Aspiring police offices can take many different educational avenues to obtain employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some need only a high school diploma before they can enroll in an agency's training academy. However, other police agencies require or prefer for candidates to have some college education or even a bachelor's degree, such as a those in police science or police studies. These programs are designed to provide students with an understanding of the criminal justice system and the law enforcement field. While many of these are entry-level programs that only require applicants to have a high school diploma, some are designed for professionals currently working in law enforcement or for those that have previously completed a related associate degree program.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
Bachelor's Degree in Police Studies
Bachelor's degree programs in police studies prepare students to conduct investigations, manage high-stress situations and plan for emergencies. Most programs can be completed in four years; however, some degree completion programs can be completed over two years of year-round study. Combined bachelor's and master's degree programs, as well as online training options, are also available.
In addition to learning about police ethics, constitutional law and police administration, students often take courses in the following:
- Community relations
- Crime mapping
- Search and seizure laws
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 806,400 police and detectives employed across the country as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Graduates of police science programs have found employment in both the civilian and law enforcement fields as:
- Police officers
- Air marshals
- Criminal investigators
- Immigration inspectors
- Insurance claims adjusters
- Intelligence analysts
- Private security agents
Continuing Education Information
Some law enforcement employers, such as police departments, require new hires to go through a period of training, such as a police or FBI academy, according to the BLS. Continuing education programs are also available in topics like police leadership, criminal justice, criminology, intelligence-led policing and the administration of justice. These programs may result in graduate certificates, master's degrees or even doctoral degrees.
Students who want to work in the law enforcement field can earn a bachelor's degree in police science. Graduates may still need to complete a training academy before beginning work as a police officer.