Police officers receive initial training through a police academy.

If you are preparing for a career as a police officer, needing to extend current law enforcement certification, examining other career options in criminology or wanting more information about the legal system, chances are good a college or university near you or online offers courses to fit your needs.

Police Academy

Many community colleges and universities offer police officer initial training through law enforcement academies. These programs typically run about 17 weeks in full-day sessions, training students about basic police procedures, firearms use, investigative techniques and ethics in law enforcement. Schools tailor these programs to meet state requirements for law enforcement officers. Students may receive college credit, although the amount varies. For instance, Northland Pioneer College in Holbrook, Arizona, awards 36 credits, while Alamance Community College in Graham, North Carolina, awards 17.

Continuing Education

After completing a police academy, law enforcement personnel may wish to get continuing education. They need to keep up with changes in laws in order to enforce them appropriately. Officers sometimes need or desire additional firearms certification. Or, they may want to expand their job possibilities by adding search and rescue training or detention officer certification. Various schools offer such training. Currently employed police may receive special treatment involving this course work. For instance, those who attend classes through Richmond Community College in Hamlet, North Carolina, pay no fees.

Citizen Training

People without law enforcement training may find classes about the field, particularly at local community colleges. For instance, Stanly Community College in Locust, North Carolina, offers a Citizens Law Enforcement Academy to acquaint people with police techniques, court procedures, duties of the district attorney, purpose and use of K-9 units, weaponry and gun safety. This kind of class presents an opportunity for those considering careers in any aspect of law enforcement or those who just want to understand the system more clearly to see how the different components work.

Criminology Programs

For broader information about law enforcement, many schools offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminology as well as individual courses students with other majors may often take. Degrees may allow students to focus on various aspects. For instance, Fresno State in California offers specialization in victimology, forensic behavior science, corrections or general law enforcement. Other schools, like the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque present course work concerning causes, prevention and consequences of crime, a degree that leads to careers in law, social work or crime prevention in addition to law enforcement.