In Texas, police officer training is commonly available at 2-year public colleges. Many schools offer what is known as basic peace officer programs, which require students to earn 20 credits or complete a total of 656-775 hours. Some of these programs may culminate in a certificate of completion.
Some schools may also offer individual continuing education courses for existing police officers. Associate degree programs in criminal justice or law enforcement are also available. Aspiring police officers take courses that cover methods for enforcing laws, collecting evidence of illegal activity, and arresting persons suspected of crimes.
Applicants to a police training program may need to pass criminal background and drug screenings. They might also be required to pass psychological and physical exams. In addition, program applicants may need to be at least 21 years old and have a high school degree or a GED and a driver's license.
Austin Community College
Located in Austin, this community college offers the Texas Peace Officer Sequence Certification program. Prerequisites for the program include criminal and drug background checks, physical and psychological exams, and an official driver's license. Graduates of this program must have also have earned an associate's degree in any major before taking the state exam, though they do not need to have a degree to enroll in this program. All students take four courses in the peace officer sequence, while those without a degree or with a degree in a major other than criminal justice take seven additional courses in subjects such as criminal justice, criminal law, and criminal investigation.
Collin County Community College
Students interested in pursuing careers as police officers can do so through the Collin County Law Enforcement Academy at Collin County Community College in McKinney. The school's Basic Peace Officer Certification program is offered full-time and part-time and requires 775 hours to complete. Applicants must be at least 21 years old to apply and have a high school diploma or GED, as well as meet TCOLE requirements for licensing to be accepted. Graduates can transfer credits to a four-year university in pursuit of a baccalaureate degree.
Del Mar College
Through the Del Mar Regional Police Academy, this college in Corpus Christi offers three law enforcement training options for the aspiring police officer. Two options give students the chance to earn a basic peace officer or intermediate peace officer certificate. Both programs require four sequential basic peace officer courses. Students in the intermediate program continue for two semesters, taking courses in topics such as child abuse investigation, and search and seizure.
Students can also pursue an associate degree in criminal justice technology with a police science option that, additionally, awards a Basic Peace Officer Certificate. Students take courses in topics such as criminal justice, criminal law, and criminal investigation as well. In addition, students choose electives to fill out the curriculum.
Houston Community College
This community college in Houston offers a 20-credit basic peace officer certificate program that can lead to state licensing. Students can also enroll in a two-year associate degree program that includes the curriculum needed to take the same licensing exam. Applicants must be 21 years or older to enroll.
Located in Corsicana, Navarro College's police academy offers potential police officers the chance to gain in-service training as part of the 680-hour Basic Peace Officer program. Students are trained in topics such as penal and traffic law, defensive tactics, patrol tactics, and the use of firearms. They also gain instruction in first aid and cultural diversity. Students are allowed to enroll if they are within six months of turning 21.
San Antonio College
Set in San Antonio, this college's Law Enforcement Academy offers the training needed to become a Texas police officer. The academy's Basic Peace Officer program requires 688 hours spent taking the curriculum needed for the licensing exam. Students complete the four phases of the program in 11 weeks. Applicants must undergo a background check.
Tarrant County College
Tarrant County College offers the Basic Peace Officer Certification program through the college's Criminal Justice Training Center at the Northwest campus in Fort Worth. Students must earn at least a C in five courses, which include classes in firearms and tactical skills, as well as three successive basic peace officer courses. The center also offers individual classes for law enforcement professionals looking for training in specific areas.
Tyler Junior College
Through this college's School of Continuing Studies in Tyler, aspiring police officers can receive the training needed for licensing at the TJC Law Enforcement Academy. Students take the four consecutive courses typically required by the state. A supplemental peace officer course is also available. Students complete 714 hours before being eligible to take the licensing exam. After passing the exam, students may have the option of applying up to 12 credit hours toward a college degree program.
University of Houston - Downtown
At the Criminal Justice Center in Houston, this four-year university offers a police training program that includes morning, day, and evening classes. Admission requirements include a background check for any convictions or open warrants, as well as a Texas driver's license. Applicants must also supply declarations of physical and emotional health from medical professionals, a birth certificate proving that the prospective student will be 21 years old by the time they graduate from the program, and a high school diploma, GED, or completion of 12 college credits.
Wharton County Junior College
This junior college awards a Basic Peace Officer Training Certificate to graduates of the college's Police Academy program in Wharton and Richmond. Individuals who are at least 21 years of age and have a driver's license, as well as a high school diploma or GED, can apply. Other requirements for admittance into the program include passing a criminal background check, and physical and mental health exams. Students complete 20 semester hours to graduate. The day program can be completed in one semester, while the evening program takes two semesters to complete.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) approves police academy programs offered at educational institutions that provide the required curriculum. To become a police officer, individuals must complete a program that includes the necessary basic peace officer courses. Graduating from a criminal justice or law enforcement degree program that does not include the necessary basic peace officer courses does not lead to becoming a licensed police officer. Ten of the largest institutions currently approved by TCOLE to offer the training needed to pass the state certification exam are compared below.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Police Training Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Austin Community College||Two-year, public; large city||Texas Peace Officer Sequence Certification Program||$2,550 in-district, $10,830 in-state, $13,020 out-of-state*|
|Collin County Community College||Two-year, public; midsize suburb||Basic Peace Officer Certification Program||$1,504 in-district, $2,884 in-state, $4,864 out-of-state*|
|Del Mar College||Two-year, public; large city|| Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice Technology - Police Science Option,
Basic Peace Officer Certificate,
Intermediate Peace Officer Certificate
|$2,729 in-district, $4,029 in-state, $5,334 out-of-state*|
|Houston Community College||Two-year, public; large city|| Basic Peace Officer Certificate,
Associate in Applied Science in Law Enforcement
|$1,632 in-district, $3,360 in-state, $3,756 out-of-state*|
|Navarro College||Two-year, public; distant town||Basic Peace Officer Program||$2,430 in-district, $3,960 in-state, $5,610 out-of-state*|
|San Antonio College||Two-year, public; large city||Basic Peace Officer Program||$2,820 in-district, $6,300 in-state, $13,830 out-of-state*|
|Tarrant County College||Two-year, public; large city||Basic Peace Officer Certificate of Completion||$1,661 in-district, $3,132 in-state, $7,560 out-of-state*|
|Tyler Junior College||Two-year, public; small city||Basic Police Officer Academy Program||$2,962 in-district, $4,762 in-state, $5,482 out-of-state*|
|University of Houston - Downtown||Four-year, public; large city||Basic Peace Officer Certification Program||$6,500 in-state, $16,460 out-of-state*|
|Wharton Junior College||Two-year, public; distant town||Basic Peace Officer Training Certificate||$2,352 in-district, $3,576 in-state, $4,824 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator