Criminal Justice / Law Enforcement Administration

Do you dream of moving up the law enforcement ladder? If keeping records, developing policy and managing subordinates sounds like a good day at work, a career in law enforcement administration might be a sound bet. Law enforcement is a major division of the criminal justice system in the United States and offers abundant opportunities for a productive, well-paying and upwardly mobile career.

Jobs in law enforcement administration can be stepping stones for advancing in the ranks. Administrators must be able to implement cost-effective organizational policies while making wise, informed decisions that affect many people's lives. They must have excellent communication skills, be able to maintain constructive relations with the local community, and have keen problem-solving sensibilities.

Advanced positions include supervising officers, wardens, budget or data analysts, executive directors, commissioners and police chiefs, lieutenants, captains, deputy sheriffs and chiefs, and other senior officers.

Law enforcement jobs are normally in the public sector, although graduates also work for private business as security officers, investigators, consultants and loss prevention experts. Working for the government in this field usually means good salaries, union membership and extensive benefits.

About Law Enforcement Administration

Criminal justice is a hierarchical sphere in which people in different positions have fixed responsibilities, privileges and authority relative to both subordinates and superiors. Working in law enforcement management means having authority over subordinates, and that means being able to practice discretion, resolve interpersonal disputes, and earn officers' respect.

Supervisors and managers must inspire trust and commitment, helping to keep employee turnover low and morale high. At the same time, administrators must maintain efficiency and productivity, high ethical standards and, in some cases, profitability as they work to keep divisions and agencies running smoothly. These are the marks of a successful law enforcement leader.

Today's law enforcement administrators must reconcile liability, legal, jurisdictional and ethical concerns all at once. They need to be able to shoulder responsibility and communicate with community leaders when things go wrong.

Common managerial responsibilities are policy development, procurement, records management and dispatch. Police administrators usually work in the office, handling tasks such as legal filings, background searches, media communication, budgeting, procurement, personnel staffing, employee compensation, and officer discipline.

Administrators learn about the latest technology, troubleshoot organizational politics, and advance officer training with an eye towards overall policy priorities. They may also manage relationships with other major criminal justice fields. For example, some act as liaisons between courts and police agencies, ensuring due process and constitutional rights are being properly upheld.


Look for programs explicitly approved by the state's Commission on Law Enforcement Standards or by the specific police jurisdiction in which you intend to work. The best criminal justice schools will be recognized by the official certifying body of the host state.


Law enforcement administrators per se are not usually required to have a licence, although basic officer certification or licensing is always necessary to become a police officer en route to a career in enforcement administration.

Educational Options in Law Enforcement Administration

A degree in this field can confer an advantage, although it is not generally required. For high-level administration jobs, an educational background looks better and better the further up the hierarchy you rank.

Educational requirements are usually lesser, however, for currently uniformed police officers, who have better access to leadership positions based on their organizational seniority. Active officers can often substitute their valuable on-the-job experience for civilian education requirements.

The best paying jobs are at the top of police organizations and at the state and federal levels, and these sometimes require postsecondary and even graduate-level studies. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is an example of a federal law enforcement agency with higher education requirements.

In general, commissioned officers seek either certificate training or a two-year associate's degree, whereas civilian job applicants, often held to a higher standard, may need at least a bachelor's for administrative employment.

Primary Certification

In some jurisdictions, it's virtually impossible to get a job as a police administrator without having first graduated from the state's police academy. In these cases, commissioned officers with primary policing certification are desirable candidates for administration, provided they can handle the special stresses and concerns of managerial positions.

Officers should ask their current or preferred employer about training opportunities for internal advancement. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, for example, offers leadership training to police based on a West Point curriculum in partnership with individual agencies. Many programs are free or offered at a reduced tuition.

A useful list of law enforcement training links covering multiple jurisdictions can be found at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's website.

Associate Degrees

For current law enforcement officers, a college degree is primarily a tool for career advancement. To that end, an associate's program provides a basic professional background in the most common administrative systems, duties and procedures. Earning an associate's degree is a popular entry-level educational option for working officers. It's not unusual to see active-duty officers complete an Associate in criminal justice, public or business administration while still keeping their day job.

Bachelor Degrees

In some jurisdictions, administrative positions in law enforcement are open to qualified civilian members of the public. Administrative positions may demand higher levels of education if primary certification as a commissioned police officer is not a job prerequisite.

This unofficial civilian track to police administration typically involves earning a criminal justice degree with a concentration in business, organizational management, public management, or law enforcement administration - at least to the baccalaureate level.

Master Degrees

Many students pursue formal schooling up the bachelor's level, but the more competitive option is a master's degree from one of the top criminal justice schools. A graduate degree is an opportunity to stand out as an administrative expert in a targeted area, like security or forensic science management, or a division like white-collar crime, organized crime, or homeland security investigations.

Opportunities for specialized law enforcement administration vary widely. Some common areas of focus include cyberforensics, forensic science, private security, homeland security, drug enforcement, investigations and homicide.

Featured Schools

Programs offered:

  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security
  • AA in Criminal Justice
  • BS in Criminal Justice
  • And more...

Programs offered:

  • Criminal Justice (BS)

Programs offered:

  • Criminal Justice - Bachelor's
Locations:  Manassas

Programs offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • AAS in Criminal Justice
  • And more...

Programs offered:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Business - Criminal Justice Administration

Programs offered:

  • Criminal Justice (MS)
  • Criminal Justice (BS)

We found 381 schools offering criminal justice degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 381 Criminal Justice / Law Enforcement Administration Colleges in the U.S.

Criminal Justice Schools Ranked By US News and World Report

University of Maryland - College Park
College Park, MD  |  Total Enrollment: 33189

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Suny at Albany
Albany, NY  |  Total Enrollment: 16751

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's
University of Cincinnati - Main Campus
Cincinnati, OH  |  Total Enrollment: 27327

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
University of Missouri - St Louis
Saint Louis, MO  |  Total Enrollment: 15397

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
University of California - Irvine
Irvine, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 20211

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus
University Park, PA  |  Total Enrollment: 40571

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL  |  Total Enrollment: 33971

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI  |  Total Enrollment: 43366

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Rutgers University - Newark
Newark, NJ  |  Total Enrollment: 9352

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Cuny John Jay College Criminal Justice
New York, NY  |  Total Enrollment: 10612

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's

Browse All 381 Colleges With Criminal Justice Programs

Title City State Enrollment
Abilene Christian University Abilene TX 4739
Aims Community College Greeley CO 6948
Alfred University Alfred NY 1607
Allan Hancock College Santa Maria CA 12110
Allen County Community College Iola KS 1968
Alvernia College Reading PA 1574
Amarillo College Amarillo TX 8422
Anderson University Anderson IN 2381
Antelope Valley College Lancaster CA 10315
Arapahoe Community College Littleton CO 7436
Arizona State University at the West Campus Glendale AZ 5325
Arkansas State University - Mountain Home Mountain Home AR 916
Ashland University Ashland OH 6055
Aurora University Aurora IL 2391
Averett University Danville VA 2296
Bakersfield College Bakersfield CA 14466
Barstow Community College Barstow CA 2785
Becker College Worcester MA 1166
Benedict College Columbia SC 2966
Boise State University Boise ID 16287
Bossier Parish Community College Bossier City LA 4332
Boston University Boston MA 28318
Bradley University Peoria IL 5951
Brevard Community College Cocoa FL 13265
Brigham Young University Provo UT 32554
Brigham Young University - Idaho Rexburg ID 8949
Broward Community College Fort Lauderdale FL 27389
Bucks County Community College Newtown PA 8469
Butte College Oroville CA 11542
Cabrillo College Aptos CA 12807
Caddo Kiowa Technology Center Fort Cobb OK 311
California State University - Bakersfield Bakersfield CA 6397
California State University - East Bay Hayward CA 12705
California State University - Fullerton Fullerton CA 28381
California State University - Long Beach Long Beach CA 30918
California State University - Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 19593
California State University - Sacramento Sacramento CA 25714
California State University - San Bernardino San Bernardino CA 14909
California State University - Stanislaus Turlock CA 7062
Calumet College of Saint Joseph Whiting IN 975
Campbell University Inc Buies Creek NC 5880
Campbellsville University Campbellsville KY 1601
Carthage College Kenosha WI 2222
Central Florida Community College Ocala FL 5230
Central Missouri State University Warrensburg MO 10936
Central Oregon Community College Bend OR 4079
Central Wyoming College Riverton WY 1644
Cerritos College Norwalk CA 24536
Cerro Coso Community College Ridgecrest CA 5106
Chabot College Hayward CA 13615
Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu HI 2620
Chestnut Hill College Philadelphia PA 1561
Chipola College Marianna FL 1845
Chowan College Murfreesboro NC 739
Citadel Military College of South Carolina Charleston SC 3872
Citrus College Glendora CA 11486
City College of San Francisco San Francisco CA 39386
City University Bellevue WA 8339
Clark State Community College Springfield OH 2808
Cloud County Community College Concordia KS 2668
College of Marin Kentfield CA 8317
College of San Mateo San Mateo CA 10756
College of the Canyons Santa Clarita CA 10528
College of the Desert Palm Desert CA 6972
College of the Redwoods Eureka CA 6986
College of the Sequoias Visalia CA 10251
College of the Siskiyous Weed CA 2786
Collin County Community College District Plano TX 12996
Colorado Mountain College Glenwood Springs CO 7407
Colorado Northwestern Community College Rangely CO 1834
Columbia - Greene Community College Hudson NY 1598
Columbia College Columbia MO 7948
Community College of Aurora Aurora CO 4642
Compton Community College Compton CA 6643
Concordia University - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor MI 604
Contra Costa College San Pablo CA 7133
Copper Mountain College Joshua Tree CA 2172
Corning Community College Corning NY 4306
Cosumnes River College Sacramento CA 16493
Crafton Hills College Yucaipa CA 5054
Cuesta College San Luis Obispo CA 9496
Culver - Stockton College Canton MO 821
Cuny Graduate School and University Center New York NY 3567
Cuny John Jay College Criminal Justice New York NY 10612
Curry College Milton MA 2330
Cuyamaca College El Cajon CA 6476
David N Myers University Cleveland OH 1227
Daytona Beach Community College Daytona Beach FL 10420
De Anza College Cupertino CA 22770
Delaware Valley College Doylestown PA 1833
Diablo Valley College Pleasant Hill CA 21581
Drury University Springfield MO 4348
East Georgia College Swainsboro GA 1313
East Los Angeles College Monterey Park CA 27199
East Tennessee State University Johnson City TN 11063
Eastern Arizona College Thatcher AZ 6223
Edison College Fort Myers FL 8919
El Camino College Torrance CA 24067
Elmira College Elmira NY 1933
Erie Community College - City Campus Buffalo NY 2220
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