Master's Degree in Law Enforcement: Program Summary

While there are no master's degree programs specifically in law enforcement, interested students may consider a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. Learn more about program options, common coursework, and future opportunities for graduates.

Essential Information

Students who want to pursue graduate-level study in law enforcement can enroll in a Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) program. These programs involve conceptual, sociological, theoretical and practical studies of crime and law enforcement. Topics of study include criminology, social control, corrections, juvenile justice and the analysis of criminal behavior. Some programs offer both a thesis and non-thesis option.

These programs generally take no more than two years to complete, and they may be offered entirely online or a in a hybrid classroom- and web-based format. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related discipline. Some programs give preference to applicants who have some professional experience in law enforcement or criminal justice.

Master's of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) Degree

In order to graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours of coursework. However, students who choose the non-thesis track must also complete three professional paper credit-hours. Some of the common classes in an MSCJ programs include:

  • Administration of criminal justice
  • Current legal issues in law enforcement
  • Advanced criminology theory
  • Management principles in criminal justice
  • History and philosophy of justice

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Police and detective employment opportunities are predicted to increase by about 4% between the years of 2014 and 2024, which is slower than average for all jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The BLS reported in May 2015 that police and sheriff's patrol officers earned $58,320 as a median annual wage.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates seeking to continue their education can apply for admission to a doctoral degree program in criminal justice or a related subject. Additionally, professional development and advanced training in specific areas of law enforcement can be found through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (, the Secret Service ( and the Drug Enforcement Administration (

Master's degree programs in criminal justice provide students with expertise in the field of law enforcement, which they can apply to careers in the field or advanced academic studies.

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