Suppose you’re a law enforcement officer looking for better career prospects. Or maybe you’re simply looking to make a professional pivot toward a more positive impact on your community. Whichever path you’re on, applying for an online degree in law enforcement can be a great first step to achieving your goals.
This degree equips you with the knowledge and skills to protect your community and rehabilitate offenders. You can also bring social change to your community. And online education allows you to fast-track your career growth without giving up your family or work.
An online law enforcement degree may be your best path forward, and this guide is the ideal starting point. Here, we explore the top law enforcement programs and answer key questions about cost, courses, and accreditation. Read on to take your first steps toward your future.
Program Spotlights: Law Enforcement Degrees Online
Bachelor’s degrees in law enforcement often fall under the broader major of criminal justice, where you’ll find diverse specializations.
For instance, you may opt for a concentration in cybercrime, homeland security, crime scene investigation, or corrections — all of which will prepare you to meet the evolving needs of the criminal justice system.
An accredited online law enforcement degree will typically require at least 120 credits and four years of full-time study. Depending on the institution, you may have asynchronous online classes, accelerated and hybrid learning options, or part-time classes for career development.
Moreover, these programs may include internships, which will help you gain practical experience with local and state law enforcement or federal agencies.
Below are some best-in-class examples of law enforcement degrees online.
FSU offers 17 comprehensive online programs, including an online Bachelor of Science in Criminology. This degree program is tailored for the non-traditional student looking to balance work and school. It’s also ideal for students not geographically present in Florida. Students take 60 credits in major coursework and learn current criminal justice policies and trends and prepares you for a leadership role in shaping America’s prevention of and response to crime. You’ll be well-equipped for roles such as private investigator, detective, social services case manager, and security specialist.
- Cost: In-state tuition: $180.49/credit, Out-of-state tuition: $686.04/credit
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Length of program: 4 years
- Financial aid opportunities:
Boston University is a private institution that offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at its Metropolitan College (MET). This is a self-paced bachelor’s degree completion program offered in a convenient, part-time evening format. BU uses social science theories and methods to teach critical thinking and quantitative analysis to help students understand criminal activity, corrections, policy, and criminal court procedures. You’ll learn theoretical perspectives on crime causation as well as gain hands-on knowledge in law, policing, adjudication, and corrections procedures.
King University is a private, non-profit institution that also offers 17 complete online degree programs, including a BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology. To graduate with this degree from King University, you must complete 124 semester hours — 48 of which are courses completed in the criminal justice major. Depending on the number of credits you bring to the program, you can accelerate your learning and complete all major courses within 16 months.
The curriculum is designed to help students gain a deeper understanding of the United States criminal justice system, with deep dives into criminal law, theories of criminology, juvenile justice, policing, and criminal procedure.
- Cost: $305/credit
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Length of program: 2-4 years, depending on transfer credits
- Financial Aid opportunities:
Courses in Your Online Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement
Many law enforcement degree programs teach the fundamental principles of the legal system, the U.S. Constitution, courts, judicial processes, and correctional procedures. These courses give students a solid foundation in the knowledge and practical skills needed to navigate the complex local, state, and federal legal landscape.
There are plenty of comparable courses and requirements across all institutions offering law enforcement degrees. However, no two programs are identical. Instead, core courses will emphasize the theory behind and practical aspects of law enforcement.
Many law enforcement degrees integrate research into the curriculum, while others emphasize practical experience. Additionally, some programs may offer specialization options that enable students to pursue unique branches, such as criminology or forensics.
Here are some examples of courses you may encounter in your online law enforcement degree:
Introduction to Criminal Justice
In this course, you learn about criminology theories and how the criminal justice system works. You also learn how and why people commit crimes and its impact on individual victims and society. Additionally, you’ll learn why and how the criminal justice system punishes offenders.
This course helps you develop analytical, ethical, and critical reasoning skills as you conduct research and write assignments.
This course gives you a historical overview of the foundations and philosophy of criminal law. You’ll explore the elements of crime as well as the purpose, functions, and limits of law. Additionally, you’ll learn the criminal code and how it relates to charges, trials, and punishments given to offenders. With the knowledge acquired from this course, you’ll learn how to determine if a suspect broke state or federal law, the consequences, and potential punishments once convicted of a crime.
Ethics and Justice
Police officers and other law enforcement agents face plenty of ethical decisions daily. In this course, you learn about judicial misconduct, deviance of law enforcement agents, and issues with correction officers. Here, you also explore multiple ethical dilemmas faced by officers and analyze scenarios you may encounter in the field. Moreover, you develop skills that help you recognize and analyze ethical issues while developing a sense of moral obligation to yourself, other citizens, and the law.
This course teaches you to collect and analyze data that can help predict or prevent future crimes. Here, you learn how to profile criminals, assess personalities, conduct research across various sources, and develop programs that can help you and other officers prevent future criminal activity. This course reinforces critical thinking and reasoning skills as you research and use your data to generate recommendations that reduce crime. Additionally, you’ll learn how to prepare crime analysis reports, presentations, and content.
In this course, you learn about the beginning and philosophy of the juvenile justice system. You’ll explore theories that examine juvenile delinquency, drug crime, gangs, and status offenses. As part of your learning, you’ll also explore the constitutional rights of minors, special interventions, and rehabilitation. This course also reinforces critical reasoning, research, analysis, and skills that result in the successful integration of juveniles back into society.
What Should I Look for in an Online Law Enforcement Degree Program?
As you research law enforcement degrees online, you’ll find a multitude of programs — each with unique strengths, specializations, and program characteristics. You’ll need to weigh your individual needs against all of these factors, but overall, you must consider some common components of any online degree program. Here’s a deeper look at a few important factors to consider before pursuing your bachelor’s degree in law enforcement.
Tuition for an online law enforcement degree program will vary, depending on the school’s policies — specifically if they offer the same tuition for in-state and out-of-state online students — and the nature of the institution. Typically, it costs between $290 and $490 per credit, with private universities charging more. Before choosing your school, ensure your chosen college and program is within your budget. Students belonging to the fraternal order of police and active-duty service members may be eligible for discounts offered by some colleges.
When assessing degree programs for quality, ensure you explore the curriculum for relevance and timeliness. You’ll want to look for a program that is up to date on contemporary information and best practices. Moreover, ensure your chosen program teaches skills and knowledge that prepare you for the workplace. For instance, you may decide to consider only universities that offer career assistance or placement services in reputable law enforcement agencies or organizations.
Does the faculty at your chosen school reflect exceptional skills and experience? Selecting a degree program with outstanding faculty members can increase the chances of your success. Not only will faculty expertise fuel innovative approaches to teaching and learning, but you’ll also improve your network of connections based on your education. Spend time researching the background of your school’s faculty, and consider looking at faculty reviews from a broad range of students as well.
Accreditation ensures the institution sets and maintains the highest educational standards for your chosen field of study. You’ll want to choose a school that has earned institutional accreditation, which means the school has met objective qualifications and typically allows you to transfer credits among other accredited institutions. Unlike other programs like psychology or law, there is no widely accepted programmatic accreditation standard for law enforcement degrees.
Online bachelor’s degree programs are geared mostly toward working professionals, often with flexible and asynchronous classes — meaning you can complete coursework at your own pace as long as you meet established deadlines. Some law enforcement degree programs will offer multiple program formats, including options for online, on-campus, part-time, full-time, and hybrid study. If you’re looking for the most flexibility, you’ll want to ensure that your chosen program does not require on-ground coursework.
How Much Does an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement Cost?
Deciding to pursue any undergraduate degree, including an online bachelor’s degree in law enforcement, can be a pricy commitment, ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Online and part-time programs may come at a slight discount from a traditional full-time program, but they still make a significant financial impact.
For this reason, you’ll need to develop a plan for financing your education. Many institutions offer scholarships and fellowships. You can also apply for financial aid and tuition benefits if you work for a company that offers employer tuition reimbursement plans. And don’t forget to apply for federal financial aid or access direct student loans from lenders. To give you a better idea of the range of costs you can expect from your online law enforcement degree, you’ll find five examples below.
How Much Your Online Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement Could Cost
|School||No. of Credits||Cost per Credit||Total Tuition|
|Eastern Kentucky University||120||$434||$52,080|
|Southeast Missouri State University||120||$316.50||$37,980|
|University of Colorado Denver||120||In-state: $465|
FAQs About Your Online Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement
Looking for more information about what an online law enforcement degree can do for you? Here are six of the most common questions readers have and their answers.
Are online bachelor’s degree programs in law enforcement fully online?
Most bachelor’s degree programs in law enforcement are offered fully online or as hybrid programs. You can also find them in other formats, including full-time, part-time, and accelerated programs.
What does the admissions process look like for this degree?
The admissions process for most law enforcement degrees online will be relatively consistent, though individual schools will have their own specific requirements. You can find application details for most programs directly on each school’s website. You will likely be required to pay a nominal application fee and provide high school/GED transcripts and any transcripts from colleges you attended prior. You may also have to submit scores for exams and/or complete essays in order to apply.
How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement online?
An online bachelor’s degree in law enforcement can typically take anywhere from 24 to 48 months to complete. However, your duration of study will depend on whether you’re bringing credits with you to the program, as well as your study format. For example, you’ll find many accelerated degree programs offered in law enforcement, and this option will likely take less time than a part-time course of study — but the time commitments per class may be far greater.
What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their bachelor’s in law enforcement?
Plenty of institutions offer identical academic and career support services to both traditional and online students. However, when choosing your program, you may want to consider institutions that offer mentorship opportunities or internship placement programs for online students. Some programs also offer free career placement services and access to advisors who offer support until — and sometimes even after — your graduation.
Can I work while pursuing an online bachelor’s in law enforcement?
Yes, you can! Online courses are designed to offer flexibility and convenience for law enforcement officers and other professionals who are learning while working. Many of these programs are self-paced, with online resources and tools that keep students up to date on course requirements, study materials, and assignments.
Other Bachelor’s Degree Options in Criminal Justice
If you are interested in a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement but are unsure what specialization to pursue, check out these other degree pages to learn about your options: