Earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can be a great way to start or advance your career as a police officer in Southeast Texas. You can even continue working while completing your degree online. Lamar University’s online B.S. in Criminal Justice program offers an opportunity to expand your career options and boost your earning potential while maintaining your current role. It also provides knowledge, skills and abilities to help you improve your police department’s overall performance, its positive relationship with the community, and the overall safety and health of that community.
How Can a College Education Benefit Police Officers, Police Departments and the Community?
The comprehensive study involved in a criminal justice bachelor’s program offers an opportunity to expand and deepen your skill set. Focused coursework in foundational criminal justice topics, court systems, juvenile justice systems, administration, ethics and policing in democratic societies have clear applications in everyday police work.
Degree candidates also take generalized and specialized courses in such subjects as English, government, U.S. history, public speaking, communication and psychology. These areas of study build communication and critical thinking skills, which are useful when writing reports, or interacting with colleagues in law enforcement and the broader community. General education credits also develop your understanding of the historical context and culture of your community, and the people in it.
In Public Safety cites several studies to show that college-educated police offers are more effective and culturally responsive in numerous ways. They tend to perform on par with colleagues with over 10 years’ experience. Researchers also found that police officers with an undergraduate education were involved in fewer use-of-force events and received fewer citizen complaints. They also had more advanced tech skills.
In addition to these benefits, a bachelor’s degree can give law enforcement professionals a competitive edge when seeking a promotion. It’s often required for higher-level policing jobs, as well as jobs in federal law enforcement or intelligence agencies.
Do Police Departments in Southeast Texas Require a College Degree?
Few police departments require a bachelor’s degree for police officers, but many require a certain amount of college education for applicants. This criterion applies to police departments in San Antonio, Houston and Corpus Christi. Granted, this requirement may be waived depending on other factors like age, previous policing experience or prior military experience.
It’s also worth noting that a bachelor’s degree may be required in the foreseeable future. In North Texas, the City of Plano has already instituted this policy.
Which Departments Offer Financial Incentives for Officers with a Bachelor’s Degree?
Many police departments offer additional income for degree holders. The City of San Antonio, for instance, increases police officers’ annual salary by $1,200. The Austin Police department offers a $220 per month incentive, or an additional $2,640 annually. In Houston, police officers with a bachelor’s degree earn an extra $3,640. Galveston also increases annual salaries. Bachelor’s-prepared officers take home an added $2,400 per year.
Are Police Officers in Southeast Texas Eligible for Tuition Assistance?
There are a number of ways police officers in Southeast Texas can receive tuition assistance. Students enrolled in eligible criminal justice and law enforcement degree programs at Texas public schools may apply for tuition reductions and tuition waivers as outlined in Texas Education Code 54.3531. This code is more commonly known as the Exemption for Peace Officers Enrolled in Law Enforcement or Criminal Justice Courses. According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Lamar University’s B.S. in Criminal Justice is an exemption-eligible program.
Many police departments also offer tuition assistance and reimbursement to help officers earn their criminal justice degrees. Check with your union rep or HR department.
Clearly, earning a degree in criminal justice can help you advance your career as a law enforcement professional, increase your salary and expand your career options. Tuition assistance, exemption and reimbursement programs make your bachelor’s an even easier choice. With the depth of criminal justice knowledge, communication skills, ethics and cultural understanding gained from an online degree program, you can have a greater positive impact on your police department and the community at large.
City of Corpus Christi
City of Houston
City of San Antonio
Texas Commission on Law Enforcement