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Complete Guide to Accredited Fire Schools

Complete Guide to Accredited Fire Schools / USFA

Degrees at a Distance Program: Q&A

Complete the National FESHE Bachelor’s Model Curriculum and Earn Your Degree Online

Increasingly, chief and mid-level officers in fire departments around the country are required to hold a bachelor’s degree. The Degrees at a Distance Program (DDP) is an online degree program sponsored by the National Fire Academy (NFA), which has agreements with seven accredited colleges and universities throughout the country to offer bachelor’s degrees with concentrations in fire administration and fire prevention technology.

While independent study and distance learning have appealed to working adults nationally in growing numbers for the past few years, DDP is particularly attractive to fire service personnel whose fire departments’ shift work normally makes classroom attendance difficult. DDP provides an alternative means for fire service personnel to earn a bachelor’s degree or to pursue college-level learning in a fire-related course concentration without the requirement of having to attend on-campus classes.

In addition to offering the NFA-developed Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) Bachelor’s curriculum, the schools also have agreements with the fire science associate’s programs whose students transfer in having taken the preparatory lower-level FESHE courses. With all the instruction delivered completely over the Internet, access to courses is easy and learning is enjoyable. Students engage in online learning activities in which they collaborate with each other, engage in debate and discussion through postings, research related Web sites, and complete projects that are relevant to their own jobs and fire departments.

What is the Degrees at a Distance Program?

DDP is a way to take college courses online to earn a bachelor’s degree with concentrations in fire administration or fire prevention technology. The curriculum comprises of 13 junior- and senior-level FESHE bachelor’s courses that form the concentrations.

DDP is offered through a national network of four-year colleges and universities that adopt the NFA-developed curriculum to form their own individual degree programs. Your regional college delivers the courses over the Internet employing state-of-the-art Web-based learning design principles developed in partnership with Empire State College – a national leader in distance learning – and its six sister DDP institutions.

How is DDP linked to the FESHE model associate’s courses?

NFA develops the courses and its DDP schools deliver them as part of their own degree programs thus enabling a truly unique national fire and emergency services-related bachelor’s curriculum. When the curriculum was revised and converted to their online format, a strategic review of the FESHE model associate’s curriculum was conducted. Specifically, national experts reviewed both levels to ensure that the lower-level model courses prepared students for their upper-level counter-parts to the extent practical. Without being in a classroom environment, what kind of academic interaction can I expect?

Each DDP institution emphasizes faculty-to-student and student-to-student contact through a structured learning management system that places you in an interactive online classroom environment offering framed discussions, project collaboration, extensive Web-based reading and research and job-related course assignments. Your final grades are based on “classroom” participation, the quality of assignments and/or final exams, which may be proctored locally.

May I take a course even if I don’t want to pursue a degree at this time?

Yes. Those students who simply wish to upgrade their professional skills may take individual courses for credit and decide later to apply for degree-seeking status. While it may not be required, it is strongly recommended that you have taken at least some college courses that have prepared you for the academic rigors of bachelor’s level learning.

Regardless, NFA FESHE certificates are awarded for the successful completion of every individual course and those who graduate from the program are awarded an NFA Certificate of Accomplishment in addition to their school’s diploma.

What if I have an associate’s degree?

This program is perfect for you, particularly if your school offers the FESHE associate’s courses. In fact, DDP is a transfer program meaning you must have an associate’s in fires science (in most cases) in order to enroll into the bachelor’s level DDP. Your regional college will give you guidelines and will map your bachelor’s degree route.

It is strongly recommended that you consult your regional DDP school while you’re still earning your associate’s to determine what courses are needed to transfer into its bachelor’s program. How is this program different from going on campus and taking a regular college course?

In this program you get full upper-level college credit, but the emphasis is on independent study and online learning with no classroom attendance required. When you register for a DDP course, you buy your texts from the school or recommended sellers. Your degree requirements, transcripts and diploma are largely identical to those of on-campus students. However, as with all institutions of higher learning, particularly with public ones, there may be different tuition rates for in- and out-of-state residents.

While each school has its own degree requirements, tuitions, and faculty, DDP is a national program with a standardized curriculum enabling every student to achieve the same course learning outcomes, regardless of location.

What this curriculum linkage represents is a milestone in fire and emergency services education: if your fire science associate’s degree comprises of these model courses, you can plan on being better prepared for your DDP bachelor’s course work. Since 1999, FESHE leaders have labored to produce through consensus, a standardized undergraduate curriculum that is national in scope, content, and outcomes. This represents a major paradigm shift from a fragmented system of education to one that is unified and integrated. The USFA/NFA-led FESHE model is believed to be the only one of its kind in the U. S.

What courses comprise the DDP curriculum?

The NFA has agreements with seven accredited colleges and universities throughout the country to offer bachelor’s degrees with concentrations in fire administration and fire prevention technology.

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