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Degree Overview: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in Law Enforcement

Majors Overview March 5, 2015

Get information about a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program in Law Enforcement and its coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and training choices.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Programs in Law Enforcement

Students enrolled in Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs in Law Enforcement are prepared to seek entry-level careers in the federal, state, or local justice system. During these programs, students may be prepared to become eligible for law enforcement work in their state.

Broader coursework is offered through some programs without relating to the eligibility requirements in a particular state for law enforcement professionals. Schools also allow internship participation, whereby students can obtain field experience working alongside established law enforcement professionals.

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma.


Classes in sociology and psychology are included in the coursework of most law enforcement degree programs, in addition to general education courses and core coursework pertinent to the law enforcement major. Core coursework may commonly include topic areas such as the following:

•Conflict resolution
•Law enforcement research methods
•Law enforcement and professional responsibility
•Tactical communications
•Criminal law
•Community relations

Career Choices

Once they complete the program, students can seek numerous positions in the law enforcement field in various work settings such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, homeland security, drug enforcement work, or in police or sheriff departments. They may choose from traditional entry-level career options such as:

•Private investigator
•Corrections officer
•Police officer
•Sheriff’s deputy

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 5% has been predicted for police and detectives over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). During the same period, correctional officers are expected to see a 5% increase in job growth, while private detectives and investigators are expected to witness 11% in projected increases. In 2012, police officers and sheriff’s patrol officers brought home an average annual wage of $56,980, while correctional officers and private investigators banked respective wages of $38,970 and $45,740 on average.

Continuing Education and Training Choices

Graduates of the bachelor’s degree program seeking employment with law enforcement agencies may be required to receive training for an additional 12–14 weeks. Those who wish to pursue continuing education may choose to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice.

After completion of an accredited bachelor’s degree program, students may apply to these two-year graduate degree programs; coursework includes topic areas such as legal issues in criminal justice, statistics in criminal justice, and administration of criminal justice. Students may be able to opt for specialties such as substance abuse, community planning, or child protection.

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