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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Law Enforcement

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Law Enforcement

Value
The best online master’s degree in law for value is found at Michigan State University, which offers an online master’s degree in law enforcement intelligence and analysis. MSU ranked among PayScale.com’s top 2012 ROI Rankings, with an annual return on investment (ROI) of 8.9% and an annual ROI of 9.9% for students receiving financial aid. MSU.edu’s Rankings and Recognitions page highlights, among many notable awards, that MSU was ranked as one of the nation’s 50 best value public universities by the Princeton Review in 2011. Michigan State is also among the top 100 best national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Flexibility
The award for flexibility goes to Colorado State University, whose global campus offers an online Master of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration. Student reviews on CollegeProwler.com reflect high scores for academic flexibility, and, as noted on CSUGlobal.edu, the flexibility and convenience of what CSU calls an “asynchronous model of online education” is what sets this university apart.

Career Support
At Michigan State University, students pursuing an online degree program should have equal access to all of the resources that a strong Career Services team provides to on-campus students. MSU’s Career Services Network promises to help students find their path, prepare for job and internship searches, and research job fairs and recruitment events, among many helpful resources. MSU Career Services staff also communicates with potential employers, who are looking to recruit qualified MSU students for specialized career placement opportunities. For all this, Michigan State University wins the award for best career support for its online master’s degree in law enforcement.

Financial Support

Colorado State University wins the award for best financial support for its online master’s degree in law enforcement. The Tuition and Financial Information page of CSUGlobal.edu contains simple, direct information regarding everything students need to know about tuition and financial aid. This online program offers guaranteed tuition rates, which remain consistent throughout the duration of the degree program, financial aid, in the form of military and veteran benefits, and tuition deferment for employer reimbursement. There are also federal aid opportunities, like grants or low-interest loans, and a number of scholarship programs. CSU Global even accepts payment plans for qualifying students.

Technology Support
The award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for technology support goes to Michigan State University. In fact, MSU is so dedicated to providing comprehensive tech support that there is a tech support help desk exclusively for distance learning. Here, online students have access to 24/7 tech support via phone and email, specifically tailored to meet the needs of students and faculty working within the virtual classroom. Students can easily find assistance logging in to the university’s intranet and learning portal software, with e-library and graphics programs, and other social media and web resources.

Student Engagement
Michigan State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for student engagement. MSU’s University Outreach and Engagement department offers not only a multitude of student clubs and organizations to engage students in lively social interaction with their peers, but also features unique community-based engagement opportunities, encouraging students to connect and build relationships through philanthropic projects, outside of the traditional collegiate atmosphere.

Disability Support

Michigan State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for disability support. MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities features vanguard programs and services for persons with disabilities, focused on the university’s efforts to “exemplify our mission to maximize ability and opportunity for students, faculty and staff.” Using the latest disability technology and maximizing accessibility for all students, MSU highlights their signature programs for disability support, like Assistive Technology, Building Opportunities for Networking and Discovery (BOND), and Carlson Accessible Media Program (CAMP), just to name a few.

Library and Research Support
Colorado State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for library and research support. The virtual learning program at CSU Global allows for 24/7 access to all of the CSU university system’s library resources, through Blackboard, the university’s online learning platform. At CSUGlobal.edu, students can find online support for all academic programs, including access to online journal article databases and resources, government information, general reference material, and several e-book databases. Online tutorials are also available to help students find additional library services.

Learning Support
The award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for learning support goes to Michigan State University. As outlined in the Academic Supportive Services section of MSU.edu, students are offered many academic resources to supplement their course work. Through Academic Supportive Services, students can access the Learning Resource Center, for help with writing, advising, and tutoring, the Math Learning Center, the Office of Supportive Services, and the College Achievement Admission Program. This department also offers general student support, with choosing majors, honors courses, studying abroad, and campus life.

Faculty Credentials
Michigan State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for faculty credentials. USNews.com ranked MSU no. 65 for faculty credentials and training on its list of top national graduate programs. Students seem to agree with this ranking—on CollegeProwler.com, they gave MSU a high score for “smartest professors” among top national universities.

Faculty Accessibility
Michigan State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for faculty accessibility. U.S. News & World Report notes that this university, already among top national colleges rankings, has a student to faculty ratio of 16 to 1, and that 23.1% of classes at MSU contain fewer than 20 students. Students on CollegeProwler.com gave MSU high scores for “professors most interested in classes” and “best student-faculty ratio.”

Alumni Engagement
Michigan State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for alumni engagement. MSU’s official Alumni Association features a multitude of resources and benefits for proud members of this organization. Former Spartans can find fellow alums, join tailgate parties and sports activities, and see live Twitter feed from alumni across the globe. MSU also features an especially unique opportunity, exclusively for alumni—the Alumni Lifelong Education Evening College, which offers over 200 noncredit personal enrichment courses for adults.

Prior Learning Options
Colorado State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for prior learning options. On the Transfer Admissions page, students can find everything they need to know about online applications, how to apply, admissions requirements, and deadlines and notifications. Also in this section of ColoState.edu, students can find military and veteran options, information on obtaining a second bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, instructions for how to check application status, and downloadable admissions forms.

New Online Student Orientation
Colorado State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in law enforcement for its new online student orientation resources. On the Student Services page of CSUGlobal.edu, students can learn the basic skills they’ll need in the virtual learning environment, and even take part in a video demo and tutorial, to familiarize themselves with the online format. Also, before beginning their course work, students can explore the virtual library, 24/7 tutoring services, and technical support center.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Law Enforcement

Industry professionals attain a master’s degree in law enforcement to open doors in their career and to potentially earn a higher income. Students can hope to acquire a deeper understanding of criminal behavior, the law enforcement system, and the other components of the law enforcement industry. They also get to choose an area to concentrate their studies; for instance, schools often offer specializations like cyber-crime or forensic psychology. The time it takes to complete their master’s education is usually one to two years for full-time students. Degree achievement time can fluctuate, however; this is because programs differ between schools, students may choose a part-time program, and some students may enter a program with transfer credits.

Class Curriculum

Student’s classes will be oriented towards science, history, mathematics, and the criminal justice system. They will learn the methods employed and theories developed to explain criminal behavior. Students will study criminal activity throughout history, and the inner-workings of the criminal justice system and its various branches. Additionally, courses usually require that students learn to create, interpret, analyze, and compare crime statistics. Students may take courses like the ones listed below.

  • Introduction to Law Enforcement. An introductory law enforcement course, sometimes also called “Introduction to Criminal Justice,” this course teaches students the unique parts of the criminal justice system. Students will learn the various relationships within the system, as well as problems that arise within it.
  • Criminology. Criminology courses examine the psychological, physiological, and sociological theories developed to explain the criminal mind and intent; essentially, students will learn why criminals act as they do. Typically, courses will examine crime’s nature in terms of the U.S., statistics, and social groups.
  • Research Methods. This course introduces students to the scientific research methodologies used by law enforcement. Students will learn how to design research data collections and analysis, as well as how to understand the data they collect. Ethical issues are usually also touched upon in such a course, as they can sometimes arise when law enforcement conduct research, collect evidence, and more.

Course work in this type of master’s program will consist of reading assignments and online course discussions. Master’s programs usually entail a substantial amount of student discussion, which can include interpretations of reading assignments or applying new knowledge to explain personal experiences in the field. Demonstration of research techniques and methods in class research papers, assignments, and projects should also be expected.

Building a Career

The communications, legal, and research skills developed from a master’s degree in law enforcement will enable students to progress in their careers. They will be prepared for law enforcement-related occupations, such as criminologists, FBI agents, and law enforcement or criminal justice professors. Criminologists review and analyze patterns within criminal cases in an effort to bring offenders to justice. A bachelor’s degree is required for such a career, but many criminologists also have a master’s degree; an advanced degree makes criminologists more competitive in the job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups criminologists with sociologists, reporting that they earn $72,360 annually. However, it should be understood that this salary and all salaries reported are only estimates, and cannot be guaranteed in every case; salary in any industry is fully reliant on such factors as years of experience, job performance, the economy, and others.

Professors of criminal justice or law enforcement teach students the methods, theories, organizations, and history of law enforcement. Such professors are more often hired at junior colleges than universities. A junior college professor teaching law enforcement made $61,870 and a university law enforcement professor earned $64,370 yearly in 2009, according to BLS reports.

Some choose to become FBI special agents when they receive their master’s degrees. FBI agents are responsible for investigating criminal acts in violation with U.S. law; there are several areas that agents can focus on, such as blue collar and cyber-crimes. According to FBIJobs.gov’s FAQ page, starting salaries for special agents are $43,441. Experience and a master’s degree can mean much higher income; some FBI agents make $100,000 plus annually.

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