Earning a master’s degree in public administration can effectively advance a law enforcement career to the next level. At its core, law enforcement is a public service profession. As such, leadership positions in law enforcement or related organizations require a unique combination of law enforcement and public administration expertise.

Quality degree programs like the online Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Barry University help students develop the knowledge and skills needed for management and leadership positions in public service. These studies can augment the knowledge and experience of law enforcement professionals, preparing them for upper-level, high-paying public administration roles.

What Is the Connection Between Public Administration and Law Enforcement?

As noted above, law enforcement is rooted in public service. In this sense, the administration of law enforcement agencies is a form of public administration.

Law enforcement administrators direct and coordinate every aspect of their organizations’ operations. This can include many functions particular to law enforcement like setting policing policies and procedures, supervising officers, developing training programs, and conducting reviews and disciplinary actions.

But the duties of upper-level law enforcement leadership professionals also involve numerous administrative and management functions. For example, law enforcement administrators must ensure budgets are met, allocate resources effectively, oversee human resources, and direct new and ongoing initiatives. Above all, administrators are leaders tasked with inspiring their people to serve the public good.

Plus, as Sounman Hong writes in Policing and Public Administration Research, “Understanding how citizens perceive public service performance is of utmost importance to public administration.” Therefore, communicating with the public (outside agencies, elected officials, the media, citizens, etc.) is one of the most essential responsibilities of law enforcement administrators. Being aware of and responsive to public sentiment is extremely important, especially during times of civil unrest, societal change, and social and criminal justice reform.

How Can Earning an MPA Prepare Me for Law Enforcement Administration Roles?

The duties and responsibilities of law enforcement administrators require a more extensive knowledge- and skills-base than what typical law enforcement education covers. Programs like Barry’s online MPA can help degree candidates fill this knowledge gap, providing them with the comprehensive study of what public administration entails.

For instance, Barry’s course on Values and Ethics in Administration helps students explore ethical issues in public administration decision-making. Demonstrating ethical practices and decision-making is central to maintaining public trust in law enforcement efforts.

Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation is another core course in Barry’s MPA program. This course helps degree candidates understand how to set, analyze, evaluate, and revise policies to maximize their positive impact. Designing, assessing the effectiveness of, and revising evidence-based policy according to changing conditions and public sentiment is essential for modern law enforcement administration.

Other courses on subjects like finance, human resources, and leadership in public administration help students develop the managerial skills they will need in administrative roles.

Barry’s MPA program also includes a capstone project course. This independent, supervised course allows students to apply what they have learned to professional work in the field, cementing the knowledge and skills gained from their studies.

Plus, the flexible online design of this MPA program allows law enforcement professionals to continue working and earning a wage while completing their degrees. Students can immediately put their studies to work in real-time, rapidly improving their performance and advancement potential.

What Career Advancement Opportunities Could I Pursue With an MPA?

With prior law enforcement experience and the knowledge, skills, and credentials gained from earning an MPA, graduates could pursue many administrative careers. Qualified law enforcement administrators can work in high-level leadership positions in local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Examples would be supervising officers, police chiefs, sheriffs, police commissioners, and federal administrators.

Pay for law enforcement administration jobs can be substantial, though salaries vary widely according to position, region, and the size of the department or agency. According to Chron, “Many federal law-enforcement agencies rely on public-administration professionals for successful operation,” with federal administrators earning “more than $100,000 per year.” The Economic Research Institute reports the average annual salary of police commissioners to be $126,618 as of November 2021.

An MPA degree can also open opportunities beyond law enforcement administration. Students can apply the knowledge and skills gained to a wide array of public administration roles. Plus, the managerial and leadership skills students develop are equally applicable in private sector management roles. Given this, earning an MPA can afford law enforcement professionals a great deal of career versatility: however, they apply it.

Learn more about Barry University’s online Master of Public Administration program.