The best degree for law enforcement professionals is a degree that will help you reach your personal and professional goals. While there is not a single path that will work for everyone in every situation, there are several options that can meet each individual's unique needs.
Ultimately, it is important to begin with the end in mind. This doesn't mean that you will need to know exactly where you will want to be and what you will want to do when you are finished. However, it is best to have a sense of the direction in which you want to go. Think about what your ideal career path might look like. Do you hope to become a detective? Major? Chief of police? Do you get the most enjoyment out of patrolling the streets? It is different for everyone. The best degree for a police officer will be the one that helps you achieve your goals.
As you think about what you want from a degree, consider the following questions to help you decide which program will best fit your needs.
Will the degree help you advance your career?
A good law enforcement degree will help you advance your career. You will be able to apply what you learn and show that your skills and knowledge qualify you for promotions and new employment opportunities. A degree cannot guarantee a job or career move. However, it can help you gain the skills that contribute to career advancement.
Improved job satisfaction is something that everyone wants. You want to know that you are making a difference, that you are appreciated, and that you have advancement opportunities. The best law enforcement degrees can contribute to job satisfaction by giving you the skills to make a difference.
Forty-seven percent of police agencies offer pay increases for college graduates. College graduates are appreciated for what they are able to provide back to the agency. Since 57% of police agencies offer college tuition reimbursement, going to school often pays for itself.
Will the degree enhance your skillsets?
The best law enforcement degree programs can help build your critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is incredibly important for police officers. You have to quickly evaluate situations and decide what action must be taken. A degree that teaches critical thinking skills can help you focus on the essential pieces and not get distracted by unimportant components.
Is the degree accredited?
There are many degree programs out there. The best degrees are regionally accredited. Regional accreditation is a university's stamp of approval. It is the indicator that the program is of the highest quality. A college with regional accreditation has been carefully evaluated on many different levels. Colleges with regional accreditation ensure that credits will transfer and be respected at other regionally accredited institutions.
Will the degree work with your busy schedule?
Online programs that are regionally accredited carry the same respect as traditional, on-campus programs. The main difference is that an online law enforcement degree provides additional convenience for working professionals. Since the program is online, you are able to study when it is most convenient to you. If your busy schedule simply will not allow you to take classes during the day time, an online degree program can provide added flexibility to complete the degree after hours.
So, what is the best option?
The best degree for law enforcement professionals or aspiring law enforcement professionals is the one that will help you meet your personal and professional goals. It will be interesting to you, will help you advance in your career, will be respected, and will work with your busy schedule. An associate’s or bachelor's degree in law enforcement will provide you with a strong foundation to advance your policing career.
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