Will All Police Departments Require a College Degree Eventually?

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More than 1/3 of law enforcement agencies currently target college graduates. Many require a minimum of 60 hours. Others require a 2-year or 4-year degree.

Even if a college education is not initially required, departments value it. More than half of all law enforcement agencies offer some form of tuition reimbursement. A degree can set you apart from other applicants or put you in line for a promotion.

In 2006, police chiefs from across the country contributed to an article in IACP’s The Police Chief magazine titled “College Education and Policing.” Several of those profiled had required some college education for decades. Here’s what they observed:

  • Higher morale and employees with a greater understanding of and appreciation for their role
  • A surplus of well-qualified, diverse applicants, in most cases, rather than the shortage some had feared
  • Fewer disciplinary actions among college-educated officers
  • Enhanced critical thinking skills and the ability to communicate with individuals from all walks of life
  • Better knowledge of procedures and principles
  • Fewer injuries
  • Fewer missed work days
  • A higher level of community engagement

In addition to these benefits, the contributors also noted that career advancement without a degree can take years and that the lengthy process is detrimental to both the officers and the communities they serve. 

What do you think? Are college credit hours or degrees required where you live? Should they be?

Mayo, Louis, Ph.D., “College Education and Policing,” The Police Chief Magazine, August 2006

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