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Western Degree Programs Make U.S. News and World Report’s nine “Hot College Majors” List

December 14, 2011

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MACOMB, IL – Two undergraduate degree programs at Western Illinois University are hot, according to the "Hot College Majors" list, released this fall by U.S. News and World Report.

The three majors in WIU's health sciences department coincide with the list's public health and homeland security degree programs: emergency management, health science (public health) and health services management.

WIU's emergency management program began in 2007 and is the only four-year degree offered by a public or private college in Illinois.

Mark Kelley, chair of the WIU health sciences department, said that while the government-related emergency management job market is expected to grow by 18 percent in the next 10 years, that doesn't necessarily translate into thousands of jobs.

"It's more like 2,200 jobs, and there are 10,000 to 12,000 students enrolled (nationwide) now," Kelley said. "It's not an atmosphere where there are 18 jobs for every graduate as it relates to government. That means grads may also look to the corporate world for career choices where there is a lot more growth."

Graduates who come from WIU with a mix of public health and emergency management knowledge are the ones being sought for the open jobs, Kelley said. Private sector jobs could also include educational experience from other WIU areas of study, including supply side management and law enforcement and justice administration.

"The ideal person stands in the middle of a disaster and pulls in the resources needed," Kelley said. "Communication skills, both written and oral, are extremely important."

Kelley said there are some students who come to Western because they became interested in emergency management while in high school.

"But the majority of the students who major in our program discover it after they get here," he said.

For more information on the emergency management and health degrees offered at Western visit

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Relations