Associate of Science (AS): Law Enforcement Degree Overview

Associate's degree programs in law enforcement combine practical training in police procedures with theoretical knowledge in topics like criminology and corrections. They are available at many colleges, universities, and technical schools.

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Essential Information

A 2-year Associate of Science program in law enforcement requires a background check, physical exam, and high school diploma for entry. Students who intend to become law enforcement officers must also complete a training program at a law enforcement training academy after receiving their degree. Some schools offer both degree programs and academy training.


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Associate of Science - Law Enforcement

Law enforcement programs are designed to prepare students for both the mental and physical demands of law enforcement careers. Common course topics include:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal justice ethics
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Report writing
  • Community policing
  • Police management

Popular Career Options

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that employers of most law enforcement workers, such as police officers and detectives, only require candidates to have a high school diploma, but some departments are beginning to require 1-2 years of college-level study or a bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov). The Associate of Science in Law Enforcement program prepares individuals for entry-level careers such as:

  • Fish and game wardens
  • Police officers
  • Private investigators
  • Correctional officer
  • Border patrol officer

Employment Outlook & Salary

Police and detectives were to experience a 4% increase in employment from 2014 to 2024, based on information by the BLS. During the same time, a 5% increase in jobs was projected for private detectives and investigators. Police and sheriff's patrol officers had a median salary of $58,320 in 2015, while private detectives and investigators earned a median salary of $45,610, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education and Professional Certification

After completing a degree program, police recruits are commonly required to attend a training academy for 12-14 weeks, according to the BLS. The recruits learn state regulations and practice police procedures under supervision. Fish and game wardens must attend a training academy that often lasts 3-12 months. In most states, a private investigator must gain licensure where they work; the requirements for private investigators vary from state to state, according to the BLS.

For those who seek further education, bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice, criminology, legal studies and related majors are available. Relevant graduate degrees at the master's and doctoral level are also available.

After completing an Associate of Science degree in law enforcement, students are prepared to attend training at a law enforcement academy and enter the field or to enroll in a related bachelor's degree program.

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