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Top Online Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement Programs

The desire to serve and protect is a noble one. Students can prepare for this worthy career by completing a law enforcement degree online. Not all law enforcement agencies demand a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions, but many do. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the federal government, which requires a bachelor’s, was the highest-paying industry for law enforcement professionals in 2016.

Globalizing society, developing technologies, and ever-evolving security threats are changing the nature of law enforcement. Employers often seek degree-holding candidates who are equipped to address these complex issues. With a law enforcement degree, you’ll enjoy greater career mobility, higher earning power, and opportunities for advancement throughout your career.

What are the Best Online Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement Programs?

1

University of Massachusetts-LowellLowell, MA

Admissions Rate 57%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 56%
Online Enrollment 21%

UMass-Lowell’s online law enforcement degree requires students to earn at least 120 credits. The bachelor of science in criminal justice guides students through 51 criminal justice credits that are spread across 18 core and elective courses. Learners study policing, homeland security, criminal profiling, violence in America, and much more. Degree candidates also complete 12 general core and six free elective courses. Students interested in pursuing an accelerated master’s degree in the field may count two courses toward graduate degree requirements. Due to state restrictions, residents in Arkansas, Kansas, and Minnesota may not apply to the university. Prospective students should submit the online application along with high school transcripts or GED scores. Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate.

2

Webster UniversitySaint Louis, MO

Admissions Rate 56%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 62%
Online Enrollment 25%

Webster University offers an asynchronous law enforcement degree online. The 128-credit bachelor of arts in criminology may be taken full time or part time. Students must complete a series of general education requirements before completing major requirements, which requires 43 credits. Transfer students may receive credit for up to 15 criminology credits from another institution. The curriculum also requires the completion of three foreign language hours. The program concludes with a three-credit capstone and final paper. Applicants should submit transcripts along with the online application. High school graduates and transfer applicants with less than 30 college credits should also submit ACT or SAT scores. The university is located in St. Louis, Missouri. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate. Military students pay a discounted tuition.

3

Midway UniversityMidway, KY

Admissions Rate 46%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 56%
Online Enrollment 60%

Midway University’s law enforcement degree online emphasizes criminal investigations and a holistic understanding of the criminal justice system. The bachelor of science in criminal justice consists of 120 credits. Students take 34 credits of electives, 33 credits in the major, and 12 credits of psychology. The remaining 41 credits are open for electives. The program concludes with a capstone project. Students may focus the capstone on an area of interest. Freshman applicants should submit high school transcripts or GED scores along with ACT or SAT scores. Transfer applicants under the age of 24 and with fewer than 24 college credits must also submit ACT or SAT scores. The campus is located in Midway, Kentucky. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate.

4

Rowan UniversityGlassboro, NJ

Admissions Rate 71%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 67%
Online Enrollment 7%

Rowan University offers a degree completion program for students who want to study law enforcement online. The bachelor of arts in law and justice studies consists of 60 semester hours. The program, which hones critical thinking, writing, and analytical skills through interdisciplinary coursework, can be completed in four to five semesters. Students may transfer up to 90 semester hours. Core courses include criminal law, law and human rights, and theories of crime and criminality. There are three enrollment dates per year. Applicants should submit high school transcripts or GED scores as well as standardized test scores. Rowan University has two locations in New Jersey, Camden and Glassboro. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition.

5

Washington State UniversityPullman, WA

Admissions Rate 80%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 64%
Online Enrollment 11%

WSU maintains its status as one of the best law enforcement schools online. The school has offered its law enforcement degree, the bachelor of science in criminal justice, since 1943. The degree is available entirely online. The curriculum consists of general education and targeted criminal justice courses. General education requirements may be satisfied by a direct transfer degree from another institution. There are only 15 credits of required criminal justice courses, which allows learners to explore interest areas through electives. Classes begin in the fall, spring, and summer. Accelerated sessions are available. Prospective students should submit the online application along with their transcripts. Transcripts are due one week after the application deadline. The university is located in Pullman, Washington. In-state students receive a moderate tuition discount.

6

Saint Leo UniversitySaint Leo, FL

Admissions Rate 73%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 58%

Saint Leo University’s degree in law enforcement, the bachelor of arts in criminal justice, requires students to earn 120 credits. The curriculum includes 39 credits of criminal justice core courses. Classes are taught by field-trained faculty who help students explore topics in substantive criminal law and procedure, ethics, police administration, criminal behavior, and more. Students are required to take a 15-credit, five-course concentration. Learners also complete general core requirements – courses that explore spirituality and religion – and 39 credits of electives. Applicants should submit high school transcripts or GED scores. While the university asks for scores from examinations like AP tests, it does not require ACT or SAT scores. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate.

7

Anderson UniversityAnderson, SC

Admissions Rate 55%
Default Rate 9%
Retention Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 49%
Online Enrollment 9%

Anderson University’s online law enforcement degree helps students understand the criminal justice system on a macro and micro level, which prepares them for local and national positions. The bachelor of arts in criminal justice consists of 128 credits. Students take major-related courses along with general education requirements. The program also includes foreign language and Biblical tradition components. Applicants should submit transcripts from all attended educational institutions, and freshmen should submit ACT or SAT scores as well. Transfer applicants with less than 24 college semester hours should also submit ACT or SAT scores. The campus is located in Anderson, South Carolina. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate.

8

Pennsylvania State University-World CampusUniversity Park, PA

Admissions Rate 61%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 53%
Graduation Rate 40%
Online Enrollment 100%

The bachelor of science in criminal justice at Penn State allows students to study law enforcement online. The 120-credit curriculum explores many topics, such as criminology, ethics, security, police administration, and alternatives to incarceration. Students are also able to pursue an 18-credit minor in homeland security, which serves as preparation for positions in the private and public sectors. Coursework is delivered asynchronously. The university recommends this program for first-time freshman and transfer applicants. All applicants should submit appropriate transcripts. First-time freshman do not need to submit standardized test scores. Proof of English proficiency may be required. Pennsylvania residents receive a moderate tuition discount. Military students are eligible for reduced tuition as well.

9

Eastern Kentucky UniversityRichmond, KY

Admissions Rate 71%
Default Rate 13%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 21%

EKU’s law enforcement degree, the bachelor of science in police studies, is available completely online. The 120-credit program may be completed entirely at EKU or through a combination of institutions, as EKU accepts up to 90 transfer credits. The major consists of 54-57 credits, which includes police studies core courses and major-related electives. Students must also complete general core and elective classes. All courses are delivered asynchronously. Students with fewer than 24 college credits should have a minimum high school GPA of 2.5 and must submit ACT or SAT scores. Applicants with college credits should also submit college transcripts. Tuition is the same for all students, regardless of state residency.

10

Hampton UniversityHampton, VA

Admissions Rate 69%
Default Rate 12%
Retention Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 65%
Online Enrollment 3%

Hampton University offers an online degree in law enforcement in the form of a bachelor of science in criminal justice. The 120-credit curriculum takes a multidisciplinary approach to exploring criminology and law enforcement. Students study criminal law, psychology, juvenile delinquency, social psychology, terrorism, and homeland security. General education and elective courses are included in the four-year curriculum. The program concludes with a senior practicum. Applicants should submit their high school transcripts or GED scores. A 250–300-word personal essay is also required. Transfer applicants should provide official college transcripts. The university, which is located in Hampton, Virginia, does not require SAT or ACT scores. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate.

11

Point Park UniversityPittsburgh, PA

Admissions Rate 71%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 58%
Online Enrollment 7%

Point Park University’s bachelor of science in criminal justice consists of 120 credit hours that may be completed in two to four years, depending on how many credits a student transfers in. The curriculum includes 42 thematic core and 12 free elective credits. The remaining 66 credit hours are divided between major and departmental core courses and major-related electives. Applicants should file the free online application and submit official high school or college transcripts. ACT or SAT scores are not required. Transfer students must have completed 12 college credit hours or have studied at the college level for at least six months. They must also have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0. All students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of state residency.

12

Northwestern State University of LouisianaNatchitoches, LA

Admissions Rate 84%
Default Rate 14%
Retention Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 38%
Online Enrollment 36%

NSU's bachelor of arts in criminal justice is comprised of 120 credits, which takes about four years of full-time study to complete. Students take courses in a variety of disciplines, such as psychology, political science, and sociology. They are also required to complete general core requirements in the arts and humanities. Law enforcement degree applicants should submit high school or college transcripts or GED scores. ACT or SAT scores are also required for freshman applicants. Transfer applicants with fewer than 18 college credits should submit high school transcripts and may also need to submit standardized test scores if they have not completed the required math and English courses. Online students do not pay out-of-state fees or extra tuition.

13

City University of SeattleSeattle, WA

Admissions Rate N/A Default Rate 6% Graduation Rate 47% Online Enrollment 58%

CityU of Seattle offers an online law enforcement degree that uses a multidisciplinary approach to train students for careers within three areas of emphasis: corporate security investigation, cyber forensic investigation, and justice administration. The bachelor of science in criminal justice requires students to earn 180 credits. Courses are taught by professors who have field experience. The program concludes with a five-credit capstone course. Applicants should submit high school or college transcripts or GED scores. Standardized test scores are not required. Students with military experience or training from a prior criminal justice program are eligible to count those experiences toward lower-level degree credits. All online students pay the same tuition rate.

14

Tiffin UniversityTiffin, OH

Admissions Rate 93%
Default Rate 12%
Retention Rate 62%
Graduation Rate 38%
Online Enrollment 29%

Tiffin offers a unique law enforcement degree online. The bachelor's in criminal justice in law enforcement utilizes the disciplines of behavioral science, law, and politics to teach students the academic and practical applications of those disciplines in the law enforcement field. Students also study homeland security, crime prevention and repression, and the design and policy of law enforcement agencies. The average degree completion time for the 120-credit program is 10 semesters, which is about four years. Prospective students should fill out the free online application. Standardized test scores are not required. Transfer applicants should provide official college transcripts. The university is located in Tiffin, Ohio. In-state and out-of-state tuition is the same. Financial aid is available to eligible students who submit the FAFSA.

15

New England CollegeHenniker, NH

Admissions Rate 98%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 57%
Graduation Rate 34%
Online Enrollment 57%

New England College offers an online bachelor of arts in criminal justice. The 120-credit curriculum includes 44 credits of major courses, which provides a comprehensive introduction to many criminal justice topics, such as law enforcement practices, investigative techniques, and the impact of lawsuits on policy. Students also take 40 credits of general education courses and 36 credits of electives. The college is located in Henniker, New Hampshire, and all online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of state residency. Online degree in law enforcement students may apply as first-time freshman or transfer learners. The college awards up to 90 transfer credits toward the criminal justice degree. ACT or SAT scores are not required for admission; applicants need only to file the application and submit official transcripts.

16

Northern Kentucky UniversityHighland Heights, KY

Admissions Rate 92%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 40%
Online Enrollment 11%

NKU’s bachelor of arts in criminal justice provides broad training in the law enforcement field that learners can apply towards a number of positions. The 120-credit curriculum explores criminal justice topics, such as culture, ethics, and policing in America. Students also hone their analytical and critical thinking skills through courses that focus on research. The university’s general education core reinforces those skills as well. The university encourages students to pursue electives or specialized interest areas within the law enforcement degree. Applicants should submit their high school transcripts or GED scores. ACT or SAT scores are also required. Transfer students should provide official college transcripts. The campus is located in Highland Heights, Kentucky. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of state residency.

17

Bellevue UniversityBellevue, NE

Admissions Rate N/A
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 63%
Graduation Rate 18%
Online Enrollment 78%

Bellevue University offers an online law enforcement degree. The school's bachelor of science in criminal justice helps students develop an in-depth understanding of the entire criminal justice system. The program emphasizes topics such as criminal behavior analysis, principles of law and ethics, contemporary social issues, strategic management, and policy development. The 127-credit curriculum includes 27 general education credits, 40 major credits, and 51 elective credits. Students also complete the nine-credit Kirkpatrick Signature Series, which focuses on American tradition, freedoms, and values. The university is located in Bellevue, Nebraska. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of state residency. Military students pay a discounted tuition. Applicants should submit high school or college transcripts or GED scores. Standardized test scores are not required.

18

Wilmington UniversityNew Castle, DE

Admissions Rate N/A
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 60%
Graduation Rate 23%
Online Enrollment 31%

The bachelor of science in criminal justice provides insight into the criminal justice system. Students study law enforcement online in an accelerated format. The 120-credit curriculum includes 33 credits of general core and 18 credits of free elective courses to help students graduate with a well-rounded education. Students take 45 credits of criminal justice core courses and 18 credits of criminal justice electives, which teach students the necessary career skills. The university also offers a six-credit CAP program that places students into two criminal justice internships. First-time applicants should submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. They are also required to arrange a meeting with an adviser. Transfer applicants should submit official college transcripts and must schedule an advising appointment. All online students pay the same tuition rate.

19

Excelsior CollegeAlbany, NY

Admissions Rate N/A Default Rate 7% Online Enrollment 100%

Excelsior College’s online law enforcement degree is delivered asynchronously. The 120-credit bachelor of science in criminal justice (law enforcement and public safety concentration) program consists of 27 general education credits and a minimum of 33 major credits. The remaining credits are completed through electives and arts and science requirements. The criminal justice major has four optional concentrations: criminal justice administration, homeland security, investigative forensics, and law enforcement and public safety. Excelsior does not require special application procedures. Applicants need only file the application and submit high school or official college transcripts. A generous transfer policy awards up to 90 credits toward the criminal justice degree. The college is located in Albany, New York. All online students pay the same tuition rate.

20

Charter Oak State CollegeNew Britain, CT

Admissions Rate N/A Default Rate 7% Online Enrollment 100%

Charter Oak State College’s bachelor of science in criminal justice allows students to concentrate in general criminal justice or victim advocacy. Students explore topics such as forensic science, abnormal psychology, and social problems’ impact on the workplace. Victim advocacy students learn about mental health, victim's rights, and other topics. This concentration requires an extra three-credit class. Learners need 120 credits to graduate, which includes general education courses and electives. The criminal justice major consists of 42 credits and includes a three-credit final capstone. Applicants to the law enforcement degree should submit official transcripts and standardized test scores. Students with military experience may receive college credit. Charter Oak State College is located in New Britain, Connecticut. State residents pay a discounted tuition.

What Will I Learn in an Online Law Enforcement Program?

While most law enforcement degrees cover the same material, there will be some variations between course listings. For any school you’re considering, check the program carefully. A typical online law enforcement degree includes classes like the ones listed below.

  • Policing in America: This class offers an examination of contemporary policing. Class topics include the evolution of law enforcement in America, the role of police today, crime and disorder, control and discretion, moral pitfalls, legitimacy, public support, community policing, police organizations, and police culture.
  • Crime and Delinquency: This course explores crime from socioeconomic, symbolic, psychological, and biological perspectives. Topics include the historical social, political, cultural, and organizational forces that created our criminal justice system.
  • Gender, Race, Class, and Crime: Law enforcement will be examined through the lenses of race, gender, and class. The implications of each of these lenses will be applied to criminal laws, programs, and practices. Students will assess perspectives of victims, offenders, and practitioners.
  • Terrorism Seminar: Participants will gain working knowledge of chemical, radiological, biological, and nuclear weapons. Topics include international prevention efforts, overview of active terrorist threats, and threat response problem-solving.
  • Introduction to Homeland Security: This class is a study of the institutions and entities involved in the protection of the US. Students will explore all components of federal, local, and state police agencies. Implementation of the Homeland Security Act is covered in detail.

What can I do with an Online Law Enforcement Degree?

A law enforcement degree online can qualify you for entry-level positions as a police officer in a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency. If you already have experience on the force, completing your bachelor’s can put you in position for a promotion. Below, we’ve listed a few of the best jobs for those who complete their degree in law enforcement online.

Job Outlook and Salary

The overall employment outlook for law enforcement online graduates is about average; jobs are projected to grow 7% by 2026. The table below shows the number of employed police and detectives in 2016, and the number of jobs the BLS projects in 2026. Geography can have an enormous impact on salaries and the number of available jobs. As you plan your future in this exciting field, carefully weigh the options that your current area offers. If your local options are limited, consider relocating to a market that offers higher salaries, greater opportunities for advancement, or both.

Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024
807,000 860,300

Salary Growth by Experience

Below, we’ve illustrated the median salaries of the three most popular jobs for graduates of online law enforcement schools. Employers value analytical and investigative skills in police work and compensate accordingly. As with most professions, years of service result in financial rewards.


To determine the best online bachelor’s in law enforcement programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online bachelor’s in law enforcement programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.