2024 Best Online Masters in Law Enforcement Programs

By Annastasia Marburger
Updated on February 22, 2024
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Explore the best online masters in law enforcement programs. Accelerate your career and unlock exciting opportunities in this growing field.

Protecting the community is not an easy task, but a masters in law enforcement can better prepare you for the challenges and triumphs of this line of work.

Best Online Masters in Law Enforcement Programs

Whether you want to excel as a first-line defender or become a strong leader on the administrative side, this degree program can help you advance your professional qualifications.

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Those who graduate with a master’s may be able to qualify for many different positions in the field of law enforcement and criminal justice.

Online Masters in Law Enforcement Programs

Police officer getting his master degree online

A law enforcement professional has the duty is to enforce the law, solve crimes, and guard the livelihood of their community.

An online masters degree in law enforcement can help prepare you a role in the field of protective services and may also qualify you for leadership and administrative positions. Whether you aim to work for the local sheriff or the federal government, a master’s degree can help prepare the way for an advanced career in public safety.

Additionally, public service is not the only path for students studying criminal justice and law enforcement. Teachers, private investigators, and intelligence analysts can all bolster their careers with a graduate degree. If you’re a working professional, an online master’s in criminal justice and law enforcement administration offers the flexibility to earn a degree while continuing to pursue your current endeavors.

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This degree builds off of a bachelor’s degree and focuses on the managerial side of protective services. Some of the course topics you may encounter as a law enforcement graduate student include:

  • Public budgeting and finance
  • Criminology
  • Human resource management
  • Quantitative analysis

Graduate coursework is intended to boost your knowledge of criminal justice administration so that you can become a leader in your field. Through a combination of administrative training and experiential learning, a graduate program in law enforcement can teach you to effectively manage the roles and responsibilities of a variety of departments.

You may choose to focus on interdisciplinary leadership, technical analytics, or one of several other specialties that can bolster your career options.

Police and Law Enforcement Careers & Salaries

Police and Law Enforcement Careers & Salaries

A masters in law enforcement is both a practical and versatile choice. It can allow professionals to pursue opportunities in traditional positions—such as police officer or detective—but it could also lead to job growth in administrative areas like HR or finance.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for the following career opportunities that are related to advanced studies in law enforcement.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Human Resources Managers $126,230
Information Security Analysts $102,600
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives $99,330
Detectives and Criminal Investigators $83,640
Emergency Management Directors $76,730
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers $64,610
Postsecondary Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers $64,600
First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers $62,220
Forensic Science Technicians $61,930
Private Detectives and Investigators $59,380

Regardless of the path you choose to take, earning a masters in law enforcement may help you accelerate your career and could provide new job prospects. There are a variety of industries in which professionals can thrive with the knowledge and experience provided to them by a criminal justice and law enforcement degree.

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Depending on their specialty, they might find themselves employed by federal, state, or local governments, environmental agencies, or institutes of higher learning.

Law Enforcement Master’s Curriculum & Courses

Students taking Law Enforcement degree

The specific coursework you encounter during your graduate studies will depend on the program and school you choose to attend. Below are a few examples of classes you may take:

  • Introduction to US Law: This course will cover the structure of the American legal system and highlight the role of protective services within that system.
  • Public Budgeting and Finance: If you’re interested in the administrative side of law enforcement, this class covers financial theories and the politics surrounding public budgets.
  • Community Engagement: This course provides important training surrounding the way law enforcement professionals interact with the community.
  • Program Management: This class presents methods for planning, proposing, and evaluating the development of public sector programs.
  • Organizational Leadership and Management: For students looking to advance their leadership skills, this course provides training in conflict resolution, effective decision-making, and interpersonal communication.
  • Criminology: This class covers the sociological, psychological, and biological factors of crime theory.
  • Property Law: In this class, you’ll cover the fundamentals of property law and the ways in which it is legally enforced.
  • Human Resource Management: Through this course, you’ll learn HR management best practices within public organizations.
  • Constitutional Law: This class provides an in-depth study of the branches of government within the US and the roles and jurisdictions of each.
  • Quantitative Applications and Analysis: This class teaches you techniques for using data applications within criminal justice and law enforcement organizations.

Law enforcement classes range from exploring specific laws to leadership and management training, providing you with a wide array of applicable knowledge.

How to Choose an Online Masters in Law Enforcement Administration Program

Man choosing for Masters in Law Enforcement Programs online

One of the first steps to choosing an online master’s program in law enforcement administration is to outline the career goals you hope to achieve after graduation. It’s strategic to keep your individual needs in mind so you can find a program that has the necessary tools to help you succeed.

You might consider the following criteria:

  • School cost
  • Curriculum
  • Program length
  • Field experience opportunities
  • Faculty
  • Student support
  • Accreditation
  • Program format

If you are looking to specialize in a certain area, it’s necessary to make sure the program you choose has the appropriate coursework available. Online students can also look into the available support for online learners. Does your program offer online tutoring? Can online students still gain hands-on experience? These are helpful questions to answer before you enroll.

It’s also beneficial to be aware of the fees you are responsible for covering as a virtual learning student. While online law enforcement degree tuition may be less than on-campus programs, there may be additional costs associated with this format.

Master’s in Law Enforcement Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Masters in Law Enforcement

Online colleges for law enforcement vary in their admissions criteria, but the following are a few typical requirements you may encounter.

  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Official transcripts
  • Personal essay

Depending on the specialty you wish to study, some programs may require some amount of relevant work experience. Even if it’s not required for program entry, holding a previous job in the law enforcement field could benefit your studies.


University offering Masters in Law Enforcement

There are many institutions of higher education that offer master degrees in law enforcement. When considering which program fits your needs, it’s strategic to keep accreditation in mind.

The regional accreditation process evaluates the academic value of colleges and universities in the United States according to a set of rigorous, predetermined standards. Institutions must uphold these standards in order to be considered high-quality educational organizations. Attending an accredited school can assure you that you’ll be receiving a high-caliber education.

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Receiving an accredited degree may also impact your qualifications in your chosen profession. Employers may prioritize candidates with a degree from an accredited school. 

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid for Masters in Law Enforcement

Paying for a master’s degree can be a challenge for many people. Luckily, there are resources available to help qualifying students fund their education. Student loans, grants, and scholarships are common forms of financial aid.

You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal or state grants and loans. Scholarships may be earned based on academic merit or financial need. They can also be awarded to members of specific social organizations or cultural groups. For more information about available financial aid, you can also contact your school’s financial aid office.

Law Enforcement Professional Organizations

Becoming a member of a professional law enforcement organization can provide graduate students with a variety of benefits. As a member, you may be invited to attend networking events, which could offer the chance to make career-expanding connections with law enforcement leaders.

Below are three professional law enforcement associations:

Joining a law enforcement professional organization can also help you gain access to mentorship programs, professional development opportunities, and online journals and trade publications.

What Can You Do with a Masters Degree in Law Enforcement?

Cops working at the crime scene

Professionals with a masters degree in law enforcement commonly work in private companies, public agencies, and academic institutions.

Potential career options can include traditional positions like a sheriff or detective or administrative roles like human resources manager. Throughout your graduate studies, you can develop field and technical knowledge, a comprehensive understanding of investigative procedures, and critical thinking skills.

An advanced degree can also teach you the necessary leadership and communication skills to further your current career or build a new one in a different field.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Law Enforcement Master’s Degree Online?

A masters program typically takes 1 to 2 years to complete. Every program is a little bit different in terms of length. The amount of time it takes you to complete your master’s in law enforcement depends on the type of program you choose, your enrollment status, and whether or not you’re required to complete a thesis.

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For instance, if a masters program consists of 36 credit hours, you may be able to finish your studies in 1 year with full-time enrollment, including throughout the summer months. Part-time enrollment or the addition of a thesis can lengthen the time it takes you to earn your degree.

What’s the Difference Between a Masters in Criminal Justice vs. Law Enforcement Degree?

While there is some overlap between criminal justice and law enforcement, here are some of the differences between the two areas of study.

Master’s in Criminal Justice Master’s in Law Enforcement
  • Broader field
  • Covers any and all studies that pertain to the larger judicial system
  • Covers topics like forensic science, investigative reporting, and criminal procedures
  • More specialized field
  • Focuses on reinforcing specific legislation
  • Covers topics like US law, organizational management, and community engagement

Both degree tracks can help prepare you for careers related to the judicial system, so choosing the right track will likely depend on the specialty you want to focus on.

Is a Law Enforcement Masters Degree Worth It?

Two Criminal Investigators working in the office

Yes, a law enforcement masters degree is worth it for many students. A graduate degree can provide you with the training and expertise to help advance your career in the growing field of law enforcement.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, protective service occupations are expected to see 8% job growth over the next ten years. Over the same time period, management positions will likely experience 9% job growth. There is a variety of expanding fields in which a law enforcement degree can improve your career outlook. Depending on your specialty, you might focus on the field of education, human resources, or protective service.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Law Enforcement Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Albany State University

Seton Hall University campus

Albany State University offers a Master of Science in Law Enforcement and it has a thesis and non-thesis options. The program is designed to prepare students for criminal justice systems careers. Students are required to complete 9 hours of law enforcement specialty courses.

Albany State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Chaminade University of Honolulu

Chaminade University of Honolulu campus

Chaminade University of Honolulu offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Studies. The program is designed for students pursuing advanced positions in private, non-profit, or government sectors at the local, state, or federal levels. Classes can be attended using online, on-campus, or hybrid formats. Most students can complete their requirements in 12 months of full-time study.

The Chaminade University of Honolulu is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University campus

Colorado State University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration. All 36 required credits can be completed online.

The curriculum covers how to analyze crime through numerous perspectives, evaluate research, and uphold ethical policing. The program also provides opportunities to engage in discussions about the theoretical purpose of law enforcement and the realities of its role.

Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Columbia College

Columbia College campus

Columbia College offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The program is designed to provide students currently working within the criminal justice system an opportunity to gain additional leadership, administrative, and theoretical knowledge. The curriculum consists of 36 credit hours and covers topics such as human resource management, criminal justice research, crisis intervention, and legal and ethical issues.

Columbia College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Florida State University

Florida State University campus

Florida State University’s Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence is an interdisciplinary degree. The program incorporates fundamentals from the fields of criminal justice, economics, political science, and military science. To graduate, students must complete 36 credits hours. Classes may be attended 100% online, and there are three start dates each year.

The Florida State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University campus

Georgetown University offers a Master of Professional Studies in Applied Intelligence. The online program blends key theoretical knowledge and practical skills from homeland security, cyber intelligence, law enforcement, and competitive business intelligence disciplines. Students typically spend 6 to 9 hours per week on their studies and can usually finish the program in 2 to 5 years depending on their course load.

Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

Grand Canyon University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement. Mindful of the significant changes continually occurring within the criminal justice sector, the program aims to teach students how to serve in the contemporary policing field. This 38 credit program is completed 100% online, with each course spanning 8 weeks of intensive study.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University campus

Michigan State University offers a Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis. The program utilizes Department of Justice benchmarks in the development of its curriculum, providing students with a competitive edge in the field. The curriculum includes 30 credits of intensive study, which can usually be completed in just 2 years.

Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona campus

The University of Arizona offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Law Enforcement and Corrections Administration Studies. The curriculum covers concepts like organizational behavior, employment law, and finance as they relate to the chosen field of study. Courses are 6 weeks long and taken one at a time.

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of San Diego

University of San Diego campus

The University of San Diego offers a Master’s in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership. The program has been developed by leaders in the military and criminal justice sector to train future leaders in the field. It consists of 31 credit hours, and most students can complete it in just 20 months.

The University of San Diego is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Getting Your Masters Degree in Law Enforcement Online

Woman getting Masters in Law Enforcement online

If you’re looking to advance in your current field or to start a new career, a masters degree in law enforcement online may provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to move forward.

Criminal justice degree online programs offer you the flexibility to further your education while still maintaining any additional responsibilities you may have. Online programming at accredited schools provides high-quality education, and many law enforcement masters programs allow you to specialize in whatever subject interests you the most.

You can start exploring your degree options today to find the masters program in law enforcement that best aligns with your personal needs and professional goals.

Ready to start your journey?
Annastasia holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University at Buffalo where her concentration was writing and critical theory. She has also completed significant coursework in psychology and computer science. Annastasia’s goal is to assist future students in navigating the next step of their lives as well as guide them toward an inspirational path.