Distance learning programs in police science are rare, but closely related associate degree programs in criminal justice are offered at both four-year universities and two-year colleges. Many of these programs are available from private, for-profit vocational schools and typically take around two years to complete depending on enrollment status. They are offered both completely online or in a hybrid format. An internship may be required for graduation.
An online associate degree in police science can prepare an individual for work as a police officer, corrections officer, customs agent or parole officer, among other positions. It should be noted that in many police departments, a high school diploma is the only academic requirement to begin police academy training. However, some departments do require prior postsecondary education.
Information and Requirements
By way of delivery systems software such as Blackboard and ANGEL, students access online classrooms and Web pages, where they communicate with classmates and instructors, send e-mail, participate in discussions and complete assignments. All of this is done at the student's choice of time and place. Although the online program offers a great deal more flexibility than an on-campus program, in general, individuals are expected to keep up with an assignment schedule.
Although many associate programs in criminal justice can be completed entirely online, some programs contain a practical experience. Students may be required to participate in an on-campus session or an internship with a local law enforcement agency.
Depending on the university or school, programs leading to an Associate of Science, Associate of Arts or Associate in Applied Science require from 60-64 credit hours. These include roughly 24 credit hours of general education courses, in addition to core courses such as the following:
- Criminal justice
- Community relations
Most online criminal justice associate programs offer a concentration in a certain area, such as those listed below.
With courses in social psychology, community psychology and abnormal psychology, individuals following this concentration gain an understanding of deviant and criminal behavior and how it develops. This specialty focuses on why a crime is committed and the factors involved.
This concentration is specifically designed for individuals who are interested in becoming police officers. Courses include such subjects as practical law enforcement psychology, criminal law and procedure, ethics and investigation.
Emergency services and community risk assessment are areas emphasized in a program specializing in homeland security. With courses focusing on terrorism and identifying and coping with various challenges to American security procedures, individuals are prepared for positions in customs, immigration services or border security.
Courses in the corrections concentration include counseling, principles of correction and case management procedures. The focus of this program is on dealing with communication, critical thinking and ethical reasoning in multicultural and ethnically diverse situations.
Crime Scene Evidence
Evidence technicians and crime scene specialists follow a program that includes courses in forensic science as well as crime scene investigation and analysis. Establishing the boundaries of a crime scene and the principles and procedures of searching that crime scene for specific evidence are among the focal points of this concentration. Students also learn the procedures for preserving, preparing and presenting evidence.
Students looking for an online associate degree in police science may find that these programs are hard to come by. A more commonly available alternative is an online associate degree program in criminal justice, which covers much of the same material.