Law Enforcement and Justice Administration

Emergency Management

WIU’s Emergency Management Program established in 2007  is unique as it was the first 4-year program in Illinois to offer a B.S. degree specifically in Emergency Management and is the only EM program within the state credentialed by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

  • An entire review of the Emergency Management curricula and program was satisfactorily completed in April 2020 by David A. McEntire, PhD, SFHEA, Dean, College of Health and Public Service at Utah Valley University and the guru in higher education standards at FEMA.
  • The faculty, per Dr. McEntire, have very impressive backgrounds with required degrees and diverse areas of expertise. Faculty “have made substantial contributions to their discipline and/or have unique practical experience in their respective professions (e.g., FBI, Secret Service, Illinois State Police, Fire Service, Judicial System).  Students are therefore being taught by enthusiastic faculty who represent different points of view (e.g., academic vs. practical, homeland security, law enforcement, fire service, etc.)”
  • As recent incidents of floods, fires, hurricanes, tsunamis, the current pandemic, and manmade disasters have occurred and as technological improvements in GIS and virtual accessibility have radically changed the methodology and response to situations, there was a significant need to enhance the educational requirements needed in this field. WIU’s EM curricula was entirely redesigned so students would receive up-to date materials and instruction. This new instruction includes:
    • A strategic/operational track for those seeking employment in disaster management.
    • A tactical track for those seeking employment in first response agencies.
    • FEMA-endorsed accreditation requirements.
    • Army 525 and Air Force 10-2051 training expectations required for civilian contractors.
    • FBI, CIA and DEA competencies.
    • Knowledge related to National Incident Management System. Modern technology including GIS, drones, next generation 911 technology, digital transformation and comprehensive data systems.
    • Scientific understanding of natural disasters, earth systems, climate and weather.
    • Ties to minors in homeland security, law enforcement, fire science, etc.

This new curriculum is fully operational and accessible online. WIU’s program is the only EM program in the nation that meets all of these standards. Again, per Dr. McEntire “the new curriculum is strong in the sense that it is highly interdisciplinary, which fosters a broad understanding along with the value of cross-professional collaboration. In addition, the program integrates theoretical and practical perspectives to ensure a holistic education for students.  For instance, a variety of topics are being taught including hazards, vulnerability, disasters, phases of emergency management, intergovernmental relations, leadership, decision making, bureaucracy, etc.” 

  • This new curricula with the two tracks (operational and tactical) make WIU unique among Emergency Management Programs and highly desirable as an educational program. These tracts are exclusive to WIU ‘s program and will assist in engaging the various partners included within the Emergency Operation  team in understanding their roles and importance to the overall team. These tracks also support the Department of Homeland Security’s directive to work alongside public safety partners (Police, Fire, GIS, etc. rather than operate in silos.)
  • The Emergency Management curriculum includes GIS and drone required coursework to meet the immediate and future needs of this growing field. As more and more law enforcement and public safety agencies are currently integrating the 911 next generation system into first responders’ hands and squad cars, and as the world is frequently challenged by natural (tornadoes floods, hurricanes, and bio related) and manmade (shootings, terrorist activities, etc.) disasters, we have worked to incorporate more technology and cyber driven investigative practices into our curriculum. The curriculum and teh functioning Emergency Operation Center on campus  affords future leaders to actually experience the use of this technology and cyber driven investigative practices. The Center operates as an apprenticeship lab for our students. 
  • WIU also houses a state-of-the-art GIS Center. The WIU GIS Center serves the McDonough County GIS Consortium: a partnership between the City of Macomb, McDonough County and Western Illinois University. The Center is responsible for compiling, managing and storing GIS data layers for the Consortium. The Center has completed GIS and GPS work for various federal, state and local entities, has partnered with WIU faculty members on research projects, and provides hands-on GIS and GPS training for Western Illinois University students. Some of the quality research done by the GIS Center includes a statewide web map to monitor the spread of the coronavirus, a map of warming stations located within the state and region, tornado damage and flood mapping highlighting the breaking of the levees and flood damage in real time, and search and rescue operations, among others.


Program Info     

The WIU Emergency Management Program currently has openings for new undergraduate-level students who are interested in enrolling in the state's only Bachelor of Science Degree program for emergency management. 

If you are interested in disasters and you strive to work in occupations protecting the public by engaging in a career of response, recovery, mitigation, or preparedness, the WIU Emergency Management Program can meet your academic preparation needs for a successful career. 

As National Climatic Data Center information indicates, during 2014 there were 8 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States.  Adding in the risks of man-made disasters to that tally, the trends suggest there will be no shortage of work for future emergency managers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides information on the status of emergency management careers. Such statistics suggests that it is with an entry level Bachelors Degree and experience, it is possible for Emergency Management Directors to earn $59,770 per year (2012 median pay).  For such careers, the projected employment growth rate is 8 percent from 2012 to 2022.

The WIU Emergency Management Program is organizationally housed within the Schol of LEJA.  Specific information on undergraduate degree requirements and course descriptions can be found at the WIU Catalog.  


From the proud traditions of Civil Defense to the modern era of Homeland Security, the safety of the nation requires the focus of the best and brightest students.

While Emergency Management jobs reside in all sectors of the economy, government agencies such as the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are examples of places where Emergency Managers can be employed.

Professional organizations supporting the Emergency Management profession include The Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (for the state of Illinois) and the International Association of Emergency Managers (for the nation and beyond).

The student organization for WIU Emergency Management majors is the IESMA