Online Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction Certificate

Tree uprooted in a neighborhood during a storm
9 Credits | Interdisciplinary Certificate


Earn An Online Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction Certificate. Help Communities and Make an Impact.

In March 11, 2011, Japan was rocked by a devastating 9.0 earthquake and a corresponding tsunami that drowned several thousand citizens. More recently, on February 6, 2023, southeast Turkey (officially the Republic of Turkiye) and northwest Syria experienced a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which resulted in a death toll of over 41,000. Furthermore, conflicts in politically unstable regions (such as Syria, Ukraine, and Central America), increase both the exposure to and the impact of natural hazards on already vulnerable populations.

Suburban neighborhood with houses flooded by brown, muddy water.

Then there is the continental United States, which experiences earthquakes, floods, mudslides, tornadoes, avalanches, ice storms, and droughts. And these events are increasing in both frequency and severity. That is, climate change is causing more extreme weather patterns, which are then leading to rising sea levels and flooding (both coastal and inland); as well as intensified storms, droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires. 

In other words, natural hazards and their consequent disasters (locally, nationally, and globally) are present and continuing problems that we must be prepared for.

Michigan Tech's Online Certificate in Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction can equip you with the skills to help communities prepare for and minimize the losses of natural hazard events.

What Skills Will Students Acquire in This Certificate?

This interdisciplinary online program prepares you for analyzing both the complex causes of and the mitigation strategies for a wide range of natural hazards, such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and volcanics eruptions. Learn how to communicate effectively about natural hazards, such as by formulating effective hazard maps, vulnerability assessments, and warnings. You will also learn how to incorporate social-cultural considerations into disaster reduction plans, so that they reduce the impact of hazards on communities.

Comprised of only 9 credits, this online certificate is flexible and compact enough to fit around the demands of your life, your job, and your other responsibilities. All students will take the same two required courses (6 credits) and then choose one 3-credit elective to complete their program. Course content is supplemented by case study analysis and the work of recognized global natural hazard and disaster risk reduction experts.

Required Courses

  • Advanced Natural Hazards (GE 5150)
  • Social Dimensions of Natural Hazards (GE 5660)


  • Advanced Geoinformatics (GE 5515)
  • Advanced Volcanology (GE 5180)
  • Volcano Seismology (GE 5195)
  • Sustainable Development and Communities (SS 4120)


Greg Waite and Luke Bowman installing a seismometer on Fuego Volcano, Guatemala.
Professor Greg Waite and Assistant Research Professor Luke Bowman install a seismometer on Fuego Volcano, Guatemala.

Program Website

Why Learn About Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction at Michigan Tech?

When you earn your online certificate from MTU, you'll receive a quality education. In fact, Michigan Tech is ranked the #3 best accredited online college in Michigan. You'll also get the following:

  • A Rigorous, but Flexible Online Experience

    You'll take the same, robust classes as do students in our in-person programs. However, you will learn on your own terms, fitting online learning into your life.

  • A Versatile, Interdisciplinary Certificate

    This online program provides competencies and training that allow students to build on several undergraduate degrees. That is, the certificate is suitable for those with backgrounds in physical sciences, geosciences, social sciences, computational sciences, civil engineering, and environmental engineering.

  • The Expertise of Faculty with On-the-Ground Experience

    Learn from faculty who have in-depth, real-world experience with natural hazards. That is, the certificate's two required courses are taught by instructors who have significant expertise contending with complex hazards: Research Assistant Professor Luke Bowman and Professor Greg Waite. Their experiences include the 2018 eruptions at Kilauea and Fuego Volcanoes, the 2009 debris flow disaster in El Salvador, and many others.

Where Do Natural Hazard and Disaster Reduction Experts Work?

Depending on your undergraduate degree, your interests, and your previous background/experience with natural hazards, you could use this certificate to open up several career pathways that involve preparing for, mitigating, and communicating about natural hazard and disaster events.

Those with natural hazard and risk reduction expertise often work in governmental agencies, such as the Army Corp of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Others choose careers with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or even with their local governments. Acting city managers, for instance, could apply skills from this certificate to create more effective emergency preparedness plans.

Whether at home, in the US, or abroad, this certificate helps you make a difference.

Hazard engineers and emergency workers at the foot of a volcanic eruption.

Possible Career Paths

  • City Planner
  • Civil Engineer
  • Climate Risk Consultant
  • Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness Specialist
  • Disaster Response Coordinator
  • Emergency Management Specialist
  • Geological Engineer
  • Natural Hazard Analyst
  • Risk Assessment Specialist
  • Volcanologist

Get Started on Your Online Natural Hazards Certificate.

Take the next steps on your online educational journey at Michigan Tech. We are here to answer your questions and to help you succeed in your online program.

"Recent population growth, urbanization, worldwide social change, and technological advances are creating new and increasing vulnerabilities to natural hazards, and the costs of natural disasters are escalating. Inaction today compromises safety, economic growth, and environmental quality for generations to come."Margaret Lawless, Chair, Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction