You are typically not required to earn a degree to enroll in police academy and work as a police officer. A high school diploma is often the minimal required formal education, with a required background check. Some agencies may require a bachelor’s degree or a certain number of credit hours, especially at the federal level.
According to a 2017 study from the National Police Foundation, about one third (30.2 percent) of police officers in the U.S. hold a four-year college degree. Just over half (51.8 percent) hold a two-year degree, and 5.4 percent hold a graduate degree.
While you may not need a degree for your first entry-level job as a police officer, if you plan to continue advancing your career in criminal justice, earning an associate or bachelor’s degree is a good idea.