Private Investigator Schools and Online Training Options

pi school training options

We’ve all read novels like Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House” and wondered what it would be like to have the job of Inspector Bucket. Maybe you’re more of an Agatha Christie fan and may have found Hercule Poirot’s job intriguing. Whatever the case may be, you would most likely agree that being a Private Detective (or Private Investigator) is a most interesting but often dangerous profession. But what about private investigators today? What if you wanted to study to become a Private Eye?

A private investigator, or private detective, is a professional who undertakes investigatory law services. The modern private detective’s job is usually for attorneys in civil cases. The first recorded private detective agency in the US was established in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton. He’s famous for foiling an assassination plot on President Abraham Lincoln. Pinkerton's agents also performed services services such as undercover investigations, detections of crimes and plant protection and armed security. The first Female private eye in the US was Kate Warne. Some states passed the so called “Anti Pinkerton” laws after the Homestead Riot of 1892, and thus the Pinkerton National Detective Agency was ended.

Private investigators of today receive their formal education through degree programs in criminal justice or related areas (psychology, criminology or law enforcement) - This is important to remember when looking for a private investigator school, as you are not likely to find accredited institutions offering private investigation programs - Their courses usually include everything from ethics and leadership to crime prevention and decision making. The core curriculum for people looking to become a P.I. includes:

  • Homeland Security
  • Law Enforcement Operations
  • Report Writing
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Forensic Criminology
  • Etc.

​Associate’s degrees in criminal justice usually require two years to complete and teach fundamental criminal justice skills. A Bachelor’s degree will usually take you about four years to complete, and focuses on more advanced training, policy analysis, criminal law… A specialization in fields such as business administration management, law enforcement or homeland security can also be obtained. It’s important to note that personal investigators going for a successful long-term career often take classes in business, economics, accounting or computer science. A Master’s degree program includes more advanced areas of study such as:

  • Crime Theories
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Victimology
  • Etc.

​There’s also the option to attend Certification programs to further focus your career in a specific area. These programs usually focus on investigation and surveillance requirements and techniques. Courses that are available include:

  • Investigation as a Career
  • Legal Principles and Requirements
  • Business Investigation Basics
  • Surveillance
  • Equipment for Private Investigation
  • And many more

​The fields of Criminology and Criminal Justice have kept up with the times, taking on a more modern and high-technological focus over the last few decades. There are many online programs for acquiring a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. Choosing a correct online bachelor’s program is often difficult, but I’ll try to help you by listing a few options here, and depending on your preferences and financial situation you should be able to make a correct choice.

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

NSU is a four-year public university located in Natchitoches, Louisiana that offers 34 accredited online degrees. It’s regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The curriculum that this university requires for the online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice includes a bunch of courses in criminal justice along with fundamental studies in fields such as psychology, sociology and political science. They require 120 credit hours for graduation, after which you’re free to immediately pursue entry-level job offers or further study criminal justice and other related subjects. The tuition is around $20,000 but may vary depending on your location.

Fort Hays State

Fort Hays State University is a public institution stationed in Hays, Kansas. Around half of the universities 11,000 students are online and they offer six different concentration options for their B.S. and B.A. one of which is a custom created combination of courses by the students. The standard specializations are Victim Advocacy, Law Enforcement, Corrections, Justice Networking and Law and the Courts. Many of FHSU’s students already have full-time jobs in the criminal justice field, as the university provides job placement services to its students. The tuition is around $23,000 depending on your location.

Columbia College

Columbia College of Missouri is a private liberal arts school in Columbia, Missouri. Their Online B.A. in Criminal Justice Administration is aimed to suit a wide variety of students with different career goals. Students study the behavioral and social sciences, legal research methods, judicial process, criminology, cultural diversity, political science, forensic anthropology and more. 120 credit hours are required for graduation and the tuition is around $31,000.

Southern New Hampshire University

SHNU is a private, nonprofit university located between Manchester and Hookset, New Hampshire. They boast over 200 regionally accredited undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The B.S. in Criminal Justice in Southern New Hampshire University is offered in its entirety online. This includes diverse subjects such as the study of psychopaths and serial killers, abnormal and criminal psychology as well as international criminal justice and legal research methods. Concentrations are offered in Police Administration and Operations, Criminology, Legal Studies and Advocacy and Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. The tuition is $39,000 and the 6 Year Graduation Rate is over 50%.

Troy University

Troy University, also known as Alabama’s International University, is located in Troy, Alabama. The online B.S. in Criminal Justice consists of classes in criminal procedure, corrections, emergency management, computer forensics and more. Seniors enjoy a three-credit local internship in a criminal justice agency. The college tuition for Troy University is a little under $40,000.

Florida International University

FIU is classified as a research university with high research activity by the Carnegie Foundation and is located in Greater Miami, Florida. It’s known as the most competitive public Floridian university with the lowest admissions rate. They offer an entirely-online undergraduate program in Criminal Justice for people who aim to work in the fields of law enforcement, security, or corrections. Courses like Criminological Theory, Criminal Justice and the Constitution are mandatory. Tuition costs are $40,000.

Colorado State University – Global

CSU-Global is a non-profit, online, public university designed specifically for adult students who can’t travel to a traditional campus. CS-Global has an online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration which consists of courses such as Introduction to Crime and Deviance, Research Methods for the Criminal Justice Professional, Fundamentals of Penology and Restorative and Community-Based Justice. The tuition is $42,000 but Students can make use of “Alternative Credit Options” to finish faster and cheaper through Prior Learning Assessments and similar programs.

Thomas Edison State College

Thomas Edison State College is located in downtown Trenton, New Jersey and belongs to the group of 11 public universities and colleges in New Jersey. It has a relatively low 6 year graduation rate of 15%. Students take classes in terrorism, counterterrorism, homeland security, victimology, criminal behavior, constitutional issues and more. 120 hours are required for graduation and the tuition is $43,000.

Washington State University

It’s one of the US’s first and largest land-grant universities, located in the Palouse region of Pullman, Washington. The main campus consists of around 26,000 students with an additional 24,000 online scholars. Their criminal justice program is the second oldest in the nation and consists of classes in areas such as Criminological Theory, Crime Control Policies, Criminal Law and Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice. They hold a very high 6 year graduation rate of 65% and tuition of $45,000.

Portland State University

PSU is a public university located in downtown Portland. It was ranked in the top 15 percentile for undergraduate programs of American Universities by The Princeton Review. Majoring Portland State Universitiy’s B.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice opens up plenty of employment options after graduation. Graduates often work in human services, federal agencies and even psychology. Students are not ever required to attend campus or online courses at specific times. The tuition is $48,000 dollars.

Bellevue University

Located in Bellevue, Nebraska it is counted as one of the largest private higher learning institutions it the state with over 10,000 students. The school always aims to be accessible to working adults. They offer an accelerated online degree with a focus on contemporary social issues, strategic management and criminal psychology. Graduates gain the knowledge required to begin a professional career in criminal justice or to apply for advancement if already in the field. The tuition is around $49,000.

Eastern Kentucky University

The school is located in Richmond, Kentucky and offers over 25 concentrated programs online and more than 160 on-campus programs. It’s one of the most versatile universities in the US. Their B.S. in Corrections and Juvenile Justice Studies program is aimed at working with professionals already in the field looking to improve their skills, or people who are looking to expand their abilities and maybe change careers. There’s no previous college-credit requirement, and the tuition is around $50,000.

There are many more universities with much more specialized and advanced courses, but the institutions listed here are a perfect place to start with improving your knowledge of the criminal justice field which is vital for an excellent career as a personal investigator.