I have a Criminal Justice AA degree & ten years of law enforcement experience. I'm considering going back for something like a Master's in Law Enforcement Administration or Criminology, however financially I would need to be in a master's program because of the funding tier that opens up.

Can one enter a master's program with an associate's degree instead of a bachelor's degree? Is this an something that anyone has seen done before?

  • Is your AD a 2 or 4-year degree? We've had community college students transfer to our BA program with most of their credits, but they still had to complete 2 more years of university before they could apply to do a Master's. – Inde Dec 29 '16 at 0:18

I did a little research, and something like this may be possible. A number of institutions offer combined bachelors/masters degree programs in criminology, criminal justice, and other related fields. (For example, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of CUNY in New York, has a such a program.) I presume that these programs are largely intended for people, like yourself, who already have career experience in law enforcement and related fields. Googling for "combined bachelors masters programs criminal justice" should turn up a few more similar programs.

It's hard to say whether a particular program like this would work for you. For example, I don't know whether your funding sources would be satisfied with you being enrolled in a joint bachelors/masters program. The John Jay program I linked to also has additional reqirements for transfer students, which might be problematic.

However, since many gradate programs in these fields cater specifically toward people who have already spent time working in law enforcement, many more places may have policies in place for addressing the needs of people like you. If there are specific institutions that you are interested (local to you, for example), I would suggest contacting them (possibly in person) to see whether they have programs to help you. You are probably going have to earn a bachelors degree on the way to your masters, but they may be able to classify you as a masters student for the full duration of your program.

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  • Hey I really appreciate the effort that went into your answer! Thank you so much for your help. – John DeBellotte Jan 20 '17 at 18:01

Are you in the United States? You'll probably need that bachelor's degree to be admitted to a reputable master's program. As Inde's comment says, you may be able to transfer some of your AA credits. Many institutions have a rule about accepting "old" credit, so if your AA is more than seven or ten years old, you may have trouble with the transfer part, too.

If there is a college that's part of your state's public system nearby, make an appointment with an admissions counselor and go there for a visit.

If you should find a master's program that will take you with your AA degree, check their accreditation and reputation very carefully. You don't want to spend time and money on a degree that turns out to be worthless.

Although "shopping" questions, and by extension, answers, are off-topic here, you may be able to fulfill the requirement for a bachelor's degree on line at an institution like Excelsior College.

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  • Thank you I'll look into that as well, my AAS is less than a year old so I shouldn't have an issue with the age of the credits in the degree hopefully. – John DeBellotte Jan 20 '17 at 18:05

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