The Disaster Research Center

Disaster-Related Educational Opportunities at the University of Delaware

While DRC does not grant degrees, graduate and undergraduate training has been an integral component of DRC’s mission since the Center’s inception fifty years ago. DRC faculty primarily engage students interested in disasters through participation in funded research where students get first-hand experience working on cutting edge disaster studies. DRC Faculty oversee theses and dissertations, teach classes, and advise students in their home department’s and in the interdisciplinary Disaster Science and Management Degree program. For those students interested in studies with a focus on disasters there are several options available at the University of Delaware.


Professor Sue McNeil with
Julianna Manniso, the first
MS DISA graduate.

BA Sociology, Concentration in “Emergency and Environmental Management

The Department of Sociology at the University of Delaware offers its undergraduate majors the opportunity to concentrate their study in emergency and environmental management.  While majoring in sociology, these students have the exciting opportunity to receive a strong sociological foundation in their understanding of the issues facing professionals in the emergency and environmental management area. At the same time, this concentration provides students with broad, interdisciplinary education, drawing from relevant courses in economics, geography, communications, geology, history, political science, public policy, and anthropology.

MA/Ph.D. Sociology, Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination in “Disasters and Environment”

For more information about disaster-related degrees in Sociology, visit the UD Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice website: www.udel.edu/soc

MS Disaster Science and Management

Disaster Science and Management M.S. (thesis and non-thesis options) The M.S. in Disaster Science and Management program at the University of Delaware  approaches disasters from an interdisciplinary point of view. The program emphasizes theories, research methodologies, and policies related to emergency preparedness, mitigation, management and response. Two options are offered – a non-thesis M.S. and an M.S. with thesis. The non-thesis M.S. is considered to be a terminal degree. Students interested in research or continuing for a PhD should consider the thesis option.

Ph.D. Disaster Science and Management

The Ph.D. in Disaster Science and Management program at the University of Delaware  approaches disasters from an interdisciplinary point of view. The program emphasizes theories, research methodologies, and policies related to emergency preparedness, mitigation, management and response.

Master of Public Administration, Specialization in Emergency Management

The Emergency Management specialization of the Master of Public Administration degree program prepares students to serve as disaster professionals supporting governments, communities and public organizations in the preparation, response, recovery and mitigation of disaster situations. This specialization prepares students for career options that intertwine disaster preparedness planning with agency management and operations. It may also be a good choice for those contemplating careers in the fields of public safety or disaster research.

Master of Civil Engineering, Concentration in Civil Infrastructure Systems

The Master of Civil Engineering (MCE) degree is awarded only to individuals who, upon admission, have an undergraduate degree in engineering, preferably in civil or environmental engineering. The student pursuing the MCE degree may choose a traditional thesis program or a non-thesis option. The disaster-related concentration for MCE is Civil Infrastructure Systems.

Ph.D. Civil Engineering, Concentration in Civil Infrastructure Systems

The Ph.D. in Civil Engineering degree is also offered with the disaster-related concentration in Civil Infrastructure Systems. PhD students work with their advisor to develop a program of study that provides appropriate breadth and depth. The field of civil infrastructure systems builds on and extends traditional civil engineering areas. Rather than focus on individual structural components or structures, civil infrastructure systems emphasizes how different structures behave together as a system that serves a community’s needs. Problems in this field typically involve a great deal of uncertainty, multiple and competing objectives, and sometimes numerous and conflicting constituencies. They are often spatial and dynamic. The technical aspects of infrastructure engineering must be understood in the social, economic, political, and cultural context in which they exist, and must be considered over a long-time horizon that includes not just design and construction, but maintenance, operations, performance in natural disasters and other extreme events, and destruction as well.