Online law enforcement programs will help prepare students to work in local police departments, federal agencies, national parks, and courts. The schools that made our list of best online law enforcement colleges are particularly strong options for aspiring law enforcement professionals, based on tuition costs and alumni salaries reported by PayScale. Online law enforcement degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels.
Students should also consider accreditation and career options when choosing an online degree in law enforcement. Since there is no specific programmatic accreditation for law enforcement degrees, students should focus on institutions with regional or national accreditations when selecting which online schools to attend.
2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Law Enforcement Degrees
Distance students seeking bachelor's degrees in law enforcement will find that these 16 colleges offer the best value based on affordability and alumni salaries. A degree from Western Illinois University has an impressive return on investment, with an annual tuition of $9,179 and alumni reporting a mid-career salary of $76,200. At #2, Southeast Missouri State University has one of the least expensive tuitions on the list, charging only $9,000 per year for its BS in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement Academy Track.
Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.
2020 Online Colleges Offering Law Enforcement Degrees - Ranking Details
#1 Western Illinois University
Annual Tuition: $9,179
Median Salary: $76,200
Locations: Macomb (IL)
The Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration program at Western Illinois University is ideal for students who wish to obtain a liberal arts education as well as the skills and knowledge needed for careers in criminal justice, loss prevention, and fire administration. Students take classes online from experienced faculty, delivered through the WesternOnline course management system. WesternOnline is an extension of the Desire2Learn platform and is accessible 24/7 to students working independently. Before taking upper division classes, students must complete 60 credits of prerequisite coursework and have at least a 2.5 GPA. Several minors are available, allowing program participants to focus their studies with their professional goals in mind. In addition, the majority of students in this online law enforcement degree program complete a semester-long internship with one of more than 1,400 partner agencies at the local, county, state, or federal level. Financial aid, career services, and student advising are a few of the resources available to distance learners. To apply for admission, students must have a high school diploma and at least a 2.0 GPA. Those with a 2.75 GPA or higher will be automatically accepted.
#2 Southeast Missouri State University
Annual Tuition: $9,000
Median Salary: $76,000
Locations: Cape Girardeau (MO)
The online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Southeast Missouri State University offers two tracks: the Academic/University track, which requires the declaration of a minor, and the Law Enforcement track, which is for those accepted to the Southeast Missouri Law Enforcement Academy. Students who have completed a 600-hour POST certification at a state-certified academy can apply 24 credits toward their degree. Students can further accelerate their academic progress by taking classes during the summer. The degree requires a total of 120 credits, which includes general education coursework. Students use Moodle as a learning management platform and can access their class materials at all times. This allows students to complete their coursework according to their individual schedules. In addition to written assignments, quizzes, presentations, and classroom discussions, students can learn through hands-on experiences in the form of fieldwork or an internship. Throughout the program, distance learners are supported by academic advisors, financial services, IT services, and tutoring. Admission requirements include the submission of an online application, as well as all previous transcripts. Students must have a high school diploma to be considered. However, ACT/SAT scores are not required for students with at least a 2.75 GPA.
#3 Bemidji State University
Annual Tuition: $8,758
Median Salary: $70,800
Locations: Bemidji (MN)
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree at Bemidji State University offers distance learners the opportunity to pursue one of four academic concentrations: Law Enforcement, Corrections, Victimology, and Tribal Justice. An optional minor is available in criminal justice. The instructors for this online law enforcement degree program have extensive experience in the field of criminal justice. The program combines a liberal arts education with the ethics, values, and skills needed to pursue career opportunities in law enforcement and various other fields. Students must complete 120 credits to earn their degree, 48 of which are program-specific. Courses are delivered in both asynchronous and synchronous formats using the Desire2Learn learning management platform. They may include live and recorded lectures, assigned readings and essays, research projects, and interactive activities. Students have the opportunity to complete a summer internship before their senior year to gain valuable hands-on training. All degree-seeking students are eligible for this program. Applications are accepted year-round. Prospective students must submit their transcripts and test scores for review. Those who have previously completed the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum can apply their general education credits toward their degree. While enrolled, students can take advantage of tutoring and writing resources, mental health counseling, and career services.
#4 Park University
Annual Tuition: $12,450
Median Salary: $63,700
Locations: Parkville (MO)
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration – Law Enforcement degree at Park University offers students a liberal arts education in addition to the knowledge needed for careers in the criminal justice field. Students in this online law enforcement program can choose a concentration in Law Enforcement, Corrections, or Security. The 120-credit curriculum was designed by criminal justice professionals working in the field. Coursework covers the theories, practices, and philosophies used in the criminal justice system on the local, state, federal, and international stages. Students can complete their assignments on their own schedule using the Canvas learning management system. However, the courses are not self-paced. There are opportunities to engage with classmates and instructors through discussion boards, emails, and video conferencing. In addition to the online requirements, internships are available to students interested in supplementing the program. Technical assistance, academic support services, and career development resources are available to all online learners. To apply, students must send in an online application and transcripts from high school (a high school diploma or GED is required) and all previous higher education institutions. Applicants who have previously completed college coursework must have at least a 2.0 GPA. Graduates may pursue employment opportunities as police officers, federal agents, or crime analysts.
#5 Middle Tennessee State University
Annual Tuition: $13,500
Median Salary: $63,100
Locations: Murfreesboro (TN)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration – Law Enforcement program at Middle Tennessee State University offers academic preparation for individuals who wish to pursue careers as professionals in the criminal justice system. This online program includes the opportunity to concentrate in Law Enforcement or Homeland Security. Students complete general education classes in addition to coursework in criminal theory, victimology, the judicial process, and ethics. All virtual learning takes place through the Desire2Learn (D2L) course management system, which provides flexibility for students balancing outside responsibilities. The D2L platform supports both synchronous and asynchronous learning and streamlines students’ written assignments, quizzes, grades, and lesson materials. A number of resources and services are available to assist students throughout the program, including mental health counseling, tutoring, library access, and the career development center. Students in this online law enforcement degree program gain valuable hands-on skills with internship placement at one of 40 agencies, including police and sheriff’s departments, the district attorney’s office, and the court system. Students interested in the program can apply by submitting an application and their transcripts for consideration. Those with at least a 3.0 GPA are guaranteed admission.
#6 Eastern Kentucky University
Annual Tuition: $12,270
Median Salary: $61,800
Locations: Richmond (KY)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) offers a 120-hour Bachelor of Science in Police Studies designed to balance academic learning with skill-building. Courses are taught in accelerated eight-week terms with six start dates during the year. Admitted students enroll in courses such as criminal justice, ethics, research, terrorism, forensic science, policing strategy, and cybersecurity. Legal classes are available in criminal law, evidence collection, and police procedures. The four-year program, including all class requirements, may be completed entirely online. Classes are asynchronous, giving students the flexibility to study whenever they choose from any location. Admission to EKU requires a minimum high school GPA of 2.5., an online application, and official transcripts. Transfer credits typically count toward degree completion. An online advisor assists students from the time of application to graduation. Online students can also take advantage of free virtual tutoring and career guidance. Courses are taught by diverse, highly educated instructors with substantial experience in their field.
#7 Florida State University
Annual Tuition: $20,581
Median Salary: $60,000
Locations: Tallahassee (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Florida State University offers an online Bachelor Science in Public Safety and Security with three majors: Crime Scene Investigation, Law Enforcement Intelligence, and Law Enforcement Operations. Through these, students may acquire a comprehensive view of how public safety functions within the framework of an efficient management system. The curriculum focuses on the application of criminal justice theories, crime prevention strategies, criminal investigations, and intelligence operations. Students working on this online law enforcement degree take classes and submit assignments through the web-based Blackboard platform. They also complete hands-on fieldwork or lab assignments and obtain an agency internship as part of a required capstone project. Admission decisions are made holistically based on each applicant’s overall GPA, the rigor of the coursework, their college admission test scores, and their preparedness for rigorous college studies. Prospective students residing outside of Florida are advised to check with the state licensing board of the jurisdiction where they desire employment as a licensed police officer.
#8 Upper Iowa University
Annual Tuition: $14,130
Median Salary: $56,700
Locations: Fayette (IA)
Upper Iowa University (UIU) offers a 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Public Administration with a concentration in Law Enforcement. This program is geared toward those who have prior training and experience in law enforcement, such as an earned associate degree in a law enforcement related field. The curriculum is designed to help prepare students to develop and administer public safety policies. Students pursuing this online Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement study many topics related to police administration and law enforcement, including local and state government, case studies in public administration, criminology, constitutional law, and supervision. Designed for flexibility and convenience, asynchronous classes are self-paced. Students access online classes, take exams, and receive instructor feedback with the Desire2Learn Brightspace platform. Admission to UIU requires an online application, transcripts, and proof of a high school diploma or GED. New students complete an orientation tutorial that introduces them to online learning. A 24/7 help desk is available to assist students with technology needs.
#9 Bellevue University
Annual Tuition: $13,600
Median Salary: $54,000
Locations: Bellevue (NE)
Bellevue University offers a 127-credit Bachelor of Science in Investigations designed for those pursuing a professional career in crime scene investigation. The curriculum covers subjects such as legal systems, ethics, criminal behavior, forensic psychology, crime scene clues, investigative methods, and evidentiary procedures. Majors must also complete Bellevue University’s nine-credit Kirkpatrick Signature Series, which includes three classes pertaining to American traditions, values, freedoms, and responsibilities. Program faculty possess strong academic credentials and considerable experience in the field of criminal investigation. Graduates of the program may seek jobs in the private or public sector, including law enforcement agencies or the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Asynchronous online instruction includes case studies, role-play simulations, and hands-on exercises. Admission to Bellevue requires an online application and proof of high school diploma, GED, or other high school equivalency certificate. Designed for working adults needing flexibility, online programs at Bellevue University offer 24/7 access to course content, library resources, and IT support.
#10 Missouri Western State University
Annual Tuition: $11,820
Median Salary: $49,400
Locations: St. Joseph (MO)
Missouri Western State University offers a four-year Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Degree with a concentration in Law Enforcement. This online Law Enforcement Degree requires the completion of general education classes along with required core courses in criminal justice studies and law enforcement. Students study topics such as crime theory, juvenile justice, police procedures, traffic control, criminalistics, and police photography. The curriculum is integrated with a Law Enforcement Academy where students can earn 21 credits learning police skills required to sit for the POST licensing exam. Online courses are taught through the multimedia Canvas platform, which provides students access to high-quality instruction, peer interaction, quizzes, and assignments. Admission to the program requires a minimum ACT score of 18 or comparable demonstration of academic preparedness. Courses are designed by experienced instructors who understand the skills that graduates will need to compete for high-level jobs in government agencies such as local law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the Secret Service.
#11 Metropolitan State University
Annual Tuition: $4,037
Median Salary: $46,100
Locations: Saint Paul (MN)
Metropolitan State University offers three tracks in their 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement program, including the Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement for Licensed Police Officers Track 3. Designed for experienced police officers, the Track 3 major is broken down into 31 credits of core courses, 19-22 electives, and the completion of a 4-credit capstone research project or a 160-hour internship. Transfer students must complete at least 24 credits through Metro. After completing upper-division classes in criminal justice, research methods, and criminology, students may select electives that align with their career goals. Online classes are easily accessible 24/7 on the interactive Desire2Learn Brightspace platform. Graduates of the program gain skills that can enhance their career mobility. According to the school’s website, over 40 graduates of the program are police chiefs. Students who ranked in the upper 50th percentile of their high school class qualify for admission to Metro State and the law enforcement major. Formal admission to the major also requires 30 credits of lower-division coursework.
#12 Indiana State University
Annual Tuition: $11,656
Median Salary: $48,800
Locations: Terre Haute (IN)
Indiana State University offers a four-year online Bachelor of Science in Cybercriminology and Security Studies with a concentration in Physical Security or Cybercrime. The major includes 21 core credits along with 24 credits of electives in the selected concentration. Students with a chosen emphasis on physical security learn strategies for analyzing and managing global travel, corporate security, retail security, and overall security operations. Students in the cybercrime concentration study digital threats. Classes are accessible 24/7 on the interactive Blackboard learning platform. Prospective students apply to Indiana State by submitting an online application and official high school transcripts or a GED. If applicable, prior college and military transcripts should be included. Applicants under age 21 must also provide ACT and SAT scores. Graduates of the program may seek supervisory security positions in the private and public sectors. Faculty hold terminal degrees and real-world experience working in jobs such as law enforcement officers, prosecutors, correction counselors, and criminal investigations.
#13 Florida Atlantic University
Annual Tuition: $21,595
Median Salary: $52,400
Locations: Boca Raton (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Florida Atlantic University has a 120-credit online Bachelor of Public Safety Administration with a concentration in Law Enforcement/Corrections. Degree requirements are broken down into general education courses, 18 credits of core courses in public administration, 12 credits of electives in law enforcement/corrections, and 30 unrestricted electives. The Law Enforcement/Corrections concentration offers diverse classes such as crime analysis, crime prevention, terrorism, white-collar crime, and juvenile justice. In addition to honing their technical skills, students develop professional dispositions such as leadership, critical thinking, problem-solving, and ethical decision making. Graduates of the program may compete for security enforcement and compliance jobs such as patrol officer, border patrol agent, bailiff, corrections officer, and warden. Students access courses and connect with instructors through the Canvas learning management platform. Admission decisions are based on the quality of the application, SAT/ACT scores, GPA in certain classes, the difficulty of courses taken, and a Self-reported Student Academic Record (SSAR). The Career Center offers virtual assistance and online video conferencing to help students write resumes, practice interviewing, identify internships, and look for jobs.
#14 Trine University
Annual Tuition: $32,330
Median Salary: $55,900
Locations: Angola (IN)
Trine University has an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a Law Enforcement concentration. The program emphasizes forensic and correctional psychology. Asynchronous online courses start every eight weeks, allowing students to progress at their own pace. The 120-credit hour curriculum is divided into 42 credit hours of general education, 63 credit hours of core courses in the major, and 15 credit hours in the Law Enforcement concentration. Students pursuing a law enforcement career take courses in subjects such as advanced forensic psychology, crime scene investigation, and police administration. Courses are taught on the Moodle platform that offers easy access to syllabi, course materials, assignments, and grades. TrineOnline supports student success through access to online advising, tutoring, IT support, and career services. Admission to the program requires an online application, official transcripts, and evidence of a high school diploma or equivalency. Credits may be awarded for transfer classes and life experiences. Courses are taught by police officers and criminal justice experts, including judges, coroners, and attorneys.
#15 Lindenwood University
Annual Tuition: $14,850
Median Salary: $46,100
Locations: Saint Charles (MO)
Lindenwood University offers two online degrees in law enforcement. Applicants interested in becoming a licensed police officer enroll in the Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement with Police Academic Option. Those interested in graduate studies or broader career options may prefer the generalist BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The curriculum involves 27 core credit hours in the major and 24 credit hours of closely related electives. The concentration also requires the completion of 48 credit hours of training with a police academy. Flexible, asynchronous online classes are delivered through the Canvas learning management platform. Admission to the program requires submission of an online application to Lindenwood University. Students are admitted based on a review of life experience and academic record. The degree is meant to help prepare students for graduate school, law school, and jobs in the field of law enforcement, social services, and corrections. Faculty possess real-world experience in the subjects they teach and work closely with students to align coursework with career goals.
#16 Tiffin University
Annual Tuition: $14,260
Median Salary: $40,300
Locations: Tiffin (OH)
Tiffin University offers a 122-credit Bachelor of Criminal Justice with a major in Law Enforcement. The degree requires 37 hours of general education, 18 hours of criminal justice, 46 hours of law enforcement, and 21 hours of electives. Students pursuing a career in law enforcement concentrate on subjects such as criminalistics, juvenile justice, forensic investigation, victimology, and technology. In collaboration with Terra State Community College, the program offers students the opportunity to complete the one-semester Ohio Police Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) certification course. Hands-on training teaches skills in traffic control, firearms, investigations, driving, patrol, human relations, and more. The course prepares students to sit for a state-certified exam required to work as a licensed police officer in Ohio. Prospective students must submit an online application authorizing the release of official transcripts and college admission test scores. There are two terms per semester in the online program format with start dates in January, March, May, July, August, and October. Courses are taught by instructors with real-world experience as police officers.
Overview of Online Law Enforcement
Education requirements vary due to the many career options within the law enforcement field. Entry-level positions at the local and state levels require an associate degree, though some local opportunities may be afforded to those who hold only a high school diploma. With 60 units of required coursework, an associate degree can be completed in two years. In order to be eligible to work for the federal government, professionals must hold at least a bachelor's degree. This degree will take participants around four years to complete; after earning a degree, students may go on to work at agencies like the FBI or CIA. Pursuing a master's degree will help professionals gain advanced positions as well as future promotions and pay increases. A typical graduate program can be completed in two years.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Law Enforcement
All federal law enforcement agencies require at minimum a bachelor's degree in law enforcement thus all interested candidates will want to consider enrolling in a bachelor's program. Through four years of study, students will complete a total of 120 units. Students take a wide range of classes on topics like applied criminal justice analysis, criminal justice research, perspectives on crime and delinquency, ethical decisions and police, contemporary police strategies, legal traditions, and criminal investigation. Graduates will be prepared to work in the federal government, but they will also be more likely to earn promotions and pay increases in their current professional settings. First-time freshman will be required to have a high school diploma or a GED plus a satisfactory SAT or ACT score. Bachelor programs in law enforcement are available at the university level as well as at vocational schools.
Accreditation is an important factor when it comes to committing to a specific school or program. It ensures the quality of the program—meaning the curriculum, faculty, resources, and student evaluation systems have been deemed exceptional through an unbiased review conducted by an outside organization. Students can have full confidence that they are going to receive an education that is going to fully prepare them for their future profession upon graduation. It must also be noted that federal financial aid is only available for students who are taking part in accredited programs. Accreditation can also play an important role in job searching post-graduation. Many employers want to rest assured that their candidates have been properly trained and thus may only recognize degrees received through accredited programs. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), is a non-profit organization that internationally accredits law enforcement, communications, training academy, and campus security agencies. CALEA promulgates standards around best practices in public safety and how an agency should operate.
Careers in Law Enforcement
There are many career paths that can be followed within the field of law enforcement. One choice is federal criminal investigator. Individuals with this title investigate crimes that have taken place against the public as well as the government. Daily tasks include things like gathering evidence, conducting interviews to collect intelligence, making arrests, and testifying in court. Criminal investigators will need at least a four-year degree and must be under the age of 37 to qualify for the job. Candidates must also pass a background check before they can be considered. Once a candidate has passed all qualifications, they will then have to undergo basic training, which lasts about two months. During the two months of basic training, candidates will learn about interviewing, case management, surveillance, physical training, firearm handling, and vehicle operation.
Another notable job title is police officer. The main job of a police officer is to serve and protect people and their property. On a daily basis, they enforce laws, respond to calls, conduct patrols, conduct traffic stops, issue citations, arrest suspects, write reports, and testify in court. Police officers may have as little as a high school diploma—however, professionals who hold a college degree will find better career opportunities including promotions and advanced positions. All candidates must be at least 21 years of age, pass a background check, and graduate from a training academy. Once the candidate has been hired with an agency, they will also undergo on-the-job training before being released to conduct duties on their own. Lastly, police officers will need to pass regular physical exams.
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