Dickinson State University to add Fire Science to degree offerings
Two-year program consisting of 62 semester hours of coursework and practical training launches this August
DICKINSON, N.D. -- Dickinson State University will add fire science to its degree program offerings, beginning with a limited-seat cohort starting in the fall of 2023, the university announced on Feb. 1.
The development of the program began in 2020, when the Dickinson Fire Department approached the university with a desire to build a local program and attract individuals to the field. The program, which takes about two years to complete, consists of 62 semester hours of coursework and practical training, including Hazardous Materials Operations, Fire Behavior and Combustion, Building Construction for Fire Protection and Vehicle Extrication.
“We have worked with Dickinson State to develop the academic requirements for the Associate of Applied Science Fire Science degree,” stated Jeremy Presnell, Chief of the Dickinson Fire Department. “This program has the needed expertise, skills, and certifications to be prepared for working in the field.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for firefighters is $50,700 per year, with employment projected to grow 4% until 2031.
In addition to in-classroom lectures, the program will provide current firefighters with the opportunity to advance their education and complete coursework and certifications remotely. A career academy with Dickinson High School has also been established, and DSU plans to expand this program to interested rural schools in the area.
“Whenever we can work with community partners to bring programs to fruition, we meet our mission,” Holly Gruhlke, Dean of the College of Education, Business and Applied Sciences, said. “The Dickinson Fire Department has spent a great deal of time working with us to put this together. We are excited to welcome the first cohort of students and make this degree a hot commodity around the region.”
In addition to in-classroom lectures, the program will provide current fire fighters the opportunity to level-up their education and complete coursework and certifications from a distance. A career academy with Dickinson High School has also been established, and DSU plans to expand the programming for interested rural schools in the area.
Last summer, the program graduated 15 high school students from the Firefighter 1 Academy, with participating students going on to complete training and gaining their full fire certification.
DSU President Steve Easton emphasized the significance of the university’s partnership and how offering the Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science degree will be beneficial to addressing workforce needs.
"Emergency services are critical to vibrant and growing communities like Dickinson, Watford City, Williston and others in western North Dakota," Easton said. "We are excited to offer this degree in our region."