Whether you have aspirations to lead an agency, are trying to prepare for a second career or simply want to expand your educational horizons, there are many institutions offering classes to busy working professionals. Sometimes the tough decision isn’t if you should go back to school, but which degree and university will help you meet your goals.
These FOP members chose some of the most popular nontraditional degrees options for law enforcement officers: organizational leadership and public administration. Here, they share their insights about why they chose their universities and how their studies are paying off professionally.
Personnel Officer Lonnie Isom, Pensacola Police Department, Florida FOP Lodge #71
Degree/university: Master of Public Administration: Concentration in Criminal Justice Administration, Columbia Southern University (CSU), 2017
What do you like about the online aspect of CSU?
I like being able to sign up for a class at a time, and CSU allows you to do that. You can knock it out as fast or slow as you want to and then jump onto the next one.
How will an MPA degree benefit your career?
I teach as an adjunct professor at the George Stone Technical Center Police Academy, but I’m not able to work at colleges. A master’s degree would allow me to teach at colleges.
Sheriff-Elect Brian VanVickle, Ogle County Sheriff’s Department, Illinois FOP Lodge #127
Degree/university: Master of Public Administration, Upper Iowa University, 2014
How do you think the public administration degree will assist you now that you’ve been elected sheriff?
It’s important to always be learning and bettering yourself. It gives you the knowledge and tools you need to take the next step. I think it will be a benefit to the citizens as I move forward in my new job.
What appealed to you about Upper Iowa University?
I liked the structure and convenience of it being online. You still have discussions, and I think they are more constructive than what you have in the classroom because you have to take the time to read the responses and form your answers.
What should prospective students look at when considering enrolling in advanced education programs?
Find one that will work well for you so you will be motivated to complete it.
Police Officer Amo Virk, Union City Police Department, California FOP Lodge #7
Degree/university: Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL), Union Institute & University, 2014
Why did you choose Union Institute & University and its MSOL?
UI&U faculty are not only in business, but they teach what is being done in successful businesses today on how to collaboratively lead a diverse workforce, make well-informed ethical decisions and build and implement sustainable solutions to complex issues.
What should prospective students look at when considering enrolling in such programs?
Do you have to attend the classroom or can you do it online? I’m not just going to school; I also have a career, family and personal life. How do all those things come together?
Why should law enforcement professionals consider leadership degrees?
Our jobs require leadership skills. With a leadership degree, officers are taught a skill set in planning, critical thinking, communications, report writing, evaluating and being transparent, which are sellable skills in non-law-enforcement organizations, too.
For more information about organizational leadership and public administration degree programs, check out “A Higher Degree of Success.”