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Everything You Need to Know about PIC and PiLE

You can't minor in tactics or drills, but you can apply the academic component of law enforcement and corrections academies towards your degree. There are programs available to benefit academy students and graduates on their journey to earning a diploma. 

Why go through an academy and get a degree?

"The academy is a minimum standard," Barry Langford, criminal justice department chair at Columbia College, explained. "The degree is going to be an enhancer to allow you to get hired by a highly-ranked department with a higher starting salary, or if you're already with a department, it can make you more eligible for a promotion and move up the ladder."

Beside boosting your qualifications for future opportunities, having both your academy training and a degree can help you:

  • Become an expert in your field as you gain more knowledge.
  • Shave off a year or even two of your time in school, depending on program.
  • Save you thousands of dollars in tuition costs.


After you've completed 15 hours (typically five classes) at the College, these two programs are available:

The Partners in Corrections (PIC) program can save students $5,280 and $6,960 in tuition costs. The PIC program awards up to 24 credits to students who have successfully completed a departmentally mandated corrections academy of at least 275 hours in any of the 50 states or U.S. territories.

The Partners in Law Enforcement (PiLE) can save students between $4,320 and $6,240 in tuition costs. This program gives students up to 24 credits in course equivalencies for successfully completing a minimum of 400 hours at a state-certified, basic police academy. 

Good for Climbers and Changers

While the benefits of a degree can help law enforcement officers progress in their careers, they can also expand opportunities in other fields. The credit awarded in the PIC and PiLE programs can be applied to associates or bachelor's degrees in any major, not just criminal justice administration (B.A. and B.S.).

"Say you're a police officer who is about to retire, and you want to go into a different field," Langford said. "You can go into political science or business or art, and still use these programs." 

If it's been five years since you completed your academy training, the credit remains available. You'd need to demonstrate adequate work experience in the field by submitting a letter on appropriate letterhead from a supervisor or human resources administrator that confirms your employment in the field, dates of employment and your employment history. 

Where Can I Learn More?

"We've seen thousands of students graduate with these programs, especially non-traditional students who are going back to school," said Langford. To see if you can be awarded credits for your academy hours, contact your academic advisor for more details.

Related content:

A Call to Serve

7 Unexpected Jobs You Can Do with a Criminal Justice Degree

What Can You Do with a Degree in Criminal Justice?

Columbia College, Higher Education

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