Online Law Enforcement Schools: How to Choose

Discover important considerations when selecting an online law enforcement school. Keep reading to get an overview of the program options, timeframe factors, and common topics offered for the field of study.

Read on to learn more about how to select an online law enforcement program, what levels of awards are offered and the courses you may take. Then review some programs and schools that provide them.

How to Select an Online Law Enforcement School

Students with an interest in law enforcement can find programs at the associate's and bachelor's levels; certificates are also available. Subjects discussed in an online law enforcement program include law enforcement operations, criminal investigation and criminal justice ethics.

Award Level

An online associate's degree in law enforcement prepares students for careers in entry-level law enforcement positions, such as police officer, private investigator or homeland security agent. However, some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

Course Selection

Prospective students considering enrolling in an online law enforcement degree or certificate program should inquire about any research project classes that are offered by their preferred school or university. Not all educational institutions offer research-based capstone project courses in their law enforcement curriculum.

Capstone research courses offer students an opportunity to apply law enforcement theories to real-world scenarios by developing an original research paper based on first-hand evidence. This gives students a chance to break up the online format of learning and experience how criminal justice and law enforcement theories can work in reality.

List of Common Online Law Enforcement Programs

Online Associate of Science in Criminal Justice (Law Enforcement Specialization)

Many schools offer associate's degree programs in criminal justice that allow students to choose a concentration in law enforcement. These criminal justice programs are similar to law enforcement degree programs, with some slight differences in the core courses. Online associate's programs in law enforcement focus on:

  • Criminal procedure
  • Investigation and evidence
  • Judicial process
  • Forensic science

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Online bachelor's degrees programs in criminal justice all require students to complete a general education component. The core requirements for these degrees often include courses on the American criminal justice system and criminal investigation. Other coursework includes:

  • Victimology
  • Law and society
  • Criminology
  • Critical issues in policing

Online Certificate in Law Enforcement

Online certificate programs in law enforcement are generally designed for working professionals in the field who want to gain additional skills and knowledge in policy development and community management. The length of these online law enforcement certificate programs can vary from 9 to 12 credits. Some of the courses include:

  • Police leadership and ethics
  • American policing
  • Homeland security
  • Law enforcement intelligence operations

Schools with Online Programs in Law Enforcement

Southern New Hampshire University's online bachelor's degree in police administration and operations teaches students about the responsibilities of leaders in police agencies as well as the procedures and goals of different police activities. Graduates of this program earn a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Police Administration & Operations. This program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, including those of a capstone class in criminal justice.

Saint Joseph's College offers a 128-credit hour Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies program with a minor in Criminal Justice that may be completed online. This program emphasizes policing skills, corrections procedures, issues in criminal justice and criminology. Since it is a degree in interdisciplinary studies, students may customize their course schedules to meet personal goals.

Many schools are offering online programs that will help future and current law enforcement personnel prepare for or advance their careers. These programs may specialize in a particular area of law enforcement, such as police administration, or they may cover the broad topic of criminal justice.

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