Earning a bachelor's degree in law enforcement can launch the careers of aspiring police officers, detectives, and parole officers. Bachelor's degree-holders exceed the minimum education requirement for police academy training and entry-level positions. An online bachelor's degree in law enforcement can provide accelerated paths to graduation.
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in law enforcement can pursue rewarding careers in criminal justice and emergency management. Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 5% job growth for police and detectives and emergency management directors.
This guide explores the many benefits of earning a bachelor's degree in law enforcement.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Law Enforcement?
For aspiring police officers, detectives, and criminal investigators, a bachelor's in law enforcement goes above and beyond the entry-level education requirements.
For aspiring police officers, detectives, and criminal investigators, a bachelor's in law enforcement goes above and beyond the entry-level education requirements. Such programs provide a rich academic experience unmatched by police academy training alone. Many schools offer online bachelor's degrees in law enforcement, often with perks like flexible scheduling and set tuition rates.
Most bachelor's in law enforcement programs take four years to complete, though online programs can offer faster paths to graduation. While not always required, internships are highly recommended. Most programs culminate in a capstone project.
Some advanced positions in law enforcement require a bachelor's degree. For example, police officers with experience may need a bachelor's degree to be promoted to the position of lieutenant. Detectives and criminal investigators often begin their careers as police officers to accumulate field experience.Find the best online Bachelor's in Law Enforcement programs
What Will I Learn in a Law Enforcement Bachelor's Program?
A bachelor's degree in law enforcement offers a variety of concentrations and career opportunities. A typical bachelor's program covers core competencies, such as ethics, criminal law, and conflict resolution techniques. The curriculum also develops the professional leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills necessary to become a successful law enforcement agent.
Common concentrations include corrections, police administration, and public safety, potentially leading to probation or parole, police, and emergency management officer positions, respectively. Many criminal justice programs offer law enforcement as a concentration.
- Police Administration
A concentration in police administration trains students for leadership positions in law enforcement. This concentration incorporates budgeting, operations management, and human resources management skills into core law enforcement curriculum.
- Law Enforcement
A concentration in law enforcement within a criminal justice program provides a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. criminal justice system and policing policy. Coursework covers topics like ethics, law enforcement techniques and procedures, and criminal law.
- Public Safety
A concentration in public safety trains students to protect all members of the public in an emergency like a natural disaster, community health crisis, or public event. Some schools offer combined concentrations in public safety and emergency management.
Students majoring in corrections delve into the U.S. correctional system, including incarceration and prisoner rehabilitation programs. Learners study the laws and regulations that govern the management of current and recently released inmates at correctional facilities.
- Emergency Management
A concentration in emergency management trains students to impart order and calm in a crisis situation. Students learn to apply dual skills in assessing risk and managing public safety emergencies.
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What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Law Enforcement?
Many graduates with a bachelor's degree in law enforcement serve in policing, criminal justice, and public safety careers. Law enforcement programs tend to offer customizable concentrations tailored to each student's individual career aspirations in fields like law enforcement, criminal investigation, and corrections. Graduates often become police officers, detectives, and probation or parole officers.
With additional training and experience, law enforcement professionals can advance their careers beyond entry-level positions. Many police officers go on to become detectives or criminal investigators or are promoted to sergeant, captain, or lieutenant of their division. Other students may earn an advanced degree to pursue a senior role like FBI agent.
Popular Career Paths
Popular Continued Education Paths
How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Law Enforcement?
Graduates with a bachelor's in law enforcement can pursue a variety of jobs in criminal justice and emergency management and earn a lucrative salary. According to the BLS, probation officers make a median annual wage of $55,690. Police officers and detectives earn $67,290 per year, while emergency management directors are among the field's highest earners, drawing an annual salary of $76,250.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Law Enforcement Programs
- Is a bachelor's in law enforcement worth it?
A bachelor's in law enforcement qualifies students for public service and safety careers. Bachelor's degree-holders can pursue jobs in fields, such as policing and investigation that usually offer salary and pension benefits.
- How much does it cost to get a bachelor's in law enforcement?
While the cost of higher education varies, the National Center for Education Statistics calculates the cost of earning a degree at a four-year institution at more than $27,000. Many online programs, however, offer benefits, such as flexible enrollment and set or in-state tuition rates.
- Is law enforcement a good major for the police academy?
Law enforcement is a common major among candidates for police academy training, which is required by most police agencies for new officers.
- What is the highest paying job in law enforcement?
Emergency management directors can earn a median annual wage of more than $76,000. Among law enforcement officers, detectives and criminal investigators earned the highest salary at nearly $87,000, with earnings exceeding $92,000 for federal government workers.
- What's the difference between a bachelor's in law enforcement and a bachelor's in corrections?
Corrections is one area of specialization under the broader category of law enforcement. Aspiring correctional, probation, or parole officers may study corrections, while a bachelor's in law enforcement can lead to careers in policing, investigation, and public safety.