Online Law Enforcement Degrees

Those who think law enforcement training is exclusively for police officers are in for a surprise: These degrees can open doors to a wide breadth of career possibilities. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, law enforcement and private sector security are increasingly intertwined, diversifying job options. Some law enforcement grads are even making headway in nontraditional fields like education and business.

Law enforcement personnel need to be good communicators and be adept at knowing what to do in problem situations, according to the College Board. An online degree in law enforcement can help individuals interested in this field develop those skills and learn the different methods law enforcement officials use to keep citizens safe and protect the country.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and O*Net, the typical duties of law enforcement professionals are:

  • Responding to emergencies, protecting people and property
  • Enforcing laws
  • Recording facts to prepare reports about incidents and activities
  • Monitoring, reporting and investigating suspicious people and situations as well as unusual activity
  • Arresting suspects
  • Rendering aid to accident victims
  • Testifying in a court of law as an expert witness in criminal or traffic case

This list of occupations derived from BLS data, though limited, can give you an idea of the jobs you can get with an online degree in law enforcement. The information on employment outlook, median wages and job openings may help prospective students decide on a career path.

Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Human Resources Managers165,200$121,2206%
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers654,900$ 70,0005%
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives122,310$ 97,1804.8%
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists91,800$55,6904%
Correctional Officers and Jailers462,300$47,440-7%
First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers53,420$ 67,600-7%

Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2019-29 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

If you are straight out of high school and thinking of entering the field of law enforcement and desire entry-level positions, you might want to consider earning an online certificate program in law enforcement. You may find both academic certificates and skills certificates in subjects such as psychology and criminal justice insight, high pressure critical thinking, and professional communication. Such programs can help you gain the knowledge and skills needed to begin building a career in this field.

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: A high-school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Students are encouraged to explore topics that include community policing, police organization and management, and investigative techniques. The coursework may focus on specialized criminal justice subjects such as:

  • Introduction to criminal justice
  • American policing
  • Law enforcement intelligence
  • Marksmanship and defensive tactics

What can I do after earning a certificate in law enforcement?

A certificate in law enforcement can help professionals already in the field prepare for career advancement in policing, the courts, correction, dispute resolution and other areas in the criminal justice system. Those who are just entering the field may require additional education to pursue a career path of their choice.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

It is rare to find an associate degree in law enforcement or police studies, and those interested in an associate may find it easier to find associate degree programs in criminal justice.

Eastern Kentucky University offers an online program in police studies which help students attain the basic education required for those in law enforcement to be eligible for promotions.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: This may include 60-64 credit hours, and can cover the following:

  • Foundations of policing
  • Policing and technology
  • Criminal law
  • Police administration and management

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an Associate Degree in Law Enforcement?

After having completed an online associate degree in police studies you may be eligible for the following occupations:

  • State and local law enforcement officer
  • School resource officer deputy
  • Policy analyst
  • Victim’s advocate

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

A number of choices can be available to prospective students related to an online bachelor’s degree in law enforcement. Students may choose a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement Administration or Law Enforcement Leadership, just to name two. You can also choose a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in law enforcement. Other options can include a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a focus on criminology/law enforcement.

Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Depending on the program you choose, some of the subjects may include:

  • Police administration and management
  • Contemporary law enforcement strategy
  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Emergency planning
  • Budgeting for public administrators

Possible electives: This can depend on the type of program you choose

Some courses ask students to undertake a capstone project that can demonstrate what students have learned through theory, concepts and decision-making.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement?

An online bachelor degree can have students take up jobs as a:

  • Police officer
  • Detective
  • School resource officer
  • Correctional treatment specialist
  • Sheriff

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Master’s programs in law enforcement can be pursued as a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a focus on law enforcement. Earning a master’s degree may lead to higher levels positions in law enforcement.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree, some programs require experience in law enforcement

Typical coursework: Some of the subjects that may be included in your program may include:

  • Crime analysis and case management
  • Crime prevention and public relations
  • Ethics, justice, and social control
  • Criminal justice policy development and analysis
  • Applied research for criminal justice professionals

Possible electives: fraud management, information technology

Specializations available for online law enforcement degree programs at the master’s level may include:

  • Organizational behavior in law enforcement & corrections
  • Employment & policy law for law enforcement & corrections administrators
  • Budgeting for finance law enforcement & corrections administrators

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a Master’s Degree in Law Enforcement?

An online master’s degree in law enforcement can help students find work as a:

  • Criminal justice and law enforcement teacher
  • Chief of police
  • Senior officer
  • Sergeant or lieutenant

What can I expect to learn in an online Doctoral degree program?

Online doctoral degree programs in law enforcement are usually offered in disciplines such as criminal justice or combined with a related field such as public safety or business administration. Most of these programs have doctoral-level faculty with practical experience in the field.


Accreditation is a voluntary procedure that institutions go through to show that the teaching methods adopted and education facilities available at these institutions are on par with professionally required standards. Programs may be regionally or nationally accredited by various accrediting bodies.

As a student, it is an important to choose an accredited college, if you would like to be eligible for federal financial aid or grants. The prerequisites of some professional certifying agencies may also require that students graduate from an accredited college.

Certifications in Law Enforcement

While not mandatory, having a certification can show future employers proficiency and competency in your area of interest. Certifications can help you stand out from other candidates applying for the same job, and in some cases, they may entitle you for higher pay. The International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts helps provide certifications for professionals seeking employment or promotion. Examples of certifications include:

A number of colleges and institutions offer financial aid and scholarships to students who qualify their criteria. Check with the student advisors of colleges to know the financial aid options you may have.

To start you off, here are a few scholarships you may want to pursue:

Professional Organizations and Resources for Those in Law Enforcement

Employment Statistics

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Junior Colleges
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
  • Technical and Trade Schools
  • State Government, excluding schools and hospitals
States with the highest level of employment
  • New York
  • California
  • North Carolina
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Fresno, CA
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
  • Kansas City, MO-KS

Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics,


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  • Occupational Employment and Wages, 33-3051 Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers, May 2018
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook: Police and Detectives, April 12, 2019
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  • Online Law Enforcement Administration Graduate Certificate, accessed June 2019:
  • Policing and Law Enforcement Certificate, Southern New Hampshire University,, accessed June 2019
  • Police Studies Degree Programs, Eastern Kentucky University,, accessed June 2019
  • Relgalf Scholarship for Current Police Officers, accessed on June 12, 2019:
  • Specialized Studies – Degrees: Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, accessed June 2019:
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