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Criminal Justice

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes. Law enforcement officers’ duties depend on the size and type of organization in which they’re employed. Police and detective work can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous. Education requirements range from a high school diploma to a college degree or advanced degree. Most police officers and detectives must graduate from their agency’s training academy before getting on-the-job training; candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually at least 21 years old, and meet rigorous physical and personal qualifications.

ECC students receive a hands-on Criminal Justice education:

  • Participate in field trips to Criminal Justice facilities including local, county and state jails and prisons; the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Des Moines; and the Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) lab in Ankeny.
  • Participate in real-world scenarios conducted with local law enforcement agencies, gaining an appreciation for the diverse environment in which Criminal Justice professionals operate.
  • Students train on the MILO Police Tactical Training System which gives real-life scenarios and reactions.
  • Network and participate in actual police training with local law enforcement agencies as part of ECC’s Criminal Justice Club.
  • Take photos and construct sketches of simulated crime scenes and traffic accidents.
  • Fire at least 700 rounds of live ammunition, and complete the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy course of fire using Glock 40 caliber semi-automatic pistols.
  • Develop leadership skills as a member of the student-led Criminal Justice Club and participate in its activities, field trips, and training opportunities.
  • Apply the correct constitutional criminal procedures in search and seizure situations.

What Can You Do With a Criminal Justice Degree:

Earn a two-year Associate of Arts (AA) transfer degree for those who want to enter the workforce as a Law Enforcement or Corrections Officer or transfer their ECC credits and complete a baccalaureate/bachelor’s degree at a university.

The links under Degrees Awarded (below) outline our different program options.

A criminal background check is required of all individuals applying for employment with law enforcement agencies and corrections facilities. Learn more on the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy’s website.


ECC’s two-year Associate of Arts (AA) transfer degree is designed to meet the requirements of colleges and universities to which students may wish to transfer for completion of baccalaureate (BA or BS) degrees. In many instances, transfer colleges accept this degree as equivalent to their own general education requirements.

Because the requirements for an AA transfer degree change periodically, students should check with their academic advisor or the ECC Admissions Office to confirm that they have the most current information. Students are responsible for knowing the requirements for the degree they hope to obtain and for planning their schedule accordingly.

Admissions Partnership Program with Iowa State, UNI and Iowa

ECC participates in the Admissions Partnership Program with Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa to enable ECC students to transfer credits seamlessly to any of the state universities. Participants are dual-enrolled at ECC and the university with access to academic advising and student services at both institutions. The universities guarantee admission into the desired degree program, provided all requirements are met. Ask the ECC Admissions Office for more information!


  • ECC currently has the 17th highest student success rate (graduation rate + transfer rate) of any community college in the nation.
  • The College offers generous scholarships and financial aid packages, which is why our graduates have one of the lowest average student debt loads of any college in Iowa, public or private, two-year or four year!
  • What students appreciate about ECC is our smaller class sizes, which results in more one-on-one attention from the instructor and greater classroom success.

Faculty Contact

Michael Emerson

Michael Emerson