Graduate Certificate Programs in Law Enforcement Management
Law enforcement, police, and criminal justice professionals who are interested in cultivating practical, career-specific managerial skills can do so through graduate certificate programs in law enforcement management and administration. Typically, these programs consist of four, five, or six graduate courses that most students, including those who are working full-time, can be complete in one year or less. Schools that offer graduate certificate programs in the field often offer master’s in criminal justice and law enforcement programs from which the graduate certificate curriculum is drawn. Indeed, for many certificate programs, courses are taught by the same professors who teach master’s students and it is not uncommon for students enrolled in a graduate certificate program to take classes with master’s students. Furthermore, in many cases, individuals who earn a graduate certificate in law enforcement management and administration from an accredited institution can apply these masters-level credits to a master’s degree, should they wish to pursue one after earning their certificate.
In order to enroll in a graduate certificate program, students must hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. However, most certificate programs are designed to accommodate a wide array of students, including graduates from master’s and doctoral programs who would like to add law enforcement management proficiencies to their skillset.
Law Enforcement Management Explained
Law enforcement administration is a branch of public administration that involves reviewing, assessing, and implementing policing and criminal justice policy; overseeing departmental staff, budgeting, and logistics; and communicating with public officials, community leaders, and government agencies. Administrators who occupy leadership roles in law enforcement require organizational management and professional communication skills, an understanding of the structure and function of the criminal justice system, training in criminology and theories of policing, and an ability to think through current issues in law enforcement, such as over-policing, underserved communities, racial equity, cybercrime, domestic and international terrorism, and high rates of incarceration and recidivism.
While much of the knowledge and many of the skills needed to be an effective law enforcement administrator can be acquired through on-the-job experience in policing, politics, and/or government and public sector administration, graduate training in the accepted principles, best practices, and ethical concerns of administrators, leaders, and managers in the criminal justice system is for many an effective means to career advancement in law enforcement.
Identifying and Classifying Law Enforcement Management Graduate Certificate Programs
There are several important identifying characteristics that are shared among graduate certificate programs that provide training and instruction in law enforcement management. These programs are designed for college graduates who have already completed a bachelor’s degree and are thus prepared for master’s-level coursework. Indeed, many graduate certificate programs in law enforcement management consist of a small cluster of graduate courses from master’s degree programs in criminal justice and/or public administration, and most are offered through schools, divisions, or departments of criminal justice or public administration at accredited colleges and universities. However, graduate certificate programs do not culminate in the conferral of a graduate degree. Instead, they provide qualified students with a pathway to gaining law enforcement management skills that is comparatively more direct and less time-intensive than a full master’s degree program, which can take a year or more of full-time graduate studies.
Graduate certificate programs that offer a law enforcement management curriculum may also be designated as post-baccalaureate certificate programs and there is no formal naming convention for programs in the field of law enforcement management. Thus, there are graduate certificate programs in criminal justice administration, strategic management in criminal justice, and law enforcement administration that offer law enforcement management training.
Law Enforcement Management and Administration Graduate Certificate Coursework
As noted previously, most graduate certificate programs are comprised of a small cluster of courses that focus exclusively on skills and proficiencies that have real-world applications in a particular field. For law enforcement management graduate certificate programs this generally translates to two, three, or four core graduate courses that cover topics in the structure and management of law enforcement agencies, police and criminal justice policy analysis and assessment, legal and ethical concerns in law enforcement, and leadership and communication skills for law enforcement agency managers and administrators. In addition, many programs give students the opportunity to select one or two electives that address specialized areas of criminal justice management, such as digital forensics, victimology, trauma and crisis intervention, community policing, and white-collar crime.
The list below provides a representative sampling of the types of courses that are typically offered as part of graduate certificate programs in law enforcement and criminal justice management:
- Foundations of Law Enforcement
- Policy Analysis in Criminal Justice
- Police Accountability
- Criminal Justice Administration and Ethics
- Law and Social Control
- Local Government Operations, Budgeting, and Personnel Management
As mentioned previously, students should note that graduate credits earned while pursuing a graduate certificate program may transfer towards a master’s degree should they decide to pursue one in the future. In addition, graduate certificate programs often have lower admission requirements compared to master’s degree programs, which means students can enroll in a graduate certificate to both earn graduate credits and boost their GPA for admissions to a master’s program after earning their certificate.
Online Graduate Certificate in Law Enforcement Management
In general, graduate certificate programs are structured to accommodate a broad range of students, including recent college graduates who have just entered the workforce and mid-career professionals who have full-time jobs. One way that schools are able to accomplish this while also extending the geographic reach of their graduate certificate programs is by leveraging advances in online instructional tools, techniques, and technologies.
Online programs utilize learning management systems (LMSs) to deliver instruction and coursework, including live and/or pre-recorded lectures and virtual class sessions. Students in an online program log on to the program’s LMS for instruction, lectures, assignments, discussion groups, and other learning activities. Programs that hold live online classes in real time are said to use synchronous instruction. Programs that do not have live class sessions and that instead allow students to access pre-recorded lectures and assignments at their convenience, 24-7, are said to use asynchronous instruction.
Synchronous instruction is more structured than asynchronous instruction and may be preferred by students who would like an online program that more closely resembles a traditional on-campus program, in terms of face-to-face instruction and discussions. However, the live sessions are typically required, which means students must be available to attend lectures and discussions that are often held in the early evening depending on the time zone in which the student resides. Asynchronous instruction affords students more scheduling flexibility than synchronous instruction, but it requires students to exercise a greater amount of self-discipline and self-motivation in order to review class materials, complete assigned readings, and submit assignments by set due dates.
GraduateCertificates.com classifies programs that offer all or most of their instruction through distance learning as online programs. Many schools that offer online law enforcement graduate certificate programs are 100% online and do not require students to attend any campus-based sessions. However, some online programs have on-campus orientation sessions and/or short campus residencies that students are required to attend. Programs that offer online instruction but that require more than three campus visits per year are classified as blended/hybrid programs and not online programs on the site. For students who live and/or work near a school offering such a program, a blended/hybrid format provides a relatively more convenient alternative to traditional campus-based programs. However, for students who are not able to commute to a school’s campus, a blended/hybrid program may not be a practical option for pursuing a graduate certificate program.
Examples of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Law Enforcement Management
The schools listed below were selected because they each offer an online graduate certificate program in law enforcement or criminal justice management and administration. These programs provide a representative overview of the types of programs that are currently offered by accredited colleges and universities.
Arizona State University (ASU) offers an online Law Enforcement Administration Graduate Certificate program through ASU Online that does not require any campus visits. The 15-credit program consists of five graduate courses in law enforcement leadership, management, administration, and policy analysis. The certificate coursework draws on a Master of Arts (MA) in Criminal Justice program that is also offered by ASU Online and credits earned in the certificate program can be applied toward the MA degree if and when a student who has completed the certificate program opts to pursue a master’s degree. The ASU Online Law Enforcement Administration Graduate Certificate program is designed for law enforcement professionals who are interested in advancing into leadership and management positions. However, it is open to students who hold a bachelor’s degree in any field regardless of whether or not they currently work in law enforcement. For more information on the program, visit ASU Online at asuonline.asu.edu.
Boston University (BU) offers an online Strategic Management in Criminal Justice Graduate Certificate program through its Metropolitan College division. The program consists of four graduate courses that confer 16 credits and which overlap with BU’s Master of Science (MS) in Criminal Justice program. The program’s curriculum includes core courses in criminal justice administration, ethics, policy, and planning, as well as in public emergency management. Students can also select one elective from among the online courses in criminal justice offered by BU. While the program is designed for mid-career criminal justice professionals, students who hold a bachelor’s degree in any field are eligible to enroll. The BU program is 100% online and does not require any campus visits. For more information, visit BU at www.bu.edu.
The University of Central Florida (UCF) offers a Graduate Certificate Program in Police Leadership that is fully online format and does not require students to attend any campus visits. The 12-credit program consists of four graduate courses, two of which are required in order to earn the Police Leadership certificate (Foundations of Law Enforcement and Policy Analysis in Criminal Justice). Students then choose two courses from a list of several options to complete the certificate program’s academic requirements. The UCF program is designed for students who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in any field. For more information, visit UCF at www.ucf.edu.
More Graduate Certificates in Law Enforcement Management
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