A career of adventure,
a lifetime of service
International rescue and relief is a unique bachelor of science degree designed for adventurous students who want to serve mankind through disaster and humanitarian relief. There are core courses and three emphases to choose from.
For a world facing increasing natural and man-made disasters and growing refugee populations, this major is designed to equip graduates with specialized service skills.
Why study international rescue and relief?
- An opportunity to serve enthusiastically, effectively and compassionately in other cultures.
- Learn how to competently respond to disasters as trained professionals.
- Obtain professional certifications in emergency response and management.
In challenging situations—whether repelling off a building, a diving rescue, or performing an IV on a little girl in Nicaragua— those opportunities help you see you are capable of a lot more. Our training isn’t taught at many volunteer fire departments and rescue squads. When I returned to Virginia in the summers, I’ve was able to share what I learned at Union with my fellow fire fighters back home.
a senior IRR major from Virginia.
Real experience starts long before graduation.
Union's new international rescue and relief major is the only known college-level program of its kind in the United States. The four-year Bachelor of Science degree combines rescue and survival skills, emergency medical care, humanitarian relief, public health, disaster management and multicultural service training.
Why study at Union College?
- Earn many certifications, including EMT, Rescue 3 International rope and swift water rescue certifications, and a variety of Red Cross and FEMA disaster management certifications.
- Spend five weeks of your first summer in the Colorado wilderness learning survival, search and rescue, technical rope rescue and swift water rescue.
- At the end of the program, you'll live in a developing nation for a semester, learning about global health and conducting medical clinics in remote areas.
- Prepare for careers in public safety, the medical field, global development and emergency management.
- Learn from professors with experience as police officers, paramedics, global relief managers and wilderness survival experts.
As I neared graduation, I wondered what God had in store for me. I planned to work as a paramedic until He opened a door to service. I didn’t have to wait long. After an earthquake rocked Haiti in early 2010, I joined IRR students and alumni in Haiti to provide relief and aid to earthquake victims. I organized daily medical and mobile clinics, conducted group debriefings, attended United Nations meetings and rubbed elbows with military groups from around the world. Once home I looked for work opportunities that would incorporate most, if not all, of my education and field experience. I was offered a contract in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, working for the government as a paramedic with the Saudi Red Crescent Authority. After working in the field responding to various types of emergency cases, I began to settle into a routine, but once again God had other plans for me. The Red Crescent Authority is also responsible for the personal health care needs of a prince of Saudi Arabia and they were seeking qualified individuals. I was one of the lucky few chosen to live on the grounds of the palace as personal medical staff for the royal family. I wasn’t chosen because of my years as a paramedic or my knowledge of emergency medicine. No, I was told that I was chosen because I was one of a few people in the entire country that had a specialty degree, a degree in international rescue and relief from Union College.
2009 graduate who has served as a paramedic around the world.
Majors and minors
The international rescue and relief program offers degrees in the following areas:
International Rescue and Relief (PDF guide)—a four-year bachelor of science with emphases in the following areas:
- Public Safety—train to be a firefighter (PDF), paramedic (PDF) or law enforcement officers (PDF).
- Global Community Development—Prepare for careers working for local and global aid organizations (PDF guide).
- Pre-professional—prepare for graduate school, specifically medical (PDF), physician assistant (PDF) or physical therapy (PDF).
Emergency Services—two-year associate degree (PDF guide).
Allied Health—two-year associate degree (PDF guide).
You may also pair the following minors with a major in any discipline:
- Disaster Management
- Survival and Rescue
- Global Community Development
Control and put out fires and respond to emergencies where life, property, or the environment is at risk.
7% growth (average)
Care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings.
15% growth (much faster than average)
Emergency management director
Directors prepare plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters or other emergencies.
8% growth (average)