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Tim McMillan in his police uniform working at his desk with text Tim McMillan '15

Law Enforcement Degree Online Bachelor's in Police Administration

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Register By: October 22 Classes Start: October 24

Earn a Law Enforcement Degree Online

  • $320/credit (120 total credits)
  • Transfer up to 90 credits
  • Get up to 12 credits for law enforcement and military training
  • No application fee or SAT/ACT scores
  • 24/7 online access to the classroom
  • Median annual salary of $67,290 for police and detectives1

Online Police Administration Concentration Overview

There are those born to serve their communities on the front lines and those born to lead behind the scenes. The criminal justice system needs both.

Great leaders help police officers, detectives and other branches of law enforcement do great work. They’re a vital element in every aspect of the profession. SNHU's Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Police Administration and Operations can help you become the kind of leader the law enforcement field needs – today and tomorrow.

You’ll explore the demands, functions and evolving state of the modern police force. You'll learn the many roles of police agencies across the country. And you’ll gain a foundation in criminal justice principles as you dive deep into psychology, American politics and criminal law.

At the root of every career in the criminal justice system is a desire to help. As a leader in criminal justice education, SNHU is committed to helping you learn how you can help. Earning your online law enforcement degree is the first step.

Learn how to:

  • Analyze crimes using advanced tools and techniques
  • Balance real-world demands with tight budgets
  • Develop performance evaluations and set goals
  • Think critically, solve problems and communicate effectively
  • Shape and set expectations for community policing
  • Work behind the scenes to make a police agency succeed

Career Outlook

The days of going into criminal justice because your father or brother did are fading into the past. The field is changing, and so are degree requirements.

Dr Jeff Czarnec in a suit with text 'Dr. Jeff Czarnec'“Now you have highly educated people dominating the field,” said Dr. Jeff Czarnec, associate dean of SNHU’s criminal justice program. “They want more out of life. They want more out of the field.”

As a growing number of employers require a college education from candidates for jobs or promotions, more and more criminal justice students are benefiting. SNHU’s online law enforcement degree was designed to help working officers gain the skills and insights they need to move up in criminal justice.

By earning your law enforcement degree at SNHU, you'll be well-prepared for a number of career paths in this field, including:

  • Correctional officers and bailiffs: Correctional officers oversee defendants under arrest and awaiting trial or a prison sentence. Bailiffs maintain safety and order in courtrooms. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics placed the median annual salary for these occupations at $47,440 in 2020.1
  • Police and detectives: According to the BLS, detectives and criminal investigators gather facts and collect evidence for criminal cases. Patrol officers, the most common type, have general law enforcement duties. The BLS projects 7% growth for police and detectives through 2030 and reported a median annual salary of $67,290 in 2020.1
  • Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists: Probation officers supervise people placed on probation. Correctional treatment specialists develop rehabilitation plans for people on probation or parole. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $55,690 in 2020.1
  • Security guards and gaming surveillance officers: Bodyguards, security guards and gaming surveillance officers all fall into this general category. Their main responsibility is to patrol and protect property and people from illegal activity. The BLS projects 15% growth for these roles through 2030 – much faster than the average of all occupations.1

Note: Law enforcement positions may involve additional training and eligibility requirements.

 Ian Moffett, SNHU instructor and retired chief of the Miami-Dade school system police departmentBeyond the academic benefits of earning a degree, the police administration program also instills soft skills you'll find critical in the workplace.

“We know studies show that people with higher education, people who have degrees, have better problem-solving skills, they’re more empathetic,” said Ian Moffett, SNHU instructor and retired chief of the Miami-Dade school system police department. “They understand community policing. They can implement it.”

Throughout your online law enforcement classes, you’ll learn from faculty with real-world experience as criminal justice leaders. Their firsthand insights into the field will enhance your education and help you get more out of your own career.

David Lemieux with text David LemieuxDavid Lemieux ’18 earned his law enforcement degree – and a raise from the Portland Police Department in Maine.

“Portland has an agency of approximately 150 police officers,” said Lemieux. “I chose criminal justice in police operations to advance through the ranks as I gain experience.”

Lemieux is typical of many online law enforcement degree students, working full time, often on second and third shifts. He liked the flexibility of the online program and appreciated learning from faculty with experience and empathy.

“Every instructor had a vast array of knowledge,” he said. “They also know that life happens and were able to work with you if an incident came up.”

Lemieux gained more than a bachelor's degree in law enforcement. He gained more confidence at work.

“My affidavits have significantly improved,” he said. “My criminal justice degree has also provided me with the knowledge in constitutional law to conduct proper police community involvement.”

In addition, your law enforcement education can prepare you for immediate career advancement or an advanced degree in criminal justice.

If you see yourself in a leadership role in public policy, the online Graduate Certificate in Public Administration is a logical next step. If you’re tech savvy and interested in public safety, the online Graduate Certificate in Advanced Counterterrorism & Homeland Security might be a better fit. Both offer immediate benefits, as well as the ability to apply earned credits toward an online master's in criminal justice.

Earn credits for what you already know: Did you know certain work and life experience – like industry-recognized certifications or law enforcement or military training – could save you time and money at SNHU? Learn how you could get credit for work or life experience.

Start Your Journey Towards an Online Police Administration and Operations Concentration Degree

Courses & Curriculum

Members of law enforcement hold a unique role in society. Every traffic stop or knock on the door carries with it an enormous responsibility. It also highlights the need for strong communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, along with cultural competency and emotional intelligence.

Maria Daniel with text Maria DanielCommunity policing is a core component of SNHU’s law enforcement degree. María Daniel, who practices law in Philadelphia and teaches in SNHU's criminal justice program, addressed this topic on a recent panel of criminal justice experts for SNHU’s Contemporary Justice Series. She stressed that the issues facing the criminal justice system go beyond the nation’s police departments to inequities in the treatment of minorities.

“I think that all of us have an obligation to be the change,” Daniel said. “We have to be the light in the darkness, whatever your role in the criminal justice system. We have to treat people as human first, and we have to be transparent in our shortcomings and say, ‘I can do better.’”

In recent years, SNHU worked with faculty and subject matter experts to rethink our whole criminal justice curriculum. Our law enforcement degree reflects that work. It also reinforces our commitment to provide the skills and experiences you’ll need to bring to the workforce.

“We have a bigger responsibility than to just deliver content,” said Dr. Jeff Czarnec, associate dean of SNHU’s criminal justice and social science programs. “Our biggest responsibility is to add value to the program by looking to develop culturally competent public safety people.”

As a criminal justice student, you’ll see this focus on cultural competency in both your online law enforcement electives and your core courses. You’ll gain a solid foundation in cultural awareness, communication, discretion, problem-solving and other essential criminal justice principles. You’ll also learn how to align best practices for managing police operations with public safety goals.

The law enforcement degree program also integrates new learning resources that build to a criminal justice communication certificate – a bonus if you want to move up the ranks. Designed to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills to communicate effectively with a range of communities, the certificate focuses on enhancing your ability to accurately convey essential information.

The online law enforcement degree concentration covers topics ranging from crime analysis to policy development and consists of these 4 courses:

  • Crime Analysis and Effective Police Service. Explore the assets and tools of progressive crime analysis techniques and their relationship to the delivery of effective police services. Learn to apply theory, data collection methods and basic use of statistics to various goals of policing.
  • Crisis Intervention for Police. Study crisis theory, intervention and strategies required for first responders. Learn how to recognize threat levels, listen actively, and conduct effective mediation and negotiations in situations like attempted suicides, hostage-taking and barricaded subjects.
  • Effective Patrol and Community Policing. Examine the principles and effective practices of police patrol and operations. Discuss and analyze how to prepare and set expectations for patrol officers. Study the fundamental aspects and best practices of community policing.
  • Leadership and Management in Criminal Justice Organizations. Learn how to lead and manage in the criminal justice workplace. Explore the traits and characteristics of criminal justice professionals at work. Develop performance evaluations and goals.

SNHU’s online criminal justice degree core and specialized courses are taught by highly regarded, accomplished faculty with years of real-world, hands-on experience. Our online faculty reflect the advanced academic qualifications and practical experience of a top-ranked, accredited university.

Our criminal justice faculty have experience working for major law enforcement agencies, including:

  • Atlanta Police Department
  • Chicago Police Department
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Homeland Security
  • Houston Police Department
  • Miami Police Department
  • New York City Police Department (NYPD)

Curriculum Requirements & Resources

  • General education courses: All online bachelor's students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
  • Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
  • Save time and tuition: Depending on your scores, you could earn up to 12 math credits – the equivalent of 4 courses – toward your degree for less than $50 per assessment with our Pathways to Math Success assessments.

Tuition & Fees

As a private, nonprofit university, we’re committed to making college more accessible by making it more affordable. That’s why we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.

We also offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.

Online Undergraduate Programs Per Course Per Credit Hour Annual Cost for 30 credits 
Degree/Certificates $960 $320 $9,600
Degree/Certificates (U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)* $675 $225 $6,750

Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually. *Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.

Additional Costs No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)

Frequently Asked Questions

University Accreditation

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.