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top police colleges for cops

Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • The top police col­leges for cops offer a wide range of pro­grams that cov­er essen­tial aspects of law enforce­ment, includ­ing patrolling, crime pre­ven­tion, inves­tiga­tive tech­niques, and com­mu­ni­ty polic­ing.
  • Many col­leges have options for stu­dents to study on cam­pus or online, mak­ing it eas­i­er to fit school into dif­fer­ent schedules
  • Grad­u­ates from these pro­grams are well-pre­pared for careers in var­i­ous law enforce­ment agen­cies and are equipped to meet the evolv­ing chal­lenges of pub­lic safety.

This arti­cle was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in July 2023 and was last updat­ed in Jan­u­ary 2024.

These days life is much more com­pli­cat­ed and law enforce­ment more sophis­ti­cat­ed. Most rook­ie cops have col­lege degrees before even going to the police acad­e­my. What fol­lows is a list of some of the best schools that offer law enforce­ment and police sci­ence degree pro­grams, includ­ing online programs.

At these schools, you’ll learn the nuts and bolts of police work, from patrolling to inves­ti­gat­ing, from pre­vent­ing crime to writ­ing reports. You’ll pre­pare to meet the many chal­lenges of police work and law enforce­ment, includ­ing han­dling peo­ple who resist arrest, using force respon­si­bly, and build­ing a strong rela­tion­ship with the peo­ple you’ll pro­tect. Law enforce­ment is a noble pro­fes­sion and one that needs good, edu­cat­ed, and moti­vat­ed people.

Relat­ed Rankings:

1. John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, NY

Tuition: $7,470 in-state tuition; $15,420 out-of-state tuition

At John Jay Col­lege (City Uni­ver­si­ty of New York) future law enforce­ment pro­fes­sion­als can earn a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Police Stud­ies. Once enrolled, stu­dents get aca­d­e­m­ic cred­it in crim­i­nal jus­tice, police sci­ence, patrol func­tion, and com­mu­ni­ty polic­ing. They also study police sys­tems and the role of labor rela­tions in policing.

There is no col­lege any­where in the U.S. or the world quite like John Jay. Found­ed in 1964, John Jay Col­lege of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice – a senior col­lege of The City Uni­ver­si­ty of New York – has evolved into the pre­em­i­nent inter­na­tion­al leader in edu­cat­ing for jus­tice in its many dimen­sions. The Col­lege offers a rich lib­er­al arts and pro­fes­sion­al cur­ricu­lum that pre­pares stu­dents to serve the pub­lic inter­est as eth­i­cal lead­ers and engaged citizens.

2. George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Tuition: $64,700

George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty offers asso­ciate and bach­e­lor’s degree pro­grams in police sci­ence that pre­pare stu­dents for lead­er­ship posi­tions in the law enforce­ment field.

Tack­ling crime more effec­tive­ly is an ever-chang­ing chal­lenge for law enforce­ment that requires sophis­ti­ca­tion in analy­sis, prob­lem-solv­ing skills, tech­nol­o­gy appli­ca­tions, and com­mu­ni­ty rela­tions. This pro­gram helps stu­dents pre­pare for the emerg­ing chal­lenges and respon­si­bil­i­ties of pro­tect­ing and serv­ing communities. 

Taught by law enforce­ment experts, stu­dents learn the fun­da­men­tal stan­dards, strate­gic pro­ce­dures, and lead­er­ship prin­ci­ples crit­i­cal for mod­ern police policing.

3. St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona

Tuition: $43,160

St. Mary’s Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta ranked among the top 200 nation­al uni­ver­si­ties, accord­ing to U.S. News & World Report. The uni­ver­si­ty offers a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Police Sci­ence at two dif­fer­ent loca­tions: the Twin Cities cam­pus and the Apple Val­ley Center.

4. Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, California

Tuition: $1,318 in-state; $9,310 out-of-state

The chal­lenges and respon­si­bil­i­ties of the mod­ern peace offi­cer have under­gone tremen­dous changes. Today’s pub­lic safe­ty or pri­vate secu­ri­ty offi­cials must be pre­pared to meet the needs and expec­ta­tions of an ever-chang­ing, com­plex, and diverse soci­ety. The B.S. in Police Sci­ence pre­pares indi­vid­u­als to bet­ter meet these challenges.

Togeth­er with oth­er work­ing pro­fes­sion­als, stu­dents study the man­age­ment, lead­er­ship, com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, and tools nec­es­sary to respond to soci­etal needs. Stu­dents also have the option of choos­ing between spe­cial­iza­tions in Foren­sic Inves­ti­ga­tions, Man­age­ment, and Secu­ri­ty Management.

The pro­gram also offers a gen­er­ous cred­it trans­fer pol­i­cy, includ­ing cred­it for Min­neso­ta POST and mil­i­tary train­ing. Cours­es are taught by experts in the crim­i­nal jus­tice field and pre­pare grad­u­ates for the police academy.

5. East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, California

Tuition: $1,238 for in-state tuition; $9,870 for out-of-state tuition

For many stu­dents, a career in crim­i­nal jus­tice is a life-long dream. Enthu­si­as­tic, ener­getic, and knowl­edge­able fac­ul­ty will assist and guide you every step of the way. ELAC uses its con­tacts and resources with lead­ing crim­i­nal jus­tice pro­fes­sion­als to make sure our grad­u­ates are among the best-pre­pared and well-edu­cat­ed appli­cants for the police acad­e­my and jobs in the crim­i­nal jus­tice system.

Spe­cial­ized career majors include a law enforce­ment empha­sis, Chem­i­cal Depen­den­cy Spe­cial­ist, cus­tody, crime scene and fin­ger­print clas­si­fi­ca­tion, peace offi­cer stan­dards, as well as patrol and prepa­ra­tion for police acad­e­my training.

6. Monroe College in The Bronx, NY

Tuition: $17,442

Crim­i­nal jus­tice jobs are in high demand. Police units, law enforce­ment, social ser­vices depart­ments, and the courts active­ly seek top grad­u­ates to keep com­mu­ni­ties safe and to help make a dif­fer­ence. An Asso­ciate or Bachelor’s degree in Crim­i­nal Jus­tice from Mon­roe Col­lege can help you move toward a police acad­e­my and a reward­ing and excit­ing career in law enforcement.

The School of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice was found­ed in 2003 as a ser­vice-ori­ent­ed response to the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks. Mon­roe rec­og­nized the need for high­ly-trained crim­i­nal jus­tice pro­fes­sion­als, at the local, state, and fed­er­al lev­els. We struc­tured our cur­ricu­lum to empow­er future law enforce­ment offi­cers, social jus­tice work­ers, and emer­gency respon­ders to solve real-life, on-the-job problems.

7. Hawkeye Community College Police Academy in Waterloo, IA

Tuition: $6,090 for in-state, $6,583 for out-of-state students

Hawk­eye Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege offers a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion train­ing option to law enforce­ment agen­cies that hire col­lege grad­u­ates as police and reserve offi­cer cer­ti­fi­ca­tion cours­es. Not only that, but they offer firearms train­ing; quite unusu­al at col­leges. Note: the cur­ricu­lum is geared to Iowa law enforce­ment statutes.

8. University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tuition: $47,211

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Tul­sa offers the major Crim­i­nal Jus­tice + Police Sci­ence. A pro­gram that pre­pares indi­vid­u­als to per­form the duties of police and pub­lic secu­ri­ty offi­cers. This includes patrol and inves­tiga­tive activ­i­ties, traf­fic con­trol, and crowd control.

Oth­er respon­si­bil­i­ties include pub­lic rela­tions, wit­ness inter­view­ing, evi­dence col­lec­tion and man­age­ment, basic crime pre­ven­tion meth­ods, weapon and equip­ment oper­a­tion and main­te­nance, peace offi­cer stan­dards, report prepa­ra­tion, and oth­er rou­tine law enforce­ment responsibilities.

9. Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tuition: $5,650 for in-state; $18,756 for out-of-state

Your mind is the 21st cen­tu­ry’s most impor­tant crime-fight­ing tool. There is no such thing as a robot­ic response to crime, which is why our stu­dents are taught to be crit­i­cal, inde­pen­dent thinkers and learn peace offi­cer stan­dards from expert fac­ul­ty with law enforce­ment experience.

FSU’s online cer­tifi­cate pro­gram in law enforce­ment intel­li­gence offers stu­dents the flex­i­bil­i­ty to remain employed and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with nation­al­ly known pro­fes­sors who are lead­ers in the field. It is required that you have com­plet­ed the asso­ciate of arts degree before enter­ing the program.

10. Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tuition: $17,264 for in-state stu­dents; $38,293 for out-of-state

The Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Crim­i­nal Jus­tice at Mia­mi University’s region­al cam­pus­es offers stu­dents a com­pre­hen­sive and dynam­ic under­stand­ing of crime, jus­tice, pun­ish­ment and cor­rec­tions, polic­ing, and the legal sys­tem with­in the con­text of a lib­er­al arts education. 

Advanc­ing ana­lyt­i­cal and crit­i­cal think­ing, prob­lem-solv­ing, oral and writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion, tech­nol­o­gy, quan­ti­ta­tive lit­er­a­cy, ethics, appli­ca­tion of learn­ing in the field, civic learn­ing, peace offi­cer stan­dards, and an appre­ci­a­tion of diver­si­ty and the increas­ing­ly glob­al world are core objec­tives of the program.

The idea is to grad­u­ate stu­dents who pos­sess the knowl­edge, expe­ri­ences, and skills need­ed to lead a mean­ing­ful, reflec­tive life in law enforce­ment, who will be pro­duc­tive and con­tribut­ing cit­i­zens, who will be suc­cess­ful in their crim­i­nal jus­tice and law enforce­ment careers, and who will be life-long learners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need A Degree to Become A Police Offi­cer?

You can apply for police offi­cer posi­tions with a high school diplo­ma or an asso­ciate degree, but you must com­plete an inten­sive a police acad­e­my train­ing and on-the-job expe­ri­ence. You must also meet oth­er eli­gi­bil­i­ty require­ments to be con­sid­ered a com­pet­i­tive appli­cant. For career advance­ment, you must obtain an under­grad­u­ate degree in crim­i­nal jus­tice and oth­er relat­ed fields.

What Is A Good Col­lege for Police Offi­cers?

Choose a col­lege with a strong aca­d­e­m­ic pro­gram in crim­i­nal jus­tice, law enforce­ment admin­is­tra­tion, crim­i­nol­o­gy, and foren­sic sci­ence. The cur­ricu­lum should ide­al­ly be a com­bi­na­tion of rig­or­ous cours­es and hands-on train­ing. You should deter­mine the finan­cial aid pro­grams, stu­dent sup­port and career ser­vices, and the facil­i­ties by the col­lege. It is equal­ly impor­tant that the school is region­al­ly accredited.

Is “Police Offi­cer” a Major?

No, it isn’t a major in the tech­ni­cal sense. Instead, it refers to a mem­ber of a law enforce­ment agency, usu­al­ly a police depart­ment or dis­trict, who per­forms law enforce­ment duties. These can include enforc­ing laws and ordi­nances, main­tain­ing pub­lic safe­ty and order, and inves­ti­gat­ing and pre­vent­ing crimes.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Police Offi­cer?

Your time­line for becom­ing a police offi­cer varies based on your edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment, the type of train­ing you under­go which can take between 12 weeks and six months, and the hir­ing process, which can take sev­er­al months from the appli­ca­tion peri­od to the pro­ba­tion period.