Saint Louis University

Master of Science in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness

An online program for the mature, action-oriented learner

Photo of Ebola training workshop participant provided by the PHIL image library, CDC

The Master of Science (MS) in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness - Management & Response provides specific competency-based training in areas such as terrorism response capabilities, fundamentals of infectious diseases, emergency response planning and crisis communication.

This program offers options to pursue in-depth training in infection control, and medical and public health intelligence as well as a general track curriculum to meet the varying needs of health care and security professionals. 

Whether you are a public health professional, physician, nurse, emergency management professional, first responder, corporate security manager, government- or business-based analyst or just entering industry, the MS program will prepare you for the investigation of and response to natural and man-made threats.

The skilled instructors in the MS program use online, distance-learning technologies to provide a comprehensive education designed to accommodate those whose busy schedules require flexible class hours and asynchronous interaction with other students and the faculty.

Online, Distance Learning

Designed for the self-motivated, mature and action-oriented learner, the MS program offers online, distance-based learning technologies provided by instructors experienced in both the classroom environment and their professional fields. This program is taught entirely online, providing students with access to online lectures, discussion boards and coursework from any location, so working professionals can complete the MS while minimizing time away from work, friends and family. There is no requirement for students to physically attend classes on the Saint Louis University campus in order to complete the program.

Grow in an Expanding Industry

In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that emergency management job growth in both the public and private sectors is projected to rise faster than average employment growth, with a 20% or higher increase in total jobs between 2008 and 2018. Many jobs of this type are in the public sector; the military, law enforcement, and state and local governments are major employers. There are also a variety of private-sector or nonprofit employers that require emergency management specialists for situations where emergencies are prone to happen or could be potentially devastating. Examples of these employers include hospitals, colleges and universities, and community relief organizations.

Engaged Faculty

SLU's internationally recognized faculty are available to students by virtual office hours, by phone and by email. Our faculty are engaged in ongoing research in the field, including:

  • Countering Biological Weapons Terrorism
  • Health Care Infection Prevention

SLU's Institute for Biosecurity

Founded in 2001, the Institute for Biosecurity has pioneered the use of distance-learning technologies to train professionals in the fields of biosecurity and disaster preparedness. The Institute provides both course instruction and ongoing academic research in the fields of disaster preparedness and response, community resilience, worldwide terror threats and surveillance, and the ecological and social effects of bioterrorism.

The Institute has successfully established key partnerships in the health care and public health professions on a national, state and local level. The Institute is also supported by a team of information technology and web specialists who provide faculty and student technical support for all aspects of the online, distance-learning course delivery system.

Admission Requirements

Admission to this program requires a bachelor's degree or an equivalent including at least 12 college-level credit hours total in the biological, chemical or physical sciences; and three or more credit-hours in mathematics such as college algebra, statistics or first-semester calculus. Applicants will be considered on an individual basis in the absence of these prerequisites.

Professional experience in a health-related field, law enforcement or emergency preparedness is recommended but not required. Strong writing and critical thinking skills are essential for success, especially given the distance-learning format of the program. The MS program accepts applications for the fall, spring and summer semesters. 

For more information, see the How to Apply page.

Application Requirements

  • An earned bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university (a transcript from this institution is required). 
  • A résumé or curriculum vitae and a one to two page, double-spaced essay describing interests in the field, career goals and objectives. 
  • Three confidential letters of recommendation from individuals qualified to evaluate an applicant's potential success in the program. 
  • The GRE or other test scores are not required for the MS.

More information: Application Requirements

Specialized Degree Concentrations

Students in the Master of Science in Biosecurity & Disaster Preparedness program choose one of three concentrations for their MS degree. Each of the three concentrations (General, Infection Prevention and Medical & Public Health Intelligence) offers students a unique and innovative educational experience in the field of biosecurity and disaster preparedness.

General

The General concentration provides an overview of the field of biosecurity and disaster preparedness, focusing on disaster planning, risk analysis, communicable diseases, epidemiological methods and infectious disease surveillance, and disaster ethics.

Sample curriculum
(Minimum 42 Credit hours)

  • Fundamentals of Disaster Planning
  • Public Health & Disasters
  • Communicable Diseases & Infection Prevention
  • Introduction to Biostatistics and Decision Analysis 
  • Disaster Planning for Infectious Disease Disasters
  • Epidemiology Methods & Infectious Disease Surveillance
  • Disaster Communications & Media Relations
  • Disaster Management & Risk Analysis 
  • Behavioral & Cultural Implications of Disasters
  • Legal & Ethical Implications of Disasters
  • Facing the Challenge of International Bioterrorism
  • Terrorist Organizations & Their Motivations
  • Capstone in Biosecurity & Disaster Preparedness
  • Elective: Biosecurity & Disaster Preparedness Focus

Infection Infection Prevention

The Infection Prevention concentration provides students with the skills needed for planning, identification, response and recovery involved with large-scale outbreaks of infectious and/or communicable diseases. Students will also study how these issues relate to health care and public health.

Sample curriculum
(Minimum 45 Credit hours)

  • Fundamentals of Disaster Planning
  • Public Health & Disasters
  • Communicable Diseases & Infection Prevention
  • Epidemiological Methods & Infectious Disease Surveillance 
  • Disaster Planning for Infectious Disease Disasters
  • Public Health Ecology 
  • Preparing for Disasters: Resiliency & Stress Inoculation
  • Business Continuity & Pandemic Planning
  • Disaster Management & Risk Analysis
  • Legal & Ethical Implications of Disasters
  • Facing the Challenge of International Bioterrorism
  • Introduction to Biostatistics & Decision Analysis
  • Behavioral & Cultural Implications of Disasters
  • Emerging Infections: Epidemiology & Public Health Importance 
  • Capstone in Biosecurity & Disaster Preparedness

Medical and Public Health Intelligence

The Medical and Public Health Intelligence concentration is the only program of its kind in the United States. The track prepares students to make valuable contributions to the nation's intelligence community using applied public health knowledge. These students will use the public health field's understanding of bioterrorism and infectious diseases to inform the intelligence community about all-species health-related threat indicators and warnings of interest to the end user of intelligence products.

In addition to their medically-related intelligence training, students will also learn to be intelligence consumers enabling them to use intelligence products to inform the medical and public health communities of potential and evolving threats. Students in this track will also take online courses from Mercyhurst University, a fully accredited Catholic institution, in Intelligence Theory and Application and Advanced Analytical Techniques.

Sample curriculum
(Minimum 45 Credit hours)

  • Medical & Public Health Intelligence
  • Public Health & Disasters 
  • Terrorist Organizations & Their Motivations
  • Special Topics: Reading & Writing in Intelligence I (1 credit hour)
  • Intelligence Theory Application 
  • Epidemiological Methods & Infectious Disease Surveillance
  • Disaster Management & Risk Analysis
  • Public Health Ecology
  • Special Topics: Reading & Writing in Intelligence II (1 credit hour)
  • Advanced Analytical Techniques
  • Behavioral & Cultural Implications of Disasters
  • Facing the Challenge of International Bioterrorism
  • Special Topics: Writing for Intelligence I or II or III (1 credit hour) 
  • Introduction to Biostatistics & Decision Analysis 
  • Legal & Ethical Implications of Disasters
  • Emerging Infections: Epidemiology & Public Health Importance 
  • Capstone in Biosecurity & Disaster Preparedness

Contact Us:

Dr. Terri Rebmann
Director, Institute of Biosecurity 

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