Most law enforcement professionals agree that this career is more than just a job – it’s a calling. You need a variety of mental and physical skills to prevent, detect, and address crime in all aspects. If you are interested in dedicating your life to one of the oldest and most noble professions, you should consider pursuing a degree in law enforcement.
If you already work in law enforcement, you may be wondering how you can advance your education and move up the ranks without having to quit your job. Luckily, an online degree can help you reach your goals without even having to leave your house. Better yet, these degrees are often affordable and within reach for any student.
What kind of Law Enforcement degree should you get?
If you have begun researching degrees in law enforcement, you might have already found yourself befuddled and overwhelmed by the many options available. Consider your budget and schedule when selecting a degree in law enforcement. While most universities offer flexible, individually tailored degrees in law enforcement online, some require occasional on-campus visits, which might not work for your schedule.
Some programs are also subject to hidden tuition, fees, and other expenses. Be sure you are considering the Most Affordable Online Colleges when you are searching for the best degree in law enforcement.
How much money do people make with a Law Enforcement degree?
While your average salary will vary depending on the field in which you are employed, most graduates with law enforcement or criminal justice degrees will earn anywhere between $40,000 and $100,000.
Graduates with advanced degrees or those who have worked their way into the upper ranks of their organization (for example, as detectives or first-line supervisors) will earn higher salaries, as will those working for state or federal governments.
Better yet, employment of law enforcement professionals is expected to grow seven percent within the next few years, which is slightly faster than average compared to all other professions.
What can you do with a law enforcement degree?
If you have a law enforcement degree, you could expect to work in a variety of different settings, depending on your interests and goals. Jobs are available at the local, state, and federal level, with graduates working in careers such as policing, security, corrections, surveillance, conservation, and fire safety and emergency management.
What are the requirements for a law enforcement degree?
Most law enforcement programs require no prior experience, although candidates who are already working in law enforcement will benefit, as they will be able to draw upon their prior experiences for class work and discussions.
While enrolled, you will take classes in procedures and policies, emergency management, systems development and management, and even more human-centered topics such as psychology and communication.
What are the best law enforcement degrees?
The best law enforcement degrees are those that will help you to meet your individual career goals. Search for a program that allows a great deal of individual flexibility, and will provide you the freedom necessary to choose your path.
Electives are a great way to explore new areas of interest, as well as to hone your expertise in a particular concentration. You should also seek out a program that is affordable and that can be completed entirely online. Affordable online programs are often the way to go for law enforcement professionals, because they fit easily into a busy, unpredictable life. Consider the following schools in your search for the best law enforcement degrees.
See our rankings methodology page.
American Public University
Average Net Price: $11,470
At American Public University, criminal justice and law enforcement degrees are some of the most popular. As a result, the university can offer a wide variety of courses and experiences in this discipline. Their Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice provides students with in-depth knowledge of corrections, juvenile law, causes of criminal behavior, and even forensics. It is the ideal program for candidates who are currently working in criminal justice, or for those seeking a new career.
Each course is taught by highly experienced, credentialed instructors, many of whom already work in government agencies or criminal justice branches. Concentrations are available to help students specialize their studies, including in areas such as Maritime Law Enforcement, Organizational Law Enforcement Leadership, and Entrepreneurship. Required core classes include:
- Evidence and Procedures
- Stress Management in Law Enforcement
- Patrol Methodologies & Community Policing
- Rape and Sexual Violence
American Public was designed for active-duty and veteran military members, and so its main focus is flexibility as well as affordability. Tuition starts at just $270 per credit-hour, and a variety of payment assistance options are available, including federal student aid, military tuition assistance, and scholarships. The university even provides eBooks at no cost to students enrolled in online courses, making this university the most affordable option for a degree in law enforcement.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Average Net Price: $11,567
The Bachelor of Science in Unified Public Safety Administration at Northwestern State is designed for students seeking entry into federal, local, and state law enforcement agencies. It combines curriculum that emphasizes the development of communicative, interpersonal, and analytical skills, along with more modern perspectives on the methods involved in every aspect of law enforcement, from fire services to public safety.
The degree at Northwestern State provides students with four concentrations from which to choose: Law Enforcement Administration, Fire and Emergency Medical Service Administration, Emergency Management Administration, and Public Facilities Management. Regardless of concentration, students will take classes such as:
- Police Process
- Criminal Investigation
- Politics, Economics and Social Policy
- Juvenile Delinquency
Northwestern State began as a teacher’s college, but now offers a variety of on-campus and online degree programs. It remains student-oriented, and as a result, affordability is one of its top concerns. Undergraduate tuition starts at just $375 per credit-hour for on-campus students, and online students pay the same rate. Online students are also exempt from any out-of-state fees, and while the cost of textbooks and materials varies depending on the courses taken, many do not require books at all, making this a superb option for budget-conscious students.
Southeast Missouri State University
Average Net Price: $11,776
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice provides students with exceptional preparation in criminal justice fields such as juvenile justice, corrections, and law enforcement. Students are prepared to address all aspects of social problems related to the prevention, protection against, and rehabilitation of criminal offenders. Students have access to top-ranked internship and career opportunities, with current and past students working at organizations such as the Missouri Highway Patrol, the Secret Service, the US Marshals Service, and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This program has two tracks: Academic/University track, which provides students with a traditional degree and theoretical understanding of criminal justice, and the Law Enforcement Academy track, for those seeking specialized training and a pathway to a specific law enforcement career. In this affordable and experiential program, students will take classes such as:
- Criminal Law
- Juvenile Justice
- Planning and Research in Criminal Justice
- Issues in Justice Administration
- Race, Gender, Class & Crime
This program is highly affordable, offering online students the ability to pay a special tuition rate that is nearly as low as the in-state, on-campus student tuition rate. Starting at just $272 per credit hour, online undergraduates enjoy the flexibility of an online degree program without having to worry about breaking the bank. In addition, Southeast awards over $17 million a year in institutional scholarships and other financial aid, making it easy for students to pay next to nothing for a quality degree in criminal justice.
Eastern Kentucky University
Average Net Price: $12,255
The Bachelor’s in Police Studies at Eastern Kentucky University is specialized, preparing students to meet the one-of-a-kind challenges of law enforcement and policing. This degree is designed for current police officers seeking to advance their careers, as well as those looking to enter the profession. Offered entirely online, this program allows students to easily add a minor or certificate to their studies, allowing them to pursue areas of individual interest.
This program is offered in unique 8-week terms, without any required campus visits. Students can learn from any location at any time of the day, benefiting from a dynamic and welcoming learning community. Core and elective coursework includes:
- Perspectives on Crime and Delinquency
- Criminal Justice Research
- Applied Criminal Justice Analysis
- Police, Order, Maintenance and Crime
Eastern Kentucky is consistently ranked as one of the best universities’ that offers online degrees by U.S. News and World Report. The university offers on-campus programs, but its online degrees are some of the most popular and most affordable. Nearly 80 percent of all Eastern Kentucky students receive financial aid, but online tuition is already low, starting at just $409 per credit-hour.
Average Net Price: $12,554
Baker College offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Law Enforcement that prepares successful graduates with theoretical training as well as actual police academy experiences. This program provides students with one-on-one guidance in areas such as conflict resolution, crisis management, corrections, psychology, ethics, and juvenile justice. Students graduate from this program as certified police officers and are eligible to enter into criminal justice careers at the federal, state, and local levels.
Baker College employs veteran law officers who provide students with the hands-on knowledge necessary to succeed in the fast-paced world of policing and criminal justice. Required classes include:
- Legal Issues in Corrections
- Principles of Policing
- Juvenile Justice Concepts
Baker understands that college is an investment, and aims to make a college education as affordable as possible. It has the lowest tuition of any private college in Michigan, and, as a nonprofit, is able to keep tuition low so that it can focus on providing the best possible experiences for students. Tuition starts at just $390 per credit hour, with multiple scholarship and other financial aid opportunities available.