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Master's degree as a requirement for U.S. metropolitan fire chiefs

Sorin Iliescu, Johnson & Wales University


To promote recognition of the fire service as a profession, the United States Fire Administration created the Fire and Emergency Service Higher Education (FESHE) Curriculum Committee in 1998. The move coincided with the explosion of higher education programs in fire science across the country, which resulted in 222 two-year, 29 four-year, and 7 master's programs by 2001. Expansion fostered wide diversity in program content. To achieve a certain quality level and to expedite course transferability, FESHE adopted model two-year and four-year program curricula. However, FESHE has not adopted a model graduate program, even though, increasingly, the master's degree has become a requirement for fire chief positions, particularly in large metropolitan areas. The aims of this research were to determine the acceptability of a master's degree as a basic requirement for U.S. metropolitan fire chiefs and to define the needed degree components, in order to promote the fire service as a profession. This study focused on answering two major questions: (1) Should the master's degree be required for U.S. metropolitan fire chiefs? (2) What should be the components of a master's degree in fire science? To address these questions, data were collected from three target populations: directors of the fire science master's programs (N = 7), metropolitan fire chiefs (N = 95), and municipal chief administrators (N = 84). Information was also collected from catalogs and Web sites about existing master's degree programs in fire science. Data collection instruments included forms for recording catalogs' information and questionnaires for each of the three target populations. Responses were analyzed and grouped into two categories: determining perceptions of the desirability of requiring the master's degree for metropolitan fire chiefs and whether these perceptions are related to the characteristics of the respondents, and defining the content of a model fire science master's degree program, which could be used as a national model. Data analyses provided strong evidence that the metropolitan fire chiefs and the municipal chief administrators agreed that a higher education degree should be job requirement for fire service leaders and that specific components were essential for such a degree.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Iliescu, Sorin, "Master's degree as a requirement for U.S. metropolitan fire chiefs" (2009). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3344303.