Emergency Medical Services Degree

Emergency Medical Services Degree at Harper College

Earn your degree in emergency medical services

Career options  Liberal Arts icon

  • Emergency medical technician
  • Paramedic

Prepare for a career in the field of emergency medical services with this 70-credit-hour degree program, which is based at Northwest Community Hospital. Train to become an EMT or paramedic and develop the skills and knowledge needed to take charge and provide critical life support at the scene of an emergency.

Take classes in human anatomy, emergency medical technician training, paramedic preparatory, medical emergencies, physical assessment, trauma/special populations/EMS operations and more. You’ll also complete a hospital internship program.

This program has selective admission requirements. Review the steps to prepare for application to this limited enrollment program.

AAS Degree program requirements

This 70 credit-hour program is a joint educational venture with Northwest Community Healthcare and Harper College. The National EMS Agenda for the Future (Agenda), a consensus document published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in 1996, declared that EMS education must be of high quality and represent the intersection of the EMS profession and the formal educational system and must be affiliated with an institution of higher learning and available for college credit. As an Illinois EMS Resource Hospital, Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) is required by the Illinois EMS Act and Rules to conduct EMT and paramedic education programs within the context of Federal and State guidelines and standards.

The Agenda also asserted that EMS educational quality and entry level competence should be assured by curricula standards, national accreditation, and national standard testing. Thus, the program has been designed to comply with the requirements set forth by the National EMS Education Standards (NHTSA, 2009), the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoA), and the Illinois EMS Act and Administrative Rules with the goal of preparing competent entry-level Paramedics in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains, with or without exit points at the Emergency Medical Technician level.

Illinois EMS Rules define a paramedic as “a person who has successfully completed a course in advanced life support care as approved by the Department, is currently licensed by the Department in accordance with standards prescribed by the EMS Act and Rules and practices within an Advanced Life Support EMS System” (Section 3.50 of the Act). A paramedic is awarded practice privileges and functions under the direction of a Resource Hospital EMS Medical Director (EMS MD) in an IDPH-approved EMS System. They must operate within their approved scope of practice and are accountable to the EMS MD, their employer, the health care team, and the public.

Paramedics are expected to assess and recognize medical, trauma, emotional and psychological alterations from health, as well as render basic and advanced life support care in a wide variety of conditions and locations, and to people of all ages. They must be academically, physically and emotionally competent, needing strong knowledge and understanding of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, clinical assessment techniques, medications, complex procedures, providing emotional support, ethical behavior, and the ability to make informed judgments in an environment of complexity and uncertainty.

Our program supports and fosters critical thinking, research and service, and provides opportunities for cooperation and strategic linkages between all essential components for the delivery of quality EMS care. It facilitates adaptation of the work force as community health care needs and the role of EMS evolves. Interdisciplinary programs provide avenues for EMS providers to enhance their credentials or transition to other health career roles, and for other health care professionals to acquire EMS provider credentials.

Working conditions vary. Paramedics work indoors and outdoors. Most EMS agencies provide service 24/7, 365 days/year. Paramedics work all shifts including weekends and holidays. Potential employment opportunities must be analyzed on a local, rather than a regional, state, or national level. Market forces impacted by finite revenue streams, pension challenges, and shrinking reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid and the state’s insolvent economic situation have limited hiring. Competition for jobs is high, especially at the paramedic level within the Fire Services. Limited job openings occur due to replacement needs. The largest need for new EMTs and paramedics is in the private ambulance sector. They traditionally experience a high turnover rate as EMTs or paramedics leave to join municipal services. This private to public provider transition continues to be a common career path for individuals seeking to become firefighter/paramedics.

Admission Requirements:

Emergency Medical Services is a limited enrollment program. For admission requirements please contact the Admissions Outreach Office at 847.925.6700 or visit harpercollege.edu

Students who apply for this limited enrollment program are obligated to meet current admission requirements and follow program curriculum as defined at the time of acceptance to the program.

Upon admission to the Emergency Medical Services program, the mathematics requirement is met.


A grade of C or better in BIO and EMS is required for all students.

Number Course Title Credits Category
BIO 160 4 Natural Science
EMS 110 9 Program Requirement


A grade of C or better in BIO is required for all students.

Number Course Title Credits Category
BIO 161 4 Natural Science
ENG 101 3 Communications
SOC 101 + 3 Social and Behavioral Science
SPE 101 3 Communications


A grade of C or better in all EMS (EMS 217 with a grade of P) is required for all students.

Number Course Title Credits Category
EMS 210 10 Program Requirement
EMS 211 5 Program Requirement
EMS 217 2 Program Requirement


A grade of C or better in all EMS (EMS 215 and EMS 218 with grades of P) is required for all students.

Number Course Title Credits Category
EMS 212 7 Program Requirement
EMS 213 6 Program Requirement
EMS 215 4 Program Requirement
EMS 218 1 Program Requirement


A grade of C or better in all BIO, CHM, EMS, HSC and NUR is required for all students.

Number Course Title Credits Category
EMS 216 3 Program Requirement
Electives1 4 Program Requirement
NUR 210 2 Program Requirement

+ - This course meets the World Cultures and Diversity graduation requirement.

1 - Select from the following courses: BIO 130, CHM 100, HSC 104 or HSC 213.

Admission criteria and process

1. Attend the Emergency Medical Services Information Meeting (Optional)

2. Review Program and Policy Information

3. Finance your education

4. Apply to Harper

Please note: Information provided on this page is subject to change.

Program learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this program will be able to

  • Assess scene safety and demonstrate effective situational awareness.
  • Appropriately gain patient access using a variety of tools and techniques.
  • Perform patient assessments using appropriate technique, sequence and timing, recognize alterations from health, set appropriate patient care priorities and coordinate their efforts with those of other agencies and practitioners.
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing with a sense of purpose and audience.
  • Establish rapport with patients and significant others to meet emotional as well as physical needs.
  • Provide care on a continuum from basic through advanced life support within the guidelines prescribed by the EMS MD.
  • Use quantitative and scientific reasoning to solve problems effectively.
  • Think critically and apply these skills appropriately and in various situations.
  • Be technologically literate and thoroughly and accurately document an electronic patient care report using ImageTrend software per System policy.
  • Maintain ambulance inventories per the System Drug and Supply list and prepare equipment and supplies before and after each call.
  • Characterize professional behaviors through actions, speech, communication and interactions with instructors, preceptors, peers, patients, public safety personnel, and members of the public.

Related programs

Students interested in emergency medical services may also be interested in:


Next steps

For more information about earning your degree in emergency medical services, contact Admission Outreach at 847.925.6700, or submit a request information form. You can also apply online.