Disaster Studies (MA)

Disaster Studies (MA)

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The Master of Arts in Disaster Studies program offers students broad interdisciplinary training and experience in the field of emergency management with classes on both the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses and online.  Graduates from the program will enjoy a wide range of career opportunities as emergency management specialists, homeland security officers, hospital emergency preparedness administrators, public health planners, communication officers, and emergency response technicians.  The program also prepares students for Ph.D. programs in emergency management, public health, and related fields.  Funding opportunities in the form of assistantships are available for both domestic and international students.


  • Ranked #79 among 300+ national universities by Washington Monthly in 2018
  • Accredited, cutting edge degree program
  • Experienced, dedicated faculty
  • Affordable tuition (ranked #1 in net price among national universities by Washington Monthly in 2018 and #3 most affordable university in America 2018 by BestValueSchools.com)
  • Demonstrated student success in research, professional certification and career advancement

Admission Requirements

Step #1: Submit a UTRGV Graduate Application at www.utrgv.edu/gradapply. There is no application fee.

Step #2: Request your official transcripts to be sent electronically to gradapps@utrgv.edu or mailed to:

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
The Graduate College
Marialice Shary Shivers Bldg. 1.158
1201 W. University Drive
Edinburg, TX 78539-2999

*Please Note: If you are a graduate of UTPA, UTB, or UTRGV you do not need to request an official transcript to be sent to the Graduate College.

Review and submit all Program Requirements:

  • Undergraduate degree from any major.
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. If applicant does not meet minimum undergraduate GPA criterion, GRE general test are required for conditional admission. GRE test scores are valid for 5 years.
  • Official transcripts from each institution attended (must be submitted directly to UTRGV).

Additional requirements for domestic applicants who attended foreign universities:

  • TOEFL or IELTS Language Proficiency Test with minimum scores: 550 on paper-based, 213 on computer based, or 79 on Internet-based for the TOEFL; 6.5 for the IELTS. TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for 2 years. For additional information, visit the Additional Documents for Domestic Applicants who Attend Foreign Universities section of our website.
  • Certified English translation of educational records.

Additional requirements for international applicants:

  • TOEFL or IELTS Language Proficiency Test with minimum scores: 550 on paper-based, 213 on computer based, or 79 on Internet-based for the TOEFL; 6.5 for the IELTS. For additional information, visit the English Proficiency Exam section of our website.
  • Certified English translation of educational records.
  • Financial   Documentation  showing sufficient funds to cover all expenses (living and academic) for the first year of study. For additional information, visit the Financial Documentation section of our website.
  • Immigration  documents, including a current copy of your valid passport. For additional information, visit the Immigration Documents section of our website.


  • SEVP regulations prohibit the issuance of a Form I-20 based on conditional admission, effective July 13, 2016. University officials can only issue a Form I-20 when students have met all standards for admission for the program of study listed on the Form I-20. These standards for admission include any English proficiency requirements.

Program Contact

Program Coordinator: Dr. Dean Kyne

Phone: 956-665-2572

Office: Edinburg Campus, ELABN 3343

E-Mail: dean.kyne@utrgv.edu



Applications will be accepted year round and prospective students are encouraged to apply at least 2 months before classes start to ensure a timely application review.  Applying early will also give prospective students the best opportunity to be considered for scholarships and other possible funding opportunities.

*Note: This program only admits applicants during Fall, Spring, Summer I and Summer II semesters.

Tuition Estimate

Residency Per 3-Credit Hour Course Semester (9-Credit Hours) Total Estimated Cost
Texas Resident $1,481.39 $3,894.17 $17,776.68
Non-Resident/International $2,708.39 $7,575.17 $32,500.68

*We estimate that tuition and fees will closely approximate the rates shown above; however, rates are subject to change. Please note that the rates above are estimated for on-campus students and those enrolled in 16-week online programs. The rate is different for Accelerated Online Programs (AOP). Visit the tuition and fees page for detailed information.

Course Requirements

Thesis Option
Required core courses 18
Core electives 6
Prescribed Electives 6
Thesis 6
Total graduate hours for degree: 36
Non-Thesis Option
Required core courses 18
Core electives 6
Prescribed Electives 9
Capstone 3
Total graduate hours for degree: 36
Note: Students must petition the Graduate Director to pursue the non-thesis option.

Required Core Courses

SOC 6300 Graduate Statistics

SOC 6302 Graduate Methods (or SOC 6301)

SOC 6331 Disaster and Society

SOC 6332 Geographic Information Systems for Disaster Management

SOC 6333 Principles of Emergency Management

SOC 6344 Social Demography

Core Electives

PAFF 6380 Global Security

CRIJ 6322 Terrorism

SOC 6334 Disaster Vulnerability

SOC 6335 Environmental Sociology

SOC 6336 Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness

Prescribed Elective Courses

Thesis Option: Choose one from at least two areas

Non-Thesis Option: 3 credits in any area, but with 6 additional credits in prescribed electives, which must be in the same area.

Government and Public Administration

PAFF 6303 Policy Implementation and Program Evaluation

PAFF 6305 Political Leadership: Decision Making and Management in Public Organizations

PAFF 6306 Public Personnel Administration

PAFF 6312 State and Local Government

POLS 63XX Urban Sustainability and Policy

Organizational Communication

ENGL 6326 Professional Writing

COMM 6322 Culture and Communication

MGMT 6301 Foundations of Management

Natural Science

GEOL 6410 Geoscience for Teachers

GEOL 5301 Geology and Geography

GEOL 5302 Meteorology and Oceanography

ENVR 63XX Remote Sensing and Disasters

ENGR 63XX Water Resources and Disaster Management

Demographics and Culture

ANTH 6306 Anthropology of Borders

ANTH 6314 Environmental Anthropology

Thesis and Capstone Courses

SOC 7300 Thesis I

SOC 7301 Thesis II

SOC 6304 Research Capstone 

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