Our focus today will be on the top schools that offer the online law enforcement degree, but before providing you with a list of these schools, let us briefly consider what a law enforcement degree entails.
What Is a Law Enforcement Degree?
Designed for law enforcement professionals or those interested in breaking into the field, a law enforcement degree is a comprehensive education that provides learners with critical skills and knowledge in criminal justice. Depending on their program of choice, students can graduate with either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, with core courses varying by level.
At the forefront of online law enforcement programs are classes focused on crime, control and legal processes. In addition to these core courses, classes related to policing and police operations are also present. As many law enforcement positions require some form of physical training—including self-defense tactics—some programs also provide students with hands-on experience.
As far as how distance learning differs from traditional learning programs, the primary difference is schedule flexibility. Online learners gain the ability to access coursework at their own pace allowing them to learn around their busy schedules and personal life. Additionally, online programs may be more affordable than traditional ones due to lower tuition rates and less fees charged by educational providers.
We ranked the best online criminal justice degree programs based on specific criteria, including:
- Cost of tuition
- Reputation and awards from national rankings, like U.S. News & World Report
- Faculty credentials and student-to-teacher ratios
- Graduation rate and employment rate of graduates
Our #1 best school is the University of California at Irvine, which offers an A.B. in Criminology, Law, and Society that can be completed entirely online. The program is only available to California residents who have already earned their bachelor’s degrees elsewhere; after being accepted into this program, they will pay $12,240 per year in tuition while they earn their degrees. Any student who wants to pursue a career in criminology should consider enrolling in this highly respected program.
How to get an online law enforcement degree
You can get an online law enforcement degree by:
- Completing the necessary prerequisites to enter the program.
- Being accepted into the program.
- Completing coursework required for the degree.
- Completing any internships required for the degree.
- Fulfilling any other requirements, such as submitting a portfolio or passing an exam.
What can I do with an online law enforcement degree?
There are many roles available to those with a law enforcement degree. The specific job you might be qualified for depends on your personal interests, qualifications, and what opportunities are available to you. Here are some common jobs that require an online law enforcement degree:
- Work in law enforcement—possible careers include police officer, corrections officer, or security guard
- Work for a national or local government agency or federal bureau—possible careers include Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agent, immigration and customs inspector, or border patrol inspector
Work in law enforcement.
Becoming a police officer can be a rewarding and challenging career choice. As a law enforcement officer, you are responsible for enforcing federal, state and local laws, protecting the public from criminal activity and responding to calls for emergency assistance or threats to public safety.
Those who pursue this line of work must take an oath to serve their community and uphold the constitution. Police officers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. They are expected to respond to calls in all types of weather conditions at any hour. While some officers choose to specialize in areas such as traffic control or detective work, most patrol their assigned jurisdiction in police cruisers during their shift. Officers make arrests when necessary as well as write detailed reports concerning each call they respond to during their shift. Additionally, when officers aren’t responding directly to calls for service they may be providing security at large events such as concerts or sporting events or working with community groups on crime prevention initiatives that improve the quality of life in their communities.
Work for a national or local government agency or federal bureau.
Your law enforcement degree will prepare you to work at all levels of the public and private sectors, including:
- A federal bureau, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
- Another federal agency, such as the U.S. Marshals Service.
- State police departments or agencies that enforce laws within state boundaries.
- City police forces that protect citizens of a specific municipality.
- County sheriff’s offices that serve a specific county or parish.
Top Schools Offer The Online Law Enforcement Degree
The following schools offer the best online law enforcement degree:
Purdue University Global offers multiple online programs for law enforcement professionals:
- Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
- Master of Science in Legal Studies – Criminal Law
To learn more about each program, click on the links above. Below you will find information regarding admission requirements, tuition rates, and financial aid options. You can also see whether or not the school is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Administration that is taught by instructors with real-world law enforcement experience. The program teaches students foundational criminal justice knowledge such as legal issues, ethics, and policy formation. Students will also learn about community policing and the relationship between them and the community.
The flexible accelerated program is designed for maximum transferability of credits and can be completed in less than two years (approximately 20 months). Graduates of this program are well prepared for employment opportunities within local, state, or federal agencies as law enforcement officers or administration officials. This degree can also lead to a career in private security entities or investigative agencies such as the FBI.
Program outcomes include:
- Analyze the processes related to criminal court procedures in juvenile courts, adult courts, and specialized courts (such as drug courts)
- Identify key concepts regarding ethical issues that impact criminal justice professionals
- Examine how technology impacts police operations within a community context while maintaining civil rights and liberties
Strayer University is a private institution located in Washington, D.C. Strayer offers some of its courses online, but it does not offer full online degree programs. Tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year was $11,668 per semester and $23,336 annually for full-time students and $1,277 per credit hour for part-time students.
The school offers many different programs that lead to a degree or certificate in criminal justice. Some examples include:
- Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement
- Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Homeland Security
Strayer University provides several resources to its students including free tutoring services to help them complete their assignments and prepare for tests, an eLibrary that’s available 24/7 through the university’s website and mobile app, career services to help students find jobs after graduation (including resume building workshops), and access to financial aid advisors who can help prospective students determine if they are eligible for grants or loans before they apply.
|Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Law Enforcement
|Tuition is $390 per credit hour for residents and $790 per credit hour for non-residents
|22 months if you’re a full-time student
|Can earn up to seven credits by participating in Liberty’s Police Academy and then taking the Capstone course. Courses offered through Liberty University are asynchronous, so they can be completed at the pace that works best for you.
Colorado Technical University
Founded in 1965, Colorado Technical University offers an online law enforcement degree. The bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in law enforcement is available entirely online. Students learn to apply the principles of criminal justice to real-world situations and how to effectively analyze legal and ethical issues in the field. Students who complete this degree are prepared for careers as police officers, detectives, patrol supervisors, or other positions within law enforcement and security fields.
Tuition: $10,080 per year
Median earnings for graduates: $47,900 per year (for those working full time 10 years after graduation)
Pros: The program is designed for students who want flexibility or have work commitments that prevent them from attending class in person. This can also be an ideal option for students who are self-motivated, organized individuals who thrive when they aren’t tied to a physical campus location. Earning a bachelor’s degree online allows students to avoid commuting costs and logistics associated with getting to campus on time for classes each day.
Cons: Online courses might not be right for every student because you won’t get the same level of interaction with instructors and fellow classmates that you would if you took your classes on campus. It can also be harder to stay focused while learning remotely as opposed to being in a classroom setting where there are people around you keeping you on track.