Police Graduate Schemes and Routes into Policing

Jun 11, 2021

Thinking of becoming a police officer or a detective? In this post, we outline police graduate schemes and explain the various routes you can take to launch your policing career.

There are various graduate schemes to help those who have finished university become qualified, both on a national and local level. For those who are not graduates, there are still schemes that will give you the relevant knowledge and skills to police effectively, meaning joining the police is accessible for both graduates and non-graduates. 

1. Police Now Graduate Schemes

Police Now provides two different graduate schemes, the National Graduate Leadership Programme, and the National Detective Programme, and hires applicants from across England and Wales. 

The National Graduate Leadership Programme is focused on becoming qualified as a neighbourhood police officer, especially concerned with helping and transforming local communities. Two important qualities the scheme focuses on is the ability to negotiate and resolve conflicts and being able to demonstrate leadership in the community.  

The National Detective Scheme focuses on the necessary qualifications to become a police detective, learning how to quickly respond to new information and how to investigate potential crimes. You will also be required to manage and prioritise various facts, a life skill that is important in many different careers, not just policing.

Both schemes last two years, requiring that applicants are aged 17 or over, and have a 2:2 or higher degree from a UK university, or equivalent from a non-UK university. Any nationality can apply, but you must have lived in the UK for the last 3 years. For the National Graduate Leadership Programme, the starting salary after qualification is £24,177- £30,369, with allowances of up to £6,735, depending on where you are situated. For The National Detective Programme, the salary can start from £20,370-£24,177, including location allowances, depending on the force that you join.

How to get a graduate job with police now

In the video below, the host of the gradate job podcast speaks with the CEO and founder of Police Now, who shares top tips on how to get a graduate job with Police Now


2. The Metropolitan Police 

Alternatively, you can apply to the programmes run by the Metropolitan Police, the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship and the Degree Holder Entry Programme. 

The Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) is a three-year programme, aimed at applicants who are not university graduates, and works towards a degree in professional policing. This is important as it means that being a police officer is not limited to those who have gone to university, making it a very accessible career. There is also the option to work part-time through both programmes, making policing a viable option even for those who cannot commit to working full time. 

You will be assessed with both operational and written assessments, ending with a 10,000-word dissertation and a portfolio with evidence of your accomplishments. After completing the programme, the starting full-time salary is £30,006, rising to £33,000 after a probationary period, including allowances. This base salary will continue to increase annually, with the salary after seven years expected to be roughly £48,000. 

To apply, you need to have a GCSE in both maths and English language at C or above, although if you do not have the former you can earn it while completing the programme. 

The Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) is a two-year scheme and is for applicants who already have a degree. Similarly to the PCDA, the DHEP includes both written and operational assessments and ends with the completion of a portfolio of accomplishments. One difference is that the DHEP ends with a graduate diploma in professional policing practice instead of a BSc. 

The salary for a full-time constable from this programme is slightly higher than one from the PCDA, starting at £31,000, rising to £33,000 after the probationary period, both including allowances. This salary will rise annually, reaching roughly £48,000 after seven years. 

Similarly to the PCDA, you need a GCSE in English language at C or above to apply, but will also need to either have already finished or be in the final year of your degree. 

Metropolitan Police

3: Regional policing graduate schemes

There are other schemes for more local areas, such as the Detective Constable Graduate Scheme from the Leicestershire Police, and the Police Officer Graduate Entry Programme from the West Yorkshire Police. Both of these are worth looking into if you are from these areas, and there may also be other schemes closer to you that are worth researching. 

Further study – Master’s in Policing

Once you become a police officer, you may consider pursuing further study to specialise or learn more about an area of expertise. For example:

  • The University of West London offers an MSc in Policing, that allows you to specialise in international policing, leadership and management or investigating serious crime.
  • UCL offers a Policing MSc, aimed at police and professionals from related agencies who aspire to become future leaders and managers. Optional modules include cybercrime and cybersecurity.


Overall, joining the police is accessible to both graduates and non-graduates, making it a viable career option for a wide variety of potential applicants. These schemes will also give you life skills, such as leadership and problem solving that are vital both while policing and in other careers. 

Written by Sam Sheridan
Featured image by: Connor Danylenko from Pexels

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