The Best Online Associate in Public Safety Administration Programs

Public safety administration jobs run the gamut, ranging from police officers to EMS or emergency responders. It can be a thrilling way to serve your community.

Public service jobs are in demand, particularly in the EMT field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 24%, which translates to 58,500 new EMT jobs over the next ten years.

In order to obtain a thrilling career as an EMT or other public safety position, a degree in public safety administration is required. Earning a public safety administration degree online is the fastest, most cost-effective way to earn it.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Southwest Virginia Community College 72.36 2/5 39% Richlands, VA

Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Southwest Virginia Community College offers an associate of applied science in administration of justice that can be completed online. The school's two-year (five semester) program offers a curriculum relevant to professionals already working in the field, as well as individuals with no prior experience in public safety administration. Southwest's public safety administration degree prepares students to work in leadership positions in criminal justice, security, corrections, and wildlife management and enforcement. Applicants to the program who have a criminal background (including drug convictions) should talk to the program director before applying.

Program topics include forensic science, lab analysis, narcotics and dangerous drugs, defensive tactics for police, and computer applications in administration of justice. During their final semester, students take either an internship or capstone course. Graduate students must complete 66 credits.

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2 Columbia College 71.13 3/5 42% Columbia, MO

Columbia College offers an associate in science in criminal justice administration degree through its online campus. This two-year program approaches criminal justice administration from a sociological and psychological perspective. Students must complete 24 required credit hours and nine elective credit hours in criminal justice administration, as well as general education requirements. Major courses cannot be taken on a pass or fail grade system. Interesting criminal justice administration courses at Columbia College include: police in a democratic society, juvenile delinquency, and law of criminal evidence.

Learners must complete sixty credits to graduate from the school's AS in criminal justice administration program. Graduates of the program qualify for a wide range of public safety administration degree jobs, including positions in law enforcement, corrections, and counseling. Online courses at Columbia College are offered in eight-week chunks, and registration is open six times a year. Service members and their spouses may qualify for a tuition discount.

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3 Park University 69.34 2/5 41% Parkville, MO

Park University’s public safety administration degree provides students with an understanding of the American criminal justice system. Students gain knowledge of more than 40 career paths related to public safety administration while studying in the program. Three concentrations are available to criminal justice administration degree seekers: security, corrections, and law enforcement. There are no special admissions requirements for the program.

Park University's associate of science in criminal justice administration degree requires the completion of 60 credit hours, including 27 within the student’s chosen major. Core curriculum for the major includes criminal procedure, introduction to security, and criminal justice and the community. To graduate, students must complete 15 credits in residence, at least nine of which must be in the major, and hold a 2.0 GPA or higher.

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4 Peirce College 68.44 2/5 76% Philadelphia, PA

An associate degree in criminal justice studies can be earned completely online at Peirce College. Areas of focus for criminal justice studies students at Peirce include: law enforcement, the correctional system, criminal investigation, introduction to private security, and juvenile justice. The program includes both a practical and theoretical study of criminal justice. Accelerated online courses start almost every month. Tuition is $578 per credit hour, which does not include other associated fees.

The curriculum requirements for the criminal justice studies program include 61 credits, 33 of which are within the student’s chosen major. Course offerings focus on topics such as ethics in criminal justice, homeland security, computer crimes, and victimization. The program also offers students the opportunity to take part in a capstone course and a three credit cooperative work experience. Graduates of Peirce’s criminal justice studies program will qualify for many public safety administration degree jobs, from private investigator to police officer.

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5 Shoreline Community College 68.16 2/5 49% Shoreline, WA

Located in Washington state, Shoreline Community College offers a public safety administration degree online. Students who want to begin employment immediately after earning their associate in criminal justice should pursue the 90-credit associate in applied arts and sciences degree.

This criminal justice associate in arts transfer degree is designed for students who plan to continue their studies at a four-year college to complete a bachelor’s degree. The transfer degree prepares students to study criminal justice and meets the requirements of many four-year programs. Both degrees can be earned completely online, and all faculty members draw from real world experience in the criminal justice system.

Some students, such as professionals already working in criminal justice and veterans whose service was related to criminal justice, may be able to receive credit for their experience. The program maintains a criminal justice advisory board made up of industry professionals to ensure that the program’s curriculum is up-to-date and that graduates will meet current industry needs.

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6 Concordia University-Wisconsin 67.83 3/5 59% Mequon, WI

Concordia-Wisconsin's public safety administration degree can be earned completely online. Concordia, a Christian university affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Concordia can accept students from every state except New Mexico. Applicants must hold a 2.5 GPA and an ACT score of 16 or higher to be admitted. Students may be able to receive some credit for experiential learning, military experience, and through the College Level Examination Program. Online courses last eight to ten weeks.

Concordia University-Wisconsin’s associate degree in criminal justice (management) program is a 64-credit degree and instructors at Concordia offer a Christian outlook on the criminal justice system and draw from experience working in the field. Criminal justice courses offered examine topics such as terrorism, criminal investigation, juvenile theory, and the court system.

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7 Tiffin University 67.74 4/5 55% Tiffin, OH

Tiffin University, established in 1888 and located in Tiffin, Ohio, focuses on providing degree programs that help students excel in their chosen professions. The associate of criminal justice in law enforcement offered by Tiffin consists of 21 criminal justice courses that emphasize corrections, criminal investigation, law enforcement, and supervision. Courses offered include technology and crime and applied criminal investigation. The ACJ program includes experiential learning and teamwork among classmates. Students must also complete 22 credit hours of general education requirements, including a one credit first year seminar. Tiffin’s online programs usually enroll a tiny 10 to 15 students per course, making it easier for students to receive individualized attention from instructors.

Tiffin’s public safety administration degree online is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The AJC takes about two years to complete online, and students take one or two classes at a time. Students can start their program in January, March, May, July, August, or October.

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8 Lanier Technical College 65.66 2/5 28% Oakwood, GA

Lanier Technical College's offers a public safety administration degree online — its criminal justice technology associate degree — that prepares students for a range of careers in criminal justice. The program combines practical skills with theory and is suitable both for professionals already working in criminal justice and students seeking entry level positions upon graduation. The program takes six semesters to complete, and students can begin the program every semester. Program applicants must be at least 16 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and must submit requested test scores. Tuition for out-of-state residents is $178 per credit hour plus $252 in mandatory fees.

Criminal justice technology program-specific requirements include constitutional law for CRJU, introduction to computers, and a criminal justice practicum. Criminal justice technology electives available include police officer survival, report writing, fire and arson investigation, and Spanish for law enforcement. To graduate, students must complete a total of 60 credit hours, including 45 program-specific credit hours.

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9 Hawaii Pacific University 64.67 3/5 40% Honolulu, HI

Hawaii Pacific University’s associate degree in criminal justice is available entirely online through its Military Campus Program. The school's Military Campus/Off-Campus Program provides distance education to military members, families of military, veterans, and other non-traditional students. The program looks at criminal justice through an interdisciplinary lens, including behavioral sciences, law, and management.

Course length varies by season: fall and spring courses last eight weeks, summer courses last seven weeks, and the winter term last four weeks. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours (including general education and major requirements). Subjects students at Hawaii Pacific examine include crime and criminals, laws and courts in world cultures, and social problems and policy. If desired, students in the school's AS in criminal justice program can proceed directly to Hawaii Pacific's bachelor’s in criminal studies program. The school's public safety administration degree online requires students to complete at least 15 credits in residence.

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10 Allen County Community College 64.58 2/5 49% Iola, KS

Allen County Community College offers an associate of science in criminal justice studies. The degree can be completed entirely online, with no on-campus requirements. Allen County’s criminal justice studies program readies graduates to attend an academy, transfer to a four-year university, or go directly into entry-level public safety administration degree jobs. Allen County Community College has agreements with many four-year universities in Kansas, making the transfer process easy. Criminal investigation, crime victims, and juvenile delinquency are some of the topics learners will examine while studying for their criminal justice studies major.

Tuition at Allen County Community College is the same for in-state and out-of-state residents, although the school charges an additional technology fee per credit hour for online courses. Most online textbooks are loaned as rentals, the cost of which is included in tuition. The college’s writing center and library are both available online, as is the program's 24-hour technical support.

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11 Clarion University of Pennsylvania 63.73 3/5 48% Clarion, PA

Clarion University of Pennsylvania’s public safety administration degree can be completed entirely online. The school’s Department of Justice, Law, Technology, and Liberal Arts offers the degree, which is an associate of science in criminal justice. The program gives students a broad overview of the field and covers all major areas of criminal justice, including corrections, policing, criminology, juvenile justice, and law adjudication. Upon graduation, students are qualified for entry-level positions in the criminal justice field.

Credit requirements for the AS in criminal justice include 33 criminal justice credits out of a total 60 credits needed to graduate. Criminal justice courses offered by the school include probation and parole, substantive criminal justice law, and a criminal justice co-op. Clarion provides a real-time online orientation session for all online students at the beginning of every semester.

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12 Northern Virginia Community College 62.92 2/5 38% Annandale, VA

North Virginia Community College (NOVA) offers a public safety administration degree that can be completed 100% online — the school's associate of applied science in fire science technology. This program is designed primarily for learners working in the field of fire science, either firefighters working on the ground or individuals working in other technical or administrative aspects of fire science and related fields. Those with a prior background in firefighting can apply to get academic credit for some of their experience. Program graduates may be able to transfer into a four-year bachelor’s program and continue their studies.

Fire science technology courses offered at NOVA include: hazardous materials chemistry, fire protection of hydraulics and water supply, fire and risk analysis, and occupational safety and health for the fire service. Graduates of the fire science technology program at NOVA may qualify for fire officer 1 and 2 exams if they complete specific courses.

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13 Tyler Junior College 62.64 2/5 45% Tyler, TX

Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, offers a fully-accredited public safety administration degree online. Tyler’s associate of art in criminal justice gives students a theoretical and practical understanding of the field of criminal justice. Students who complete the associate degree can later transfer into a bachelor’s degree program if they choose. Program faculty draw from many years of experience in the field and include police officers, homicide detectives, and crime scene investigators.

Students majoring in criminal justice must take five criminal justice courses (16 credits) and must complete 44 credits from Tyler’s core curriculum. A total of 60 credit hours must be completed to graduate with an associate degree. Required criminal justice courses include police systems and practices, fundamentals of criminal law, court systems and practices, and correctional systems and practices. Online students at TJC receive access to the same resources available to on campus learners.

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14 Colorado Christian University 62.36 4/5 40% Lakewood, CO

The associate of science in criminal justice program at Colorado Christian University can be completed entirely online, with no in-person requirements. This program leads to a public safety administration degree (AS in criminal justice) and introduces students to criminal justice in the United States from an interdenominational Christian perspective. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, this degree prepares students for entry-level work in the field. Criminal justice program faculty members have worked in criminal justice and bring real-world experience to their teaching.

To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours, including 18 focused on criminal justice. The program’s accelerated format (classes usually take five weeks to complete) allows students can earn their degree in as little as 18 months. Learners pursuing the school's associate in criminal justice also choose a focus area: criminal justice ethics, juvenile justice, criminal justice, criminology, corrections, or criminal courts. After earning their AS, students can also choose to transfer to CCU’s bachelor’s program in criminal justice.

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15 Somerset Community College 61.75 2/5 35% Somerset, KY

Somerset Community College’s public safety administration degree (associate in applied science in criminal justice) can be completed online. This criminal justice degree prepares students for jobs in all levels of government as well as in security and loss prevention for private companies. SCC has transfer agreements with several four-year universities in Kentucky for students who would like to pursue a bachelor’s degree after receiving their associate in criminal justice.

Criminal justice courses at SCC examine topics such as ethics, criminal law, juveniles in the justice system, and criminal procedures. A criminal justice capstone course is required during the final semester of the program. Students in the program also select a track that lets them narrow in on their specific interests and career goals. Criminal justice tracks available include criminal justice, law enforcement, corrections, and security and loss prevention. To remain eligible, enrolled students must maintain a 2.0 GPA.

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16 Genesee Community College 61.46 1/5 46% Batavia, NY

Genesee Community College in Batavia, New York, offers an online associate degree in criminal justice that takes about two years to complete. Enrolled students choose to pursue either an associate of science or an associate of applied science in criminal justice. Both programs require completion of 62 credit hours. Students pursuing this public safety administration degree take general education requirements and core criminal justice courses. Administration in criminal justice, criminal investigation, and policing are required core criminal justice courses.

Students can choose from four areas of concentration: policing, homeland security/emergency management, corrections counseling, and forensics. Students can also choose to keep their studies generalized and focus on criminal justice as a broad field. GCC has transfer agreements with several four-year institutions in New York, allowing students who complete the associate in criminal justice to easily transfer into a four-year bachelor’s program with two years already completed.

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17 Albany Technical College 60.14 1/5 41% Albany, GA

Georgia's Albany Technical College offers its online fire science technology associate degree to students throughout the United States. This program is designed to help learners working in the fire science field become better prepared for challenges ahead while advancing their careers. ATC's public safety administration degree leads to an associate of applied science in fire science and students must complete 62 credit hours to earn the AAS in fire science at the school. Fire science technology courses offered include incident command, hazardous materials operations, fire fighting strategies and tactics, and fire and arson investigation.

ATC's fire science technology program admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED and minimum scores on the COMPASS test. Additionally, applicants must be at least 18 years old. Online tuition for students who do not live in Georgia is twice as much as it is for Georgia residents. Online classes begin and end on a traditional semester schedule that mirrors ATC’s on-campus semester system.

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18 Hazard Community and Technical College 59.91 2/5 34% Hazard, KY

Hazard Community and Technical College offers a public safety administration degree online. The college’s associate of applied science in criminal justice provides students with a broad understanding of the subject of criminal justice and prepares them for entry-level positions in the field. Students in the AAS in criminal justice program choose a specialization from three different tracks: criminal justice, security and loss prevention, or law enforcement.

Hazard offers two types of online learning: learn by term or learn on demand. Learn by term allows students to take courses on a more traditional semester schedule, whereas with learn on demand, students start class at any time, and classes are broken down into smaller pieces. Both approaches to learning count toward the degree. Learn by term courses last eight, 12, or 16 weeks depending on the class. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA to progress in the criminal justice program. To graduate, criminal justice students must complete a post exit exam.

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19 Dawson Community College 59.58 1/5 61% Glendive, MT

Dawson Community College’s (DCC) associate of applied science in criminal justice can be completed entirely online. Tuition rates are the same regardless of residency status (excluding extra fees such as textbook costs and digital content fees). Online courses in the criminal justice program are asynchronous, meaning students can log on whenever is most convenient for them. However, students must still turn in assignments by the due date provided by their course instructors. DCC offers 24/7 online tutoring for students taking online courses.

Dawson’s public safety administration degree (AAS in criminal justice) is intended to prepare graduates for entry-level employment at both private and public entities that do not require academy training prior to hire. Courses cover topics like corrections, law enforcement, probation, penology, and more. Practical and theoretical aspects of criminal justice are covered in the AAS in criminal justice program at Dawson Community College.

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20 Hudson Valley Community College 59.48 2/5 38% Troy, NY

Hudson Valley Community College’s Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Public Administration Department offers an associate of applied science (AAS) in criminal justice program online. Because HVCC is located in New York, residents of that state receive a significantly discounted tuition compared to out-of-state students. The program has no in-person requirements, and HVCC’s courses are asynchronous. Students must complete 60 credit hours to graduate. HVCC may accept up to 30 transfer credits from a regionally-accredited school. Criminal justice courses available include procedural criminal law, principles of criminal investigation, and a course on domestic violence, public policy and legislation.

Public safety administration degree jobs available to graduates of Hudson Valley’s program include positions in law enforcement, corrections, and crime prevention, as well as options within the private sector. Graduates of the school's AAS in criminal justice program have the option to continue their studies at a four-year college or university through one of the Hudson Valley Community College’s transfer programs with nearby schools in the New York area.

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21 Mansfield University of Pennsylvania 59.29 3/5 48% Mansfield, PA

A public safety administration degree, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania's associate of science in criminal justice administration degree can be earned entirely online. The program was designed to meet the needs of people already working in the criminal justice profession and other non-traditional students who might not have the time to attend in-person courses. Students who complete the AS can transfer into Mansfield’s bachelor’s in criminal justice program.

The major requires 30 credit hours, including 18 core credits and 12 elective credits. To graduate, students must complete a total of 60 credit hours. Core required courses include survey of policing, survey of corrections, and other courses that provide a broad overview of the field of criminal justice. In elective courses, students are able to delve deeper into specific topics in which they are interested, including policy, criminal justice ethics, crime prevention, and serial murder.

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22 Eastern Wyoming College 58.82 2/5 60% Torrington, WY

Eastern Wyoming College offers students the opportunity to earn an associate of arts in criminal justice online. The AA is designed for students seeking careers in law enforcement. Graduates will qualify for public safety administration degree jobs and if interested, may be able to transfer to a bachelor’s in criminal science program. Applicants with a criminal background should contact the program to make sure they will be allowed to take all of the program’s courses.

Available criminal justice electives include forensic psychology, drugs & criminal justice, and research psychological methods. In order to progress in the program, students must earn a grade of “C” or better in all major courses. Core required courses include criminal investigation, criminal law, a supervised lab experience, law enforcement procedures, and a one credit criminal justice capstone project. A total of sixty credit hours are required to graduate with an associate of arts in criminal justice from Eastern Wyoming College.

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23 Jefferson Community College 58.63 1/5 44% Watertown, NY

Jefferson Community College in Watertown, New York, offers an associate of science in criminal justice completely online. JCC’s program is relevant for those entirely new to the field of criminal justice as well as those who have many years of experience in the profession. The program is suggested both for learners who intend to seek employment immediately after AS completion as well as those who plan to transfer to a four-year university and continue their studies to earn a bachelor’s degree. To make the transfer process as easy as possible, JCC has formal transfer agreements with several universities.

Students pursuing the school's public safety administration degree (AS in criminal justice) can choose to specialize in either juvenile delinquency or criminology. To graduate, students must complete 63 credit hours, including 21 criminal justice credits. The program features three required criminal justice courses: an introduction to criminal justice, criminal administrative procedures, and criminal justice report writing. Available electives include interrogations, sex crimes, and community corrections.

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24 St John's University-New York 57.45 4/5 59% Queens, NY

Located in New York, St. John’s University's associate of science in criminal justice can be earned completely online by students in every state in the country. This 60-credit program meets the requirements for new hires at many police departments, including the New York Police Department. Students in the program who have already graduated from the New York Police Department Academy can apply to have their experience counted as credit to the degree. Students may also pursue the program's associate degree in criminal justice with the goal of transferring to a four-year university and earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related public safety administration degree online.

Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in order to progress in classes and graduate with the AS in criminal justice from St. John’s. Of the 60 credits required to graduate, 18 are criminal justice requirements, including courses on police and the community, correctional systems, and the American judicial system.

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25 Northwest Mississippi Community College 56.32 2/5 33% Senatobia, MS

Northwest Mississippi Community College offers an associate of arts in criminal justice that can be completed entirely online. The AA in criminal justice falls under the school's Division of Social Science. This degree provides students with general knowledge about the criminal justice system, and prepares them to enter entry-level jobs in the field or to continue pursuing a bachelor’s level public safety administration degree at a four-year university. Students in the program are advised to choose a focus area within the major based on their career goals and choose their classes accordingly.

Online students at Northwest Mississippi Community College pay the same tuition rate as on-campus learners, and financial aid is available. Students must complete 62 credit hours to graduate from the criminal justice program. Courses cover topics like homeland security, criminology, criminal investigation, and juvenile justice. To apply to the program, students must submit high school, college, or military transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and a completed Northwest application.

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Time to Complete
Two years
Credit Hours
30-40 credits
Program Costs
As low as $3,400 for in-state — Generally $8,000 – $17,000
Core Courses
Crime Prevention, Crime in America, Theory in Crime Causation, Emergency Services Administration
Concentrations
Fire Science Management, Police Officer, Public Health
Accreditation
The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies

CAREER PATHS

A public safety administration degree can open a lot of doors. Public safety administration jobs include police officers and firefighters. Employees in public safety administration must work flexible hours; you never know when a fire, crime, or emergency might happen. Public safety administrators must cope with stress and perform under deadlines.

Police Officer: Police officers protect property and lives and enforce the law. They must deal with dangerous situations and wield the power granted to them with discretion. Many standout police officers eventually become detectives.

Firefighter: Firefighters manage, control, and put out fires. They also deal with other dangerous situations that may damage lives, property, or nature.

Emergency Management Director: Emergency management directors create plans and strategies for dealing with natural disasters and emergencies. When those natural disasters and emergencies happen, they coordinate and direct other public service officials in responding.

Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
Police Officer $60,270 4%
Emergency Management Director $67,330 6%
Firefighter $46,870 5%

Source: PayScale

EDUCATIONAL PATHS

After you complete your associate degree in public safety administration, you may want to continue your education and transfer to a bachelor’s program. You should consider which specific path in public administration you’d like to follow. If you want to be a police officer or firefighter, you likely need academy training instead of more education. If you want to be an emergency management director or work in public health, you should pursue further education. Below are several bachelor’s programs that can enhance your desirability to employers.

Kaplan University — BS in Public Administration and Policy: Kaplan University’s program features a unique focus on policy. Students look at how policies are designed and evaluated and how they affect the public. Kaplan also offers an accelerated option that leads to a master’s in public administration.

Walden University — BS in Political Science and Public Administration: Walden’s curriculum contains courses in political science and civic engagement/social entrepreneurship courses, leaving graduates with multiple options in the job world. The program also boasts a contemporary focus, dealing with energy, human rights, and health care, among other topics.

Bellevue University — BS in Emergency Management: Bellevue University’s program teaches students how to organize and prepare for natural and manmade disasters. The degree is offered online and on campus in a cohort format.

ASSOCIATE IN PUBLIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION SALARY

The next table shows the top five paying states for public safety administrators, specifically police officers, the most common profession for a public safety administrator graduate. The top three states have major cities that require more public safety professionals — California (Los Angeles and San Francisco), New York (New York City), and Illinois (Chicago).

State Average Annual Wage
California $96,660
New York $70,990
Illinois $70,850
Texas $60,350
Florida $57,160

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Public safety administration is a tight-knit field, and many of its professional organizations promote, advocate for, and encourage working with the public. A number of organizations also offer advancement opportunities such as professional development and networking events. The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) overtly focuses on making connections through journals, local chapter meetings, advertising, awards programs, and conferences.

Students can fund their public safety administration degree through financial aid; the first step is to fill out a FAFSA form. You should apply to a number of the different scholarship programs available, from public and private institutions and organizations.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.