Police academy tracks are available within criminal justice programs that are offered by community colleges and 4-year universities. Due to the physical nature of a law enforcement career, students must fulfill both academic and physical fitness requirements in order to gain admission into a police academy program.
Top 10 Criminal Justice Schools
The schools below offer criminal justice and police science programs for those interested in police academy training.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*|
|George Washington University||Washington, DC||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's||$50,435|
|University of Tulsa||Tulsa, Oklahoma||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Certificate||$39,521|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee, Florida||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$6,507 (in-state)|
|Miami University-Oxford||Oxford, Ohio||4-year, Public||Associate, Bachelor's||$14,287 (in-state)|
|College of the Ozarks||Point Lookout, Missouri||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's||$18,730|
|Oklahoma Baptist University||Shawnee, Oklahoma||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's||$24,000|
|George Mason University||Fairfax, Virginia||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$10,952 (in-state)|
|Cedar Crest College||Allentown, Pennsylvania||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's||$35,600|
|Ohio University||Athens, Ohio||4-year, Public||Associate, Bachelor's||$11,548 (in-state)|
|Washington State University||Pullman, Washington||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$11,967 (in-state)|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
For students who'd like to enter a police academy but also want to obtain a traditional degree, it may be useful to consider combined criminal justice/police training programs. While studying criminal justice isn't required to become a police officer, nor will completing a criminal justice program alone qualify someone to become a police officer, some criminal justice programs incorporate police academy training, and many programs offer full-time study only. Further considerations to take into account when choosing a police academy school include the following:
- Learn the requirements. Most criminal justice programs have minimum academic, age, and physical fitness standards; background checks are also common. A pre-admission meeting with program administrators could also be required before beginning the police academy training part of the program.
- Know that many criminal justice programs that offer a police academy track have a rigid degree completion process. Students are generally expected to complete certain classes prior to beginning police academy training.
- Understand that schools that offer police academy training as part of their criminal justice programs typically work closely with state law enforcement agencies that regulate professional career preparation and certification.
- Find out what comes after the program. Police academy training generally concludes with a final exam and state certification that makes graduates eligible for state or local law enforcement jobs.
Criminal Justice Certificate - Police Academy Option Overview
This program may take less than two years to complete. A physical conditioning component may be required, and students may need to complete a field experience for some programs. The curriculum is generally limited to police academy training plus several foundational courses in police organization, professional ethics, and traffic and public safety.
Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice Overview
When this degree program includes police academy training, it's generally described as having a police academy option or track. The 2-year program often requires many of the same classes as the certificate program and may also require a field experience. Students are usually also required to take general education courses in fields like English and math. Criminal justice courses may include criminology, juvenile delinquency or criminal investigation.
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Overview
This 4-year degree program usually offers a law enforcement track when it's combined with police academy training. Students learn the same hands-on skills as certificate and associate's degree students, such as police agency organization, police operations, investigative processes, public safety, first aid and professional ethics. An internship or practicum may also be required. In additional to these and general education courses, bachelor's degree students also take expanded coursework in the field, such as juvenile justice and forensic science.
When choosing a school for police training, find out what certification will be needed after the program is over. Also consider what degree type you want so that you can start in the position you feel is most comfortable for your career goals.