Interested in learning about law enforcement and the justice system, but not quite ready to commit to earning a full bachelor’s degree? Consider an online associate’s degree in criminal justice.
Why You Should Earn a Criminal Justice Associate’s Degree Online
Is an online criminal justice associate’s degree the right path for you? You may want to choose this degree if you are:
- Seeking an entry-level job with the police, the courts, corrections or private security
- Planning to complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in the future
- Employed in another field, such as education or social services, and looking for an added qualification
Most law enforcement agencies now wish to see evidence of college education as a condition of employment. Check first to see whether an associate’s degree will suffice.
Online Criminal Justice Associate’s Degree Programs: Requirements and Fees
Online criminal justice associate’s degree programs require a candidate to have a high school or GED diploma. In certain cases, military experience or previous academic credits can be applied towards the associate degree. Ask your institution for more details.
The total cost of an associate degree in criminal justice will fall somewhere between that of a criminal justice certificate and a full-fledged bachelor’s degree. Financial aid may be available from government agencies, your employer or both, but will often depend on whether or not the program is run by an accredited institution. Contact the U.S. Department of Education if you have any questions about accreditation or an institution’s reputation.
Criminal Justice Associate’s Degree Curriculum
An associate’s degree in criminal justice usually takes two years to complete. That often means a time investment of approximately 60 credit hours in college-level coursework.
Usually, online criminal justice associate programs are designed to accommodate busy professionals. Courses can be accessed after work or on the weekends. A virtual classroom with streaming video may replace traditional lectures; live chats and email may be the preferred methods of communication.
For an online associate’s degree in criminal justice, core courses can include:
- Criminal Justice System
- Law Enforcement
- Criminal Law
- Forensic Science
- Juvenile Justice
Some associate’s degree programs offer concentrations in a particular field, such as cyber crime, court reporting or homeland security. General education courses in science or the humanities, foundation courses in technology or writing, and electives in sociology and psychology may also be part of the requirements.
Career Options with an Online Associate’s Degrees in Criminal Justice
An associate’s degree in criminal justice is a good starting point for a career in the field of criminal justice, although a higher degree may be required for certain positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlights some of the jobs in criminal justice that you may qualify for with an associate’s degree and their average salaries as of May 2020:
- Security guard: $34,360
- Court reporter: $66,710
- Social and human services assistant: $38,230
- Correctional officer: $52,340
- Police and sheriff’s patrol officer: $70,000
May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for security guard, court reporters and simultaneous captioners, social and human services assistants, correctional officers and jailers, police and sheriff’s patrol officers. Figures represent national data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2021.
Find Your Online Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice
Start your career with an online associate’s degree in criminal justice. Our directory of criminal justice schools highlights top accredited programs that can set you on a fulfilling career path in criminal justice.