Law Enforcement Associate's Degree

To prepare yourself for a career in the war against crime, you might want to consider earning an associate's degree in law enforcement. Learn where you can find these programs and what the curriculum covers. This degree can lead to a position as a police officer, corrections officer or even private investigator. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will I Learn in a Law Enforcement Associate's Degree Program?

An Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degree in law enforcement or law enforcement/criminal justice typically requires around 60 credit hours and can be completed in two years. Some of the courses you might find include criminal procedures, evidence, ethics, criminal law, traffic enforcement, criminology, investigation, report writing, and victimology. General education courses are mandatory as well and depending on the program, you may also receive training in firearms and self-defense tactics. Some schools have articulation agreements with one or more 4-year universities, enabling you to transfer your associate's degree credits toward a bachelor's degree program.

You might find a school that offers you the opportunity to attend a police academy as part of the associate's degree program. Police academy courses usually include detention and traffic laws, human relations, firearms training, self-defense, jail management, prisoner rights, and other legal subjects.

Common CoursesCriminal law and procedure, victimology, ethics, report writing
Additional TrainingSome programs offer the option to enroll in a police academy
Online AvailabilitySome online and hybrid programs are available, but they are uncommon
Program DepartmentsPrograms may be housed in schools' behavioral and social sciences, science and humanities, or homeland security departments
Career OptionsPolice or corrections officers, juvenile justice officer, police communications specialist
Job Outlook (2016-2026) A 7% increase in demand is expected for Police Officers and Detectives*
Median Salary (May 2018) $61,380 for Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Earn a Degree Online?

Though programs are rare, you may be able to earn an associate's degree in law enforcement either entirely or partially online. If your program includes police academy training, you're required to attend that portion of your instruction in person.

Where Can I Find Schools Offering This Degree?

The National Center for Education Statistics features a searchable, online database of postsecondary institutions. A search for law enforcement, criminal justice, police science or public safety yields over 500 universities, colleges or technical schools that may provide suitable degree-granting programs ( These programs are often housed within departments, schools or divisions of behavioral and social science, science and humanities, law enforcement or homeland security.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

In addition to preparing you to become a police or corrections officer, an associate's degree in law enforcement can start you on the path to becoming a highway patrol officer, sheriff, police communications specialist, juvenile justice officer or private security agent. Additionally, some schools prepare you for investigative work with government and private agencies, including insurance companies. Finally, such a program can prepare you for study at the bachelors and graduate levels in related fields, such as law and criminal justice.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in order to qualify for employment with a federal agency, you must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree, have a specific amount of appropriate work experience or possess a combination of the two. However, the BLS also states that an associate's degree in law enforcement or a related area may help you qualify for a position with a local or state law enforcement agency (

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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