How to Select a Police Academy School
Police academy tracks are available within criminal justice programs that are offered by community colleges and 4-year universities. Due to the physical nature of a law enforcement career, students must fulfill both academic and physical fitness requirements in order to gain admission into a police academy program.
For students who'd like to enter a police academy but also want to obtain a traditional degree, it may be useful to consider combined criminal justice/police training programs. While studying criminal justice isn't required to become a police officer, nor will completing a criminal justice program alone qualify someone to become a police officer, some criminal justice programs incorporate police academy training, and many programs offer full-time study only. Requirements for a career on the police force vary by state, so it's recommended that students check to ensure even combined programs qualify them for a job as a cop.
Further considerations when choosing a police academy school:
- Schools that offer police academy training as part of their criminal justice programs typically work closely with state law enforcement agencies that regulate professional career preparation and certification.
- Many criminal justice programs that offer a police academy track have a rigid degree completion process and students are generally expected to complete certain classes prior to beginning police academy training.
- Most criminal justice programs have minimum academic, age, and physical fitness standards; background checks are also common.
- A pre-admission meeting with program administrators could also be required before beginning the police academy training part of the program.
- Police academy training generally concludes with a final exam and state certification that makes graduates eligible for state or local law enforcement jobs.
Criminal Justice Programs with a Police Academy Track Overviews
Criminal Justice Certificate - Police Academy Option
This program may take less than two years to complete. A physical conditioning component may be required, and students may need to complete a field experience for some programs. The curriculum is generally limited to police academy training plus several foundational courses in:
- Police organization and professional ethics
- Traffic and public safety
- First aid and emergency response training
- Investigative skills
Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
When this degree program includes police academy training, it's generally described as having a police academy option or track. The 2-year program often requires many of the same classes as the certificate program and may also require a field experience. Students are usually also required to take general education courses in fields like English and math. Criminal justice courses may include:
- Criminal procedure
- Juvenile delinquency
- Criminal investigation
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
This 4-year degree program usually offers a law enforcement track when it's combined with police academy training. Students learn the same hands-on skills as certificate and associate's degree students, such as police agency organization, police operations, investigative processes, public safety, first aid and professional ethics. An internship or practicum may also be required. In additional to these and general education courses, bachelor's degree students also take expanded coursework in the field, such as:
- Juvenile justice
- Criminal law
- Forensic science
Top 10 Criminal Justice Schools
|George Washington University||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|University of Tulsa||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|Florida State University||4-year, Public|
|Miami University-Oxford||4-year, Public|
|College of the Ozarks||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|Oklahoma Baptist University||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|George Mason University||4-year, Public|
|Cedar Crest College||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|Ohio University||4-year, Public|
|Washington State University||4-year, Public|