What is the Best Degree To Get To Become a Police Officer?

Police OfficerAre you looking at what the best degree is to get to become a police officer? You probably dream of chasing criminals through the streets, scouring crime scenes for any evidence and keeping the streets clean. Many police departments require that those interested in working as officers go through the police academy first, but you’ll find that some departments have their own academies and some departments use the academies associated with a local community college. Earning a college degree can give you some idea of what to expect in your future career, and there a number of majors that will give you a leg up on other cadets.

Criminal Justice

Ask people about what is the best degree to become a police officer and the majority will probably say criminal justice. Criminal justice programs are available at all levels, including the associate’s and bachelor’s levels. After taking an introduction to criminal justice course, you’ll take classes that focus on criminal investigations, criminal procedure, research methods and the legal and ethical aspects of the field. Some programs even let you emphasize on a specific career path, including forensic psychology, juvenile justice or crime scene investigation.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology is a field within psychology that focuses on the justice system and criminals. Those working in the field might help an attorney check the credibility of potential witnesses, provide expert testimony during a trial or work with convicts in a prison or correctional setting. Studying forensic psychology gives you a unique perspective on the justice system. As you learn more about all areas of the field, you’ll understand what the court, attorneys and police departments need. With an advanced degree in forensic psychology, you may even qualify to work as an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigations or the Department of Homeland Security.


One of the strongest skills that police officers need is the ability to talk effectively with others. Many communications majors later work for marketing and advertising firms, but a communications degree may help you better prepare for working as a police officer. The courses that you take show you how to speak in front of others, form solid relationships with others and how to read social and physical cues when speaking with others. Those skills will help you better get information from witnesses and speak with suspected criminals.

Foreign Language

Many police departments in the country give precedence to those skilled in two or more languages. If you are fluent in another language, the best degree to become a police officer might be a foreign language degree. Depending on where you live and work, the police department might need officers capable of speaking Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Japanese or even Arabic. The department will call on you to translate between an officer and a witness or criminal. Studying a foreign language in college gives you the chance to study abroad and spend some time working overseas, which will help you better understand the dialect and the slang used by different cultures.

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A college degree isn’t mandatory for working as a police officer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you only need a high school diploma or a GED. Earning a degree can help you move up through the ranks and improve your position, and the best degree to become a police officer might be in criminal justice, forensic psychology, a foreign language or communications.