Online Law Enforcement Degree Programs

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What is a Law Enforcement Degree Online Program?

You may be wondering what an online law enforcement degree is. In short, it is a type of criminal justice (CJ) program. If you want to become a police officer, detective, or work in corrections, then this could be a good path for you.

You may find online law enforcement degree at all levels. From Associates to Bachelors, to Masters and above. In these programs, you will look into crime, violence, policing and investigations.

Some programs, you will find, take a broad view, while others may explore narrower themes. So, you could study civil rights, homeland security, domestic violence, constitutional law, police ethics and management.

Along the way, you may gain vital workplace skills. So, you could focus on things like how to communicate, problem solve, reason and make decisions. These human interaction skills are often crucial for you in forming community police relations.



A.S. in Law Enforcement

This program introduces you to the U.S. criminal justice system. You will learn about its ideas, theories and practices. At the same time, you may learn about ethics, communication and making decisions.

Course Examples:

  • Research Methods for Criminal Justice
  • Juvenile Justice System
  • International Criminal Justice

B.S. in Law Enforcement Administration

In this program, you will learn about how to lead and manage in law enforcement agencies. So, you may learn many basics. You could cover how to maintain social order and protect individual rights. Also, you will cover how to uphold the laws.

Course Examples:

  • Policing Models for the 21st century
  • Investigations Management
  • Emergency Planning

M.S. in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement

In this program, you will look at how criminal justice organizations work. So, you will cover ways to manage people, programs and issues. You may also learn how to build policies with community support and team work.

Course Examples:

  • Restorative Justice
  • Criminological Theory
  •  Applied Research for Criminal Justice Professionals

Law Enforcement Degree Online Programs

If you pursue an online degree program in law enforcement, you put yourself on a formal path of study. So, it isn’t the same as going to the police academy. On that track, you would learn how to fire a gun or make an arrest. Instead, if you pursue a degree in law enforcement, you will study the criminal justice system. It may help you pursue a wide range of career options when you graduate.

Most programs help you understand the court, judicial and prison systems. This means you will be learning about criminal law and specific kinds of crime. You could cover fraud or drug trafficking. Some programs also walk you through police procedures and policies. So, you will learn about what happens to a criminal from the point of arrest until sentencing.

Other topics you may study are psychology and sociology. Getting acquainted with these topics may help shed light on why people commit crimes. This is important if your goal is to solve them. You may even go deeper to understand the mob mindset. Or, you could study how people’s behavior changes in a group. You could also learn ways to control crowds.

Learning how to communicate with others is also important in many programs. There are tactics you must understand when you are dealing with witnesses, suspects or victims. Your program may go deeper into police and community relations and other administrative duties.

Depending on which degree you pursue, you may also learn to conduct research. If you step into a leadership position, it often entails backing up your decisions with data. In these programs, you often cover police administration in depth. This means you may learn a few business focused topics. So, you could learn about budget, project control and human resources.

Associate in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement

Earning your A.S. degree in law enforcement may entail 60 credits. On average, if you are a full time student, you may need 2 years to complete these requirements. Apart from degree specific courses, you may also take college level English and math.

Most A.S. degree programs in law enforcement cover general CJ subjects. So, you will cover things like police management, firearms, juvenile delinquency, and crisis control.

In doing so, you will learn about a wide range of ideas, theories and practices. Some of these you learn about may look at the nature, scope and impact of crime. Others may help you become familiar with criminal law, court systems and corrections.

If you earn an A.S. degree, it may help you complete a B.S. degree in less time. It might also serve as an entry point to a range of jobs for you. You could work in private security or crime scene investigation. Or, you could work in probation, or court administration.

B.S. in Law Enforcement

Earning your degree in law enforcement may entail obtaining 120 to 180 credits. On average, as a full time student, you may need 4 years to complete these requirements. But, if you have an A.S. degree, military or police academy training, you may be able to transfer credits. Or, you could test out of some courses.

Most programs aim to provide you with a strong foundation of criminal justice knowledge. In a B.S. program, you will cover general topics, but it will be more in depth than the A.S. degree. For instance, you may learn about techniques used in policing and national security. You will often emphasize criminal law, the U.S. justice system, the constitution and civil rights.

Taking courses in applied research methods will often help you build your professional skills, too. You will find these courses may have a technical element to them. You will find that science and computing are tools of law enforcement. Thus, you may learn how to use current police technology to gather data or make sense of findings.

A B.S. degree may enable you to pursue career paths in CJ, forensics, federal agencies (e.g. FBI) and more.

Master’s in Law Enforcement

Earning your M.S. degree in law enforcement may entail obtaining 30 to 39 credits. If you are a working student, you may opt for a part time program. But, you could also pursue full time options, too. The time it takes you to complete an M.S. program may thus range from one to two years or more.

Masters programs may appeal to you if you are a mid career professional who wants to climb the ladder. As such, you will find these programs often go into more detail than the B.S. program. This means you will be taking a deeper look at theory, ethics and proven managerial practices.

You will find that some course plans look at how crime impacts society, and how well the CJ systems work. They may do this to help you learn to develop and analyze policies. At the same time,  you will build your skills in making data driven decisions.

You may also find that schools offer concentrations in law enforcement. You will find popular areas to be fraud management, IT, corrections and Intelligence Analysis. If you choose a focal point, it will often anchor you to research for a thesis. Also, it will build your career skills.

MBA Law Enforcement and Corrections

Getting an MBA in law enforcement is a sure way to get a professional degree. Some programs, you will find, consist of 36 credits. If you are a military or a full time student, it may take you one year to complete.

On this track, your courses will usually revolve around a business core, which makes the M.B.A distinct from the M.S. degree in law enforcement. This may mean you will be studying operations, marketing, finance and analytics first. Then, you will take a handful of law enforcement classes. The aim is to build an understanding.


As you can see, there are different kinds of online law enforcement degree programs available. This means, the classes you take will depend as much on your program level (A.S., B.S., M.S., M.B.A.), as it will depend on the program’s focus.

Below, we will take a look at some of the complex terms. Here, you can see which types of courses suit your goals and career interests.

Criminological Theory:  This type of class looks at theories of what causes crimes. It may thus touch on psychology, biology and sociology. Students may also look at how these theories apply to policy and crime control.

Psychology for Law Enforcement: This type of class may help students understand how to use psychology in the field. This may include two areas. One may look at issues like crisis and hostage negotiations. Another, what services police officers may have access to for themselves.

Homeland Security: This type of class may introduce students to the field of national security. It often looks at federal, state, and local agencies and how they prepare for and respond to threats. These range from gun violence in schools to cyber terrorism.

How Long Does It Take to earn a Law Enforcement Degree?

If you are a full time student, then on average, you may need 4 years to earn a B.S. degree in law enforcement online. If you enter with a two year A.S. degree under your belt, you will need less time.

As a law enforcement student pursuing an M.S. or MBA online, you may need one to two years. But, if you are studying part time, you may need longer. If you are in an accelerated program, you may be given credit for military or academy training.


Online Law Enforcement Degree Program Examples

SchoolDegree Level# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Ashford UniversityB.S.120Multiple48
Purdue University GlobalB.S.180448
American Intercontinental UniversityB.S.180Multiple48

What is the Cost of a Law Enforcement Degree Online Program?

If you are a Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Administration major, then your average tuition cost for in state public colleges is about $6,930. If you pursue an out of state private college, then you can expect to pay $27,746.

SchoolDegree Level# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Ashford UniversityB.S.120$485$58,200
Purdue University GlobalB.S.180$371$66,780
American Intercontinental UniversityB.S.180$325$58,500

Top Schools that offer Law Enforcement degree programs

According to DataUSA, you can see there were 764 schools that offer law enforcement degrees or programs.  From those schools 31,754 law enforcement degrees were awarded to students. The majority of these programs were B.S. degrees.

School2022 degrees awarded2023/24 Tuition (Out of State unless *)
University of Phoenix Arizona810$9,552*
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice1436$15,420
Colorado Technical University Colorado Springs141$12,760*
Arizona State University Immersion349$13,625
University of Phoenix California41$9,552*
CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College439$8,050
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley633$19,939
Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix398$32,193
Columbia College (177065)166$24,326*
Western Illinois University225$14,952*

Choosing an Accredited Law Enforcement Degree Program

Accreditation is a type of rubber stamp. An outside agency checks to see if a school meets their standards. Usually, the status lasts a certain amount of time.

Many online colleges with law enforcement degrees have regional accreditation. Studying at one of these schools may allow you to apply for financial aid. You are only able to do this at institutions that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes.

Attending a school with regional accreditation may be important for other reasons, too. Such schools often have transfer credit policies in place. Also, if you want to go to grad school, you need to furnish transcripts from an accredited college.

Once approved, many institutions put individual programs up for review too. One agency involved in this process is (CALEA®). The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.

Created in 1979, CALEA® is a main credentialing authority. It is also a joint effort of law enforcement’s major executive associations. The way it works is that a school first enrolls. Then undergoes a self study. The agency then assesses it against its own criteria. After a review and achieving status, the school must maintain standards. Then, it must reaccredit. You can check where a school is in this process on CALEA® website.

What can you do With a Law Enforcement degree?

Did you know there are 1.1 million people in the criminal justice and law enforcement management workforce? You should know that employment estimates are going up by 8.61%. The average age of a person with a degree in protective services in 39.3. Most people have a bachelor’s degree and are male.

Top Salaries by State for Detectives and Criminal Justice Investigators

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York9,030$118,350

Jobs with a Law Enforcement Degree


As a law enforcement officer, you would work to ensure that people abide by laws. This comes with different duties depending on where an officer works. Police officers regulate traffic, control crowds, prevent crime, and arrest violators. Others have job titles like detective, game warden, FBI agents, and transit police.

According to 2023 O*NET data:

Median Salary:  $72,280 per year

Job growth through 2032: 2% to 4% (Faster than average)

Typical Entry Level education: B.S. degree


Deputy sheriffs are a common type of police officer. You can often recognize them by their uniforms. Part of their duties involve responding to emergency and non urgent calls. When called to a scene, they look for evidence and criminal activity. They also conduct searches and arrest suspects. Some may work in a niche type of crime like narcotics. Others may work in a special unit.

According to 2023 O*NET data:

Median Salary:  $91,100 per year

Job growth through 2032: 2% to 4% (Slower than average)

Typical Entry Level education: B.S. degree

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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