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Best Online Law Enforcement Degree Programs

With a law enforcement degree, not only can you pursue a career as a police officer, but you can also work as a detective, a cybersecurity specialist, or a private investigator. Explore top-rated, flexible online programs that can give you the training to begin or advance your career.

Author: Shannon Lee
Editor: STEPS Staff

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Two law enforcement offers are seen looking at their phones while standing in front of yellow police tape at a crime scene.

While some entry-level careers in law enforcement require only a high school diploma and completion of a police academy program, a college credential can help you stand out among candidates and qualify you for higher-paying positions and leadership roles. Police officers have a median salary in the US of around $72,000 annually, but if you have a 4-year degree, you are more likely to be considered for promotions and leadership roles that can pay much more than that.

From certificate programs to graduate degrees, there are options at every level. Accredited online programs are also readily available, providing a convenient option for those already working in the field and others who can benefit from the added flexibility of remote learning. Read on to explore this year’s best online law enforcement degree programs, learn about the curriculum and the different types of programs offered online, and much more.

Best Online Colleges for Law Enforcement in 2024

With so many options available in law enforcement education and training, how do you know which one is right for you? To help you decide, we looked at a variety of online law enforcement programs across the U.S. in terms of online program availability, quality, accreditation, and affordability. The ranking below highlights the best overall colleges for earning your law enforcement degree online in 2024.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings, followed by online learning and academic quality metrics (equally weighted).


  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for undergraduate students per academic year.
  • Percentage of students who receive institutional financial aid (directly from the school).
  • Average amount of institutional financial aid awarded.

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of students at the school taking at least one class online.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio.
  • Percentage of full-time, first-time students graduating within 6 years.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission


Waynesburg University

Waynesburg, Pennsylvania

Waynesburg University offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Investigation completely online. The online coursework allows flexibility in scheduling for students who are juggling a career or family responsibility along with their education. This program can be taken either full time or part time. Students can expect to take courses in advanced criminal investigation, effective behavior analysis, financial crime investigations, drug crime investigations, complex and special investigations, gang and organized crime investigations, and prosecutorial strategies. To be admitted into this program, students must have a bachelor's degree, an official copy of their transcripts, and a current resume. There will also be an application interview where potential students may be asked about their past work history.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Criminal Investigation

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $705 per credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 11:1