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

Law enforcement professionals serve the public and protect lives and property while enforcing laws and solving crimes. An online master’s in law enforcement administration provides you with the skills and knowledge you need to assume a leadership role. Online programs offer the flexibility law enforcement professionals need to work around their schedule while continuing their education. Many programs allow individual pacing, so you can complete your online master’s degree based on your time line, 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.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Law Enforcement Administration

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.

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Crime Prevention Deterring criminal activity and covers topics like basic crime prevention theory, police effectiveness, police ethics and community policing. Crime scene investigator, criminal investigator, forensic scientist, law enforcement detective, FBI agent
Corrections Covers prison reform and the various types of correctional, rehabilitation, probation and parole programs. Crime scene photographer, forensic photographer, expert photo analyst, crime scene specialist
Homeland Security The impact and response to domestic and foreign terrorism, including topics on ethics, emergency management and protection of critical infrastructure. Latent print examiner, latent print expert, fingerprint analyst, crime scene specialist
Crime Analysis and Investigation The intricate details of crime, including analysis and investigation of various types of crime, national security, death investigations and cold cases. Law enforcement, forensic science technician, crime scene investigator, forensic analyst, criminologist

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Law Enforcement Administration

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 as they relate to law enforcement administration, as well as theories in 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. Contemporary curriculum is primarily skills-based and may include courses like:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
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 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 understanding of domestic and international terrorism, including topics on risk analysis, counterterrorism, tactical and strategic solutions, intelligence and anti-terrorism technology.
Emergency Management Provide graduates with advanced skills in emergency preparedness, response and recovery, including effective information management and decision-making procedures.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Law Enforcement Administration?

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

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Law Enforcement Administration Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
P.O.S.T. Certified Police Supervisor Full-time police officers at a Peace Officer Standards and Training-participating agency with a P.O.S.T. Intermediate Certificate and who have earned a minimum of 60 semester units at an accredited college, served two years as a first-level supervisor and completed the P.O.S.T. Supervisory Course may earn supervisory certification from the Peace Officer Standards and Training certification board in their state.
P.O.S.T. 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.
P.O.ST. 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.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Law Enforcement Administration Degrees

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.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Law Enforcement Administration Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Earning a master’s in law enforcement administration creates a competitive resume that makes you a desirable candidate to 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.

Expected Salary

A master’s in law enforcement administration provides you with advanced knowledge of police personnel leadership and public administration. Your degree can effectively open up numerous opportunities in a wide range of law enforcement career paths. Your career track could lead you to law enforcement positions with varied levels of responsibility and salary ranges like the ones listed below.

Job Title Salary Range
Detective/Criminal Investigator $38,343–$106,472
Police Sergeant $42,852–$111,316
Police Lieutenant $49,575–$130,492
Police Captain $49,202–$144,690
Police Chief $42,245¬$136,136
Prison Warden $53,160–$140,036
Emergency Management Specialist $36,359–$94,490

Source: PayScale.com

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. Some of the median salaries for law enforcement personnel based on their rank are listed below.

Median Salaries of Law Enforcement Personnel

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Opportunities

The demand for peace officers at the local, state and federal levels is expected to continue rising through 2026. An online master’s in law enforcement administration prepares you for a wide variety of 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 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. $87,910 per year 7%
Criminal Intelligence Analyst Intelligence analysts gather, evaluate and analyze information from various sources in law enforcement, intelligence and surveillance networks so they can anticipate and prevent organized criminal activities, including issues with narcotics, gangs, auto theft, human trafficking, and foreign and domestic terrorism or other national security threats. $79,970 per year 7%
Emergency Manager Emergency managers plan, execute and coordinate crisis management activities and appropriate emergency responses to natural and man-made disasters, acts of war or terrorism and hostage situations to ensure public safety. $72,760 per year 8%

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 largest organization exclusively for sworn law enforcement officers, the FOP provides members with legal defense, insurance and banking options, online educational resources, national conferences and other professional events, professional certification programs, tuition assistance and scholarships for members and their families.

Federal Criminal Investigators Association: An online association that offers a convenient source of job opportunities and a network for communication and support with news releases and articles covering legislation that impacts law enforcement.

National Association of Police Organizations: A U.S.-based association that 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 deeply discounted special offers from participating companies available to members only.

International Association of Chiefs of Police: An international association especially for police leaders that offers timely research, programming and training opportunities, 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 do charge higher per credit rates if you live out of state. Prospective online graduate students who require financial assistance can quality for many of the same types of state and federal financial aid as traditional students. 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.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Fraternal Order of Police: Grand Lodge Education Scholarship

Award: Up to $500

Deadline: 45 days after semester completion

Eligibility: Tuition reimbursement for eligible FOP members enrolled in a National FOP University with courses that can be taken completely online to accommodate a working law enforcement officer’s schedule.

Margaret Farnworth Graduate Scholarship Fund

Award: $2,000

Deadline: March

Eligibility: Full-time graduate or doctoral students enrolled in the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University who plan to teach at an institute of higher learning or work at a criminal justice or law enforcement agency.

Sergeant Peter Tam Law Enforcement Scholarship

Award: $1,000

Deadline: April

Eligibility: Part-time graduate students, currently or soon-to-be employed full-time in a law enforcement capacity and enrolled in a master’s program in criminal justice, public administration, digital forensics, cyber security, forensic science or forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.