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Police Colleges: Schooling Requirements and Degree Program Options

Becoming a police officer requires specialized training programs at a police academy, which may be offered through community colleges, vocational schools and law enforcement organizations. Police officer training may be a standalone certificate program or part of an associate's or bachelor's degree program.

Training at a police academy takes about three months, while an associate's degree with police academy training requires about two years of full-time study. Academy graduates are immediately qualified to start working as police officers.

Schools with Programs for Police

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees, In-State, (2015-2016)*
Miami Dade College Miami, FL 4-year, primarily associate's Public Academy certificate $2,834
Houston Community College Houston, TX 2-year, Public Associate's, Academy certificate $3,360
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's $13,560
Lone Star College System The Woodlands, TX 4-year, Public Academy certificate $3,184
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas, NV 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Academy certificate, Associate's $2,805
Tarrant County College District Fort Worth, TX 2-year, Public Associate's, Academy certificate $2,064

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics

College Selection Criteria

Students should consider the following when searching for a school in this field:

  • Look for police institutes that are state-approved.
  • Check into a police school's job placement rate.
  • Consider schools that offer police training as part of a 2- or 4-year degree program if wishing to advance professionally. A police academy certificate qualifies graduates for general field work at the regional or state level, but a bachelor's degree is required to work as a detective or for the FBI.

Program Requirements

Police academy schooling is available to U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old and do not have a criminal history. Prospective students must also be in good physical shape and hold a high school diploma.

After admittance into police training school, individuals complete physical education and classroom courses in law, interrogation techniques and report writing. Practical application courses include firearms training, defensive tactics, CPR and first aid.

Students looking for a career in law enforcement can find training with police academies or through associate's degree programs often available at 2-year institutions. Certain departments may require further education for advancement, such as a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

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