What Is an Online Master's in Law Enforcement?
An online master's in law enforcement delves into advanced concepts in intelligence, administration, and management. This program usually appeals to learners wishing to pursue senior positions and specializations within the protective services. Training covers ethics, criminal behavior, and applied intelligence.
Though some programs provide general law enforcement training or offer specializations, many master's degrees emphasize police administration. Regardless of the focus, the programs usually feature 30-45 credits and take 1-2 years to complete.
Among the many abilities gained from a graduate degree, students may pick up advanced research, leadership, conflict resolution, and community relations skills. They may also acquire technological skills in data analytics and cybersecurity or management skills like resource planning.
Choosing an Online Master's in Law Enforcement Program
Prospective students should consider multiple factors when choosing an online master's in law enforcement. They should evaluate program cost, length, and the curriculum, ensuring it offers the appropriate balance of classroom study and field experience. Applicants who wish to specialize should make sure their program offers the necessary pathway or track available.
Online learners can expand the location of their search, especially if the programs offer in-state tuition rates for out-of-state students. They should also look at online programs' delivery methods and see if classes run asynchronously or synchronously or if any on-campus requirements exist.
What Is the Difference Between a Master of Science in Law Enforcement and a Master of Legal Studies Degree?
A master of science (MS) in law enforcement and a master of legal studies (MLS) can overlap in training and available careers. Both programs typically run for two years and offer classes in criminal law, policy, professional ethics, and human rights, but the degrees differ in several ways.
Most MS in law enforcement programs focus on issues specific to policing, such as investigation and public safety. MLS degrees offer a broader perspective, looking at different laws and regulations. Many schools offer both types of programs because of how much they diverge.
Professionally, legal studies graduates tend to move into law and human resources careers, while law enforcement graduates pursue protective services positions.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Law Enforcement Degrees
No matter what prospective students want, they should ensure their chosen school and program has received appropriate accreditation. Regional accreditation guarantees students can access federal financial aid from their school. Programmatic accreditation, when applicable, may help with employment and licensure.
While a master's in law enforcement does not require programmatic accreditation, the American Bar Association accredits law schools, which may offer legal studies programs. Prospective students may also want to look out for program recognition from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, which certifies some criminal justice master's programs.
What Can I Expect in Pursuing a Master's in Law Enforcement Online?
The courses offered in a master's in law enforcement differ depending on program and school, but certain courses tend to appear more than others. Graduate-level courses offer a more expansive look at the American legal system. They also study law enforcement leadership and administrative duties. The following represent common courses students may encounter.
Common Courses in Law Enforcement Online Programs
- Introduction to U.S. Law: This course covers the structure and functions of the American legal system, including the various institutions and how they work together. Students may learn the history and development of the U.S. law system and its major processes and distinctive features. Within law enforcement programs, these courses may focus more on the role of protective services and how they fit.
- Community Engagement: This course examines how law enforcement professionals work and engage with the community. The training may observe how community perspectives of the police have shifted over time and how transparency has taken a front seat in many law enforcement interactions with the public.
- Organizational Leadership and Management: These courses examine the skills and requirements for leaders in law enforcement, including decision-making, communication, and personnel management strategies. The training covers organizational challenges and conflicts and also teaches learners the principles of effective leadership.
- Property Law: This course teaches students fundamentals of property laws and how they are enforced by professionals within the legal system. Topics covered may include private property, ownership, and privacy, along with the protections that property owners have under the law.
- Constitutional Law: This course examines the types of governments and structures within the country and the roles they play. It also looks at laws within different jurisdictions and governing bodies and how their positioning impacts law enforcement professionals and the legal system.
Law Enforcement Concentrations
Cybersecurity concentrations teach students how to prevent, identify, and counteract malicious activity online. They look at the common types of attacks, motivations, and strategies to combat and thwart attempts. Within law enforcement programs, these courses may focus on the criminal and investigative aspects of the field.
These concentrations teach learners how law enforcement leaders manage projects. Students look at strategies for planning and building a campaign, along with methods for communicating with senior management. The topics may cover management of resources, team leadership, and community engagement.
This concentration teaches students about the roles and responsibilities of correctional facilities and correctional officers. The training may look at prisoner rights, offender treatment strategies, and managerial and administrative functions. Courses may also cover the effectiveness and perception of correctional facilities and the development of alternative punishments.
Leadership concentrations equip students with the skills and knowledge to take on management positions, covering such topics as project management and communication. The programs may focus on police administration and leadership roles and responsibilities within protective services. Some courses delve into more advanced law, criminal psychology, and investigative techniques.
Law Enforcement Careers
A master's in law enforcement qualifies graduates for many careers, including police administration and front-line positions. Equipped with a comprehensive understanding of the field and advanced investigative and management training, these graduates can take on diverse leadership roles.
The following information includes popular pathways for master's in law enforcement degree-holders. While graduates can usually acquire the professions listed below without further training, some employers may require a specific level of experience or additional credentials.
Police and Detectives
Median Annual Salary: $67,290
Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 7%
Police and detectives provide support and protection to communities, including the people and property within them. They enforce the law during their patrols, investigate crimes and criminals, and respond to calls for help from the public. This job requires perceptiveness, communication skills, and physical abilities.
Police and detectives typically need to complete a training academy program and on-the-job training. They also need at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, though some employers and positions require more advanced training. Federal law enforcement officers usually need to complete a specialized training program.
Median Annual Salary: $92,970
Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 7%
Police administrators oversee administrative and managerial tasks within a law enforcement office, such as budgeting, staffing, and project management. They often handle communications with community organizations and other first-responder units. These professionals need strong communication and leadership skills, along with organizational and analytical abilities.
To qualify for these roles, candidates may need a combination of experience and a bachelor's or master's degree. Most administrators and managers, such as police chiefs, have multiple years of field experience. They may also need experience or knowledge of disparate legal jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies.
Emergency Management Directors
Median Annual Salary: $76,250
Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 6%
Emergency management directors oversee the planning for large-scale emergency responses. They work with organizations to create a unified and ordered process in the event of a disaster or hazard. They carry out information campaigns, training, and funding and resource preparation.
Candidates typically need a bachelor's degree at minimum, though each jurisdiction features its own requirements. Years of experience in law enforcement or the military are also generally required. Some states make certification mandatory for these professionals, but emergency management directors can pursue optional certification in most states.
Supervisors of Correctional Officers
Median Annual Salary: $60,910
Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): -3%
Correctional officer supervisors manage a team of corrections professionals, overseeing their conduct, ensuring they follow the policies and legal guidelines, and addressing staff concerns and conflicts. They may also take care of administrative duties of the facility, such as training, report writing, and performance reviews.
Corrections supervisors typically need professional experience, academy training, and a four-year degree. Federal facilities often require a bachelor's degree for officers and an advanced degree for management positions. Supervisors may also pursue a management certification through the American Correctional Association or the American Jail Association.
Information Security Analysts
Median Annual Salary: $103,590
Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 33%
Information security analysts may oversee the protection of a computer system or help law enforcement organizations investigate cybercrime. They may work to prevent, detect, and resist attacks, or they may help investigators identify the perpetrators and anticipate future attacks. These professionals usually need excellent technological and analytical skills, along with an understanding of cyberlaw.
Most cybersecurity professionals need a bachelor's degree at minimum. They may also need law enforcement experience, depending on the position and employer. Candidates can pursue certifications in cybersecurity and information analysis, some of which employers may make mandatory.
Law Enforcement Professional Organizations
Professional organizations benefit law enforcement students and graduates. These associations may offer master's in law enforcement students access to mentorship programs, industry data and publications, and career opportunities.
FLEOA represents federal law enforcement officers, acting as their legislative voice and advocate. The association offers members access to an emergency support hotline, scholarships, and networking opportunities.
NOBLE works with law enforcement organizations to support the development of Black law enforcement professionals. The organization acts as the voice for Black professionals in the field and provides inclusive solutions to protective services organizations.
NAWLEE aims to improve the working conditions and opportunities for women in law enforcement organizations. It offers leadership training programs and mentoring opportunities for aspiring executives.
NLPOA works toward equality and diversity within law enforcement. The association offers current and aspiring Latino law enforcement professionals access to education, mentoring, and career advancement opportunities.