Police Officer Schools and Colleges with Program Overview

Police officers work to prevent crime and to keep the peace. They enforce laws set in place by federal, state and local government agencies. Police officer schools take the form of state and regional police academies, but colleges can also offer police officer education. Prior to training at the police academy, some officers may be required to obtain college degrees.

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How to Select a Police Officer School

Training for police officers typically takes place at police academies. Trainees at small police departments generally attend regional or state academies, while trainees at large police departments attend their agency's police academy. Police academy training usually lasts three to three and a half months and consists of physical education and upper body training exercises, as well as courses in constitutional law, state laws, civil rights, local ordinances, traffic control, firearm use, first aid and self-defense.

Although admission to a police academy often requires only a high school degree or equivalent GED, college degrees for police officers are also available. Some officers, such as those who work for federal agencies, are required to obtain college degrees. These programs may result in associate's or bachelor's degrees in criminal justice or police science. Students pursuing degrees in police science or criminal justice should focus on programs that provide as much career-related experience as possible. While traditional internship training is available, students may also want to complete an externship or co-op program.

Externships are 'shadowing' programs that generally last a few days. As a 'shadow', a student follows a professional police officer as he or she works. The student observes and gains first-hand experience seeing what the daily duties of the job involve. Co-ops, also known as cooperative education programs, combine classroom instruction with paid work experience in one's field of interest. Co-ops and externships can be completed at places such as local police departments, juvenile justice agencies, district attorneys' offices and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).

Police officers need to be in good physical shape. Students pursuing a college education can take advantage of criminal justice and police science programs that offer courses focusing on strength training and physical fitness. While taking a foreign language course is required for most degrees, students may also benefit from criminal justice or police science programs that offer bilingual classes as part of its curriculum. This is particularly true for students who plan to work in areas with large non-English speaking populations.

College Program Overview

A bachelor's degree program in criminology or criminal justice includes courses in law, ethics and investigative practice. Students also learn about operation of the American judicial and correctional systems. A student may be able to specialize with electives in subjects such as juvenile crime or rehabilitation. Sociology and psychology courses are often included with the general education requirements in a criminal justice program to help prospective police officers better understand human behavior.

Largest Schools by Student Enrollment

College/University Student Population Institution Type
Miami Dade College57,2224-year, primarily associate's, Public
College of Southern Nevada40,3104-year, primarily associate's, Public
Excelsior College33,4534-year, Private not-for-profit
George Mason Univeristy30,6134-year, Public
Texas State University-San Marcos29,1054-year, Public
St Petersburg College26,6594-year, primarily associate's, Public
Florida Community College at Jacksonville25,9034-year, primarily associate's, Public
Northeastern University25,8374-year, Private not-for-profit
George Washington University25,1164-year, Private not-for-profit
University of Akron Main Campus24,1194-year, Public
University of Toledo22,3364-year, Public
Weber State University21,3884-year, Public
Eastern Kentucky University16,0314-year, Public
Indian River State College15,3664-year, primarily associate's, Public
Southeastern Louisiana Univeristy15,2154-year, Public
Northern Kentucky University15,0824-year, Public
Daytona State College15,0304-year, primarily associate's, Public
CUNY John Jay College Criminal Justice14,8444-year, Public
Madison Area Technical College14,6664-year, Public
Minnesota State University-Mankato14,6214-year, Public
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Popular Schools

  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (2 campuses)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate in Criminal Justice

    What year did you graduate from high school?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Minnesota (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Bachelor
        • Bachelor of Science - Criminal Justice Brooklyn Center
    • Associate
        • Associate - Criminal Justice Brooklyn Center

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • All degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree or higher
    • Post-Master's Certificate degree applicants must have a Masters degree or higher
    School locations:
    • Maryland (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Non-Degree
        • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Government Analytics
        • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in National Security Studies

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at George Washington University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
        • Forensic Science
        • Law Enforcement Administration
        • Police Science and Law Enforcement
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
      • Legal Support Services
  • School locations:
    • Virginia (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at George Mason University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Police Science and Law Enforcement
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
      • Legal Support Services
  • School locations:
    • Louisiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Southeastern Louisiana University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
        • Police Science and Law Enforcement
  • School locations:
    • Kentucky (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Northern Kentucky University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
        • Police Science and Law Enforcement
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies

Popular Schools

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