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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Geography


USC Adds Emergency Management to MPA degree

USC's MPA program and Geography Department team up on new concentration

The University of South Carolina has added a concentration in emergency management to its Master of Public Administration degree that will expand the number of professionals in governmental, nonprofit and profit sectors who can plan for and respond to natural and man-made disasters. 

The concentration is a partnership between the College of Arts and Sciences’ MPA program and the university’s Geography Department, which is a national leader in hazards and vulnerability research and in training professionals with the technical skills needed to understand, plan for and respond to disasters. 

Kim Stenson, director of South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division says the new MPA concentration is well timed. He says the recent flooding in the state underscores the value of having more professionals -- public and private – with emergency management training. 

“Emergency management as a profession has grown tremendously over the last 20 years,” Stenson says. “The disaster response and recovery programs that exist today are extensive and detailed. The modern emergency manager has to have a solid educational foundation coupled with real-world experience in order to make the best recommendations about people's safety in times of crisis.” 

USC’s MPA is the oldest accredited MPA program in the state, producing more than1,500 graduates since the program’s founding in 1968.  It also is the only accredited public administration master’s degree program in South Carolina to offer an emergency management concentration. 

Christopher Witko, director of the MPA program, says the new emergency management concentration will give students a competitive advantage.  

“With our quality training and traditionally strong relationships with governments, nonprofits and for profits, combined with the knowledge and skills about emergency management that students will acquire in this program, they will be well-positioned to succeed in the emergency management job market and make a difference in their communities,” Witko says. 

More trained professionals in emergency management planning and response will benefit South Carolina and the Southeast region, which are at greater risk for natural and manmade disasters.

According to SCEMD South Carolina is vulnerable to every major natural disaster known except for a volcano and is at risk for technological and manmade hazards that include nuclear emergencies, hazardous materials and homeland security threats. And, the Southeast is the most varied region in the U.S. for different types of emergencies that have resulted in presidential disaster declarations. 

The MPA courses in the emergency management concentration largely will be taught by Geography faculty who oversee the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute and developed the SHELDUS database, the nation’s most comprehensive dataset of U.S. storms and natural disasters in existence.

The emergency management concentration will begin January 2016. For detailed information about the MPA and its new emergency management concentration visit the degree program’s website.