difficult to focus on what’s important. A well-lit study space allows you to stay awake and energized to learn.
- Take advantage of available resources. Whether it’s 24/7 online tutoring or virtual office hours with your professor, be sure to make use of your resources whenever needed.
- Actually do the reading. You might be able to get away with taking shortcuts here and there when studying online, but remember that you are still enrolled in the classes to learn! While a lot of exams from online classes are “open book,” they are also timed. Be efficient come test time by familiarizing yourself with the content rather than winging it.
- Interact with other peers in your field/class. With online learning, you don’t get as many opportunities to really network and connect with other students pursuing the same profession. Exchange numbers or e-mail addresses with at least one or two other classmates and take the time to discuss class topics and have study groups!
- Make the effort to introduce yourself to your professors. In an online learning environment, it’s hard to distinguish between students if you don’t make yourself known. Reaching out takes less than an hour and will put you off to a great start in any class. Keep in mind that these professors may come in handy in the future should you need any letters of recommendation.
- Remember to take care of yourself. This goes with any kind of schooling — it’s easy to get too busy and forget to eat right and get some physical activity in everyday. In between study sessions, be sure to treat yourself to a healthy snack or meal, and devote at least 30 minutes to take a walk, lift some weights, or even do yoga at home.
- Make sure the classes you take transfer. If you plan to possibly continue your education at a different college or university, online or not, it’s a smart idea to make sure that the classes you’re enrolling in are transferrable. This will help save a lot of time and money, as you won’t end up taking a class and then worry about having to take another similar one because the first one didn’t transfer over.