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Law Enforcement School and College Degree Program Options

Many colleges, universities and community colleges offer bachelor's degrees in law enforcement (criminal justice). Programs cover law enforcement techniques with a focus on criminology, the law and the justice system.

Essential Information

Some programs work in conjunction with local police academies and prepare students for academy training. Others offer specialization minors in areas such as corrections and crime scene investigation. Bachelor's degree programs usually require four years of full-time study to complete and may include earning a dual 2-year associate's degree. Some schools allow students to complete their coursework online. A prerequisite of bachelor's degree programs include a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent.


Bachelor's Degree in Law Enforcement

Primary to the law enforcement curriculum is learning about the criminal justice system and how it applies to law enforcement practice. Students receive classroom instruction on various subjects and practical training that involves physical fitness. Upon entering the police academy portion of the program, students may be required to pass a series of physical activity and mental stability tests. Coursework might include:

  • Criminal justice and investigation
  • Community relations
  • Law
  • Psychology
  • Defensive techniques
  • Traffic control and firearms

Popular Career Options

Candidates with a relevant bachelor's degree have many career options in the law enforcement field. They may work for the government at the local, state or federal level or as private security personnel. Popular career paths for graduates include:

  • Police supervisors
  • Correctional officers
  • Probation officers
  • Detectives
  • Federal agents

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2015, police and detectives made a median annual wage of $60,270. The employment of police officers and detectives was expected to grow 4% between 2014 and 2024.

Continuing Education

Law enforcement officials can participate in regular training to keep them current and active in defense strategies, weaponry, policies, communications, public safety and law. This training is typically offered through state or federal agency training centers.

Additionally, some students may choose to pursue a law enforcement master's degree. Students can study more specialized areas of law enforcement, such as intelligence or forensic science. Some schools also offer criminal justice or law enforcement-related doctoral degree programs where they can conduct original research in a chosen area of the field. Graduates of doctoral programs may qualify for university-level teaching careers or research positions.

Students wanting to get into law enforcement may pursue enrollment in a bachelor's degree program in law enforcement. Many of these programs include include both traditional course work and police academy training, while others offer specializations in areas such as corrections and crime scene investigation.


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