Best Online Master’s in Law Enforcement Administration Programs
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A master's in law enforcement administration can prepare graduates for protective service careers, including administrative and leadership positions. The two-year programs provide specialized knowledge of public policy, organizational management, and administrative processes, along with advanced graduate leadership and research training.
Graduates with this specialty criminal justice degree can apply their skills to many types of law enforcement positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 8% growth for protective service occupations between 2020 and 2030. With a master's degree, graduates can access the most desirable and highest-paying positions in the law enforcement field.
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These advanced jobs can help offset graduate program tuition and fees, which averaged $19,790 in 2019-2020, according to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES). To help prospective students make their graduate school decisions, we're highlighting what they can expect from the program and the degree. We also spotlight the best online master's programs in law enforcement administration from top online schools.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Law Enforcement Administration Program?
When preparing for graduate school, prospective students should expect to spend two years completing the 30-45 credits usually required for a master's degree. Students in an online master's program in law enforcement administration may spend less time earning their degrees in asynchronous or accelerated programs.
Most master's in law enforcement administration programs combine organizational administration and management training with practical experiences. Students learn to manage various administrative roles, including finance and human resources. They also examine different organizations and departments and how they impact roles and responsibilities.
Most programs in this discipline award an MA or an MS degree, which can impact the training focus and the professional outcomes. MA programs may provide more interdisciplinary and theoretical leadership training, whereas MS degrees often focus on technical and analytical training.
In some cases, degree-seekers can pursue law enforcement administration studies as part of a larger criminal justice program. Schools also offer concentrations within a master's in law enforcement administration, such as homeland security, emergency management, and cyber intelligence. Specializations can impact the courses students take and their postgraduate career opportunities.
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Featured Online Master's Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Law Enforcement Administration Program?
Public Budgeting and Finance
In this course, students learn how to manage public governmental finances, such as those within law enforcement agencies. They learn finance theories and explore communications and politics surrounding public finance and budgets.
Students in this course learn the processes, practices, and considerations for developing public sector programs. They also learn methods for planning, proposing, and evaluating those programs.
Human Resource Management
This course explores HR professionals' management practices in public organizations. Students learn how to manage the behaviors of diverse personnel, manage conflicts, and improve productivity through training programs and motivation tactics.
In this course, students examine the concepts and theories of crime, including the sociological, psychological, and biological causes and effects. Learners might also look at issues in criminal law, such as inequality and human rights challenges.
Quantitative Applications and Analysis
Students in this course explore the data applications within criminal justice organizations, such as decision-making, data modeling, classifications and predictions, and trend forecasting.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Law Enforcement Administration Program?
The typical admission requirements for a master's degree include a bachelor's degree. Schools may require applicants to possess a bachelor's degree in a specific discipline, such as criminal justice or criminology. A clean background check may also be necessary. Competitive programs often want candidates to have a specific GPA minimum, as well.
Online programs usually feature the same requirements as on-campus programs, with the addition of minimum technology requirements.
The standard college application requires prospective students to submit their personal information and academic history. At the graduate level, prospective learners typically submit their applications directly to each prospective school. College application systems can help streamline the process and make applying to multiple schools at once easier, however, they are often only used for undergraduate admissions.
Many graduate programs require GRE or GMAT scores to help distinguish between applicants. Programs like a master's in law enforcement administration usually require GRE scores, though waivers may be available. To boost their chances of admission, prospective students can complete GMAT or GRE prep courses.
Letters of Recommendation
Nearly all applications require three letters of recommendation from people who have professional or educational insights about the applicant. Colleges usually ask for three letters from professionals in relevant fields, such as employers and teachers. Prospective students should provide their referrers with clear instructions and deadlines.
Resume and Work Experience
Colleges often ask prospective students to submit resumes within their applications. The college application resume provides schools with more information about the applicant's journey and skills. Practical programs may also require candidates to have a specific amount of experience for entry.
College essays provide schools with information about the prospective student's personal background and educational interests. The typical grad school essay highlights the applicant's research and study interests. Prospective students can also use essays to highlight what interests them about a specific program and faculty.
Official transcripts provide information about a student's previous training and academic performances. Nearly all college applications require transcripts, and some require certain course prerequisites and GPA minimums. Transcripts also help with the transfer credit process.
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Law Enforcement Administration Degree?
Law enforcement occupations enjoy a relatively consistent job outlook because communities regularly demand high-quality protective services. The BLS projects 8% growth for protective service occupations between 2020 and 2030, similar to the projected growth for all occupations.
With a master's degree, graduates have access to traditional law enforcement positions, along with specialized and leadership positions like analyst and supervisor roles. These desirable careers come with higher salary expectations than entry-level positions.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for police and detectives was $66,020 in May 2021. First-line supervisors of police and detectives made median annual wages of $99,330 during the same period. Graduates can also access federal government careers and administrative law enforcement roles, such as HR and finance positions.
Check out what a master's in law enforcement administration has to offer.
Emergency Management Director
These professionals design and implement plans and protocols in case of emergencies. They work with law enforcement and protective service agencies, community organizations, and public officials to protect people and property. They also review program effectiveness and assess damage after emergencies.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $76,730
Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent
FBI agents investigate federal crimes and coordinate with local officials to make arrests. They may work as general field officers or specialize in a certain type of crime. FBI agents often need additional training, experience, and background checks to qualify for employment.
Average Annual Salary (April 2022): $66,330
Intelligence analysts collect, review, and analyze data to look for potential threats or to assist during investigations. These professionals often work for government agencies. They work with extensive databases, look through classified information, and detect and analyze signals.
Average Annual Salary (April 2022): $72,580
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives
First-line supervisors who manage teams of police officers and detectives assign cases, review performances and investigations, and provide assistance when necessary. Supervisors also review all paperwork and records, ensure officers follow proper protocols and procedures and coordinate with other legal organizations.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $99,330
Customs and Border Protection Officers
These professionals protect borders, ensuring that illegal activities do not take place and that illegal cargo does not enter or leave the country. They may investigate suspicious people and activities and coordinate with other law enforcement professionals. They question people about their activities and search cargo looking for illicit and undisclosed items.
Average Annual Salary (February 2021): $76,840
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Most graduates with a master's in law enforcement administration enter the workforce directly after graduation. Depending on the organization, candidates may need to take additional training to qualify for employment, such as completing an academy program.
Graduates can also continue on with their studies, pursuing a doctoral degree like a doctorate in criminal justice or a doctorate in public administration. Graduates can also specialize their training with a doctorate in human resources or a doctorate in organizational leadership.
How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Law Enforcement Administration Program?
Prospective students usually look at educational costs when deciding on a school and program. They might start by comparing online and on-campus program costs, along with public and private programs and in-state and out-of-state programs. The true program cost informs degree-seekers how much their entire training costs, including miscellaneous fees and forgone income.
Program format helps prospective students figure out what type of learning experience they will have in school. Online students can choose between synchronous vs. asynchronous studies depending on when they want to study throughout the day. They can also choose between full-time vs. part-time studies depending on how often they want to study.
Regardless if a student chooses an online or on-campus program, they should think about location. Though on-campus learners typically place more emphasis on location, online learners still need to consider it. Many online programs feature residency requirements and in-person practicums.
Online college accreditation should play a big role in making school and program decisions. Institutional accreditation is required by schools if they want to offer federal financial aid and adequate postgraduate opportunities. Programmatic accreditation is typically optional, but recognition from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences can improve a master's in law enforcement administration graduate's employment chances.
To get an idea of what type of support they will receive, prospective students can look into the available student services. They should examine the online student services specifically, such as career services, tutoring, and wellness services. In-program additions like college mentorships and internships and practicums can bring extra value to the training.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Law Enforcement Administration Programs
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Best Online Master's in Law Enforcement Administration Programs
Michigan State UniversityLocation
East Lansing, MITuition
Based in East Lansing, Michigan State University enrolls more than 50,000 students annually, many of whom earn their credentials remotely. Graduate students can earn an online master of science in law enforcement intelligence and analysis. While completing this 30-credit degree, graduates prepare to work as money laundering investigators, federal intelligence specialists, and law enforcement leaders.
The curriculum divides evenly into core classes and electives. Required coursework covers topics like comprehensive threat assessment and the counterterrorism process. Students may pursue specialized topics like globalization of crime, comparative criminal justice, and open-source information analysis. They can also use elective credits to complete an internship or practicum.
This online master's program waives GRE requirements for applicants with a minimum 3.2 GPA. Prospective students do not need any work experience.
Eastern Kentucky UniversityLocation
Eastern Kentucky University delivers distance education through the Blackboard platform. Online students pick from over 40 academic programs, including a master of science in justice, policy, and leadership. This program features six yearly start dates and eight-week classes.
The 30-credit curriculum covers fundamental topics like criminological theory and applied research methods. This degree offering stands out from other online master's degrees in law enforcement administration by offering three concentration options: law enforcement, corrections, and juvenile justice.
Applicants must submit GRE scores. This program accepts up to nine transfer credits, and candidates can graduate in 16 months. The university provides a variety of financial aid, including tuition discounts for active-duty military members and foundational scholarships.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Law Enforcement Administration Programs
Is a master's in law enforcement administration worth it?
Yes. A master's in law enforcement administration provides students with a clear path to the protective service field. They can access field and office positions, along with leadership and management roles. The flexible training allows students to specialize and pursue a variety of careers.
Earning a master's degree online may be worth it for many students. Online learning can open the door to a greater selection of schools and programs, as well as allow students to save money.
What can I do with a master's in law enforcement administration?
Graduates with a master's in law enforcement administration have access to traditional protective service occupations. Leadership and administration positions are typically most appropriate for professionals with business and management training or experience. Positions in law enforcement may require students to complete an academy training program.
Additionally, graduates can continue their education in a doctoral program. They have several continuing education options, including law enforcement administration and criminal justice programs. Other paths include public administration and organizational leadership.
Are law enforcement administration graduates in demand?
Yes. Many employers seek out graduates with master's degrees in law enforcement administration because of their protective services and leadership training and skills. The BLS projects 8% growth in protective service occupations between 2020 and 2030, translating to about 286,000 new professionals entering the field.
Graduates can enter most law enforcement agencies, including local and state organizations and federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Equipped with administrative and management abilities and master's-level training, graduates can access in-demand high-level positions.
How much money can I make with a master's in law enforcement administration?
Graduates with master's degrees in law enforcement administration have access to competitive salaries. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for protective service occupations was $46,590 in May 2021. An individual's salary also depends on their location, experience, employer, and specific industry.
For example, emergency management directors made median annual wages of $76,730 in May 2021, as per the BLS. In the professional and technical services industry, however, median annual wages were $125,930. In hospitals, the median annual wages were $94,310.
What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in law enforcement administration?
First-line supervisors of police and detectives earn some of the highest wages among master's in law enforcement administration graduates. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $99,330 in May 2021, more than twice the median annual wage for all occupations during the same period.
The top 10% of professionals in this field made more than $159,850 in May 2021. Among employers, the federal executive branch paid the highest median annual wage of $138,630. To qualify for these positions, law enforcement master's graduates may need to complete additional training.
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