Online Bachelor's Programs in Law Enforcement

Finding the Right Law Enforcement Program & Exploring Careers

Updated on: 12/12/2018
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Students interested in protecting their communities through public service may gravitate towards law enforcement careers. Many future law enforcement officials enroll in the police academy or other training programs immediately after high school, but more and more students opt for a bachelor’s in law enforcement to learn the skills and techniques to serve. Although police departments do not require degrees, they often appreciate college graduates’ expertise. Prospective students should use this guide to research different online bachelor’s degrees in law enforcement to find the right program for their needs.

How Much Can You Make in a Law Enforcement Career?

The following section lists common careers students with an online bachelor's degree in law enforcement can explore. As part of the judicial system, law enforcement officials assist with keeping inmates in custody before, during, and after their trials. Each official's job addresses a specific issue. For instance, fire inspectors deal with building code violations and probation officers help former inmates rejoin society. As duties vary, so do salaries and job growth. The BLS projects a double-digit increase in demand for fire inspectors and private detectives and a decline in need for correctional officers. Nonetheless, each occupation plays an important role in the overall judicial system. Use this table to explore various duties.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 7%
Job Description

Police and sheriff patrol officers serve as the first line of defense between law-abiding citizens and disaster. They respond to emergency calls, oftentimes questioning the caller and nearby witnesses. They also patrol areas to monitor criminal activity and keep the peace. Police officers need technical knowledge to use computers to search for vehicular records and warrants. When assessing a possible crime scene, police officers write detailed reports and complete paperwork.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: -7%
Job Description

Correctional officers work in jails and prisons to supervise inmates and those awaiting trial. When people are taken into custody, they go to a holding facility monitored by a correctional officer. The officer escorts the inmate to different areas of the facility and to court. While in custody, the correctional officer instructs inmates and gives orders. Bailiffs work in courtrooms to maintain order and protect those in the courtroom. They escort jury members to and from the courtroom and pass documents between the lawyers and judge.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 10%
Job Description

These officials inspect buildings to ensure they adhere to government regulations. While doing their inspections, they check the building's fire alarms, sprinklers, and exits to see if they work properly. They also review the evacuation plans building managers have in place to deal with an emergency. Many fire inspectors work directly with real estate developers to assess building plans before and during construction. Additionally, inspectors create fire safety programs.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 11%
Job Description

Private detectives work independently to conduct surveillance into personal matters for private citizens. Independent investigators work on their own or with a small team. Detectives interview people, gather evidence, and research records. Investigators research public documents that clue them in to certain information regarding a subject or case. Private detectives also join forces with local law enforcement officials when necessary.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 6%
Job Description

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists rehabilitate offenders and re-integrate them into society. They track the progress of law offenders by assisting them with finding employment, abstaining from drugs, and avoiding criminal activity. These officers may interview the parolee or probationer's family members to track their progress and overall well-being. They also suggest job training and substance abuse programs to probationers.

Sources: BLS 2018

Students pursuing an online law enforcement degree often wonder why salaries vary from state to state. Each state pays its law enforcement officials according to demand and cost of living. States with a higher cost of living tend to pay higher salaries. Likewise, states with a growing need for officials pay high salaries to attract workers. This type of job data remains important because it impacts industry percentages and trends. This list features salary and job growth data for law enforcement officers.

What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Law Enforcement Degree?

A bachelor's in law enforcement program familiarizes students with the law and the legal implications of crime. Learners study the judicial system, how it works, and how it affects citizens. Students also learn the function of police officers and other law enforcement officials within the system. The sample curriculum listed below gives readers an overview of the course requirements and learning objectives for a bachelor's degree in law enforcement.

Ethics and the Criminal Justice Leader

Students explore the ethical dilemmas law enforcement officials face as they navigate the judicial justice system. They also learn how leaders in these positions use their judgement to make ethical decisions.

Introduction to Criminal Justice

Students adopt a theory-based approach to crime and its origins. They study the different branches of the justice system such as correctional facilities and its purpose.

Criminal Law

This course examines the development of criminal law in the past to present day. Students identify and classify the names of different crimes.

Juvenile Justice System

Students learn the differences between the juvenile and adult justice systems as it relates to due process of the law, hearings, and constitutional mandates.

Judicial Administration

This class trains learners to understand the differences between civil and criminal litigation. Students research case calendars and dockets used in a court of law.

How to Choose the Best Online Law Enforcement Program

Prospective students often have many questions regarding online bachelor's degree in law enforcement programs. They wonder about course delivery, program requirements, and curriculum. The following Q&A section seeks to answer some of these questions while offering general advice regarding college programs. In addition to these questions, students can examine the school's reputation, cost, faculty, and university services. Students must thoroughly research schools before making a final decision.

How should I select my course load?

As a bachelor's degree in law enforcement major, you must take core courses rooted in foundational principles of law enforcement. These mandatory courses mirror the courses listed in our sample curriculum. For elective courses, students can choose classes that appeal to their specific interests. Consider the topics that interest you and speak to instructors to get a feel for certain courses.

Is the law enforcement concentration different from the major?

Some schools offer law enforcement as a concentration within a criminal justice program. Instead of majoring in law enforcement, students major in criminal justice and select elective courses that focus on law enforcement principles. Despite the delivery format, these programs boast the same learning outcomes as a law enforcement bachelor's degree online. Students in both types of programs receive training that prepares them for law enforcement careers.

Should I complete an internship?

Completing an internship while pursuing your bachelor's degree in law enforcement offers many benefits. However, correctional facilities and police departments take a unique approach to interning. They require interns to take a drug test and maintain a clean record. At some stations, interns ride in patrol cars with officers and respond to calls. At others, interns help with administrative tasks in the office.

Will I still have to attend a police academy even if I have my degree?

Many police departments want applicants with some college credits or a college degree. However, this does not mean college graduates get to forego the police academy. College graduates must still attend and graduate from a police academy if they want to work as certified police officers. Police academy training lasts 6-12 months.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Law Enforcement Programs

Students seeking financial aid resources should consider applying to scholarships geared towards law enforcement majors. In addition to grants, these merit-based scholarships cover tuition costs and introduce students to mentors that help them further their careers. Typically, specialty organizations administer these scholarships and open them to all students that meet eligibility criteria. This list highlights five scholarships for students pursuing a law enforcement bachelor's degree online.

The Darius Quimby College Scholarship

Operation Thank an Officer began as a small grassroots effort to support local police officers and grew into a program that helps the community. In 2016, the organization began providing scholarships to exceptional students in high school and college. The Darius Quimby College Scholarship supports high school seniors planning on majoring in law enforcement. Winners receive $1,000 towards their education. To apply, candidates must submit transcripts, an essay, and the application.

Operation Thank an Officer College Scholarship

The Operation Thank an Officer foundation also offers this award to college students with a parent who serves in law enforcement or has retired from law enforcement. Community donations almost entirely fund these scholarships. Recipients get $1,000 towards their college education. Qualified candidates must submit an application, transcripts, and an essay. The selection committee also evaluates the applicant's extracurricular activities and academic status.

Out to Protect Scholarship

This scholarship gives student members of the LGBTQ+ community the support they need to pursue law enforcement careers. Students use the scholarship to pay for police academy training or other law enforcement education programs. The committee asks that applicants identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual. Additionally, applicants must be currently enrolled in a law enforcement program and show positive role-model qualities. Scholarships range from $500-$1,000.

American Federation of Police & Concerned Citizens Scholarship

The American Police Hall of Fame & Museum started the Police Family Survivors Fund to honor the children and spouses of law enforcement officials killed in the line of duty. Qualified applicants need a 2.0 GPA and copy of their college transcript. They must be enrolled in at least six credit hours of study. Students entering college must submit their ACT or SAT score and a college acceptance letter. Winners receive $1,000-$4,000.

Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship honors Sheryl A. Horak, a law enforcement explorer who became a police officer. After her death, one of her colleagues started this fund for young upcoming students.The scholarship offers financial assistance to law enforcement explorers in 12th grade planning to attend college. Candidates must submit three recommendation letters, transcripts, and a 500-word essay.

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