Masters in Political Science
Usually career law enforcement officers who are working their way up the chain of command in a civil service system will return to school periodically to obtain a degree that qualifies them for a promotion or senior position. The top ranks in many police departments hold masters' degrees in either criminal justice or police science. A graduate degree isn't an issue anywhere below the rank of captain, but for those seeking accelerated promotion opportunities or eventually, a premier post then a Masters in Police Science is a good choice for the resume. This degree is more law enforcement oriented than a criminal justice or criminology degree, but the curriculum takes a methodical, scientific approach to the various issues that confront law enforcement professionals and the technology that is deployed today.
Police administration and police policy as provided by a law enforcement jurisdiction are important areas for a command level officer to understand. Classes in the sorts of pressures that are brought to bear on law enforcement by legislative bodies in governmental jurisdictions can be found in any police science program: Youth Crime & Delinquency Control, Police Community Relations, Civil Liberties & Criminal Law are examples. As the program progresses, the officer/student will delve into the forensic sciences, crime scene investigation, and the use of communications technology in law enforcement work. There is heavy reliance on digital technology in police work today, with access to national databases available to officers on the beat.
Online programs in criminal justice are more common than the Masters in Police Science, but there are distance learning programs available in the field that are accredited. A graduate level police science degree may also lead to opportunities in one of the federal agencies that are involved in law enforcement; there are at least eight housed in the Department of Homeland Security. The FBI insists that all applicants have a college education and in some instances, a master's degree. And there are management level positions open in research or in policy development for criminal justice agencies in the large counties and in state government as well. This degree is traditionally a law enforcement career track but may also lead to job opportunities in policy formulation.