Learn the inner workings of crime prevention and prepare yourself for a rewarding career with an online bachelor’s degree in law enforcement.
It’s not easy work, but if you want to make a difference, law enforcement is one of the most impactful careers you can choose. But no matter what area of the field you choose, you’ll need tools to help you understand criminal behavior, adhere to policy, and advocate for the vulnerable.
Increasingly, law enforcement agencies are looking for candidates who have the critical thinking and communications skills that an undergraduate degree provides. With a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement, you’ll be ready to take on demanding law enforcement positions throughout the country.
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What kind of law enforcement degree should you get?
Undergraduate degrees in law enforcement usually blend theoretical knowledge with practical skills so that students are prepared for a number of career opportunities. There are specific areas of emphasis, though, like administration or forensics. These programs can be helpful if you have a good idea of what you want to do post-graduation.
And you won’t have to leave home to complete your degree. Thanks to major advances in educational technology, many schools now offer the same programs online as they do on campus. There is no stigma attached to completing a degree off-campus, and many law enforcement programs are specifically designed for students who are combining work with study.
How much money do people make with a law enforcement degree?
Nobody goes into law enforcement to get rich, but you’ll make a respectable salary. Because public safety is an ever-present concern, you can feel confident that you are entering – or continuing – in a field that will always have need of competent, committed workers. And having a degree in the field will help open doors to jobs that require higher level skills.
Specific salaries vary widely for people in law enforcement since there is such a wide range of career possibilities. Geographic location and job experience are both major factors that will determine your future pay. But here are a few median salaries, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Police and Detectives: $61,600
Private Detectives: $48,190
Probation Officer: $50,160
What can you do with a degree in law enforcement?
As a professional in the field of law enforcement, you’ll have a variety of careers that you can choose to pursue. A bachelor’s degree in the field can lay a solid foundation for police work, social work, public safety, as well as a law degree or other graduate studies.
Depending on the focus of your degree, you may also be eligible for administrative positions at local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. These jobs are highly competitive, but having a college degree will give you a leg-up when it comes to promotions. Here are some other job titles you might qualify for:
What are the requirements for a degree in law enforcement?
Admission requirements depend largely on the program you want to enroll in. There is a distinction to be made, though, between completion degree programs and programs that allow you to complete the entire degree online. If you’re interested in a completion program, you’ll probably need to have at least 30 credits to transfer into the program.
If you’re transferring from a community college, you should consult the college’s online transfer guides and the Undergraduate Catalog for detailed information. Some programs even offer credit for previous life or work experience. An academic counselor or advisor can help to review your degree plan and keep you on track for graduation.
What are the best law enforcement degrees?
At College Choice, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best law enforcement degrees. We’ve researched them, ranked them, and given each school a score that reflects academic excellence and return on investment. Then we lay it all out for you in an easy-to-read format.
Our College Choice score is based on a lot of numbers. We look at statistics from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), national reputation scores, tuition costs, and early career incomes – as well as first-year retention rates and, whenever possible, student satisfaction reviews.
Situated in the small, historic city of Natchitoches, LA, Northwestern State University of Louisiana is a four-year public university with an impressive online presence. The school is ranked among the top 150 regional schools in the South according to U.S. News and World Report and NSU’s online bachelor’s program also ranks among the best in the country.
NSU offers an online Bachelor of Science in Unified Public Safety Administration which will prepare you for entry into federal, state, and local agencies. This affordable program strives to meet the national need for better prepared UPSA professionals by fusing essential analytical skills with leading-edge industry perspectives. And you’ll be able to tailor the degree to your own career aspirations by choosing one of four concentrations:
Law Enforcement Administration
Fire and Emergency Medical Service Administration
Emergency Management Administration
Public Facilities Management
NSU’s online BS in Unified Public Safety Administration major is comprised of 49 credits within a 123-credit program. Online learning at NSU is engaging and consists of a variety of methods, including Powerpoint lectures, discussion boards, blogs, webinars, and group projects. Students also have opportunities to interact with faculty. And online students pay in-state tuition no matter where they live, making this degree an affordable – as well as a reputable – option.
Founded in 2007, CSU-Global Campus is the online campus of the renowned public Colorado State University system. Headquartered in Greenwood Village, CO, the school offers flexible, high-quality online programs to meet the educational needs of adult learners in Colorado and beyond. And their Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement program ranks among the best in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.
CSU-Global offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration that combines essential managerial skills with a deep knowledge of law enforcement. CSU-Global is a national leader in online learning, and the combination of flexibility, academic rigor, and engaging learning tools make this program hard to beat. Courses include:
Applying Leadership Skills
Introduction to Criminal Justice
CSU-Global’s BS in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration consists of 10 three-credit core courses as part of a full 120-credit bachelor’s degree. A unique feature of CSU Global Campus programs is the Awards of Completion and Skills Endorsements that students earn as they study. By the time you graduate, you’ll be able to show employers your mastery of industry-relevant subjects that highlight specific skills and knowledge.
Located in Tallahassee, FL, Florida State University is a large, public research university and home to one of the most historic campuses in the state. FSU’s online programs rank among the best in the country according to U.S. News and World Report. And its criminology and law enforcement programs have an outstanding reputation for ground-breaking research and excellence in teaching.
FSU’s College of Applied Studies offers an online Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence – Public Safety and Security which provides students with concrete skills. As a student, you’ll learn from leaders in the fields of criminology, underwater crime scene investigation, and defense administration. And FSU prides itself on faculty-student interaction, so online students are mentored by highly-experienced practitioners and scholars. Courses include:
The Criminal Justice System
Computer Applications in Criminal Justice
Ethics in Policing and Intelligence
FSU’s online BS in Law Enforcement Intelligence is a 60-credit major program for students with an Associate of Arts degree. FSU’s program includes a required professional capstone project which provides experience working with a professional public safety and security entity. Internship opportunities range from employment with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI to NASA, NOAA, and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research.
Located in Richmond, KY, Eastern Kentucky University is a mid-sized public institution that ranks among the top public regional universities in the South according to U.S. News and World Report. EKU provides academically challenging programs that prepare students for rewarding careers. And their online programs extend this mission to nontraditional students well-beyond the university’s traditional service area.
If you’re interested in a career as a law enforcement officer, EKU offers an online Bachelor of Science in Police Studies that will prepare you to begin a career in the field. As a student, you’ll explore topics such as contemporary policing strategies, crime patterns, technology, and ethics. You’ll experience a supportive learning environment in which you can continue to work as you study. And you’ll benefit from EKU’s 40+ years of experience in police education. Courses include:
EKU’s online Bachelor’s of Police Studies is a 120-credit program, though students can transfer up to 90 credits from another institution. You’ll have the opportunity to select from a wide range of minors, allowing you to explore interests or make use of prior credits. And at EKU, online courses take place in accelerated 8-week terms, which will propel you through the program faster than traditional programs.
Located in Anderson, SC, Anderson University is a small, private, Christian liberal arts university which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The school has a reputation for innovative programs and flexible delivery as well as a commitment to academic excellence. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school at #73 among regional universities in the South.
Anderson University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement for adults seeking a career in police work and law enforcement. Unlike many online undergraduate programs which require students to have completed their general education requirements prior to starting coursework in their major area, Anderson University allows students to complete the entire degree online. Courses in the law enforcement concentration include:
Psychology and the Law
Executive Criminal Justice
Anderson University’s online BA in Criminal Justice is a 128-credit program comprised of general education requirements, a wide range of courses in the Criminal Justice major, and 12 credits in the concentration. At Anderson University, online courses are delivered in accelerated 8-week sessions, allowing you to complete the entire degree in eight semesters of full-time study. This is a great program for working adults wanting to complete a bachelor’s degree on their own time.
A top-ranked regional university located in Springfield, MO, Drury University is a small, private, liberal arts college. The school provides a traditional, liberal arts experience for students on campus while their College of Continuing Professional Studies extends their excellent programs to nontraditional students through high-quality online and evening classes.
Drury University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement with a Leadership concentration. If you’re looking for an online program that blends practical investigative and procedural techniques with communication and leadership skills, this is an excellent option. Graduates are ready to take on careers in local, state, and federal justice systems. Courses in the major include:
Introduction to Criminology
Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences
Drury University’s online BS in Law Enforcement is a 124-credit program, with 48 credits in the Law Enforcement major. The degree is offered in an entirely online format, but if you live near campus there is also the option to complete the degree in a hybrid format (online and on campus). And at Drury, all faculty are trained in online teaching techniques, so you can feel confident that they are on the forefront of web-based technology and educational advancements.
Headquartered in Charles Town, WV, American Public University is a private, regionally accredited, for-profit university. The school provides professionally-oriented online degrees at the undergraduate and master’s level – with a special focus on students who have served in the US Military. APU’s online Bachelor’s programs rank among the top 100 nationally according to U.S. News and World Report.
American Public University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice which will bring you into contact with experienced criminal justice professionals. APU offers great value for their online programs, and its Criminal Justice degrees are among the most popular among students. You’ll gain a broad-based foundation in the areas of US law enforcement, criminology, investigations, law, and community relations. Courses include:
Criminal Justice Administration
US Law Enforcement
APU’s online BA in Criminal Justice is a 120-credit degree program which includes 30 credits in the criminal justice major with an additional 15 credits in a focused concentration (in areas like Maritime Law Enforcement and Organizational Law Enforcement). If you are looking for a program with an in-depth study of forensics, APU also offers an online BS in Criminal Justice that does just that.
Located near the banks of the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau, MO, Southeast Missouri State University is a mid-sized public university and among the fastest growing institutions in the Midwest. According to U.S. News and World Report, Southeast ranks among the top 25 midwestern public regional universities and its online criminal justice programs have also received national acclaim.
Southeast’s Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice which provides broad based foundation for careers in criminal justice agencies. Southeast’s curriculum covers essential knowledge for crime prevention, protection, and rehabilitation – as well as an academic credential that will allow you to rise through the ranks. Students can choose from two degree tracks:
Law Enforcement Academy track
Southeast’s online BS in Criminal Justice is a 120-credit program with 45 credits in the Criminal Justice major. Students choose between the Academic/University track which provides a theoretical understanding of Criminal Justice (and a path to graduate study) or the Law Enforcement Academy track which is has a practitioner orientation. All students in the Criminal Justice program take part in career preparation activities like internships, clinical opportunities, or study-abroad.
Located in Albany, NY, Excelsior College is a private, non-profit institution that specializes in career-oriented undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a strong commitment to making higher education accessible, Excelsior offers college credit for eligible forms of military training, industry-accredited training programs, and other education students have acquired outside a college classroom.
Excelsior College’s School of Public Service offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement and Public Safety. Specially designed for working adults, Excelsior’s program provides an excellent – and affordable – foundation for a career in law enforcement. You’ll learn essential skills from experienced professors and gain a strong understanding of subjects like:
Procedures and evidence
Public and private security
Excelsior’s online BS in Criminal Justice is a 120-credit program with 33 credits in the Criminal Justice Major and Law Enforcement concentration. The Criminal Justice program also offers concentrations in other areas like National Security and Investigative Forensics. Check out their website for options. And Excelsior has an exceptionally generous transfer policy, granting credit for courses you have taken elsewhere.
Situated in Virginia Beach, VA, Regent University is a private, Christian research university. The school, which has a mission to develop Christian leaders, is one of an elite group to receive an “A” rating for its undergraduate liberal arts curriculum by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Regent has been offering online degrees since 2003 and prides itself on its rigorous, flexible, and affordable online programs.
Regent University’s College of Arts & Sciences offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement. The curriculum is presented from a Christian worldview, encompassing topics like criminal investigation processes and ethics, criminal law, juvenile justice and constitutional law. And as a leader in online learning, Regent is known for high-quality academics, first-rate faculty, and engaging online context. Courses include:
Ethics in Criminal Justice
Theories of Criminal Justice
Law Enforcement Organization and Administration
Regent University’s BS in Criminal Justice is a 120-credit degree with 36 credits in the Criminal Justice Major and an additional 12 credits in the Law Enforcement concentration. Regent allows students to transfer a number of credits into the program but students must take at least 50 percent of the credits in the major at Regent. Graduates are prepared to enter careers in local, state, federal, or international law enforcement organizations.
Founded in 1888, Tiffin University is an innovative, private liberal arts university that has transitioned from traditional program delivery to its current blend of online and campus-based courses targeted at working adults. The school ranks among the top 100 regional universities in the Midwest according to U.S. News and World Report and offers accredited, affordable online programs in several disciplines.
Tiffin University offers an online Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree in Law Enforcement that provides a practical and theoretical foundation for careers in US law enforcement. Tiffin’s innovative curriculum covers the workings of police agencies at the local, state, and federal level, preparing students for competitive careers in a variety of public and private departments.
Technology and Crime
Juvenile Justice Systems
Police and Society
Tiffin University’s online BCJ in Law Enforcement is a 121-credit program with 36 credits in the Law Enforcement major. Tiffin provides significant flexibility for working students, with six start dates throughout the year. And courses take place in accelerated, 7-week terms (two per semester) which propels students through their course requirements at a faster pace than the traditional school calendar. Most students take four years to complete the entire degree.
Located in Memphis, TN, the University of Memphis is a public research university with a reputation for educational quality and accessibility. This mission is furthered by their robust online presence, which provides high-quality programs for nontraditional students. U.S. News and World Report currently ranks their online Bachelor’s program among the best in the country.
The University of Memphis’ University College offers an online Bachelor of Professional Studies with a concentration in Law Enforcement Administration. Designed for experienced law enforcement professionals, the program provides a foundation in management, organizational relations, and communication as related to law enforcement administration. This program is a great option for active duty or retired law enforcement officers wanting to transition to higher-level careers in the field. Courses include:
Public Policy Issues
The U of M’s online BPS program is a 120-credit program with 51 credits in the Law Enforcement Administration concentration. All students complete a senior project – a thesis or task-based project – that synthesizes the knowledge they have gained throughout their studies. Students may also gain credits for college-level knowledge earned from work or other life experiences. And courses can be completed on campus, online, or a combination of both.
Located in the town of Angola, IN, Trine University is a private, professionally-focused university that U.S. News and World Report ranks among the top 25 regional universities in the Midwest. With remarkably high job-placement rates for graduates, Trine University represents great value for traditional and nontraditional students alike.
If you have an interest in forensic and correctional psychology, Trine University’s online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice is a great choice. The program blends academic theory (which can set the stage for a career in academia or law) with practical knowledge that can be put to work in a number of careers in the field. The Criminal Justice major includes concentrations include:
Trine University’s online BS in Criminal Justice is a 120-credit program with 63 credits in the major and 15 credits in the chosen concentration. Students with Police, Fire, EMT academy training, or military experience may apply their experience as prior learning credit to the degree program. And Trine online classes feature unlimited 24/7 access to academic tutors, providing the support you need to finish your degree.
Located in Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia University is a top-ranked, public research university. The School of Continuing and Professional Studies provides innovative programs online and on campus, helping adults advance their careers or enter new fields of study. Philadelphia University recently merged with Thomas Jefferson University and will in the future be known by Jefferson’s name.
Philadelphia University (now Thomas Jefferson University) offers an accelerated online Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement Leadership degree completion program. At Jefferson, students learn from experienced faculty who are are eager to help students achieve their career goals. And this program provides both the theoretical foundation and practical skills necessary for leadership and management positions in police and other law enforcement agencies. Courses include:
Planning for Law Enforcement Organizations
Human Resource Practices and Tools
Contemporary Law Enforcement Strategies
Philadelphia/Thomas Jefferson University’s online BS in Law Enforcement is a completion degree, so students need to have completed at least 30 transferable credits before being admitted to the program (you can transfer in up to 72 credits of the required 120 credits). Courses are delivered in accelerated 8-week terms – and you can blend online courses with evening and weekend classes if you want the face-to-face experience as well.
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
Located in downtown Denver, CO, the University of Colorado Denver is a public urban university and the largest research institution in the state. A diverse teaching and learning community, CU Denver is also home to top-ranked online programs and a School of Public Affairs that ranks at #29 nationally according to U.S. News and World Report.
CU Denver’s School of Public Affairs offers on online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice that provides both research and career-focused classes that prepare students for a wide range of careers in the field. Students can blend online courses with campus courses, and all courses are taught by CU Denver’s first-rate faculty. And a generous number of electives allow students to tailor their degree to their career goals in areas which include:
CU Denver’s online BA in Criminal Justice is a 120-credit program with 36 required credits in the major and 45 credits of electives. The university also provides valuable real-world learning through their internship program, which places students with agencies and criminal justice jobs across the country. If you’re looking for an affordable, broad-based education in Criminal Justice which also provides practical work experience, CU Denver’s online program is hard to beat.
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