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Degree Overview: Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree in Law Enforcement

Majors Overview December 15, 2013

Those that are interested in a security, corrections, or law enforcement career may want to look into an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree program in law enforcement. Graduated may seek entry-level jobs in law enforcement after two years or look into continuing their education in bachelor’s degree programs.

A.S. Programs in Law Enforcement

Students enrolled in an Associate’s degree program in law enforcement are required to complete coursework that combines theoretical instruction in subject areas such as management and ethics with practical instruction in police procedures. Many technical schools, universities, and private and public colleges offer these programs that usually take two years to complete. Admission criteria require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.


Coursework in law enforcement programs is devised to train students to face up to both the physical and mental challenges entailed in a career in law enforcement. Coursework commonly includes topic areas such as:

•Crime scene investigation
•Police management
•Criminal justice ethics
•Report writing
•Community policing

Career Choices

Employers of law enforcement officers such as detectives and police officers do not insist on candidates holding more than a high school diploma; however, some departments that give jobs to these professionals are beginning to insist on bachelor’s degree holders or those who have spent at least two years in college (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)).

Individuals who complete an Associate of Science in Law Enforcement program can seek entry-level job roles such as:

•Police officer
•Border patrol officer
•Fish and game warden
•Private investigators
•Correctional officer

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Graduates of a degree program in law enforcement who are recruited by a police department are usually expected to undergo 12-14 weeks of training at a training academy (BLS). They are imparted knowledge about state regulations and engage in supervised practice in police procedures. A training academy of 3-12 months’ duration is mandatory for fish and game wardens. The majority of states require private investigators to obtain licensure before they are allowed to practice their profession; different states have different requirements for private investigators (BLS).

Associate degree graduates who seek continued education can earn a bachelor’s degree in majors such as legal studies, criminology or criminal justice. Beyond the undergraduate degree, interested individuals can also aim to complete masters and doctoral degree programs.

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