Which Degree is Best for a Police Officer to Take?

two police officers wearing vests and facing away from the camera
two police officers wearing vests and facing away from the camera

Once upon a time it was simple to become a police officer. All you had to do was show up at the local station when they had an opening available and apply. Your “police studies training” was an informal education, earned through basic training, working your territory and learning from the veterans. After enough time, if you showed an aptitude for the work, you would expect to move up in rank.

That is no longer the case.

Becoming a police officer is one thing, but what about moving up the ranks?

You might be asking yourself the question, “How do I get to the sergeant or detective level?”

The new road to rising above a patrolling officer’s wage is a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement. To accommodate your ambition, Wilfrid Laurier University’s online Honours Bachelor of Arts in Policing is uniquely suited to giving busy officers, like you, the opportunity to earn a police degree without missing time at work.

Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement

Honours bachelor’s degrees in law enforcement are most often earned in three to four years. Entrance requirements will vary by institution, but undergraduate programs typically require completion of high school or equivalent.

Regardless of where you take your police studies degree, you’ll be expected to attend lectures (either virtually or in person), work on projects, write essays, and possibly take tests, quizzes, or exams. Provided you complete these challenges at or above the institution’s standards, you’ll be awarded your degree.

Remember: only licensed, fully-accredited universities can offer police studies degrees that your employer will recognize.

What Will I Learn in a Police Officer Degree Program?

While we can’t speak for every program in Canada, Laurier’s policing degree students can expect to learn the following:

  • How to recognize and deal with trauma. You’ll be able to identify the signs of trauma in yourself, your colleagues, and the community. You will also learn how to process and react to trauma;
  • Criminological and psychological theories. You’ll learn to apply the foundations of good police and detective work;
  • The major debates in policing and justice today. Understanding different perspectives on these issues will help you become a better police officer;
  • Leadership, critical thinking, research, and conflict resolution skills; and
  • How to understand and appreciate the justice system of Canada’s Indigenous people, and what your role as a law enforcement officer in their communities entails.

What Makes Laurier’s Police Studies Degree Different?

Laurier is recognized by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development as one of the strongest schools for crime, justice and police degrees in Canada.

Unlike most police degrees, Laurier’s program is for working officers with at least one year of on-the-job experience. We believe that the learning environment is strengthened when all students have actually dealt first-hand with the subjects discussed in class.

You’ll learn alongside other experienced professionals from our expert instructors advised by a volunteer board of top police officers, lawyers, and academics.

Of course, few officers can afford to take three to four years off of work to earn a bachelor’s degree in policing, no matter how much it might benefit their career. That’s why we allow students to complete their police courses online.

How to Complete Police Courses Online

Laurier’s online police degrees are administered via the school’s online learning portal. Lectures are recorded, and you can access the videos 24/7 through the portal.

The professor’s notes and additional instructions are posted each week, and most textbooks are digitally accessible. Courses also include discussion boards so you can talk about lessons with your fellow students. You can also contact instructors through the messaging system, and the library offers extensive online resources.

To assist you throughout your entire time as a student, you will be assigned a student success advisor to ensure you’re able to access all the materials and resources you need.

What Types of Career Advancements can a Bachelor’s Degree in Policing Lead To?

Besides the knowledge that you gain, the skills you’ll develop can lead to many exciting career paths. The list below is a small sample of the careers Laurier police studies degree graduates have gone on to:

  • Chief of Police / Commissioner / Chief Constable
  • Deputy Chief of Police / Deputy Chief Constable
  • Staff Superintendent
  • Superintendent
  • Staff Inspector
  • Inspector
  • Sergeant Major
  • Staff Sergeant
  • Sergeant / Detective
  • Police Constable 1st Class / Detective Constable

Get your program guide or set up a call with us on your schedule to learn more about the online Honours Bachelor of Arts in Policing program.