The Best Online Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement Programs
| TBS Staff
Are you ready to discover your college program?
If you're interested in a career in criminal justice, an online bachelor’s in law enforcement could be the right choice for you. Police officers are in high demand in communities across the country: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projects that job opportunities for police and detectives will grow 7% between 2016 and 2026. Police officers and detectives draw an annual median salary of nearly $63,000, making it one of the higher-paid public service careers.
Featured Online Schools
Online Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.
Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.
Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.
Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.
Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.
We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.
In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.
If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.
We thank you for your readership and trust.
The Best Online Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement Degree Programs
FSU is a public sea-grant and space-grant research university based in Tallahassee. A member of the State University System of Florida, FSU is the state's oldest continuously occupied site for higher education. Boasting more than 110 labs, facilities, and centers, the university holds a high-activity research institution classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. FSU is home to 16 colleges and offers programs in more than 360 areas of study, including a law enforcement degree.
The university's College of Applied Science offers a bachelor of science in public safety and security with law enforcement intelligence, crime scene investigation, and law enforcement operations emphases. Combining theoretical principles with practical exercises, the curriculum presents the integral skills and knowledge needed to excel in the law enforcement field. Online courses are presented in an asynchronous format, allowing candidates to fulfill program requirements at their convenience.
Graduates can find work in a variety of settings and positions, including community and residential corrections, government agencies, public and private security companies, and court services. Many candidates choose to pursue graduate-level study or attend law school.
Prospective students must hold at least 60 transferable credits and complete prerequisite coursework before gaining admission into the program. FSU automatically admits applicants who have earned an associate degree at any public Florida institution.
Florida State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
CSU Global is a public university within the Colorado State University System. Largely focused on distance education, the university offers a diverse array of online graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs developed with working professionals in mind.
CSU Global's online bachelor's degree in criminal justice is an ideal program for prospective law enforcement and corrections professionals. Candidates build investigative, decision-making, and managerial skills as they learn to manage records, respond to crisis situations, develop policies, and handle ethical challenges in the workplace. Emphasizing criminal justice theory, the curriculum explores current and former law enforcement practices, as well as controversial policies and ethical issues in the field.
The 120-credit law enforcement degree features specialization options such as intelligence and homeland security, criminal forensics, criminology, applied social sciences, and emergency management. Learners complete 30 core course credits and 15 credits within their specialization. Core classes address topics in criminology, laws of evidence, criminal law, and research methods. The program culminates in an applied capstone course, although students who are currently employed in a criminal justice setting may complete a supervised practicum in their workplace instead. Candidates may fulfill any remaining credit requirements through elective coursework.
All distance learners pay the same tuition rate, regardless of their residence status. CSU Global does not charge student fees. The university provides generous discounts for active-duty military students and maintains tuition reimbursement arrangements with more than 600 partner corporations.
Colorado State University Global is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
A residential university operating within the University of Wisconsin System, UW-Whitewater serves a diverse student body. The institution offers 15 graduate programs and nearly 50 undergraduate degrees, including a law enforcement degree.
UW-Whitewater's law enforcement degree completion program is intended for law enforcement professionals who hold at least three years of relevant work experience and an associate degree. Developed for full-time workers, this hybrid bachelor's degree in criminology consists of independent study, credit for prior learning, online coursework, and in-person classes available at convenient locations and times. Learners who have previously completed general education requirements and enroll in courses year round can graduate in three years. If necessary, candidates may also take fewer classes per semester.
This degree completion program offers credit for independent and prior learning, helping students save time and money. Candidates may earn prior learning credit by submitting portfolios, which are graded on a pass/fail basis.
Advisors are available to help distance learners develop flexible academic plans to fit their work schedules. UW-Whitewater sponsors multiple scholarships for returning and nontraditional students. The university also provides tutoring services, term paper assistance, and outreach programs for students over the age of 25.
The University of Wisconsin Whitewater is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Founded as a normal school in 1911, MTSU offers more than 80 programs of study through a graduate school and eight undergraduate colleges, including business, media and entertainment, education, basic and applied sciences, liberal arts, and behavioral and health sciences. Students can access a variety of programs, including a law enforcement degree.
Well-suited for prospective corrections officials, police officers, and attorneys, MTSU's bachelor of science in criminal justice administration features concentrations in homeland security and law enforcement. The 120-credit program includes 41 credits of general education coursework, 48 major-related credits, 30 credits of concentration courses, and 15-18 credits of minor coursework. Candidates may fulfill any remaining credit requirements by taking classes such as victimology, homicide investigation, and introduction to emergency and disaster management.
Prior to earning their law enforcement degree, seniors gain on-the-job training by completing an internship. The university maintains internship arrangements with more than 30 criminal justice organizations, including probation and parole offices, police departments, public defender offices, and a variety of federal and state agencies.
First-year applicants must hold a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher and a composite ACT score of 22 or SAT score of 1020. Candidates with lower GPAs may gain admission by meeting certain standardized test requirements or by applying to receive conditional admission.
Middle Tennessee State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges.
A public research university in Glassboro, New Jersey, Rowan maintains medical campuses in Stratford and Camden, an academic campus in Camden, and a virtual campus: Rowan Global. Home to 12 schools and colleges, the university offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies degrees and certificates.
Distance learners may pursue Rowan Global's flexible online law enforcement degree on a full-time or part-time basis. The 120-credit bachelor of arts in law and justice studies provides the academic framework candidates need to understand the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal law, and social responses to criminal behavior. Students develop logical, reasoning, critical thinking, and writing skills as they evaluate and analyze criminal justice policies, law enforcement strategies, and the root causes of crime.
Along with general education coursework, distance students complete classes in criminal law, theories of crime and criminality, criminal justice research, and law and human rights. While many graduates go on to work in the courts, human services, corrections, law enforcement, and security agencies, others choose to pursue graduate study or professional training.
Applicants must hold an associate degree or at least 24 credits of transferable coursework earned with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.0. All online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, and individuals enrolled in 18 or more credits receive a significant discount. Classes start twice a year in the spring and fall.
Rowan University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
DU was founded in 1873 when Congregationalist missionaries recognized a growing demand for higher education in southern Missouri. Located in Springfield, this private liberal arts institution offers 54 undergraduate majors. One of the first institutions in Missouri to provide evening and adult education programs, DU continues to offer flexible options, including a hybrid law enforcement degree.
The bachelor of science in law enforcement with a concentration in leadership builds practical and theoretical knowledge, stressing current investigative procedures and techniques. Developed for working professionals, the program combines online, hybrid, and evening courses. Graduates learn the leadership and communication skills needed to pursue careers in local, state, and federal justice systems.
Candidates complete a minimum of 42 concentration-specific credits, a three-credit survey course, 15 credits of lower-division courses, 18 credits of upper-division courses, and six credits of leadership coursework. Major and concentration classes address a variety of law enforcement topics, covering law and society, victimology, juvenile delinquency, the correctional system, the judicial process, and public information management. Students must complete their final 30 credits on campus and attend a commencement ceremony.
DU charges a flat, per-credit rate for its online programs. Distance learners are encouraged to apply for institutional scholarships and federal and state funding opportunities. Military members may qualify for additional financial aid and prior training credit.
Drury University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University merged in 2017 to form one private, professional university. Referred to as Jefferson, this institution is known for its medical research and interdisciplinary, experiential approach to learning. The university's distance education division — Jefferson Online — offers a variety of web-based programs, including an online law enforcement degree.
Distance learners can complete Jefferson's online bachelor of science in law enforcement leadership in as few as two years. The project-based curriculum introduces integral law enforcement concepts and skills, making it a suitable option for students from all academic and professional backgrounds. Each eight-week course explores a pertinent law enforcement topic such as contemporary policing, advanced police management, and crime analysis.
Undergraduate applicants must provide a letter of recommendation, official high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and a personal essay. Prospective students are expected to complete a series of prerequisite courses before gaining admission to the program. Jefferson Online uses rolling admissions and maintains a generous transfer policy. All candidates pay the same tuition rate, regardless of their residency status.
Jefferson (Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University) is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
A public research university in San Marcos, TSU was founded in 1899 as the Southwest Texas State Normal School. Today, TSU is the largest institution in the Texas State University System and the fifth-largest university in the state, with nearly 40,000 students enrolled in 50 schools and departments and 10 colleges. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies the school as a doctoral university with high research activity.
TSU's career-focused law enforcement degree develops the competencies needed to pursue careers in policing, parole, probation, and asset protection, as well as non-practitioner roles in rehabilitation counseling and research. The 120-credit curriculum addresses the fundamentals of criminal law, courts and criminal procedure, correctional systems and practices, and police systems and practices. Distance learners who did not complete two years of modern foreign language study in high school must do so as part of the program's general education curriculum. Seniors may fulfill elective requirements by completing an internship at an approved local criminal justice facility.
Undergraduates may access TSU's academic advising center for course selection assistance, schedule development, and help with transferring credits. As a military-friendly institution, TSU encourages servicemembers and veterans to submit prior training for college credit assessment. Applicants who have been out of high school for three or more years and hold less than 29 transferable credits may apply through an individual review process.
Texas State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Founded in 1977 by Pat Robertson as Christian Broadcasting Network University, this Virginia Beach-based institution acquired its current name in 1990. The university maintains a satellite campus in Alexandria and offers traditional and online programs through eight academic schools. Students can pursue associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees in more than 70 areas of study, including an online law enforcement degree.
Offering rigorous academics from a Christian perspective, the bachelor of science in criminal justice with a concentration in law enforcement emphasizes ethics and critical thinking. A core curriculum explores criminal investigation ethics and processes, juvenile justice, constitutional law, and criminal law, while concentration coursework surveys issues in criminal and legal procedure, law enforcement, and public policy. Candidates learn to understand law enforcement operations by examining daily practices in police departments and other agencies.
Graduates are well-versed in criminological concepts; criminal defense methods; parties to crime; and the trial process, including sentencing and appeals. Many degree-holders pursue careers in probation, customs, policing, border patrol, and detective work.
Regent's online peer mentorship program helps new distance learners navigate their studies by pairing them with seasoned online students. Learners also receive access to free online tutoring services, a digital research library, and job development resources from the university's career center. Distance students can also participate in Regent's weekly chapel service broadcasts.
Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
While SEMO began as a normal school focusing on teacher education, today's students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 200 areas of study. Well-suited for working professionals, SEMO's flexible online law enforcement degree provides a path to roles in corrections, juvenile justice, and related areas.
Distance learners can tailor this online bachelor of science in criminal justice program to meet their career goals by pursuing an academic/university track or a law enforcement academy track. The law enforcement academy pathway is intended for students who wish to complete specialized law enforcement training, while the academic/university track emphasizes theoretical aspects of crime and the criminal justice system. Law enforcement academy candidates must complete 760 training hours over the course of 19 weeks.
Core coursework for both concentrations explores the challenges and social problems associated with crime protection, prevention, and rehabilitation. Online courses are presented asynchronously through the Moodle learning platform and last eight or 16 weeks.
SEMO students enjoy a variety of career and internship opportunities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals' Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Applicants must provide their high school transcripts and ACT or SAT test scores. All distance learners pay the same tuition rate, and students who submit a FAFSA are automatically considered for need-based institutional scholarships.
Southeast Missouri State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Founded in 1919 as a preparatory school for teachers, BSU is now a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System institution that offers programs in almost 50 disciplines. Associate degree-holders and candidates with at least 24 transferable credits can jump-start their careers by enrolling in one of BSU's seven online degree completion programs.
Built on a liberal arts framework, the generalist bachelor of science in criminal justice program features four concentration options: corrections, law enforcement, victimology, and tribal justice. Each emphasis includes 48 credits of specialized coursework. Along with a three-credit directed study course, all distance learners complete a 15-credit core that includes classes in criminology, criminal law, research methods, and the judicial process. Candidates may fulfill elective requirements by completing coursework, internships, or special research opportunities.
Transfer students applying to this degree completion program are encouraged to complete the Minnesota transfer curriculum before enrolling at BSU. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed according to holistic criteria. All online students pay in-state tuition, and candidates are encouraged to apply for the Extended Learning Scholarship — an institutional award exclusively available to distance learners.
Bemidji State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Stevenson is a private university based in Baltimore County, Maryland, with an additional campus in Owings Mills. Originally known as Villa Julie College, the school adopted its current name in 2008. Stevenson offers more than 90 liberal arts and career-based programs, including a variety of online graduate and undergraduate degrees.
Stevenson's online bachelor's degree in criminal justice features a professionally focused curriculum developed to equip learners with applied law enforcement skills and crucial knowledge. Combining practice and theory, the interdisciplinary curriculum combines topics in sociology, law, psychology, technology, and criminal justice. Coursework explores justice from local, national, and global perspectives, encouraging learners to improve the law enforcement field through research, education, and public service. Learners may pursue an optional concentration in law enforcement administration, which examines law enforcement practices and human resources issues from a managerial standpoint.
All online courses are eight weeks long and feature an accelerated format. Distance students receive 24/7 access to the Stevenson Career Connections system, which allows learners to explore job opportunities and contact potential employers. The university also provides each candidate with a personal academic advisor and individualized assistance.
Stevenson maintains partnerships with a variety of organizations, schools, and corporations to offer discounted tuition for qualifying candidates. Tuition is charged per credit and varies according to a student's major. Distance learners may receive up to 30 academic credits for eligible prior learning experiences.
Stevenson University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities.
Located in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Metropolitan State is a public university in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System with a strong dedication to educating nontraditional students and working adults. The university's four colleges and three schools offer 25 master's programs and an array of undergraduate offerings, including a law enforcement degree.
Metropolitan State's School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice offers three online law enforcement tracks, including a program for students who wish to become licensed Minnesota police officers. This track prepares students to sit for the POST exam upon graduation. The second track is a completion program that allows students who hold an associate degree in law enforcement to complete their bachelor's degree and become eligible for licensure. The third and final option is a law enforcement major completion plan that permits licensed, working police officers to earn a bachelor's degree through on-campus or online coursework.
Regardless of which track a learner selects, all distance students complete major courses like ethics and professionalism in criminal justice, diversity in criminal justice, legal studies in law enforcement, and juvenile justice. In order to graduate, candidates must complete 120 credits of coursework and meet a series of skills requirements, including emergency vehicle operations and defensive tactics.
Admission requirements vary according to a student's proposed academic track. Most Metropolitan State candidates transfer from other institutions with at least 16 credits. The university maintains rolling admissions and participates in the Midwest Student Exchange Program.
Metropolitan State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
AU is a private university affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. After doubling its enrollment rates between 2006 and 2016, AU earned a reputation as one of the nation's fastest growing private, master's-focused universities. The institution also offers a variety of undergraduate programs on campus and online, including a web-based law enforcement degree.
Developed for first-time students without an academic background in criminal justice, the online bachelor's in criminal justice with a concentration in law enforcement parallels AU's on-campus program. Distance learners benefit from a highly interactive virtual learning environment that facilitates collaboration between faculty and peers.
Consisting of 123 credits, the curriculum examines crime's causes and characteristics, the history of correctional practices and systems, and the legal aspects of criminal procedure. Upper-level classes survey complex topics such as violence and victimization, religious issues in criminal justice, juvenile delinquency, and the legal aspects of drugs. In addition to major and elective courses, candidates must complete 42 credits of general education coursework.
Online classes are delivered through the Canvas learning platform in eight-week sessions, and distance learners may complete degree requirements even faster by enrolling in general and core curriculum classes during one of two online summer terms. Many courses integrate mobile technologies into lessons, supplementing lectures and coursework with application-based activities.
Anderson University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Excelsior may be based in Albany, New York, but this private college specializes in providing flexible, affordable distance education programs. Home to five schools, Excelsior offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate degrees in public service, business and technology, nursing, health sciences, and the liberal arts.
Distance learners pursuing a bachelor of science in criminal justice at Excelsior may apply up to 117 transfer credits toward their degree, with the median student transferring in 70 credits. Individuals who have previously earned an AS in criminal justice at Excelsior may apply all 60 associate-level credits to the bachelor's program. Candidates may also earn college credit for military and police academy training and professional credentials.
The 120-credit curriculum explores the U.S. criminal justice system from psychological, criminological, and sociological perspectives. Classes survey the processes, laws, and administrative strategies associated with various law enforcement bodies, along with contemporary controversies and challenges related to diversity and police accountability. The program also features an optional homeland security concentration, which allows candidates to explore advanced concepts in domestic terrorism, homeland security, emergency management, and infrastructure security.
After completing the career-focused program, graduates are qualified to pursue positions in federal investigation, security analysis, crime scene investigation, probation and parole, and victim advocacy.
Excelsior College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
EKU is a regional comprehensive university based in Richmond, with branch campuses in Hazard, Lancaster, Corbin, and Manchester. The institution's distance education department offers more than 40 online degrees in science; business and technology; education; justice and safety; health sciences; and letters, arts, and social sciences. Programs cover a variety of subject areas, including law enforcement.
Well-suited for candidates seeking a practice-based law enforcement degree, EKU's police studies bachelor's program prepares students to enter the policing profession or pursue upper-level law enforcement positions by meeting department-mandated educational requirements. The 120-credit program allows current and prospective police officers to develop personalized graduation plans that fit their career goals. Major courses cover topics spanning technology and ethics, contemporary policing strategies, traffic crash causation and investigation, and crime patterns.
The program features an asynchronous format and eight-week courses. Distance learners are not expected to complete an internship, work-study experience, or on-campus residency. EKU accepts up to 90 transfer credits, although degree-seekers must complete at least 30 credits at the university. Known for offering affordable tuition rates, EKU provides generous discounts for active-duty military members and participates in employer tuition reimbursement programs. Online students may apply for multiple institutional scholarships by submitting one application and an essay.
Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Based in Fayetteville, UIU operates 15 learning centers across the United States and maintains locations in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Students at this private institution can choose from more than 40 academic programs, including web-based degree options and independent study opportunities.
UIU's public administration degree allows distance learners to select a general studies path or pursue a concentration in emergency management, policy and politics, or fire science or law enforcement. The blended degree plan combines on-campus components with online coursework. Core public administration classes examine organizational practices and operations, providing insight into program management, development, and administration.
The fire science or law enforcement concentration is reserved for students who have previously completed college-level courses or professional training in fire science, law enforcement, or related fields. Concentration eligibility is typically decided based on an applicant's academic background and experiential learning history. Concentration coursework examines public organizations from social science and management perspectives, exploring the interplay between public policy and effective policing and fire science.
Online classes are delivered asynchronously during five eight-week terms and an accelerated six-week summer session. Distance students may access free, 24/7 virtual tutoring services through the NetTutor program; use the Zoom chat platform to book a video tutoring appointment; and request assistance from UIU's writing center.
Upper Iowa University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Founded in 1875, Park is a private, Missouri-based institution. In addition to a graduate school in downtown Kansas City, Park maintains 41 campuses across 22 states, including three campuses in the Kansas City area and a learning center in Austin, Texas. Most of the university's satellite campuses are located on or near United States military bases. Park offers 63 distance-based degrees, including an undergraduate law enforcement degree in criminal justice administration.
Blending a professionally focused curriculum with integral liberal arts concepts, this program provides a solid foundation for graduate study. Distance learners may earn either a BA or BS and pursue an optional minor. Featuring concentrations in security, corrections, and law enforcement, the bachelor of science in criminal justice emphasizes applied skills and professional competencies. The bachelor of arts curriculum includes the same concentration options and core courses, and students in both tracks must earn a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 to graduate.
Prospective students must submit their transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Accelerated eight-week courses begin in January, March, June, August, and October. All distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate, although active-duty military members and their dependents, veterans, reservists, and federal employees receive significant tuition discounts.
Park University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
A product of the Chautauqua movement, James E. Shepard founded this historically black public university in 1909. The Durham-based institution joined the state's university system in 1923, when it began receiving state funding and changed its name to Durham State Normal School. Soon after, the university began offering graduate-level classes in law, library science, and the arts and sciences. Today, the university offers baccalaureate, professional, master's, and doctoral degrees.
NCCU's bachelor of science in criminal justice takes a comprehensive look at the American criminal justice system, from its historical foundations to current controversies. Incorporating field experiences and hands-on learning activities, the 120-credit curriculum instills the crucial skills and competencies learners need to succeed in the criminal justice field. Candidates may also pursue a 12-credit concentration in law enforcement, homeland security, or corrections. The law enforcement track includes courses on police management theory, criminal investigation and forensic science application, criminal law for criminal justice personnel, and law enforcement theory and practice.
Distance learners must maintain a 2.5 GPA or better to graduate. Most students complete the program in around four years. Students may transfer in up to 90 undergraduate credits earned at regionally accredited institutions with a "C" or higher. Military applicants can receive up to four credits for completing qualifying training courses.
North Carolina Central University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Founded in 1879, this Kentucky institution takes pride in its Appalachian cultural heritage and Methodist roots. Around 70% of Union students are Kentucky residents, and most are first-generation college attendees. While the school continues to fulfill the Barbourville region's need for higher education, it has expanded in size and scope to better serve an increasingly diverse student body. Today, Union offers six web-based bachelor's programs, including an online law enforcement degree.
Built around a core liberal arts curriculum, this 120-credit online law enforcement program includes 39 credits of major coursework in areas like homeland security, criminal justice ethics, and substantive law. Candidates may fulfill the program's nine-credit elective requirement by taking classes such as interviewing and interrogation, victimology, and probation and parole. Students must earn at least 39 credits in 300-level courses and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.
Online courses are offered in eight-week sessions across six terms each year. Degree-seekers can access one-on-one academic advising services and 24/7 tech support. Union accepts up to 67 transfer credits from two-year schools. Many courses provide class materials and textbooks at no additional charge.
Applicants should submit their official high school transcripts or GED completion certificate, along with any military documents or transcripts from college-level coursework.
Union College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Located in St. Lawrence County, SUNY Canton is a member institution of the State University of New York system. The college offers professional certificates, associate programs, and bachelor's degrees.
SUNY Canton's online law enforcement leadership program combines legal concepts with the fundamentals of criminal justice and management to prepare candidates for supervisory law enforcement roles. Core coursework surveys topics in criminal law, criminal procedure, police services, law enforcement communication, and law enforcement training management. Students may tailor this career-focused law enforcement degree to their personal interests and professional goals by choosing from a variety of elective course options.
Prior to graduation, distance learners must complete a culminating experience in the form of an internship or supervised work experience. Students document their experience through weekly journal entries and biweekly reports before developing and presenting a cumulative portfolio project.
Program applicants are expected to complete a series of prerequisite courses before submitting their official transcripts. Once admitted, online students receive access to academic advising and career services, virtual tutoring resources, and technical assistance. Distance learners can also access over 150,000 books and 95 databases through SUNY Canton's digital library. Students may participate in the university's six e-sports varsity squads.
SUNY Canton is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Founded in 1888, TU is a private institution located in Ohio. Around 40% of TU's student population are the first in their families to attend college. The university has long been a leader in distance education and serves a sizeable online student body that is primarily comprised of working professionals. TU's web-based program offerings include professional certificates, master's degrees, and an online law enforcement degree that explores the behavioral sciences, law, and political processes from both theoretical and practical angles.
Distance learners complete two terms each semester. The program features start dates in January, March, May, July, August, and October to provide increased flexibility. Degree completion times depend largely on the number of credits a student transfers in. The university accepts credit from courses completed with a "C" or higher.
TU charges the same per-credit rate for all online students and offers tuition payment plans. Military members may be eligible for tuition discounts and special funding opportunities. The university sponsors a variety of institutional scholarships and grants, including major-specific awards.
Tiffin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
This private college maintains eight campuses across Michigan's lower peninsula, with sites in Fint, Owosso, Jackson, Allen Park, Cadillac, Auburn Hills, Muskegon, and Clinton Township. Baker students can choose from 150 career-focused programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, including degrees in education, technology, healthcare, human services, and business. fields. Among its career-oriented offerings, the college features a law enforcement program.
Baker's online criminal justice program offers a concentration in law enforcement, making this bachelor's degree a suitable option for students who wish to join the police force after graduation. Candidates learn from veteran police officers and law enforcement professionals who facilitate applied study through hands-on training in criminal and juvenile justice, psychology, ethics, and corrections. Coursework introduces major concepts and principles of policing, cybercrime, evidence collection, first-aid, and psychology. The program culminates in a 150-hour supervised work experience, which candidates may complete over multiple semesters.
Applicants should submit their high school transcripts or a copy of their GED certificate and SAT or ACT scores. While prospective students are not admitted on the basis of their standardized exam scores, Baker uses these figures to assess an applicant's general prior knowledge base. The college maintains transfer agreements with most public Michigan colleges and universities, making it easier for qualifying applicants to transfer credits earned at in-state schools.
Baker College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Located in Henniker, New Hampshire, NEC is a private liberal arts institution with nearly 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled across four academic schools. The college's distance education division provides flexible undergraduate options that emphasize student-faculty relationships, collaborative learning, and individual attention.
Students pursuing NEC's 120-credit law enforcement degree enjoy small class sizes and ample opportunities to customize the curriculum to their interests and goals. Taught by law enforcement professionals and experienced criminal justice professionals, courses explore criminal investigation techniques and review practices and challenges related to contemporary law enforcement. NEC emphasizes experiential learning and encourages students to participate in optional internships.
Prior to graduation, distance learners must complete a series of general education courses and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. While some students go on to pursue graduate studies, others find work as corrections officers, law enforcement professionals, juvenile counselors, and victim witness advocates.
Along with an application, prospective students must provide their official transcripts; ACT or SAT test scores; and any optional supplemental materials such as a resume, personal statement, or letters of recommendation. While students may transfer in an unlimited number of credits from other regionally accredited institutions, learners must complete at least 60 credits at NEC.
New England College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Concordia University Texas is a private liberal arts and sciences institution located in Austin. Affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia University Texas is a member of the Concordia University System and strives to develop Christian leaders through higher education. Returning and part-time students enjoy an array of graduate and undergraduate options on campus and online, including a web-based law enforcement degree.
Emphasizing leadership skills, the university's bachelor of arts in criminal justice and criminology prepares candidates for managerial roles while providing learners with a practical and theoretical foundation in criminology. Core coursework introduces fundamental concepts in law, ethics, and criminology from a distinctly Christian viewpoint. The program features two concentration track options: a law enforcement management track and a homeland security track. Learners can further specialize their degree by selecting a minor outside of their specialty area.
Many graduates pursue employment in public service areas, finding jobs as prison wardens, fish and game wardens, patrol officers, correctional treatment specialists, police or sheriff patrol officers, and FBI special agents.
Prospective students should demonstrate a minimum 2.5 high school GPA. Applicants who have completed more than 12 transferable college-level credits must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA. Candidates who do not meet these GPA requirements may be admitted on a provisional basis.
Concordia University Texas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement Overview
Typically, the first half of a bachelor’s program consists of prerequisite and general education coursework in English, mathematics, science, and history. During the second half of the program, candidates focus on major–specific studies. In a law enforcement program, these classes include police ethics, investigation, law, and criminology. An online law enforcement degree provides a comprehensive introduction to the criminal justice system, crime management strategies, and common policing practices.
Students planning to work in a law enforcement subfield often choose to pursue a concentration or specialized academic track. Popular specializations include criminology, forensics, cybercrime, and juvenile justice. A specialized degree may help current law enforcement professionals gain a promotion or change career paths. Concentrations vary from school to school, so students interested in a specialty should consider concentration availability before selecting a program.
In addition, it is important to review any on–campus requirements prior to choosing a program, and make sure to check your state’s licensing guidelines. Many states require police officers to obtain licensure. However, most graduates who complete a law enforcement degree online qualify to pursue any state licensing exams or procedures.Return to the top
What Can I Do With an Online Law Enforcement Bachelor’s Degree?
Graduates with a law enforcement online degree usually seek careers as police officers, corrections officers, detectives, and probation officers. Candidates for these positions must demonstrate strong communication skills, exhibit patience during surveillance operations, and remain calm during emergencies. They must also be physically fit to execute their job duties.
- Police/Sheriff Patrol Officer
- Patrol officers police communities in urban and rural areas, interacting with the public and enforcing local laws. They execute warrants, make traffic stops, investigate crimes, and respond to emergencies. Most police and sheriff’s departments require applicants to hold at least an associate degree, though a bachelor's degree grants a competitive edge. Candidates must also attend police academy classes.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $38,000
- Mid-Career: $41,000
- Experienced: $54,000
- Late Career: $63,000
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent
- These agents work for the FBI, which is the investigative branch of the U.S. Department of Justice. Working from offices in cities and hubs across the country and world, these professionals investigate federal crimes, collecting evidence and making cases. FBI agents must hold a bachelor’s degree and must also complete specialized FBI training.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $61,000
- Mid-Career: $65,000
- Experienced: $74,000
- Late Career: $97,000
- Correctional Supervisor
- Correctional supervisors manage correctional facilities, such as jails and prisons. They oversee personnel, make schedules, and manage staff, which can include hiring, training, firing, and counseling employees. While not required, many have bachelor’s degrees in law enforcement administration, and they commonly attend academies for firearms, self–defense, and detention training as well.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $40,000
- Mid-Career: $39,000
- Experienced: $46,000
- Late Career: $51,000
- Park Rangers
- Law enforcement park rangers patrol state and national parks, national forests, and public lands. They check permits, enforce fish and game laws, and monitor park safety. Like police officers, they hold commissions and may arrest and detain offenders. Many also serve as first responders in wilderness areas.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $31,000
- Mid-Career: $37,000
- Experienced: $38,000
- Late Career: $53,000
Choosing an Online Law Enforcement Bachelor’s Degree Program
All online law enforcement degree programs feature slightly different curricula, concentrations, and graduation requirements. Law enforcement encompasses many occupations, each of which maintains different training requirements. Some schools offer concentrations in areas like forensics, public administration, homeland security, or computer security. Others offer foundational degrees, which allow graduates to pursue a variety of career paths. Some include internships or training that can fulfill certain police academy training requirements. As you explore schools and online programs in criminal justice, you may find it helpful to consider the following factors.
- Program Cost
- Cost is a primary concern for many college students. Online programs offer substantial savings, eliminating expenses such as travel or room and board. Many schools extend in–state tuition to distance learners or charge one flat rate for all online students.
- Transfer Policies
- Some students dramatically reduce college costs by taking general education classes at a local community college and completing their degree at a four–year school. Many smaller institutions maintain transfer agreements with state universities to simplify the process. If you wish to pursue this option, be sure to research your prospective school’s transfer policies before applying.
- School Size and Type
- While many students assume that large, prestigious universities provide the best instruction, many smaller schools offer more individual attention and peer collaboration. Although larger, public schools are known for their affordability and program diversity, private schools often feature generous financial aid packages.
- Program Length
- The time it takes to earn your degree depends on multiple factors, including enrollment status, program format, and delivery method. Students who enroll part time often take longer to finish their degrees. Some web–based programs offer accelerated, self–paced classes, which enable students to fulfill course requirements quickly. Learners who transfer credits from previous coursework may also earn their degree in less time.
- On–Campus Requirements
- Certain law enforcement skills require a hands–on approach, making them difficult to teach remotely. Some online criminal justice programs include on–campus components, such as residencies, labs, or in–person seminars to build this kind of experience. Before you select a program, be sure to account for any on–campus requirements and factor in any associated expenses.
Accreditation for Online Law Enforcement Bachelor’s Degrees
A school’s accreditation is one of the most important aspects to consider when selecting a college or university. The accreditation process ensures that an institution upholds the highest quality standards. The best colleges and universities tend to hold accreditation from one of seven regional accrediting agencies, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Most technical and vocational schools receive national accreditation from organizations like the Distance Education and Training Commission or the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. In addition, some individual programs, curricula, or academic departments hold discipline–specific programmatic accreditation from professional organizations.
While the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) do not accredit schools themselves, they monitor accrediting bodies and standards. Made up of representatives from over 3,000 colleges and universities, CHEA is a private, independent agency dedicated to accreditation advocacy and consumer awareness. Both ED and CHEA maintain comprehensive databases of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement?
Most bachelor’s degrees include around 120 credits and require approximately four years of full–time study. However, many factors affect the length of time it takes to earn a degree, including graduation requirements, enrollment status, and course pacing. While part–time distance learners typically require more time to complete an online law enforcement degree, a lighter course load often allows students to work and fulfill family obligations. Others prefer accelerated programs, which feature rigorous schedules with shorter terms and self–paced coursework.
Program format can also influence a degree’s duration. In cohort–based programs, candidates progress through their courses alongside the same group of students, adhering to a strict class schedule. While cohort programs provide greater opportunities for faculty and peer collaboration, they often take longer to complete. In contrast, self–paced programs feature flexible schedules without set class times, enabling students to study when convenient and quickly meet degree requirements.
Courses in an Online Law Enforcement Bachelor’s Program
- Introduction to Sociology
- Understanding human social behavior is crucial to efficient police work. Examining culture, behavior, global systems, stereotyping, and the stratification of norms, this course introduces basic sociological concepts. Students learn fundamental empirical methods and challenge their own thought patterns by viewing human societies through a scientific lens.
- Writing in Criminal Justice
- Law enforcement professionals write more than just speeding tickets. Officers compose arrest reports, incident reports, crime briefs, evidence summaries, and outcome papers. They must also interpret legal and court documents. Most online law enforcement degree programs include some version of this course, which builds and strengthens field–specific professional writing skills.
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Taking a broad view of criminology in the United States, this class explores foundational criminal justice concepts. Candidates survey topics in law enforcement, courtroom procedures, and corrections, along with each institution’s role in crime prevention. Distance learners also examine ideas related to delinquency and modern criminology.
- Community Policing
- In this class, students learn patrol and local police work strategies from established law enforcement professionals. Learners examine how communities function, public expectations and the police, and the ways in which current controversies affect an officer’s duties and ethical obligations.
- Constitutional Issues
- This course presents a variety of issues surrounding the U.S. Constitution, including its history, interpretation, and influence on political matters. Lectures emphasize the Bill of Rights, and the First, Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth amendments. Students examine the ways in which constitutional rights impact local, state, and federal policing strategies.
Law Enforcement Professional Organizations
Professional organizations offer many benefits for student members and new professionals alike. These associations provide opportunities to collaborate with and learn from others in the field through mentoring opportunities and networking events like conferences and seminars. Many of these groups sponsor professional development and continuing education workshops to help law enforcement experts keep their skills and credentials current, along with career services and job boards.
- Fraternal Order of Police
- Founded in 1915, the FOP boasts more than 330,000 members at over 2,200 lodges throughout the United States. The massive organization hosts its own "FOP University," which enables members to take career–enhancing classes and offers training webinars. The order also provides college benefits, wellness training, and labor education. The FOP disseminates salary information, advocates on behalf of police, and provides discounted insurance, banking, and other services.
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
- FLEOA represents more federal law enforcement professionals than any other organization, with more than 26,000 members nationwide. This nonpartisan, nonprofit association boasts chapters throughout the U.S. and serves as an advocate for customs workers, FBI agents, and other federal law enforcement professionals. FLEOA members receive access to around–the–clock emergency and legal services.
- United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association
- This Wichita–based organization provides its members with comprehensive survival training, including hand–to–hand combat instruction and active shooter response protocols. USDSA provides its life–saving education free of charge. The association also sponsors scholarships, citizen awareness programs, and donates equipment to law enforcement entities around the country.
The 9 Best Online Master’s in Law Enforcement Programs
Featured Online Schools
Popular with our students.
Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.
Take the next step toward your future with online learning.
Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.