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Online Bachelor of Science in
Wildfire Science

Become an Expert in Wildfire and Urban Safety
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Transform Your Career With Advanced Fire Science Knowledge. 

Join a new generation of firefighters and position yourself for advancement in the fire industry by earning the unique Bachelor of Science in Wildfire Science and the Urban Interface from CSUSM. 

This fully online degree in fire science, developed in partnership with local, state and national fire associations, is the only one of its kind in California. 

Upon graduation, you’ll possess scientific and data-driven expertise for a comprehensive understanding of the wildland urban interface, emerging firefighting technologies and best practices in the fire protection industry. With a bachelor’s degree in wildfire science, you’ll be credentialed and prepared for a leadership position. 

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Complete in Just 5 Semesters

Advance Beyond Battalion Chief


Application Deadlines

Applications to the wildfire science program are reviewed on a rolling basis; apply at any time! However, priority is given to applications that are received by these deadlines:


  • Fall 2024: July 24, 2024


Request Information


National center of excellence

This program was developed in partnership with the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection and other regional and national fire agencies.

Quick facts
Fast-Track Degree Completion: The BS in Wildfire Science is designed for students who have already earned at least 60 college credits and are looking to complete a bachelor’s degree while balancing personal and professional commitments. 

Advance in Your Career: A fire science bachelor’s degree will distinguish you from your peers and position you for promotion and advancement. The fire industry is increasingly standardizing bachelor’s degree requirements for leadership roles. 

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Attend an Information Session

Join an Online Information Session
Learn more about the BS in Wildfire Science program through a brief, informal webinar and Q&A session: 

Admission and Costs


This is a degree-completion program. Students must complete required prerequisite courses and 60 transferable units (or 90 quarter units). Additionally, applicants are required to meet the CSU general education transfer standards. View all admission requirements.

Costs and Financial Aid

  • $475 per unit
  • Discounts available for active-duty military
  • Eligible for financial aid


firefighter holding hose


firefighter training
Who Is This Wildfire Science Degree For?
Does this sound like you?
  • Aspiring firefighters eager to join the wildfire industry and gain the foundational knowledge necessary to excel. 
  • Current firefighters aiming to reach leadership roles within the competitive fire protection industry by developing advanced skills and insights to set themselves apart.  
  • Environmentalists passionate about understanding and managing the impact of wildfires on ecosystems and urban areas. 
  • Members of the armed forces and veterans looking to leverage their unique backgrounds and experiences into a fulfilling career in wildfire protection. 

Curriculum Highlights

The BS in Wildfire Science curriculum equips you with the knowledge and skills to effectively understand, manage and mitigate wildfire impacts. 

Human Impact on the Environment 

Explore how human activities—such as resource use and waste production in chemical, industrial and biological forms—negatively impact specific environments and their species. Examine the major areas of concern, identify potential future challenges and discuss possible solutions to mitigate these impacts. 

Fire Ecology

Investigate wildfires as both a natural and human-influenced ecological process. Examine the costs and benefits of wildfires and prescribed burns for land management, assessing their impacts on habitats, soils and air quality. Analyze fire history and its significance in global environmental change, with a focus on current fire ecology issues in the Western U.S. as well as globally. 

Emergency Management, Operations and Administration

Understand emergency management techniques, emphasizing communication and problem-solving in fire science. Discover leadership and administration principles within the fire service, focusing on collaboration. Examine human resources, labor relations and legal aspects, all aimed at maintaining safe, healthy work environments. 

Careers and Job Outlooks

Position Yourself for Professional Growth

The wildfire sector in the U.S. is experiencing steady job growth and openings. 


Industry Openings Each Year


Projected Job Growth through 2032


Salary Range for Fire Captains and Fire Chiefs in California


Potential Career Paths

The Bachelor of Science in Wildfire Science offers a unique blend of knowledge and skills, preparing you for a wide range of careers focused on wildfire management, prevention and environmental conservation. Explore diverse career opportunities, including: 

  • Wildland Firefighter 
  • Fire Ecologist 
  • Environmental Consultant 
  • Fire Behavior Analyst  
  • Fire Captain/Fire Chief 
  • Emergency Management Specialist  
  • Wildlife Biologist 
  • Wildfire Mitigation Specialist  

This degree equips you with the expertise necessary to excel in various roles within the fire service and environmental sectors, addressing critical challenges related to wildfires and their impact on ecosystems and communities. 


What Do Our Students and Faculty Have to Say?

The fire service is getting to be more academic. I wanted to learn from the foremost experts in the field, academia and peer-reviewed journals so I can take that to my classroom.

Mo Khazaal

Graduate; Fire Captain, Los Angeles County Fire Department

Mo Khazaal

This degree will help me stand out because many applicants do not have bachelor’s degrees and even fewer applicants have bachelor’s degrees in anything fire-related.

Nathanial Franks

CSUSM Student, BS in Wildfire Science and the Urban Interface

Nathanial Franks

This degree has been really mind-opening and freeing for me to know that I don’t just have to work for a fire department. I could work for outside agencies, especially in the urban community and development.

Stephanie Rodriguez

CSUSM Student, BS in Wildfire Science and the Urban Interface

Stephanie Rodriguez


  • What is a degree-completion program?
    Degree-completion programs at CSUSM cater to individuals who have initiated, yet not completed, their four-year undergraduate degrees. If you have earned at least 60 transferable units, you are eligible for this sought-after bachelor’s degree in wildfire science from Cal State San Marcos.
  • What is a cohort?
    A cohort is a group of students who work through a curriculum together to achieve the same academic degree. Because they are accepted into the same program, take their classes together and graduate together, students in cohorts form strong bonds, creating a support system and professional network that proves beneficial during and after the program. 
  • Will my diploma say "online"?
    No, your diploma will not specify that your degree was earned online; it will simply indicate that you received a bachelor’s degree from California State University San Marcos, the same as traditional, on-campus students. 
  • What services do you offer to active military, veterans and dependents?
    Please visit our military and veteran services page to learn how we can help. 
  • What if I have to work a large fire or an incident comes up while I’m in the program?
    This program is flexible in accommodating working firefighters who must respond to sudden large fire events or other significant incidents. 
  • If I’m not a firefighter yet, can I still take this program?
    Absolutely! This program is designed to enhance your future career prospects in wildfire science and management. However, you will still need to complete the necessary materials, preparation and training at a fire academy. Be aware that some academies may have additional requirements, such as passing a physical abilities test. For specific requirements and more information, please contact the fire academy you wish to attend. 
  • What are the prerequisites for students with an associate degree?
    Students enrolling in this program should have completed an associate degree in a related field (e.g., fire science, fire administration, forestry, natural resource management, environmental sciences, etc.) and have taken foundational lower-division courses in mathematics and natural sciences.
  • Why should I pursue a bachelor's degree if I'm already earning a good salary?
    Advancing your career in the fire industry often requires setting yourself apart from your peers. A bachelor's degree in fire science not only distinguishes you from other candidates but also prepares you for higher-level positions and leadership roles. As the industry evolves, a bachelor's degree is becoming the standard, making it an essential step for long-term career growth and advancement. 

Prepare for a Future in Wildfire Science.



Industry growth: 
Fire captain salary data: 
Fire chief salary data: 

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