What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Law Enforcement Administration Program?

In an online master’s in law enforcement administration, you can expect to find courses that provide the skills and knowledge you need to assume a leadership role in law enforcement. Online programs offer law enforcement professionals the flexibility to work around their schedules while continuing their education. Many programs allow individual pacing, so you can complete your online master’s degree based on your timeline, and offer accelerated programs for those who want to finish quicker. Top-ranking online programs follow the same rigorous standards as traditional on-campus courses and provide graduates with the education they need to succeed.

Available concentrations

Online master’s in law enforcement administration programs offer a variety of concentrations that help improve your crime prevention, personnel management, and leadership skills. Most programs are designed for mid-level to upper-level law enforcement professionals, but the curriculum varies. Compare program details and choose one with courses that align with your career goals, especially when you seek advancement into supervisory roles.

  • Crime prevention: Deals with deterring criminal activity; covers topics including basic crime prevention theory, police effectiveness, police ethics, and community policing. Graduates may find jobs as crime scene investigators, criminal investigators, forensic scientists, law enforcement detectives, or FBI agents.
  • Corrections: Covers prison reform and the various types of correctional, rehabilitation, probation, and parole programs. This concentration equips students to become correctional facility administrators, probation officers, corrections program managers, or policy analysts in criminal justice.
  • Homeland security: Explores the impact and response to domestic and foreign terrorism, including topics on ethics, emergency management, and critical infrastructure protection. This concentration prepares graduates for jobs as intelligence analysts, emergency management directors, border patrol agents, or homeland security specialists.
  • Crime analysis and investigation: Trains students in the intricate details of crime, including analysis and investigation of various types of crime, national security, death investigations, and cold cases. Graduates with this skill set may work as forensic science technicians, crime scene investigators, forensic analysts, or criminologists.

Common degree curriculum

Online master’s programs in law enforcement administration are multidisciplinary, with subject matter that covers numerous specialties useful in leadership roles. Graduate students explore budgeting, communication, human resources, conflict resolution and negation, resource allocation, technology, and management principles related to law enforcement administration.

They will also study theories of criminal justice, crime prevention, and criminology. Programs often require capstone projects or internships, but schools usually allow employed students to complete these requirements around their work schedules. The contemporary curriculum is primarily skills-based and may include courses like:

  • Police Administrative Policy Operations: An overview of strategic administrative approaches to supervising police personnel, including resolving internal management concerns, critical incident management, and community-oriented policing.
  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice: Covers ethics and confidentiality issues and explores the psychological and social scientific research methods used to study crime, criminal justice, and organization administration.
  • Homeland Security and Counterterrorism: An in-depth exploration of domestic and international terrorism, including topics on risk analysis, counterterrorism, tactical and strategic solutions, intelligence, and anti-terrorism technology.
  • Emergency Management: Provides students with advanced skills in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery, including effective information management and decision-making procedures.

Certification and license preparation

Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) agencies offer three possible certifications. They include:

  • POST Certified Police Supervisor: Full-time police officers at a Peace Officer Standards and Training-participating agency with a POST Intermediate Certificate who have earned a minimum of 60 semester units at an accredited college, served two years as a first-level supervisor and completed the POST Supervisory Course may earn supervisory certification from the Peace Officer Standards and Training certification board in their state.
  • POST Certified Police Manager: Full-time police officers at a POST-participating agency with a POST Advanced Certificate who have earned a minimum of 60 semester units at an accredited college, served two years in middle management, and completed the POST Management Course may earn a police management certification from the Peace Officer Standards and Training certification board in their state.
  • POST Certified Police Executive: Full-time police officers at a POST-participating agency with a POST Advanced Certificate who have earned a minimum of 60 semester units at an accredited college, served two years as a department head, and completed the POST Executive Development Course may earn police executive certification from the Peace Officer Standards and Training certification board in their state.

Program accreditation

Accredited online master’s degree programs in law enforcement administration meet the same rigorous educational standards as traditional on-campus programs. Choose a college or university with regional or national accreditation from agencies recognized by the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation to ensure you receive a high-quality education and the best opportunities for career advancement.

Because law enforcement administration programs are often linked to a university’s criminal justice college, the law enforcement program may also have its own accreditation from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. However, the ACJS only accredits a limited number of programs, so focus on and confirm regional and national accreditation.

Program completion timeframe

Online master’s in law enforcement administration programs typically require 30 to 36 credit hours, including core courses, electives, and a final capstone or thesis project. Full-time students can usually complete required coursework in 18 months to two years. However, students can often complete an accelerated program in a year. Students typically take classes one at a time or simultaneously in a cohort-based or self-paced program. Before choosing a program, contact the school for specific information on program length, curriculum, and admission requirements.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Law Enforcement Administration Graduates

Earning a master’s in law enforcement administration creates a competitive resume that makes you a desirable candidate for local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Your degree can help ease the way into your desired career path or accelerate your current career into the leadership or administrative position you seek.

Your online master’s in law enforcement administration combined with experience on the job allow you to move up through the ranks. As your rank increases, so does your annual salary.

The demand for local, state, and federal peace officers is expected to continue rising through 2026. An online master’s in law enforcement administration prepares you for various positions in law enforcement, public administration, and protective services. Graduates may work in police administration, correction, emergency response, homeland security, or information analysis.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate
Supervisors of Police and Detectives This career track includes police chiefs who directly supervise the activities of a police force and manage subordinate personnel while promoting public safety and appropriate use of current and new policing policies and techniques. $92,970 per year 7%
Criminal Intelligence Analyst Intelligence analysts gather, evaluate, and analyze information from various sources in law enforcement, intelligence, and surveillance networks to anticipate and prevent organized criminal activities, including issues with narcotics, gangs, auto theft, human trafficking, foreign and domestic terrorism, or other national security threats. $86,940 per year 5%
Emergency Manager Emergency managers plan, execute, and coordinate crisis management activities and appropriate emergency responses to natural and manufactured disasters, acts of war or terrorism, and hostage situations to ensure public safety. $79,180 per year 3%

Professional organizations

Professional organizations support law enforcement personnel in their careers and desire to continue their education. While pursuing your master’s degree in law enforcement administration, connect with professional organizations that offer scholarships or tuition aid programs, training and professional development opportunities, job listings, and solid networking potential.

Membership should also allow you to collaborate with your peers and provide access to additional guidance and resources that help you stay current on relevant law enforcement legislation.

  • Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association: This organization exclusively represents and advocates on behalf of federal law enforcement agents, offering members legal assistance, insurance assistance, networking opportunities, and scholarships.
  • Fraternal Order of Police: The most prominent organization exclusively for sworn law enforcement officers, the FOP provides members with legal defense, insurance and banking options, online educational resources, national conferences, professional certification programs, tuition assistance, and scholarships for members and their families.
  • National Association of Police Organizations: This U.S.-based association provides legal assistance, a source for new legislation that affects law enforcement officers, professional conventions and seminars, scholarship opportunities, research sponsorship, awards for top professionals, and discounts from participating companies available to members only.
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police: This international association offers the leading periodical for law enforcement executives, the largest annual conference worldwide, year-round professional training events, assessment centers, management studies, comprehensive police executive search services, job listings, and awards of recognition for outstanding service in various fields.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Law Enforcement Administration

Taking classes online is often less expensive than on-campus programs, but some schools charge higher per-credit rates if you live out of state. Prospective online graduate students who require financial assistance should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which schools use to determine eligibility for grants, loans, scholarships, and other forms of financial assistance. You can also find scholarships, private tuition assistance, and other awards strictly available to distance learners — sometimes even specific to your field of study. The following resources provide further information about various ways to finance your continuing education.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

You’ll likely have questions as you search for the best financial aid opportunities for your needs. The following resources can help you:

Online Master’s Degree Scholarship Database

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.