Are you working in criminal justice or law enforcement but want to enhance your career opportunities? Do you want to lead teams of investigators? Can you envision yourself as the head of case, bringing down criminals at all levels?
Then an affordable, online graduate degree in law enforcement may be the next best step for you!
What kind of online Master’s in Law Enforcement degree should you get?
Though all of these degrees will help you find work at higher levels of management within law enforcement, each program varies in its emphasis and focus. So, be sure to find a program that reflects your career goals.
For example, while Vanguard University offers an MS in Law Enforcement Executive Leadership program that prioritizes students’ leadership formation, Georgetown’s Applied Intelligence degree is a blend of law enforcement technique and business fundamentals.
Find the program that best supports you and your vision. And know that all of these programs can be fully completed online. Distance education is a flexible and affordable way to advance your career. So check out College Choice’s Most Affordable Online Colleges and Universities for a Master’s Degree.
How much money do people make with an online Master’s in Law Enforcement degree?
The average salaries for those working in law enforcement vary depending on job title, experience level, and sector. However, rest assured that with a graduate degree in hand you will have afforded yourself a career that is both lucrative and stable.
For example, Police Sergeants make, on average, more than $61,000 a year. But if you want to apply your degree to a federal position, like a Homeland Security Agent, then you can make up to $90,000 a year. Finally, PayScale notes that Detectives and Criminal Investigators with more education make upwards of $117,000 a year.
What can you do with an online Master’s in Law Enforcement degree?
Depending on the kind of degree you get, you will be set up for a leadership position within a range of industries and settings. Whether you want to work at the local or federal level, whether you want to work in white-collar crime or homeland security, a Master’s in Law Enforcement degree greatly improves your career opportunities.
Graduates from the programs below have secured rewarding jobs in everything from criminal forensics to business intelligence. And just like them, with one of these affordable degrees you can find work as:
- Crime Scene Investigator
- Economic Crime Specialist
- Homeland Security Agent
What are the requirements for an online Master’s in Law Enforcement degree?
Each of the programs below will take two years to complete, maybe more if you study part time. You’ll allocate the first year to classes covering law enforcement fundamentals. This includes coursework on crime causation and prevention. But it also includes skill-building in the areas of communication, management, and research technique.
In your second year you will specialize in an area that aligns with your career interests. Either the school will offer a formal concentration or you can specialize through electives. Both will give you the opportunity to explore niche areas of criminal justice.
You may have to present a thesis or capstone project at the end of your program too. We’ve been sure to note this where applicable.
What are the most affordable online Master’s in Law Enforcement degrees?
To determine the most affordable entry into an elite law enforcement career we scanned the nation. We first sought out those programs across the country offering the degree online. From there we examined crucial financial factors such as tuition rates and scholarship opportunities. What we found are the five Most Affordable Online Master’s in Law Enforcement programs in the nation.
These five programs are not just the most affordable, but are some of the best ranked too.
See our rankings methodology page.
Michigan State University
Average Net Price: $14,970
Michigan State University is located in East Lansing, MI, just outside of the state’s capital. It is a large research-based university that was first founded as an agricultural school. Its commitments to professional and trade development are clear today. MSU is a top-ranked public school.
MSU’s School of Criminal Justice offers a Master’s in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis degree. This 30 credit-hour program is steeped in quantitative analysis. You will not only become an expert in criminal justice research, but you’ll understand the ins and outs of policy, prevention, crime causation, and control. In addition to a common core, at MSU you can take classes on:
- Foundations in Homeland Security
- Globalization of Crime
- Counterterrorism and Intelligence
- Geospatial Technologies
Michigan State University’s academic record is considered equal to that of private, elite Ivy Leagues. For that reason it has been named one of America’s “Public Ivies.” Indeed, MSU is consistently ranked among the top 30 best public universities in the nation.
University of Cincinnati
Average Net Price: $19,978
The University of Cincinnati serves nearly 45,000 students, making it one of the largest schools in Ohio. The university offers more than 350 academic and professional areas of study. As a research-driven academy, the University of Cincinnati is known for its annual research expenditures, achievements, and projects.
The online MS in Criminal Justice degree at the University of Cincinnati can be paired with a concentration in Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention. This is an ideal program for those who want a broad introduction to criminal justice as well as specifics in preventing crime and enforcing law. In addition to a criminal justice core, you’ll take classes such as:
- Theory and Practice of Crime Prevention
- Theory and Practice of Law Enforcement
- Applied Crime Prevention
- Seminar on Police Effectiveness
Ranked as whole, the University of Cincinnati is also home to numerous departments and schools that boast rankings of their own. For example, its law, education, and criminal justice programs are nationally renowned.
Vanguard University of Southern California
Average Net Price: $21,827
Vanguard University of Southern California is based in Costa Mesa. It is a Christian liberal arts school that provides nearly 50 undergraduate and graduate degrees. A small school, Vanguard serves only around 2,500 students, yet it is a known academic leader on the West Coast.
Vanguard’s School of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement offers an MS in Law Enforcement Executive Leadership program. For those who want to blend crime prevention with leadership development, Vanguard’s program is hard to argue with. In addition to gaining crucial knowledge of crime causation and prevention, you will also work on critical skills in communication, cultural and social understanding, and information literacy. For example, classes include:
- Law Enforcement Code of Ethics
- Organizational Leadership Communication
- Police Management of Technology
- Contemporary Criminal Justice Trends
The Princeton Review calls Vanguard one of America’s “Best Western” colleges. As do Forbes and U.S. News & World Report. Vanguard is not only well-ranked by national publications for its academic acumen, but it is also considered to be among the best religious universities.
Average Net Price: $26,625
Georgetown University is a private school located in Washington, DC and nestled near the Potomac River. Georgetown boasts being the oldest Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated university in the country, though today its relationship with the Church is pretty independent. Approximately 18,000 students attend Georgetown.
At prestigious Georgetown you can earn a Master of Professional Studies degree in Applied Intelligence. This unique program is equal parts theory and application. Meaning you’ll gain a broad understanding of the intelligence landscape while also studying risk assessment and intelligence operations. Georgetown offers four formal specialization tracks:
- Homeland Security Intelligence
- Cyber Intelligence
- Law Enforcement Intelligence
- Business Intelligence
Georgetown is known for its elite professional schools that offer degrees in business, law, law enforcement, and foreign service. Graduates from the university have secured high-profile careers in the US government and international affairs. U.S. News & World Report ranks Georgetown twentieth among all national universities.
Saint Joseph's University
Average Net Price: $36,058
Located in Philadelphia, Saint Joseph’s University is also a Roman Catholic Jesuit school. It is one of the leading members within the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and it has a student population exceeding 9,000 undergraduate and graduates. SJU offers more than 100 academic programs.
The Master’s in Criminal Justice program at SJU allows students to specialize in Federal Law Enforcement. This is the perfect program for those who want to work at the federal level in homeland security, crime prevention and investigation, or law enforcement. In addition to gaining a foundation in US crime, you’ll also hone your leadership skills. Within the specialization there are another five areas of concentration:
- Behavior Analysis
- Behavior Management
- Federal Law Enforcement
- Homeland Security
- Intelligence and Crime Analysis
SJU’s business and law programs are among some of the most esteemed departments within the University. Likewise, Saint Joseph’s University is regionally and nationally ranked by an array of publications. It has also built a renowned online campus that also lands on a number of national rankings.