Police Colleges: Schooling Requirements and Degree Program Options

Becoming a police officer requires specialized training 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.

How to Select a Police College

Training at a police academy takes about three months without an additional degree program. 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, and may eligible for promotion after at least six months of employment.

Because police officers are government employees, individuals may wish to look for police institutes that are state-approved, to ensure the curriculum meets a police department's educational standards. Students can also look a police school's job placement rate to judge the types of agencies that hire a school's graduates and graduates' success in finding employment in law enforcement.

Degree Program Options

Career goals often guide a student's choice of a police college toward institutes offering degree options that match a student's long-term goals. A police academy certificate qualifies an individual for general field work at the regional or state level. Working as a detective or for the FBI requires a bachelor's degree, so individuals who want to advance in local, state or federal law enforcement can look for police schools that offer training as part of a 4-year degree program.


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.

Colleges and Universities by Largest Student Enrollment

College/University Student Population Institution Type
Arizona State University 67,082 4-year, Public
Miami Dade College 57,222 4-year, primarily associate's, Public
Houston Community College 48,169 2-year, Public
Michigan State University 46,510 4-year, Public
University of South Florida - Main Campus 46,189 4-year, Public
Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus 44,406 4-year, Public
Northern Virginia Community College 42,663 2-year, Public
Lone Star College System 41,345 2-year, Public
College of Southern Nevada 40,310 4-year, primarily associate's, Public
Tarrant County College District 39,596 2-year, Public
University of Arizona 38,057 4-year, Public
Riverside Community College 36,146 2-year, Public
Rutgers University - New Brunswick 36,041 4-year, Public
Austin Community College District 35,798 2-year, Public
Valencia Community College 35,460 2-year, Public
City College of San Francisco 34,868 2-year, Public
University of Maryland - University College 34,172 4-year, Public
Pima Community College 34,136 2-year, Public
East Los Angeles College 34,065 2-year, Public
Santa Ana College33,9162-year, Public

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