Best Online Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement Programs

Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBachelor'sin Law Enforcement2017
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From investigating cases to helping probationers get back on their feet, a degree in law enforcement prepares you to help serve and protect every element of society. Studies have shown earning a college degree have a positive impact on law enforcement officer performance, and as technology rapidly advances, a host of new security threats advance with it, making a relevant degree in the sector more useful than ever. As a college-educated law enforcement professional, you enjoy more possibilities, benefit from a greater earning potential, and are best positioned for changes in the field.

Currently, most departments do not require entry-level officers to hold a degree, but many require some form of college coursework. As degrees become more commonplace, the need for law enforcement officers is likely to increase over time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in law enforcement are expected to grow 4% between 2014 and 2024.

DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?

Students without related work experience are in luck: most online bachelor’s in law enforcement programs do not require any previous work experience.

CAN I WORK WHILE I COMPLETE MY ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN LAW ENFORCEMENT?

Typically, online bachelor’s in law enforcement programs allow you to hold a job while you’re in school. If you’re working full-time, however, you may need to take a lighter course load, causing you to take longer to earn your degree.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY MASTER’S IN LAW ENFORCEMENT ONLINE?

There are several advantages to online bachelor’s programs versus their traditional on-campus counterparts. Online programs offer more flexibility and convenience for people with busy lives, allowing you to log into programs any time of the week. Tuition for online programs is also frequently less than that of on-campus programs, and you don’t have to move away to be closer to a school or make time to commute to campus.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus 66.30 4/5 50% University Park, PA

A nationally recognized institution known for its rigorous academic programs, Penn State-World Campus has a long history of offering students opportunities to earn a degree through distance learning. Students can choose from more than 125 in-demand degree and certification programs in fields such as engineering, education, business, and technology.

Students seeking an online law enforcement degree should consider Penn State-World Campus' bachelor's of science in criminal justice. A 120-credit degree, the program includes general education classes, upper-level courses, and electives. Areas of focus include policing in America, corrections, police administration, and the juvenile justice system. Students have the option of enhancing the degree with an 18-credit homeland security minor, studying issues such as border security and emergency management. Students in the criminal justice program must complete a senior capstone project, where they explore developments in the field.

Penn State-World Campus' online programs incorporate best practices in online delivery, are taught by faculty with experience in elearning, and use technologies that support student success. Penn State-World Campus' Military Grant-in-Aid program provides service members and their spouses with more affordable tuition rates.

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2 Arizona State University-Skysong 66.00 3/5 51% Scottsdale, AZ

Located in Scottsdale, ASU-Skysong is an innovation center where students can participate in a range of academic programs. The school offers more than 100 degrees online, in fields like business, family and human development, health care, liberal studies, and sustainability. The school's online courses are interactive, using state-of-the-art technology. Student support services include advisers and success coaches to help students achieve their academic goals.

The university's bachelor's of science in criminology and criminal justice is a 120-credit program with a minimum 2.5 GPA required for admission. An online law enforcement degree, the curriculum is designed to help students develop skills in areas such as research and analysis. Program faculty are leaders in the field with experience in policing, gangs, corrections, courts, and other areas of criminal justice. Graduates generally pursue careers in criminal justice or progress to graduate studies in law, criminology, and other social sciences.

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3 Colorado State University-Global Campus 63.40 3/5 63% Greenwood Village, CO

In 2007, CSU-Global became the first 100% online, independent state university in the nation. The school delivers innovative bachelor's, master’s, and industry certification programs to nontraditional students in Colorado and elsewhere. CSU-Global's bachelor's in criminal justice and law enforcement administration is one of several programs offered 100% online and is designed for working adults.

This law enforcement degree online is comprised of 120 credits with 18 optional specialization areas such as data management and analysis, criminal forensics, emergency management, organizational leadership, and project management; each specialization consists of five upper-division courses (15 credits). Courses are offered in an accelerated eight-week format with monthly starts, and are available every term. Online programs at CSU-Global are affordable and include a tuition guarantee, with tuition rates locked in for the duration of study.

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4 University of Memphis 60.50 3/5 40% Memphis, TN

Twenty thousand students from the U.S. and around the globe attend UofM to earn degrees in a range of disciplines. UofM is a major research university known as one of the most affordable public colleges in the nation. Students can choose from 17 bachelor's degrees in more than 250 programs in fields like arts and sciences, education, and business and economics.

UofM offers affordable online programs, alternative degree pathways, accelerated learning, flexibility, and support services that meet the needs of busy working professionals. The school's bachelor's of arts in criminology and criminal justice is a law enforcement degree online that emphasizes research and community outreach. Students are taught by nationally recognized faculty as they study issues in criminology such as policing, corrections, capital punishment, gangs, and international crime. Classes can be taken 100% online or in a hybrid format.

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5 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus 57.80 3/5 66% Norman, OK

Founded in 1890, OU-Norman is home to approximately 21,000 undergraduate students and 170 majors. The university, which has produced 29 Rhodes Scholars, delivers highly ranked programs in areas such as world cultural studies, administrative leadership, and liberal studies. In addition, OU-Norman houses the National Weather Center.

OU’s College of Liberal Studies delivers a bachelor's of science in criminal justice, a 100% online, 120-credit degree that prepares students for law enforcement administration jobs. Areas of study include forensic science, deviance and social control, and drugs in society. The program is delivered in an accelerated format with eight-week courses. While most students take four courses (12 credits) each semester, others take a full load of six courses (18 credits). Most students complete the program in four or five years; it is possible to graduate in 18 months with transferred credits and a heavy course load.

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6 Park University 57.40 2/5 41% Parkville, MO

A curriculum informed by the core values of academic excellence, accountability, and global citizenship is part of Park’s promise to prospective students. Park, with its main campus in Missouri, delivers academic programs at more than 40 campuses in the U.S. and online. The university's five award-winning colleges offer undergraduate and graduate programs in education, business, liberal arts, and sciences. The school’s catalog includes 24 bachelor’s degrees delivered 100% online.

Park offers two online law enforcement programs: a bachelor's of science and a bachelor's of arts in criminal justice administration. Each degree requires students to complete 120 credits and earn a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0. Students in Park's criminal justice program can choose from three concentrations: law enforcement, corrections, or security. Online students in need of academic assistance can schedule virtual tutoring through the university. Additionally, students can access free, video-based modules for help in areas such as test taking and note taking through the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS).

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7 Saint Joseph's College-New York 55.70 3/5 68% Brooklyn, NY

Situated in the heart of Brooklyn, SJC-New York provides its approximately 1,200 students with an academic experience rooted in career preparation and the liberal arts tradition. Distance learners have several degree options available through SJC Online, which offers heavily discounted tuition, a generous credit transfer system, remote access to the school library, and technical support.

SJC-New York's bachelor's of science in criminal justice practice and policy is a multidisciplinary online law enforcement degree focused on evidence-based practices. The program is designed for working professionals in the field who are seeking to earn a baccalaureate credential. In addition to criminal justice, students will examine fields like philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and forensic bioscience. SJC-New York's 120-credit criminal justice program has rolling admission and requires at least a 2.0 GPA for students with prior college credits.

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8 Drexel University 54.70 5/5 65% Philadelphia, PA

Primarily a research university, Philadelphia-based Drexel is a leader in experiential learning among institutions of higher education. Through its three campuses, regional sites, and online learning, the institution reaches approximately 26,000 students annually.

The curriculum for Drexel's bachelor's of science in criminology and justice studies draws from a number of fields, including law, political science, information science, and psychology. To be eligible for admission to the program, students must have earned at least 24 college credits with a grade of C or better. Drexel allows students to transfer up to 90 credits into the law enforcement degree online. The school’s online courses are accessible 24/7 and are delivered in 10-week terms. Distance learners can earn credits for prior learning and can also receive tuition discounts. Servicemembers, whether active-duty, reserve, or veterans, and their families (including spouses, children, and parents) are eligible for a 10%–40% reduction in tuition rates.

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9 Columbia College 54.00 3/5 42% Columbia, MO

For more than 160 years, Columbia has been giving students the opportunity to enhance their lives through higher education. Today, the school boasts a network of campuses in 37 locations across the country, in addition to its main campus in Columbia, Missouri. Columbia also delivers distance education, offering students access to more than 45 online certificate, associate, bachelor's, and master's programs.

Columbia's 120-credit bachelor's of arts in criminal justice administration is designed specifically for working professionals and prepares graduates for advancement in law enforcement administration jobs. Delivered 100% online, the program features core areas of study like criminal law, criminal procedures, ethics and morality in criminal justice, and corrections and penology. Students have the option of earning a supplemental certificate in crime scene investigation, which requires 15 credits to complete. To graduate from the school's criminal justice program, students must earn at least a ‘C’ grade average. Columbia is a transfer-friendly institution; half of its students begin their education elsewhere.

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10 Stevenson University 53.00 4/5 64% Stevenson, MD

A independent university based in Maryland, Stevenson is home to more than 4,000 students at its two physical campuses and through distance learning. The school's tagline, "Imagine Your Future. Design Your Career" is realized through the institution’s emphasis on a liberal arts education and career preparation. Stevenson delivers online degrees in areas like healthcare, education, and business and technology.

Stevenson's online bachelor's of science in criminal justice is designed for working professionals pursuing a career in criminal justice, and focuses on understanding the roots of, and consequences for, criminality. The curriculum of this online law enforcement degree combines theory with practice and is multidisciplinary, with required courses in sociology, psychology, law, criminal justice, and technology. Admission to Stevenson's criminal justice program, which is offered fully online in eight-week sessions, includes at least two years’ work experience and a 2.5 cumulative GPA for past academic work. The university allows students to transfer up to 90 previously-earned credits towards their degree.

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11 University of Central Missouri 52.90 3/5 49% Warrensburg, MO

At UCM, students have access to more than 150 academic programs that provide hands-on experience, including service-learning projects in the community. The university's approximately 14,000 students come from 42 states and 61 countries, and 92 percent of them are employed within six months of graduation.

The school’s 120-credit bachelor's of science in criminal justice features a curriculum that includes courses in policing, courts, juvenile justice, corrections, victimology, and international justice. The program is available entirely online, with no mandatory in-person components. Graduates are prepared for jobs in law enforcement or for graduate studies, including law school. At UCM, students may enroll in an accelerated, combined bachelor's/master's program, through which they can graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in criminal justice in five years. All distance learners at UCM pay the same tuition rate regardless of their state of residence.

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12 Gardner-Webb University 52.10 4/5 45% Boiling Springs, NC

A recognized leader in Christian postsecondary education, Gardner-Webb offers its students an education rooted in the liberal arts tradition. The university, nationally recognized for its academic programs, boasts a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and instruction individualized to students' needs. Several of the more than 60 degrees Gardner-Webb delivers can be taken 100% online; however, the university's fully online programs are not available to students residing in California or Massachusetts.

Gardner-Webb's bachelor's of science in criminal justice is available entirely online and emphasizes broad themes in criminal justice. The program includes courses on civil liberties, leadership, human behavior, and minority groups. Students must complete 30 credits in the major, 15 of which must be earned at Gardner-Webb. Graduates are prepared for jobs in law enforcement in areas including security, legal assistance and research, internet security, and juvenile justice and counseling.

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13 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus 51.30 3/5 45% Denver, CO

CU-Denver is a public urban research institution and academic health center. More than 14,000 students take classes at the school's campus in downtown Denver, while about 4,000 students complete coursework in advanced health care programs at the Anschutz Medical Campus in nearby Aurora. Additionally, CU-Denver delivers more than 20 degrees online, comprised of more than 450 courses.

CU-Denver's 100% online bachelor's of arts in criminal justice is a 120-credit program that prepares students for jobs in law enforcement such as detective, crime scene investigator, lawyer, and marshal. Elective topics include corrections, juvenile justice, and victim services. Students seeking an accelerated program may choose to pursue the school's online bachelor's/master's of criminal justice dual degree, which can be completed with one additional year. Additionally, students can mix online and on-campus classes as their schedules require. CU-Denver offers an experiential learning team that provides students with access to internships, study abroad, and other opportunities.

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14 Central Christian College of Kansas 50.30 3/5 35% McPherson, KS

Established in 1884, CCC promises a Christ-centered educational experience geared to development of the "whole person - heart, mind, body, and soul." The school’s catalog includes more than 40 areas of study rooted in the liberal arts, including popular majors like business, education, and exercise science.

CCC delivers six bachelor’s degrees online, including a bachelor's of science in criminal justice. The program, which requires a minimum 2.0 GPA for admission, is structured in a six-week modular sequence and has no mandatory in-person component. Areas of study in CCC's online law enforcement degree include forensic science, terrorism and counterterrorism, and criminology. All courses are taught by experts in the field. Online study at CCC is delivered asynchronously, and students have access to a student success adviser who provides individualized support from enrollment to graduation. CCC awards credits for military training, police academy experience, and previous coursework in community college.

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15 Wilmington University 49.70 3/5 34% New Castle, DE

Located in Delaware, Wilmington is a private institution delivering academic and career training to about 20,000 students in a range of disciplines. The university places an emphasis on career-focused programs, providing students with knowledge and skills wanted by employers. In addition, Wilmington offers flexible learning options at multiple locations, affordable tuition, and a generous policy that allows students to transfer up to 90 credits.

Students in Wilmington's online bachelor's of science in criminal justice program gain expertise in the theories and practices of fields like law enforcement, corrections, courts, and parole. The school's criminal justice degree is one of the online law enforcement programs that allows students to build a personal program with an academic adviser. The curriculum includes an optional six-credit co-op assignment working in the administration of a criminal justice organization.

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16 Bellevue University 49.50 3/5 31% Bellevue, NE

About 10,000 students attend classes at Bellevue annually, at 15 campuses in four states and through distance learning. Based in Nebraska, the university boasts a catalog of more than 75 degrees and certifications. Bellevue offers online learning to give working professionals opportunities to earn bachelor’s degrees in fields like adult education, business analytics, emergency management, and graphic design.

The university delivers a 127-credit bachelor's of science in criminal justice, an online law enforcement degree focusing on the criminal justice system, corrections, and the courts. The curriculum, which emphasizes themes such as social issues, legal perspectives, and ethical principles, integrates theory and applied learning. Students are also required to take nine credits in the university's Kirkpatrick Signature Series, courses that examine the interplay among citizenship, limited government, and entrepreneurship. Distance learners pay the same tuition regardless of their state of residence, and Bellevue provides discounted tuition rates to active-duty members of the military.

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17 St John's University-New York 48.10 4/5 59% Queens, NY

SJU-New York is a Catholic and Vincentian college with a mission to provide rigorous academic programs while combating the origins of injustice in the world. SJU-New York delivers three bachelor’s degrees through online learning: administrative studies, liberal studies, and criminal justice.

SJU-New York's bachelor's of science in criminal justice is a 126-credit program that prepares students for jobs in law enforcement. Areas of focus include community policing, judicial and correctional systems, and root causes of crime. Students have the option to specialize in forensic psychology, and can also earn a minor degree in business, computer science, criminalistics, court administration, or correctional counseling. SJU-New York will grant credit to students who have successfully completed training courses at the NYC Police, NYC Corrections, or other local police academies. Distance learners have access to a range of support services, including academic advisement, campus ministry, and career counseling.

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18 Anderson University 47.90 3/5 48% Anderson, SC

Located in South Carolina, AU prepares students for success in their career, community, and church through its liberal arts curriculum. Students can choose from 40 degrees and 38 concentrations at bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The university offers distance learning, giving working students the flexibility they need to advance their careers in fields such as business administration, Christian studies, organizational leadership, and human services.

AU's 100% online bachelor's of arts in criminal justice with a concentration in law enforcement is a 128-credit law enforcement degree online. The program, structured with eight-week courses, is taught by professors with real-world expertise in the field. Core areas of study include criminal law, criminal investigations, constitutional law, the correctional system, and social problems. Upon enrollment, each student is paired with an AU journey coach, who provides academic advisement until graduation. Graduates are prepared for positions in law enforcement at local, state, and federal levels, including the FBI and the Secret Service.

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19 Mercer University 47.50 4/5 63% Macon, GA

One of the nation’s oldest institutions of higher learning, Mercer delivers rigorous academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels in an environment rooted in the Baptist tradition. The university offers programs to 8,600 students at 12 schools and colleges. Online learning at Mercer is delivered through LMS such as Blackboard and Moodle, using WebEx voice and video chats along with other technology.

Mercer offers two online law enforcement programs, including a hybrid bachelor's of science in criminal justice leadership. Students complete 120 credits, taking courses online and at Mercer's Atlanta, Henry County, Douglas County, and Macon locations. Areas of study include forensic criminalistics, the judicial process, victimology, and forensic behavior. Field experiences are an integral part of study, where students integrate theory and practice. Students with an associate degree from an accredited institution are accommodated through Mercer’s comprehensive credit transfer policy. A minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA is required for admission to the program.

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20 Roger Williams University 47.40 5/5 61% Bristol, RI

Named after the originator of the principle of the separation of church and state, RWU is dedicated to building a better society through engaged higher education. Approximately 4,000 undergraduates enroll at the institution each year, where students choose from more than 45 programs including cybersecurity, community development, and emergency medical services. The university provides an individualized educational experience, boasting a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

RWU delivers online learning through its School of Continuing Studies, including a 120-credit bachelor's of science in criminal justice. This online law enforcement degree is taught by practitioners in the field, including judges and attorneys. Areas of study include adult and juvenile crime, criminal and civil procedure, the police, and the courts. RWU has very flexible transfer credit options, allowing students to transfer up to 90 previously-earned credits toward their degree. A military-friendly school, RWU claims 60% of its continuing studies students from the military population.

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21 Norwich University 47.30 4/5 53% Northfield, VT

Established 200 years ago, Norwich offers rigorous curricula featuring interactive classes, hands-on learning, and mentorship. In addition to on-campus programs, the Vermont-based university delivers online bachelor’s degrees in fields like national security, cybersecurity, and strategic studies and defense analysis.

Norwich’s online bachelor's of science in criminal justice is designed to provide working professionals in law enforcement and the military with the training and skills for career advancement. Including an option to pursue a public safety and law enforcement minor, Norwich's bachelor's in criminal justice can be completed in 18 to 24 months. Additionally, students can transfer up to 90 credits from an accredited institution. Areas of focus in this law enforcement degree online include law enforcement administration, gangs and crime, public safety, and cold case investigations. An intelligence and security management specialization option is available, requiring three additional credits. Services for distance learners include advisers, program directors, and 24/7 technical support.

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22 Drury University 45.80 4/5 48% Springfield, MO

Drury's various curricula integrate the liberal arts and sciences with professional areas of study. Approximately 3,500 students attend classes at the school's Springfield, Missouri, campus, with a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The university's catalog of more than 70 programs spans many fields, including behavioral neuroscience, theater, and music education. Additionally, Drury offers fully online bachelor’s degrees in areas such as business, emergency management, public administration, and sociology.

Drury's bachelor's of science in law enforcement is designed for new and experienced law enforcement personnel, equipping them with theoretical and practical training in investigative and procedural techniques, along with leadership skills. This online law enforcement degree is designed for the working professional with classes available in the evenings, online, and in a blended format. Upper-level areas of study include criminal law, the judicial process, forensic science, and juvenile delinquency. The leadership core includes courses on leadership models, conflict resolution, organizational relations, and ethics in leadership.

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23 Concordia University-Wisconsin 45.60 4/5 59% Mequon, WI

Sprawling 200 acres on the shores of Lake Michigan, CUW is a Lutheran community of students. The school has nine other locations, including a campus in Milwaukee, and offers 71 baccalaureate and 39 graduate programs. More than 50 degree and certificate programs are available through CUW online, in fields such as business, nursing, information technology, and health services.

CUW's 128-credit bachelor's of science in management of criminal justice delivers training in areas like law enforcement management, court proceedings, and corrections. Students are educated and trained for law enforcement administration jobs such as probation officer, police administrator, and research associate. The program is taught by instructors who work in the field and provide students with a Christian perspective of the criminal justice system. Students can transfer up to 90 undergraduate credits from an accredited four-year institution, and 70 credits from a community college. Additionally, students can earn credits for military experience.

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24 Southwestern Assemblies of God University 45.10 4/5 38% Waxahachie, TX

SAGU is a Bible-based school with curricula designed for theological and related professional studies. In addition to academic achievement, SAGU seeks to foster students’ spiritual formation, developing character and lifelong spiritual growth.

Many of SAGU's bachelor’s and master’s programs are delivered in a 100% online format and are accessible 24/7. The university's bachelor's of arts in criminal justice is an online law enforcement degree designed to equip students with the concepts, theories, and skills required in the criminal justice field through a Christian perspective. The program requires students to complete 127 credits, and areas of study include criminal investigation, criminology, penology, constitutional law, and criminal justice administration. SAGU offers students the opportunity to earn up to 45 credits through an experiential learning course where they demonstrate prior knowledge and work experience. Distance learners have access to resources such as tutoring, learning centers, and career services.

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25 Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses 44.30 4/5 40% Fort Wayne, IN

Formerly known as Tri-State University, Trine is consistently ranked among the best colleges in the Midwest. Located on a 450-acre campus in Angola, Indiana, the school boasts education, engineering, and business programs that are nationally recognized for excellence. Unique features at Trine include the Innovation One program, an incubator for innovation and design where students engage in hands-on learning involving real-world projects that benefit businesses and the community. Within six months of graduation, 99.3% of Trine graduates are employed or engaging in further study.

Trine's online programs include a bachelor's of science in criminal justice, which prepares students for a career in criminal justice or further study in law school. The 120-credit degree includes a 30-credit criminal justice core. Students also have the option of a 15-credit law enforcement concentration. Trine's online law enforcement degree program blends theory and practice, and is taught by professionals in the field such as lawyers, judges, law enforcement officers, and coroners. The university allows students to transfer up to 89 previously-earned credits toward their degree.

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Below, you’ll find plenty of information on what you’ll learn, how long your degree will take to earn, how programs are accredited, what to expect after you graduate, and how you’ll pay for your degree. Keep in mind that details may vary depending on the particular online degree in law enforcement program.

COURSEWORK FOR AN ONLINE LAW ENFORCEMENT DEGREE

Curricula vary by school. Typically, however, the best online bachelor’s in law enforcement programs contain coursework such as the following:

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice: Providing a broad survey of the field of criminal justice and the careers paths you can take, this is typically the first course you’ll take as part of your major. Introduction to Criminal Justice may include the history of law enforcement, the role of police in society, and how police, courts, trials, and corrections operate.
  • Ethics in Law Enforcement: Future law enforcement professionals must abide by strict moral and ethical guidelines. As a result, most programs require a course where students study the theories, applications, and methods of ethics in police work. Courses like this often includes a look at how race, class, and gender factor into police work.
  • Criminal Law: Most programs require students to take at least one course on the fundamentals of criminal law, particularly issues that are relevant to law enforcement professionals. Such courses generally feature an overview of constitutional law and how it relates to the everyday work of police. These courses survey topics such as the basics of evidence collection and preservation, and criminal law procedures.
  • Police Strategies: Law enforcement professionals use several fundamental elements to combat crime, and you’ll likely take a course that reviews and analyzes these strategies. This course may include a look at how police strategies have changed over time and how they may change in the future. Course topics may include community policing, prevention, patrol strategies, police reform, and intervention.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN LAW ENFORCEMENT?

Generally, online bachelor’s degrees in law enforcement programs consist of 120 semester credits. How long your degree will take you will depend on several factors. Full-time, entering freshman can complete a degree in about four years. Some programs offer accelerated formats, wherein you can complete your degree in less than four years. Most programs feature summer courses, which can also cut down on the time it takes you to earn your degree. Some programs allow you to learn at your own pace, and others require that you complete all classes in a cohort of other students, often at an accelerated pace. Others still are only open to students with transferable credits, so the program can be completed in even less time.

One of the most important things to look for when you’re choosing an online degree in law enforcement program is whether or not the program is accredited, and what type of accreditation the program holds. Accreditation is a process colleges and universities go through to ensure that they meet certain standards for education quality. Most colleges and universities in the United States hold regional accreditation. A much smaller percentage of colleges are nationally accredited. The difference is important: regionally accredited schools tend to have more prestige because they’re the best recognized. It’s also easier to transfer credits from a regionally accredited college. However, regionally accredited colleges also tend to be more expensive and have more rigorous admissions and academic standards than nationally accredited colleges. Regional accreditation agencies include MSA, NEASC, NCA, NAC, SACS and WASC. National accreditation agencies include DETC, ACICS, and ACCSC.

Several different organizations are involved in accreditation. The United States Department of Education (ED) does not itself accredit colleges and universities, but the ED does recognize and offer guidance to independent accrediting agencies. The ED also publishes a database of the accrediting agencies they deem to be reliable authorities.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is an independent, nongovernmental organization that recognizes 60 accrediting organizations and about 3,000 colleges and universities. The accrediting organizations recognized by CHEA are assured of their quality and legitimacy as degree-granting institutions. You can find a directory of accredited schools on the websites of both the DOE and CHEA.

JOB PLACEMENT

A bachelor’s degree in law enforcement is an asset in the job application process. Some agencies even require it: federal agencies like the FBI, the DEA, and ICE all require applicants to hold a college degree. Some state police and local agencies may also require a degree. Agencies that do not require a degree often encourage one, and a degree often gives a candidate a significant advantage in the application process. A bachelor’s degree is also often a requirement for promotions.

In many departments, police officers with bachelor’s degree earn a higher salary from the start. Below, you’ll find a look at the starting salaries of some major police departments across the United States:

Department Annual Pay, with degree Annual Pay, without degree
Dallas Police Department $46,870 $50,470
Los Angeles Police Department $67,505 $70,136
Atlanta Police Department $40,000 $42,800
Orlando Police Department $48,276 $50,121
New Orleans Police Department $40,391 $42,391

CAREERS AND SALARIES

With a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement, graduates are prepared for entry-level positions at local, state, and federal departments and agencies. While policing remains the most popular career path, graduates also pursue career paths in areas such as probation, corrections, and emergency management. Individuals hoping to pursue a career in law enforcement must be inquisitive and empathetic, must display strong communication and leadership skills, and must nurture a solid sense of judgment. Anyone intending to pursue law enforcement should also be in good physical shape. Law enforcement professionals must also work long, odd hours, so an expectation of flexibility is key.

Police Officer

Police officers enforce the law and help protect people and property. For example, they may respond to calls, patrol neighborhoods, conduct traffic stops, and monitor suspects.

Median Annual Salary $59,680

Projected Growth Rate 4%

Detective

Detectives are tasked with, for example, collecting evidence, gathering facts, conducting interviews with witnesses and suspects, observing suspects, and examining records.

Median Annual Salary $78,120

Projected Growth Rate -1%

Bailiff

Bailiffs work in courtrooms to maintain safety, security, and order. They enforce the rules of the court, announce the arrival and close of the court, and may administer oaths and perform other administrative duties.

Median Annual Salary $42,820

Projected Growth Rate 4%

Emergency Dispatcher

Emergency dispatchers answer 911 calls and other emergency and non-emergency services. They relay information to appropriate agencies; monitor, track, and coordinate dispatch; and provide basic advice and medical instructions to callers.

Median Annual Salary $38,870

Projected Growth Rate -3%

Probation Officer

Probation officers work with people on probation with the goal of preventing them from committing crimes in the future. They evaluate and monitor probationers and help them access resources like job training and substance abuse counseling.

Median Annual Salary $50,160

Projected Growth Rate 4%

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

There are a few major professional organizations for law enforcement students that offer a number of excellent opportunities for students. Networking, conferences, career enhancement programs, subscriptions to journals and other publications, job interviews, and online job boards are just some of the benefits these organizations provide students and recent graduates.

Most bachelor’s degree students need help paying for college. Federal loans, private loans, scholarships, grants and work-study jobs are some of the most common ways to make college affordable. Loans provided by the government may be subsidized, with the government paying some of the interest on the loan, or unsubsidized, where the student pays the interest. Filling out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in this process.

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 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 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.