The Importance of Continuing Your Education

By James Rocheleau, Ph.D.
Associate VP, Enrollment Management – Special Projects
Union Institute & University

Since September 11, 2001, education for law enforcement personnel has taken on a much more important role. Today, continuing one’s education is a requirement to survive, be promoted and, more and more, a prerequisite to becoming a law enforcement officer.

In law enforcement, it used to be that when someone applied for a position, a high school diploma or GED was enough. Then, more officers had two years of college; now, many hires already hold bachelor’s degrees. This means that if you do not have a bachelor’s degree and are employed in law enforcement, you should consider completing your degree or risk being left behind.

Most law enforcement personnel wanting to return to school are interested in three questions:

  1. How much will it cost?
  2. How long will it take?
  3. How many credits will transfer?

However, other questions should include:

  1. Are the professors experts in their fields?
  2. Have they worked in law enforcement?
  3. Are the courses relevant to achieving my goals?
  4. Is the school accredited?

Union Institute & University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management (CJM) and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. A certified police officer can transfer in 32 semester credit hours for graduating from their basic police academy and receiving internship hours. Internship hours can be earned by presenting a letter signed by your supervisor which states that you served at least one year. You can also transfer up to 28 semester credits from a regionally accredited college and/or additional law enforcement training. Additionally, each FOP member receives a $3,000 scholarship for the first 30 semester credits, which is all many students need to graduate in as little as four semesters or less.

As Sheriff Adam Christianson, graduate of Union Institute & University, says, “Union’s program is tailored to the needs of those working in criminal justice today, and it sets the stage for them to advance and become leaders in public safety.”

Or as Robert Sanderson, former Chief of the Arcadia Police Department says, “Union’s CJM program gives police officers a larger, big-picture view of the law enforcement world. They learn how they fit into the universe, the whole global puzzle. The program teaches them how to relate to others, how to manage a group and how to solve problems.” Chief Sanderson believes Union’s CJM program has become popular through old-fashioned word of mouth. “Police officers look out for one another,” he says. “Many who go through the program end up telling their peers about it and encourage them to do the same.”

Union Institute & University is one of the few universities in the country that incorporates an online learning model and a current understanding of what is trending in the field. Designed by criminal justice experts who have worked as line employees, support personnel, supervisors, managers and executives, the criminal justice management degree program is well-suited for law enforcement personnel who want to see theory applied to real world experience. Learn more at

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