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New fire service degree at CC
Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Columbia, Mo. -- Missouri firefighters looking to begin or finish a college degree now have more flexible access to the courses they need.

Columbia College and the University of Missouri-Columbia are partnering to offer a new Associate in Science in Fire Service Administration. The degree, awarded by Columbia College, will combine general education and management courses with course work taken through MU Extension's Fire and Rescue Training Institute.

"The comprehensive two-year degree program is rich in general education courses and will enable students to obtain management and supervisory skills while placing them on the path toward earning a four-year degree," said Columbia College President Gerald Brouder. "Columbia College is proud to partner with MU Extension to make this degree program a reality for firefighters."

The degree is the first of its kind in mid-Missouri and the first statewide to provide a combination of online and locally-based classroom courses that make the program accessible regardless of where a student lives.

The program requires 60 total credit hours, including 30 hours of general education courses, 12 hours of business administration courses and 18 hours of fire service courses. Students may enroll now for general education courses. Fire service courses will begin this fall.

Firefighters interested in enrolling in the program may be closer to earning the degree than they think. Many courses already taken from the MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute, as well as through the National Fire Academy, qualify for college credit in the degree program. All Columbia College courses within the degree program may be earned online or through traditional classes at any of the school's 10 extended campuses across the state.

While several schools in the state already offer an Associate in Applied Science for those in the fire service, the typical degree is technical in nature, said Gary Wilson, director of the MU Institute. As a result, students with the degrees tend to lose credit hours when transferring to most four-year programs.

Wilson said a focus group of mid-Missouri fire chiefs specifically asked for a degree that would both prepare their company officers for more responsible positions and easily allow them to move to bachelor's degree programs in business, management and other subjects. The result was the Associate in Science in Fire Service Administration.

"Most departments now require a bachelor's degree, if not a master's degree, for chief positions, and some require a bachelor's degree for officers," Wilson said. "This program will serve an unmet need statewide by providing a level of academic quality that allows students to continue their education as far as they want to go with it."

For more information, visit or call Columbia College at 1-800-231-2391, ext. 7689.