Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness

SLU’s nationally and globally recognized program in biosecurity and disaster preparedness will train you for a wide range of senior leadership roles in the prevention of and response to both natural and manmade disasters. The program can be completed either online or on campus.

Students sort bottle of prescription drugs

Nursing students sort medication bottles during a simulation training of a closed point of dispensing unit that would go into effect in the event of a biological attack. 

SLU is a pioneer in biosecurity and disaster preparedness education, one of the first universities to train students for this field, so your professors are nationally recognized leaders in their areas of expertise.

With a concentration in this area you can help prevent biological terrorism and build effective rapid response capabilities for organizations throughout the public and private sectors. You can work to curb emerging infectious disease outbreaks in crops and livestock that threaten our food supplies.

Or you can develop, implement and assess strategies for governmental agencies, first responders and industry to effectively respond to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.

Admission Requirements

A bachelor's degree that includes at least 12 credit hours of college-level coursework in biological, chemical and/or physical sciences and at least one college-level math course is preferred.

Joint Concentration Options
  • Epidemiology
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Global Health
Concentration Competencies
  • BSDP 1: Analyze qualitative and quantitative data to accurately identify biological and other health hazards and measure risks, using epidemiological, statistical, and risk assessment methods and tools
  • BSDP 2: Use an evidence-based approach to develop and analyze effective human, animal, and environmental hazard control strategies, programs, and policies, taking into account legal and ethical considerations
  • BSDP 3: Explain the scientific characteristics, including transmission routes and control measures, of major biological hazards that result in human and animal health risk
  • BSDP 4: Create and disseminate tailored messages regarding biosecurity hazards and risks to responders, the public, the media, and policy makers
  • BSDP 5: Apply management principles in program, organizational, and community initiatives
Career and Internship Opportunities

You can work in federal, state and local health departments, FEMA, Homeland Security, state and local law enforcement, intelligence agencies, the military, and many more. 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 and health systems, large companies, colleges and universities and various community relief organizations such as the Red Cross.

Students who choose this concentration have held internships at many organizations including Monsanto, St. Louis City Department of Health and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Students have gone on to hold positions as Disaster Medical Assistance Team Member, Crisis Communications Director and Disaster Action Team Leader.

Faculty Research Areas of Interest
  • Biosafety
  • Countering Biological Weapons Terrorism
  • Emerging Infectious Diseases
  • Health Care Infection Prevention
  • Policy
  • Technologies for Improving Responsiveness
  • Zoonoses
Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness is also offered as a certificate. The 15-hour certificate introduces students to the foundational concepts of the Master of Public Health in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness and can later be applied to the degree.