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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Police Science

Majors Overview November 8, 2015

Those looking for basic training in the legal system’s workings and law enforcement skills should look into associate’s and bachelor’s programs in police science. This article talks about these programs and their coursework and job and wage outlook.

Master’s Programs in Police Science

Few schools, if any, offer master’s degrees in police science; an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program in the field is more commonly available. Some schools seek to attract applicants currently working as law enforcement officers while others admit students seeking entry-level jobs in the field. Apart from general education courses, students complete coursework in emergency driving techniques, arrests, the court system, and first aid. Enrollees may avail additional training through bachelor’s degree programs to prepare for careers as police supervisors or work as investigators.

State certification requirements must be met by program graduates before they can seek careers in law enforcement, additional training through a police academy is usually part of these requirements. A high school diploma is the minimum academic requirement for those seeking entry-level careers at the state and local levels. An undergraduate degree may be a requirement for careers in some police departments.

Associate’s Programs in Police Science

A 2-year program is devised to teach students about basic emergency response topic areas such as arrests, patrol techniques, less-lethal weapons, firearms, first aid and crime scene investigation. The basic operation of correctional facilities and court systems is also in the coursework.

Associate’s degree programs in police science seek enrollees currently working as peace officers and students aspiring to a career in law enforcement, as well as those wishing for employment as security guards. Absence of experience in law enforcement would entail completing police academy training, gaining licensure to carry a pistol and meeting state-level certification requirements.


Program coursework covers academic requirements in math, English composition, psychology, and computer applications. Core coursework, which incorporates study of basic police operations, criminal justice, and other requirements in American government, covers subject areas such as:

•Police management
•Investigation techniques
•First aid
•Traffic investigations
•Juvenile Justice
•Law enforcement safety

Job and Wage Outlook

Police officers are usually required to have completed two years of college or a high school diploma; they must also obtain a pistol permit and meet state-specific certification requirements. Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth of five percent has been predicted for police officers and detectives (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $56,980 (BLS).

Bachelor’s Programs in Police Science

Applicants for admission to a bachelor’s degree program in police science are usually seeking career advancement as police chiefs, detectives, and law enforcement supervisors. Other incoming students seek careers as FBI agents, police managers, or investigators. Although these professionals have to undergo compulsory certification and firearms training as mandated by their state before beginning careers as police officers, these requirements are included in the coursework of some programs.

Program graduates can expect to gain the ability to employ lethal as well as less-lethal weapons that a law enforcement agency might issue to them. They can also expect to gain expertise in using emergency driving tactics, administering basic first aid, conducting patrols, demonstrating arrest techniques, questioning witnesses and investigating crime scenes.


Incoming students, who don’t already hold an associate’s degree in police science, would need to complete a substantial number of classes that comprise the coursework in a traditional 2-year program. Core coursework incorporates classes in criminal law, police management issues, the court system and firearms, in addition to subject areas such as:

•Ethics in law enforcement
•Special investigations
•Human resources issues
•Police instruction
•Media relations and law enforcement
•Violent and property crime
•Rules of evidence

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, detectives and criminal investigators brought in an average annual wage of $74,300, while police and detectives earned $78,270, on average per annum, during that same period.

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