Online Masters in Law Enforcement: Degree Program Info

Dec 04, 2019

Learn about online master's degree programs with law enforcement courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Online master's degree programs in law enforcement are rare, but many schools offer master's degree programs in criminal justice through online study. These programs can often be completed entirely online, with students viewing recorded lessons and downloading course materials as their schedules allow. They can interact with classmates and instructors through e-mail, video conferencing and online message boards.

Some programs require that applicants have experience in law enforcement or justice system work with a bachelor's degree. A master's program in criminal justice usually requires about 2 years of full-time study. Some programs allow students to choose a specialty track, such as the corrections system, criminal behavior or law enforcement. Courses may include victimology, criminology, youth crime and white collar crime. Students also may get to explore terrorism, forensic psychology and cybercrime. They also learn about various research techniques and how to analyze research results.

Graduates with master's degrees in criminal justice can work in many professions, including probation or corrections administration. Additional training may be required by the hiring agency.

Master's Degree in Law Enforcement

Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Master of Criminal Justice programs expose students to many parts of the industry, and law enforcement is among them. Students learn about the sociological aspects of criminal behavior and the policies surrounding law enforcement. They also acquire skills in research and administration. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, and some schools require industry experience.

Information and Requirements

The curriculum can take 1-2 years to complete and is entirely online. Students complete coursework at their own pace by accessing materials over the Internet. They learn through online applications, such as message boards, instant messaging and video platforms. Some programs require students to view video recordings and to read material in portable document format.

Online programs require a computer with Internet connectivity and e-mail access. Students may need to download additional programs, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, to view course content.

Course Topics

Coursework covers criminal justice theory and research. Other topics include criminology and justice administration.

Law Enforcement Theory

Covering the role of law enforcement in society, this course examines the social, political and economic factors in modern-day police agencies. Students learn through readings and discussions.


Students examine the various theories of criminal behavior, including why people commit crimes and why crime rates differ between social groups. Psychological, genetic and psychiatric theories are discussed.

Criminal Justice Administration

This course teaches students about the structure of criminal justice organizations. Students learn about decision-making in managerial roles.

Criminal Justice Research

Students discover scientific methodologies for research in criminal justice. They learn about analytical techniques, sampling and research design.

Career Information for Graduates

A master's in criminal justice qualifies some candidates to work as probation officers or correctional specialists, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); although most employers look for a combination of education and professional work experience ( The BLS predicted that the number of available probation officer jobs would increase slightly by 3% between 2018 and 2028. In November 2019, reported that the median annual salary for probation officers was $42,559. Another job option includes teaching criminal justice at the postsecondary level. Junior colleges were the largest employer of criminal justice instructors, the BLS reported in 2018, and paid an average of $72,090 per year.

Continuing Education Information

Probation officers may be required by state to take certification exams. Specific requirements vary by location, but many examinations consist of oral, written and physical components.

Online master's degree programs related to law enforcement provide an education in the criminal justice system, criminal behavior and relevant research methods. Many graduates work as probation officers or correctional specialists, which may require passing state certification exams.

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