Online Law Enforcement Administration

Online Law Enforcement Administration


Law enforcement professionals work to protect lives and property, enforce the law, solve crimes and ensure community safety. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job openings for law enforcement officials, such as police and detectives, will grow at a rate of 7 percent between 2016 and 2026, about as fast as the national average.

Professionals in this field usually work for local, county or state police or sheriff’s departments, but some may work for the federal government or as private investigators. Earning a master’s in law enforcement can help students accelerate their careers and advance to leadership positions. For practicing law enforcement professionals with the aim of teaching at a postsecondary institution, earning a graduate degree can make their ambitions a reality.

An online law enforcement administration master’s program offers flexibility for students who are also working professionals. Web-based programs typically follow the same rigorous curricula as brick-and-mortar options, leading to similar advancement opportunities for graduates. The online format is also ideal for students who must tackle additional commitments – such as child or family care – on top of their work and class schedules.

How long does it take to earn a master’s in law enforcement administration online?

A law enforcement online master’s degree typically requires between 31 and 36 credits, which may take full-time students between 20 months and two years to complete.

How much does an online master’s in law enforcement administration cost?

The cost of an online law enforcement administration degree depends on several factors. State residency is an important consideration, since many colleges and universities charge higher tuition for out-of-state students. However, some degree programs charge flat tuition for online students regardless of residency. Technology fees are another key factor; these fees often apply to online students but not their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Per-credit costs for an online law enforcement administration master’s degree typically range from $325 to $700. Students should expect to pay between $10,000 and $25,000 in total tuition.

Online master’s in law enforcement administration admissions requirements

To enter a master’s in law enforcement administration online program, students need to hold a bachelor’s degree. Some schools require a minimum GPA in undergraduate coursework. However, students may be able to submit standardized test scores or obtain provisional admission if their GPA is too low. Some universities may prefer applicants with relevant experience.

Choosing an accredited online law enforcement administration degree program

Accreditation status is one of the most important considerations for prospective students. Colleges and universities in the U.S. receive accreditation from agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education; the accreditation process involves an extensive review of a school’s educational programs and student services.

A school’s accreditation impacts course credit transferability, as well as student eligibility for federal financial aid, so students should ensure the school offering the program has earned national or regional accreditation.

Online Coursework

Example courses

  • Community assessment: crime and criminal justice
  • Restorative justice: a social movement
  • Technology in law enforcement
  • Administration and management of criminal justice organizations
  • Communication for law enforcement leaders
When pursuing a master’s degree in law enforcement, students generally take courses in communication, leadership and criminological theory. Courses in the police management of technology are also common given the importance of technology to police and public safety work.

Graduate students also explore budgeting as it relates to law enforcement administration. In these courses, students examine principles of financial analysis, tools for budgeting and the fundamentals of financial planning.

Students may also look at the related field of police systems administration by studying concepts like human resources and management principles in a law enforcement environment.

Capstone experience

Some master’s in law enforcement programs may feature a capstone project. Students draw on the knowledge and skills they have gained through previous coursework to design and carry out a comprehensive project related to their field of study. The capstone project is normally completed during the latter stages of the program.

Professional Associations in Law Enforcement Administration

Professional associations provide a wide range of valuable resources for students earning a master’s in law enforcement online, as well as for recent graduates. Benefits of membership typically include access to online journals and trade publications, professional development opportunities, job listings and in-person networking events. Three professional associations for law enforcement are outlined below.

  • National Association of Police Organizations: U.S.-based police unions and associations come together to form NAPO, a coalition of 241,000 law enforcement officers. Founded in 1978, NAPO seeks to influence legislative and administrative action on behalf of police officers. It also offers a Top Cop award, sponsors research, engages in charitable activity and provides a legal assistance center for law enforcement officers.
  • International Police Association: IPA has a mission to forge friendships and create collegiality among current and retired officers. It serves 400,000 members in more than 60 countries. Law enforcement officers can join as full members, and volunteers or nonsworn employees can join as associate members.
  • Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association: Composed of 25,000 law enforcement officers in 65 agencies, FLEOA is the largest organization that exclusively represents federal law enforcement officers. Since its founding in 1977, the organization has offered legal assistance and legislative advocacy for its members and the larger federal law enforcement community.

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