Police Majors: The 5 Best Degrees for Law Enforcement Work

Students who want to go into law enforcement don’t typically need a college degree. Instead, they require law enforcement training for their area of expertise. However, obtaining a criminal justice degree can assist students who already work in law enforcement qualify for positions of increasing responsibility, such as a detective or supervisor. Keep reading to find out more about the best degrees for law enforcement.

For those looking into the best degrees for law enforcement, criminal justice programs provide a well-rounded education. What are the best colleges for criminal justice and law enforcement? Choosing the right online or in-person program depends on the student’s work experience and ultimate career goals.

Researching the Best Degrees for Law Enforcement

The best online colleges for law enforcement include ones that offer a variety of majors. Criminal justice, psychology and computer science are just a few of the programs that can help students launch a successful career in law enforcement or advance in their current job. Additionally, the best online colleges for law enforcement have regional and national accreditations recognized by hiring managers in local, state and federal law enforcement.

Featured Programs

Here are popular degrees that can help learners who want to work in law enforcement.

VC’s pick for the Best Degrees for Law Enforcement:

1. Criminal Justice

Learning about criminal justice can help students who want to become police officers, join the military, investigate crimes or work in a correctional facility. With a degree in criminal justice, students focus on topics that law enforcement officers face every day. For example, students learn about crime deterrence, criminal psychology and managing law enforcement personnel.

With a degree in criminal justice, students can find entry-level jobs in security, private investigating and similar roles.

2. Psychology

The best online colleges for law enforcement also offer psychology degrees. Psychology helps students who want to go into law enforcement gain a better understanding of thoughts and feelings that lead to criminal behavior. A psychology degree can help law enforcement professionals understand and prevent crimes. By taking preemptive action, law enforcement officers can minimize the consequence of violent and property crimes. Most criminal psychology jobs are public service positions in the courts, mental health facilities and correctional facilities.

3. Law

It makes sense that many students choose law degrees if they wish to graduate with a law enforcement job. Many schools offer pre-law majors, which are good degrees for law enforcement as well as students who plan to attend law school. With a background in law, students can attract the attention of hiring managers and public and private sector law enforcement organizations. It’s important for law enforcement personnel to understand how to effect a clean arrest so that prosecution goes more smoothly. By understanding the law, students can make good decisions to help bring justice to their communities. Additionally, students with a baccalaureate degree in law often go on to complete law school, and criminal attorneys need a deep understanding of law enforcement agencies.

4. Forensics

The best colleges for criminal justice and law enforcement offer forensics majors. With this major, students learn to gather evidence while investigating a crime. Law enforcement agencies heavily depend on professionals with a background in forensics. Forensic technology detects chemical substances unique to individuals or places. This complex field now uses artificial intelligence as well as chemical analysis and the intuition of forensic specialists. Forensic professionals also work crime scenes and interview suspected perpetrators of various crimes.  

5. Computer Science and Cybersecurity

Technology is an integral part of modern law enforcement practice. Computer science and security degrees are among the best degrees for law enforcement. Knowledge of computer science can help law enforcement professionals investigate online crimes and crimes with online components. Additionally, law enforcement agencies increasingly have to respond to requests to investigate sophisticated cybercrimes.

Cyber security is a subset of computer science that helps law enforcement agencies detect and apprehend cybercriminals who hack into computer systems, stealing data or otherwise wreaking havoc within public and private networks. Cyber security is and the central part of law enforcement agencies that investigate sophisticated criminals. Often, these online spies and thieves break into computer systems and cause serious problems such as breach of confidentiality, data theft and other online crimes. From individuals to foreign governments, perpetrators of cybercrimes compromise the security and privacy of individuals, organizations and, sometimes, an entire country.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Police Officer?

Becoming a police officer is a noble and rewarding career path, but it is also an incredibly challenging one. It requires dedication, hard work, and a certain level of education. So the question remains: do you need to have a college degree to become a police officer? The answer is both yes and no. While having a degree can give you an edge when applying for the job, it is not always necessary in order to become a police officer. A high school diploma is often enough to start.

Depending on the state or jurisdiction where you are applying, there may be other qualifications that are more important than having a college degree. For instance, some police departments may require you go through police academy training before joining the police force. A police academy program isn’t the same as a law enforcement degree, but law enforcement officials can do police work with no formal education.

While having a degree or some form of higher education is important, it is not the only factor that determines whether someone can become a police officer or not. Police officers need to have certain physical and mental qualifications in order to be successful in their job. These include:

  • physical fitness
  • good communication skills
  • problem solving abilities
  • ability to maintain composure under pressure

Additionally, anyone interested in a police officer career must also have knowledge of relevant criminal law and regulations as well as the ability to make quick decisions in stressful situations. All these qualifications are essential for someone who wants to pursue a career in any law enforcement agency or the criminal justice system.

What are the Benefits of a Criminal Justice Degree?

A criminal justice degree can provide police officers with the knowledge and skills to help them better serve their community. With a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system, police officers can be more effective in their roles as law enforcement professionals. They will also have a better understanding of legal procedures and crime scene protocols that must be followed when dealing with criminals.

Additionally, a criminal justice program can provide police officers with an opportunity to specialize in specific areas of law enforcement such as forensics, cybercrime, organized crime, or juvenile justice. With this specialized knowledge and expertise, they can become more valuable members of the police force and be better equipped to protect their communities from crime.

You may learn elements of:

  • political science
  • police operations
  • public administration
  • forensic science
  • emergency management

All of this can make you a better police officer, but bachelor’s degree programs can prepare you to work in other government agencies.

Of course, there are many law enforcement careers in the criminal justice field that can benefit from a bachelor’s degree. A corrections officer with a criminal justice major or a master’s degree may move into administration, for instance. The law enforcement field is wide, and there are degree programs for all levels, from security guard to patrol officer to deputy chief to commanding officer to police chief.

If you want to stay in the police department, aspiring police officers may get ahead with an associate’s degree, at least in local police departments.

Other Majors for Law Enforcement

Other good degrees for law enforcement include forensic accounting. Forensic accountants help businesses detect fraud and malicious activity. they may work in law enforcement or for corporations. Some students choose to specialize in public safety, which helps governments prepare for disaster recovery. Pandemics and natural disasters compromise public safety, and students who graduate with a degree in public safety can help prepare communities for terrorism and other threats to law and order.

The best online colleges for law enforcement offer homeland security degrees. This growing field helps protect the country against sabotage, terrorism and internal security threats.

Graduates with the best degrees for law enforcement can choose careers as probation officers, private investigators, US marshals, loss prevention managers, crime analysts and DEA special agents, among many other career choices.

The best colleges for criminal justice and law enforcement provide a solid foundation for students who want to earn lucrative salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for detectives and police officers ranges between $58,000 for fishing game wardens two $87,000 for detectives and criminal investigators. Transit and railroad police make an average of $73,000 while patrol officers make an average of $66,000.

Related Rankings to Help Majors for Law Enforcement:

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Top 25 Best Value Online Undergraduate Criminal Justice Programs

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